But what can I *do* with Windows Azure? Create (Free) Websites and Applications

But what can I *do* with Windows Azure? Create (Free) Websites and Applications

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f you want to know more about Windows Azure, how it works, the components, or more about the entire platform, I’ve written about that here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/buckwoody/archive/2012/06/13/windows-azure-write-run-or-use-software.aspx

But….

Maybe you just want to cut to the chase. Windows Azure. What do I *do* with it? How about...create some websites. Or website applications. Or both. For free. OK, ten of them are free, then you have to pay for more.

This week I wanted to set up a DotNetNuke Content Management System (More here if you don't know what that is: http://www.dotnetnuke.com/Products/DotNetNuke-Platform.aspx) for a charity I work with. DotNetNuke (DNN) is an open-source project, all ready to go and easy to manage place for web parts, content, blogs, whatever. With Windows Azure, you have the ability to quickly and easily create websites based on ASP or PHP code, for free. You also have the ability to use packages from a gallery, and one of those packages is DotNetNuke - both the community and the professional (pay for) use. I set this one up in 9 minutes:

 

It's easy to set these up. A simple website where you can deploy ASPX or PHP code is just a few clicks, but while I was setting up my site I figured I'd grab the screenshots and show them to you here.

First, you need an account - you can get one of those for free: https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/

After you sign up for the account, hit the http://windowsazure.com site and click the "Portal" button at the top right of the screen. Then click the second icon down, called "Web Sites":

Click the "Create a New Web Site" link on the screen and you're shown this menu:

If you want a quick web site, just click "Create Web Site". If you want another type, click "From Gallery" and make your choice:

I selected the Community Edition of DotNetNuke. That brings up a configuration panel that looks like this:

You'll have to pick a name that isn't already in use, and in my case I told the system to create and build a SQL Azure (Windows Azure SQL Database) to hold the data. You'll also need to pick a region. After you make those selections, you'll need to enter the information for the database server and database:

Write down the database name, database administrator name and password - you'll need those later.

After that, you'll see the system deploying the code, creating the database server and so on.

From there, you're all set.

Whenever you want to monitor the site's health, you can just click the name here in the Portal to get more information on it:

Write down the URL of the site so you can access it in a moment. But don't move off of this screen - Windows Azure is now all set up, but DotNetNuke needs a little info when you first log in.

Before you leave the Portal, click the "DB" icon, and click the name of the database server you created a moment ago (blanked out here on my graphic):

Write down the entire server name (looks like myserver.database.windows.net) and database name (looks like mydatabasename) from this panel.

Now open your new DotNetNuke URL in your browser, and DotNetNuke will take over. You'll be asked the name of the database server (type in the whole name with the .database.windows.net part) and database name, and the database admin name and password you wrote down earlier.

You'll be asked to name the first site, and create a DotNetNuke admin name and password. Write all that down too.

Now log in to your DotNetNuke site with the admin name and change the site to whatever you like! It defaults to "Awesome Cycles", but since you probably don't want that one, read up on what to do with DNN once you're here:

 

PS - Want to do more than just deploy a canned site? Write code! Do HTML5! BE the Web: https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/net/tutorials/get-started/ 

 

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  • It looks like the free trial with up to 10 sites is limited to only three months. Will you switch to a paid plan at the end without having to redeploy the site?

  • No charge during preview - free is free. Up to 10 sites. See more here: www.windowsazure.com/.../details

  • Is the SQL Database also free?

  • Yes, it includes SQL Database. This page is better for the Windows Azure 90-day free trial (Buck's link above has all the pricing details beyond free trial).

    www.windowsazure.com/.../free-trial

  • I would like to point out that while the Website is free (up to 10 sites) during the preview (who knows what it'll be after the preview ends), the SQL Database will NOT be free after the 3 month trial ends.

    You can see what it'll cost after the trial (which is what is really important) via Microsoft's Azure Pricing Calculator www.windowsazure.com/.../calculator

  • The preview period is now only 1 month (as least in my region). And the reduced rate for 6 or 12 months doesn't seem to apply to people spending < $650 per month?

  • David - contact your local Microsoft Office and ask to speak with the Windows Azure SSP - he/she will be able to explain your pricing and benefits. :)

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