Building a website has never been easier with the new CMS available today, but configuring it to be up and running was always a time consuming job; configuring the database, providing the connection string, configuring the domain, setting up ftp account to upload your website…etc.
"Web Sites" is a new feature provided by Windows Azure. Using an easy wizard you can get your website up and running in minutes. Sounds great, but how much would it cost? It's free! With Windows Azure you can build up to 10 websites for free.
In this step by step tutorial, we are going to create an Azure account and then build a website using Umbraco CMS (but you can pick your own CMS, e-commercial template, Forum, ASP.net website, PHP website or even static html pages).
Creating Windows Azure account
1- Launch your browser and navigate to http://www.windowsazure.com. click on "try it free"
2- In the next page you will see a list of the features you will get for free for 3 months. In this tutorial, we are going to use the website feature, which is free even after the 90 days trial. Click on "try it free"
3- Windows Azure will ask you to sign in using your Microsoft account (Live/Hotmail/Outlook accounts work here). Enter your credentials and click on sign in.
4- In the following page, it will list all the features you will get in the 90 days. The 10 websites & 10 mobile services stay free after the 90 days trial. Select your country and click on the next arrow.
5- You will need to provide a valid phone number, so Microsoft can send you an SMS (or give you a call) with the verification code.
6- You will receive an SMS with the verification code, use it in the verification field, and click on the next arrow
7- In the "Choose a payment method" window, you will have to enter a payment method (VISA or MasterCard). Microsoft will never charge you anything, unless you remove the Spending limit. The default Spending limit is 0$. Enter you payment details and click on the next button.
8- After a couple of seconds, you will get back to the home page of Windows Azure. Click on portal to start your dashboard
9- You will get to the Dashboard, this window gets you an access to the all features you have in Windows Azure!
Congratulations! You created your account, and you're ready to create your free website
Creating the free Web Site
1- Click on "Create an Item", and from the flyout window, select Compute->Web Site->From Gallery
2- Windows Azure website gallery provides you a wide set of the templates and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, Orchard, Drupal … etc). Select your CMS and Click on the next arrow.
3- Now to configure your CMS settings, you will need to select a domain name, create a database & create your credentials for your CMS. All that can be done in one page. Once you enter all these information, Windows Azure will configure the template for you. Enter the requested info and click on the next arrow.
4- Finally, you will need to specify your database settings by providing a username and password.
5- After a couple of seconds, Windows Azure will create your website. Click on the URL you have there
Congratulations! You built your first website using Azure (and you still have 9 more!)