The BizSpark programme provides many benefits to start-ups including access to all of our software for DEV and Test as well as production licenses for certain products. Along with this, start-ups can access our public cloud platform, Azure, and can use up to $150 per month. All of these benefits are available for up to 5 people within the organisation.

The Azure platform can be used for hosting websites, cloud services or virtual machines or for any of the application services like SQL database, Hadoop, machine learning, mobile services and many more. Whether your are building your apps in Php, Java, Ruby, .NET or Node.js and targeting the browser or iOS, Android or Windows apps, Azure has everything you need, even a number of Linux distributions.

First things first, join BizSpark – its free

To get started, join the BizSpark programme, log on to www.bizspark.com and follow the instructions. Once we have approved your application you can follow these steps to activate your Azure subscriptions and start deploying your applications to the cloud:

You can get more information on your benefits here:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0064p/

Get Your MSDN Subscription ID

All of your benefits come through 5 MSDN accounts. Once you have signed up for BizSpark and been approved you can go to BizSpark.com and log in using the same Microsoft Account you used to register. Then, click the My Bizspark link and you will see a screen like below. You can also get to this screen by following this link: https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/startup.

Once you have logged into this screen take note of the subscription ID highlighted below. You will need this to activate your MSDN benefits. You are doing this for the primary BizSpark user. Later I will show you how to add more users:

Activate Your Azure Subscription

Your BizSpark account comes with five Azure subscriptions each with $150 per month of usage. This usage can be used for any Azure service for DEV, Test or production workloads. Make sure you are familiar with the Azure pricing structure so you know how much you are using but don't worry there is a default cap on your account so that you cannot use more than the $150 in any month. If you do hit this cap your account will be frozen, so then either remove the cap or watch your spend carefully. If you are running production workloads I would strongly recommend removing the cap.

To activate Azure scroll down on the My Bizspark page and click the 'My Account' link under Azure. This will bring you to the MSDN page:

 

 

Now you will be presented with the screen below, click the 'activate your account' link:

 

Enter your details. Use the same email as the Microsoft account you used to access BizSpark and enter the subscription ID you took note of in the first step:

 

 

Accept the terms:

 

 

You will now be redirected to your MSDN page associated with your BizSpark account. This page is where you can access all of your BizSpark benefits, including, software, Visual Studio Online, Azure and Windows developer accounts. You can access this page at any time via your My BizSpark page or via this url: https://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/manage/.

Click the 'Activate Microsoft Azure' link:

 

 

Fill out the form that follows, you will need a valid mobile number so we can verify you:

 

 

Bizspark will then start to create your Azure subscription. This will take a few minutes:

Once done you will see a summary of your subscription. On this screen you can access your subscription and bill details (you won't have a bill unless you have removed the cap), but you can see what you are consuming.

Your Azure account is now setup, so go ahead and click the Portal link to access the Azure Management portal:

 

 

Get Started Using Azure

The Azure management portal gives you access to everything within Azure. Click the 'Virtual Machines' link on the left and let's create a VM:

 

 

Select an image. You can choose from a number of different distributions of Windows or Linux.

NOTE FOR SQL SERVER DEPLOYMENT: If you are creating a SQL Server VM, you do not need to choose the SQL Server VM image as this contains a license fee (so will burn more of your usage). Instead, select a Windows VM and install SQL Server from your MSDN benefits.If you click the MSDN checkbox on the following screen you can see MSDN images that have license costs removed, but SQL is not there at the time of this post so use the technique just described.

https://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/manage/

 

 

Select the size of VM you would like. Each size comes with different cores and memory, so choose the most appropriate for your workload.

For a full pricing calculator check out this link:

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/

Select the region you would like to place your VM in. If you choose North Europe (Dublin) your data will stay in Dublin.

We take data privacy ultra seriously so check out the trust centre for more information:

 

 

After completing the wizard your VM will be created within a few seconds and you can access it via SSH or RDP if you create a Windows Server. You can configure firewall rules, setup load balancing, define availabilty sets to maximise uptime as well as define auto scaling rules, more info here: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-manage-availability/

 

 

Once your VM is up and running you can view monitoring metrics within the dashboard as well as setup alerts, you can get more info here: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/cloud-services-how-to-monitor/

 

Add More MSDN Accounts

As I said earlier you can activate up to five MSDN accounts within BizSpark, which means five separate Azure subscriptions each with $150 per month. To add new users to get these Azure subscriptions go back to your My Bizspark page and click on the 'Manage' link

https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/startup/default.aspx#/manage

Once here click the Add link and enter the details of the new user. The new user will get an email with a link to BizSpark.com and they will follow the procedure above to activate their subscriptions:

 

 

What's Next ..

To learn more and take full advantage of your Azure benefits why not check out our Virtual Academy, your source of free online training. Here are a couple of courses that I would recommend:

 

I hope this guide proves useful. Please provide feedback within the comments so I can refine or improve it.