I had looked into Microsoft’s Azure (then called AppFabric) maybe two years ago, and built some hello world type of things on there, and even hosted our wedding website there.

At that time I was not very impressed by what was being offered. You had to program to a very specific API, which might not be a problem if you were creating a new application, however shoehorning an existing application to Azure (then) would have proved extremely difficult, and for what benefit? The only real potential benefit to hosting on a ‘cloud service’ would be pricing and I was NOT impressed by the pricing at all. It was not at all clear or intuitive what the pricing model was, and I ended up being charged almost 100$ one month just to host a static webpage. Ouch… way to burn me, Microsoft, waiting until the end of the month to get that type of surprise… not cool. And from what I had read there were few scenarios that would actually justify (from a price standpoint) creating solutions for Azure. So I shelved any interest in it until now.

Fast forward two years to this week, when I attended a talk about a solution that was built on top of Azure and afterward I started playing with it. And WOW….

I have had my personal website down for a few weeks now, because my server had met with an unfortunate end. And since I have been procrastinating fixing it, I figured I might give it a try on Azure.

Let me describe the steps that I followed to get this webpage online.

  • Signed up for a new Azure account
  • Created a new ‘Web Site’ compute type resource
  • Saw link to TFS in the cloud, don’t mind if I do
  • Created TFS in the cloud account
  • Created a new project
  • Opened my existing ASP.NET project
  • Committed it to the new TFS in the could account
  • A minute later I checked out the deployments tab in the Azure management portal for my website and saw that it was building!
  • In less than a minute the page was live

Needless to say I jumped out my skin. Continues integration and deployment out of the box? Between signing up for new accounts, configuring, committing the code, and building/deploying, all this took maybe 15 minutes. This is an incredible game changer. Not only that, but so far it has all been absolutely free. How do I know? Well I can always just click the the prominent ‘view my bill’ at any time to see if I have accidentally accrued any charges at any point in time! Well done Microsoft! So far I am very impressed.