Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Creating a Web Site with Azure's New App Service

Once neat feature of Azure, that I love demoing, is the ability to create a simple web site, backed with tools such as WordPress. You could create this pretty easily using the wizard – either create a bare bones IIS web site, or pre-load it with a variety of packages from the gallery – Simple! Azure Web sites – however they are now so last week!

By that, I meant that last week, Microsoft announced a huge new feature: Azure App Service. This feature is, an evolution of the old Web Site and Web/Worker Role features. Those old features are gone from the UI. IN the old portal it now looks like this:

image As you can see, there is no explicit option for Web Sites any more. The website option is now a subset of Web Apps.  And it turns out to be almost as easy as it used to be!  I now show you how to create my standard WordPress sample site using Azure Web Apps. You do it as follows:

1. Open the Portal, click on Web Apps and then click New:


2. From here, you can click on the From Gallery and get a popop:

image 3. I just scroll down and find the WordPress gallery item:

image 4. With WordPress (or any other gallery item you want to play with) selected, I click the arrow at the bottom right of the popup. This brings up an application configuration screen:

image 5. As you can see, I've filled in the basics: site name (defaults to a site within the .azurewebsites.net domain), database details and where to put the db (and the account used to bill this web site!). Once filled in, it's another click on the right arrow where you can specify details of the MySQL database (and agree to the terms and conditions):


6. Finally, click the check icon at the bottom right of the screen, and the application (aka web site) will be created. Once that is done (it takes a couple of minutes to create a new web site and  My SQL database), you can then logon and install/configure WordPress. And then you canstart to blog. I'll leave the details of creating a Wordpress site as a topic for other sites! But here's the site with literally 2 minutes work:


In summary: while the explicit option to create a web SITE is gone, it's very simple to create a simple web application that just consists of a single web site. Web sites are dead, long live web applications…

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Azure Architecture Posters

I've long been a fan of Microsoft's technical posters – they convey a great deal of information and area a great way to learn more. Microsoft has just published some updated Cloud IT architecture posters and you can download them from https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn919927.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396.

There are :

  • Microsoft Cloud Services and Platform Options
  • Microsoft Cloud Identity for Enterprise Architects
  • Microsoft Cloud Security for Enterprise Architects
  • Microsoft Cloud Storage for Enterprise Architects (coming soon)

I just wish I had a nice A2 or A1 colour printer!!

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Azure Portal Shortcut keys

The latest version of the Azure Preview Portal shipped a few weeks ago. One of the features of that new portal is that it now supports keyboard shortcuts.

Those not familiar with the new portal need to learn the concept of blades. These are UI elements which pop out to the right. Bringing up the Virtual Machines blade shows all the VMs in your account; clicking on a specific VM brings up that VM's blade. You can then open subsidiary blades e.g. to manage the VM's settings. The new portal also has notification hub where you get notification messages (that a VM you created has indeed been created). There's also a billing blade that shows you your subscriptions and how much credit each subscription has.

One of the cool features added to the updated Preview Portal is adding shortcut keys. These are single key strokes that do useful things! There are two sets of short cut keys

Hub Menu – when you are focused on the left hand 'hub' in the portal:

H – shows the portal start board (as customised by you!)

N – shows the notification hub and any recent notifications

A – shows the active journey hub – this is a starting point for any sets of blades you have opened (a VM's configuration, etc)

/ – show the search hub

B – shows the billing hub (all your subscriptions and credit left)

C – shows the Create/New Hub blade

Blade Navigation - If you have several blades open (e.g. VMs, a VM, a VM's setting) you can navigate between the individual blades (i.e. between the blades in an active journey)

J – move the input focus to the prior blade

K – move the input focus to the next blade

F – move the input focus to first blade

L- move the input focus to the last blade

This makes navigation around the Preview Portal easier.