I’ve just started a 90 day trial of the Microsoft Azure cloud service as I’ve got a day session next week with MS on the topic. For those of you thinking about giving it a go I suggest you go and jump in now. It’s very easy to sign up (no cost but it does ask for your credit card details) and the management portal is very easy to use. In 5min I have a web site running, a server being provisioned and a domain namespace configured.
There’s also the suggestion that the websites you add remain free after the trial period, but I’m cynical and thinking that you still need to pay for data transfers and storage at least.
You can provision a whole raft of different infrastructure from within Azure, some of which are shown on the left. There are plenty of Linux images to kick start your server provisioning off and the websites come with templates for common web apps – blogs, CMS’s, etc. While there are some apps in the later category that use non-MS technologies like MySQL, it seems you can’t provision a standalone database other than a SQL instance. Perhaps to be expected.
Once your new virtual machines are up and running you can download an .rdp file to get access to the server and do your normal tasks. But an RDP session from NZ to the Southeast Asia data centre is a bit slow, so I’m, thinking my home connection is either a little busy or connectivity really is that bad out of NZ.
DNS and other management roles such as AD and the associated namespaces are easy enough to add too. The configuration for the namespace includes all the identity provider set up that will also allow your apps and services to plug into your own source of user info.
All things considered after an hour or two of playing, the Azure 90 day trial looks to be very worthwhile, even just for a play. If you’re a business based around some of these core Microsoft technologies there’s a good chance this may be your “gateway drug” to actually stepping into doing this Cloud stuff for real.