I’ve got two quick items.
Did you know tsqltuesday.com is hosted on Azure? It’s actually at http://tsqltuesday.azurewebsites.net. When Brent gave me to the domain, and Adam wanted a quick site, I provisioned a WordPress site on Azure in a few minutes. It actually took longer to square away the initial DNS and domain name movement than getting the site up and configured. Templates and known configuration settings help to ensure that you can build a new version of xxx, very quickly.
The cost was low as well, about $3.60/month and initially $5/month for the hosted MySQL database.
This changed last year, when the MySQL hosting option was discontinued. I could have upgraded to $15/month, but decided to experiment. Azure has a MySQL as a Service PaaS offering for the same $15/mo, so I moved to that. I was somewhat amazed how easy it was to provision this database on my own and get things running. While the site costs me a little money, it’s a donation to the community, and I’m happy to see so many people participating in the monthly event.
One of the things that I needed to do last year was setup a new cluster and Availability Group for a proof of concept. I have typically done this by getting some VMs ready on my desktop, making connections, etc. However, in this case, I decided to use Azure instead. I was curious about whether this was faster or easier.
Across a few days, as I learned a bit about provisioning new machines and connecting them with networking, I was able to get my set up with 3 machines, a load balancer, storage, etc. I had a working set of Availability Groups, that I could access from anywhere.
Then I tore it down and started again.
One of the great things about Azure is that you can use the Azure Resource Manager to provision new services fairly quickly. It’s not as instantaneous as you would like, though it’s not bad. I think the fact that you request actions and then wait until you are notified of something completing in the portal makes the process seem slow.
In my case, the few days became < 1 hour the second time around.
Plus, I didn’t use resources on my local machine, where I might have to balance the load with other tasks. I could also shut down my system and reduce costs. With ARM, I could even get rid of the lab and rebuild it in an hour in the future.
To me, this is the place where the cloud makes lots of sense. If you have a load that is sporadic and can be up or down on demand, then the cloud is helpful. You can remove resources you don’t need, only paying as you go.
If I were using this every day, I’d probably stick with the local system, but for a periodic use item, it makes sense to fire up the lab when I need it, rather than keeping it alive all the time.
I look forward to doing more with Azure in the future and learning even more about how to build up the resources I need, when I need them.