Windows Azure?

Hi everyone,

So I’m doing research for a major project we are getting ready to undertake.

In another thread, logic_earth started to sell me on Windows Azure for a cloud solution.

I’ve been looking into it and I’ve been liking what I see. We currently use Rackspace Cloud as our main cloud provider, but for the most part their cloud servers are just VPSes. Windows Azure looks a bit more flexible. The price point is a bit higher, but not anything that would put it out of our range.

I have a few questions I hope others that are familiar with it can help answer for me:

  • Does it do -automatic- dynamic scaling, or is it still on the end-user (us) to scale it when needed?
  • Does it operate in a CDN-like environment (the server itself, storage, and SQL parts in particular)?
  • How well does IIS play with PHP (we’ve had some “fun” in the past with this…)?
  • How good is there support overall?
  • Any general thoughts on it?


Heh, didn’t really try to sell you on it :stuck_out_tongue:
You’re welcome to use others I just like Azure. Anyways…

Its currently manual, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it. With manual there is no surprises in the bill. You only pay for what you want. But being manual you could miss traffic spikes. Thus reduce performance during those times.

  • Does it operate in a CDN-like environment (the server itself, storage, and SQL parts in particular)?

It can operate in a CDN-like enviroment, they have 2 data centers in the US you can pick to deploy to, or both. Along with several others around the world. There is also a CDN add-on if you need it for files. Its not an automatic CDN. Again paying for what you need and nothing more.

  • How well does IIS play with PHP (we’ve had some “fun” in the past with this…)?

IIS7 (using FastCGI) plays very well with PHP. Since version 5.3, the PHP Group made Windows a first-class citizen along with Linux/Unix systems. The very FastCGI module that IIS7 uses was made specifically with PHP in mind. (Its a product from the partnership of Microsoft and Zend they did a while back.) You shouldn’t have any problem with PHP and IIS7.

Course there is no reason you cannot try it yourself if you are concerned.
Windows Azure offers a free 3 month trial. I’m not aware of any other services that provides that.
Or any Windows Vista/7 machine will have IIS7 as well.

Sounds good.

We actually have a few IIS7 servers already, so we’re pretty familiar with it (our network admin actually prefers it). We just use it for our ASP.NET application, and have kept PHP in Linux (we had PHP in IIS7 for a while, but it was performing REALLY crappy, though I don’t think it was 5.3).

I think we’ve already made the decision that we’re going to at least test it out for a while when I begin development.

I like that they have several data centers. That’s one thing that has always worried me a bit with Rackspace, they just have the one data center in Texas.

Update, I just learned this can be handled pragmatically via an exposed API. I haven’t had a chance to play with it but they have an SDK that helps you monitor traffic burst and accommodate them. So it can be dynamic is needed.

Ah, cool.

Rackspace has that functionality too, but their implementation is a bit clunky because during the resize the server is unavailable. Not what you want during a peak period.