Customers hosting their cloud services (or applications) on Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform may be looking for ways to dynamically scale-up or scale-down the number of Windows Azure instances. There is more than way to do it today, and here are few options.

a)  Make a change to the service configuration files associated with your cloud service/application on the Windows Azure portal or using free command line tools (http://archive.msdn.microsoft.com/azurecmdlets) – Easy manual step, and may be sufficient for certain set of scenarios.

b)  Leverage a third-party product to manage their Windows Azure (virtual machine) instances and monitor their services hosted on Windows Azure. – Comprehensive tool acquired for a fee from a third-party vendor will provide more capabilities beyond just scaling the VM instances.  You can search for these third-party tools, talk to the vendors, learn about their capabilities and then make an informed decision.

c)  DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approach that uses custom application to scale Windows Azure VM instances – Some may choose this, potential less expensive, option for more control over how the scaling is done. Such application could be deployed either in Windows Azure (as part of the service it controls or separately, and be shared to control more services) or on premises.

  • One of our customers, Idaho Department of Labor, deployed a high-value application on Windows Azure (described in this blogpost) and also built an open-source utility (in the shape of Windows Service) to dynamically scale their Windows Azure virtual machine instances. Custom Windows Service (deployed and running on-premise/on-your-server) is completely configurable via an xml file wherein you can specify information about your Windows Azure service/application and the manner in which the virtual instances should be scaled-up or down. One could scale (dial-up or down) the instances based on CPU load or the day/time of the week. Windows Service utility to scale the instances was written by Greg Gipson (Lead Architect and Developer at Idaho Department of Labor) and the source-code has been published on codeplex http://azureinstancemanager.codeplex.com/

Here are some other articles/resources you can check out as well.

Thanks to Greg Gipson (Lead Architect and Developer at Idaho Department of Labor) for publishing the Windows Service utility on codeplex. http://azureinstancemanager.codeplex.com/    Hope you will find it useful, enhance (as you see fit) it for yourself and contribute it back to the community (same codeplex site).

Cheers and have a great Friday.