Microsoft Azure is growing. All it’s services are getting huge adoption. Currently, there are 3 types of Microsoft Azure services that our customers can use to host their web applications.

    1. Hosting your web application inside IIS, from Azure Virtual Machine.
    2. Hosting as a Web Role using Cloud Services.
    3. Hosting as a Azure Website.

I’ve tried all the above for my personal hosting needs, and I thought of putting this little page that might lists most (but not all) features associated with each service, and what you can do. I’m not going to suggest you which one to use for your hosting needs, because all these 3 offerings are created for specific set of customers with specific set of needs. Depending on how much you want to pay, versus how much control that you need, you could select one of these. Here is one more blog which does comparison of features available.

Hosting your web application inside IIS, from Azure Virtual Machines

This service offering gives you all the power that you had with your on-premises deployments. You own the VM, so you do own the updates to the VM as well. You manage the host names inside IIS, you have to setup the host header within IIS, just like you do in your on-premises hosting. It’s your box. Anything that runs perfectly in your corporate server, it should run here. So, if you have any additional software that you need to install, and manage the updates to the Operating System yourself, this is it! Go for it. At the time of writing, a standard Medium VM instance (2 x 1.6GHz CPU, 3.5GB RAM, 490GB Storage) will cost you $0.18/hr, or $133.92/month.

Hosting as a Web Role using Cloud Services

Hosting as a web-role, cloud service saves you from managing the Operating System updates. Still, you own the application – you could RDP to the VMs, and perform anything that you might do in an on-premises server, only thing to remember is these are stateless Virtual Machines allocated to you. So if you stop, and start your deployment, you might be allocated a different VM, and so on. Here, you own the code, application updates, etc, but leaving the OS updates to Microsoft. At the time of writing, the same standard Medium VM instance (2 x 1.6GHz CPU, 3.5GB RAM, 490GB Storage) will cost you $0.16/hr, or $119.04/month.

Hosting as a Azure Website

Azure Websites is another one way that you could host your websites with Microsoft Azure. It is so far the easiest way to host the websites, and you don’t have to worry about the Operating System updates. To some extent, you also need not to worry about your Application Updates, since there are ways to connect your application deployment to your source control, or even Dropbox folder that will sync to the production. It has one click swap to production vs staging slots, and many more cool features. The newest WebJobs adds more background processing power to your websites. It’s like adding a new Worker Role to your existing Cloud Services offering, only that adding WebJobs doesn’t cost you anything extra since that runs in the same machine as your website. At the time of writing, the same standard Medium VM instance (2 x 1.6GHz CPU, 3.5GB RAM) will cost you $0.20/hr, or $148.80/month.

For all your pricing related queries, try this page in the official site. There are various tier offerings that you should take a look, which would match your needs, and the budget.

Hope this helps!