The future is cloudy–15 minutes with Azure

22852632Azure has been getting a lot of love lately, and I took a few minutes this evening to have a quick (I’m not joking, detailed review this is not) play around to see what’s changed.

Firstly, the new management portal – it’s very shiny. That’s not an overly technical review, but once you play with it you’ll see what I mean. It’s nice and clean and littered with pleasant pieces of user experience engineering. Simple overviews, clean graphs and options, easy to use toolbars, and so on.

I noticed some of the new options (such as Web Sites, Virtual Machines, and Mobile Services, which are all in preview) immediately. I enabled Web Sites for a quick look, because although Virtual Machines is interesting (and a good option to have) I’m more interested in the other modes in order to take advantage of the tight publishing support from within Visual Studio.

However before jumping into VS, I took a quick browse through the gallery – nothing there which interested me, but a nice range of “the usual suspects” such as DasBlog, DotNetNuke, Umbraco, and so on – could be handy in certain scenarios.

Jumping into Visual Studio is where things get interesting. Since installing Visual Studio 2012 all my publish operations have started by asking me if I was deploying to Azure – ok, so now I am, so what? Well, it’s pretty seamless, that’s what. From the portal, I downloaded a publish profile, imported it into Visual Studio, and away I went. Bang. My hello world project was of course glossing over minor details such as anything to do with a database, and perhaps wanting to take a backup of the last known good code, however I’m sure there’s options for that out there – right?

I’ve also been doing some testing of Microsoft’s hosted TFS, and the in-Azure option to integrate with this sounds pretty exciting – and to be honest, given the attractive pitch of a full CI cycle that hosted TFS comes with, it’s also pretty obvious. So, obvious as a sales pitch, but still exciting.

So while it’s all looking incredibly interesting, the problem I have with Azure, is that it doesn’t feel like they’re ever going to want people hosting “lots of small sites” on it. The web site instance changes go a long way in the right direction, but if you’ve got a collection of sites of varying sizes (some of them small) that you need to host then I can’t see a way to make it economically viable via Azure. So given I have a large number of sites that need hosting, I can’t get rid of the VMs I rent monthly, and while that’s the case switching to Azure is less compelling (other than for larger apps/sites which justify some separation). This means that I’m left in the situation of being impressed and tempted by what Azure has to offer, but yet not being able to see a way for it to fit into my current setup.

Yet!

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Posted on Monday, December 17, 2012 10:54 PM |

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