Flexible and Scalable Web Hosting with Microsoft Azure
October 27, 2014
At IT solutions provider, BDO Digital, we often get asked questions about web hosting. There is an ongoing debate over whether an organization should use a public hosting solution like GoDaddy or Network Solutions or their own servers. Public hosting solutions provide easy hosting and guaranteed uptime, but don’t always offer the full feature set an organization is looking for. Alternatively, some organizations opt to host their website on their own servers making internal IT staff responsible for the site’s maintenance and uptime. Microsoft Azure Websites provides a middle ground, read my blog to learn more.
Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform that offers fully hosted and customizable websites. The underlying maintenance and management of the system is controlled by Microsoft, so you’re guaranteed 99.9% uptime without your organization’s internal IT staff getting involved. The website can be configured either through a web editor or via file upload and Azure can also integrate with Git, TFS and GitHub for easier continuous deployment of site changes and updates. Azure websites also have all of the common programming languages available including .Net, Java, PHP, Python, etc.
However, unlike some other services, Azure Websites can go a step further because they can integrate with other Azure services. This allows Azure websites to have a database backend such as Microsoft SQL, MySQL, DocumentDB and others using Azure resources. If you already have these databases onsite and want to connect to your existing data sources, Azure makes that possible as well. This flexibility makes it is easy to setup any number of packaged templates – such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal in a matter of minutes.
One other area that sets Azure apart from many of the other hosting vendors is the new, more advanced auto-scaling feature. Many vendors including Azure will monitor your traffic and when a usage spike occurs, retroactively scale your services to try to keep up with the demand. In this scenario, anyone who tries to visit your site before the system can scale properly will have poor performance. But what about scenarios where you know in advance that your site is going to have higher than normal usage – such as when a new promotion or mailing goes out? Azure gives you the flexibility to preschedule your resources to scale up at a specific date and time and then once the usage goes back to normal, you can schedule your Azure website resources to scale back down.
Microsoft Azure Websites may be the solution for greater flexibility in your organization’s cloud hosting. Our goal at BDO Digital is to be a partner to help find the right cloud solution, we work with a number of cloud vendors to ensure the right fit for your organization’s specific needs. Our cloud consultants have an extensive technical background and know what requirements to consider before moving applications and systems to the cloud, including when moving to the cloud is not recommended. We can apply that expertise to your environment.