– Ben Martens

Windows Azure

Now that my job at work is 100% focused on running a product in the cloud, I’ve been spending some time at home playing around with Azure (Microsoft’s cloud offering) and wow is it impressive! I remember looking at it a couple years ago and just seeing a garbled mess that was impossible to decipher, but now it’s gotten ridiculously easy.

The biggest change is that you don’t need a credit card to get started. You can sign up for a free account and get a surprising amount of learning and experimenting done without paying a dime. This approach is much more effective than having a big barrier to entry.

Secondly, each of the Azure pieces has gotten super easy to use. Want to set up a WordPress blog? I went from not even having an Azure account to having a functioning WordPress site in well under 5 minutes. That’s just one of the many project templates they have all set up and ready to install.

You can choose exactly how much detail you want to manager. I saw one blog post that described Azure as giving you the choice between building your own house and living in a hotel. If you want to control everything, they’ll give you a barebones virtual machine in the cloud. If you want to have it “just work”, they’ll set up a web application host for you and you can just publish your code to them. They’ll take care of everything from there.

I’m so impressed that I’m thinking about moving off of my ancient Community Server blog code hosted on GoDaddy and switching over to WordPress. That part is easy, but if I’m going to do this then I need to move EVERYTHING off of GoDaddy and that includes a bunch of the back end service code for CascadeSkier. It looks like that won’t be too hard but it will require a few changes and upgrades (which were long overdue anyway.)

Don’t expect any big changes right away. I’ll be picking away at this as I have free time.