Underpinnings of my Blog

Welcome to the Rockton World's Fair

Photo by M. Rehemtulla for QUOI Media Group – Some rights reserved

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and my wife has taken the kids to the Rockton World’s Fair. The kids love seeing the animals, and it’s become a bit of a tradition. This has left me with the opportunity to catch up on the housework, and, while the laundry is in the machine and the oven is on self-clean, like a good techie, I’m able to come back and play with Azure.

Obviously, (until I pony up for a real domain) I’m using Azure to host my website. What’s possibly less-obvious is that I’m actually hosting it using the native Azure SQL database, as an Azure Website – but it’s WordPress. This is made possible with the excellent open-source Project Nami. Project Nami is a fork of WordPress that allows users to use SQL Server 2012 and up – or, in my case, Azure SQL Database. It deploys using Azure Web Sites and Azure Storage as well – it’s a fully “native” Azure product. It’s incredibly easy to get started – all you need is an Azure Subscription and you can just click the “Deploy to Azure” button on this page, and in a matter of minutes, there’s a full WordPress solution ready to go.

Project Nami lets me use all the cool features that are native to Azure, such as the automatic SQL high availability and load balancing, as well as the cost benefits that come with using SQLaaS. I’m able to choose from a variety of service levels, from a very small instance, supporting 2GB databases with minimal use, right up to 500GB databases that handle massive load. I only pay for the size that I’m using.

Running on Azure Web Sites enables me to simply drag a slider to quickly add new servers to the pool. I can set up a schedule for scale out, or I can set it to scale out on a fairly long list of metrics – so if I get hammered for some reason, I don’t even need to tell Azure to add more power. There’s a good Azure Friday video that describes how this works in more detail. I can also, of course, scale up. Having additional CPU and RAM available at my fingertips, instead of waiting for a service provider to process a PO, provision a new server, and move my data over is really awesome.

Similar highly-available, highly-scalable solutions would get costly, quickly. Of course, this blog is brand new and I doubt even my mom’s reading it right now, but it’s still a great way to get a feel for deploying a service into Azure. I’m hoping to add to my use of Azure services, which will deepen my understanding of the PaaS and Saas portions of Azure.

My next goal is to figure out whether I can use Azure CDN effectively with Project Nami. The Azure CDN is massively overkill for my website, but it will help me learn the technology at a level that I cannot attain without actually using the service. Azure CDN has endpoints around the world that serve up blobs (such as images and video) and static content with less latency and higher bandwidth. The hard part of serving a web page (pulling blobs  out of my SQL database) is entirely handled by Azure’s CDN.

I don’t think I’ll have time for it today, though. I need to go help prepare dinner!

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