It has been a while since I’ve written anything about Azure. Not that there isn’t anything noteworthy happening. There are constant updates to Azure so man in fact that it’s tough to keep track of them all. Today I want to let you know about three items that are of special interest to me:
- The “New” Azure Portal
- The Azure Marketplace
- Project Nami
The New Azure Portal
Microsoft has had the new portal available in preview for about a year. Depending on the azure services you needed to manage it could be confusing to know which portal to use. Especially for new services that were only supported in the new portal. Portal switching confusion is finally over (I hope) as the new portal is GA (generally available) as of December 3rd 2015. It supports 26 services as opposed to the “classic” portal which supports 23. Going forward you should be able to accomplish all of your Azure management tasks from the new portal.
The Azure Marketplace
There are many benefits to cloud computing but one of the features that really helps Azure stand apart for me is the Gallery. The gallery allows you to quickly provision a virtual machine or other workload based on industry standard stacks. There are thousands of certified applications pre-configured for Microsoft Azure in the Azure Marketplace.
I’ve used a several of them and they really accelerate my testing and investigation of new products and use cases. I’ve traditionally focused on the Microsoft workloads like SQL Server and SharePoint but there are hundreds of third party offerings including Linux VMs and stacks from companies like Oracle, Barracuda, Citrix, Hortonworks, Commvault and many others. That leads me to my last update …
Project Nami has been making my life a lot easier (and cheaper) for a few months now. As you may well know, one of the most popular blogging and website platforms currently is WordPress. WordPress requires a database and is designed to use MySQL. Microsoft supports WordPress as a preconfigured application as part of the Azure Marketplace but you get a 20GB MySQL database provided by a third-party known as ClearDB. If you exceed your database size allocation you can cripple your site and if you need more than 20GB you would need to pay ClearDB for additional services.
Project Nami to the rescue! Being a Microsoft focused IT Pro I’m more comfortable with MS SQL server than MySQL. Project Nami allows you to run your WordPress site on a MS SQL database instead of MySQL. Even more interesting is that you can deploy directly to Azure in under 5 minutes. I’m currently using Project Nami in Azure for hosting the website of the Surface Smiths podcast that I do with David Smith and it hasn’t let me down yet.