What is Windows Azure? Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment. To get started with Windows Azure go to: http://aka.ms/try-azure
Windows Azure offers reliable, enterprise grade infrastructure to securely host web sites with high availability by default. Easily secure your web site with support for both a SNI and IP-based SSL certificate. Build robust, secure and modern business applications with access to key Windows Azure services such as Active Directory, SQL Database and Service Bus. Windows Azure keeps your infrastructure up to date by automatically patching your web server and operating system. Run your web site on a network of global datacenters with a guaranteed SLA and 24/7 support options.
Windows Azure Web Sites is built on a rock-solid foundation that powers some of the largest businesses in the world with incredible stability and industry-leading support for Internet standards. Built to handle millions of requests per day, Windows Azure will automatically load balance requests as needed and keep your infrastructure up to date. Scale-up or scale-out in seconds or scale automatically with zero code changes or effort, and pay only for what you use.
For more information about Windows Azure Web service offerings, visit these URLs.
· Windows Azure Web Applications
· Windows Azure Web Sites
· Windows Azure Web Sites Pricing
There are a few prerequisites that you must have in order to complete this lab guide.
· A Microsoft ID
o Sign up here
· Windows Azure account (Trial, Pay As You Go, or Purchased Plan)
o Windows Azure 30 Day Trial
o You will need a credit card to create a trial account (You will NOT be charged)
· Some understanding of WordPress
· Some understanding of MySQL
Let’s create a WordPress Website!
Windows Azure Account
Sign up for a Windows Azure 30-Day Trial account here.
**Note: You will need a credit card to sign up for the trial account.
What you get with your Windows Azure 30-Day Trial:
$200 USD of Windows Azure services. Build what you want, scale as you need, and full access with no strings attached.
· Create and run Virtual Machines
· Develop a modern app using Cloud Services
· Build and deploy Web Sites
· Spin up Mobile back-ends for Android,
· iOS or Windows Phone 8
· Store, backup, and recover data
· Encode and share video
And much, much more...
Create a WordPress Site
After you sign up and create your Windows Azure Trial Account or are using your own account, you will be logged in to the Portal screen and it is defaulted to the All Items category.
1. From the All Items screen, navigate and select Web Sites icon from the left navigation sidebar. In most cases, it is located right under the All Items icon. This will display the Web Sites screen.
You will see this initial screen when there are no web sites created.
2. Click on Create A Web Site. This will bring up the Create Screen.
Let’s pause here for a moment and discuss the different options for creating a website.
· Quick Create: Will create a website using the .NET platform by default. You will then need the required applications and tools to configure and build the website. There are also no linked resources, such as a database.
· Custom Create: Will allow you to create a website with a certain database type, database connection string, and servers if required. You will then need the required applications and tools to configure and build the website. This option is typical for advance web developers.
· From Gallery: This option gives you the greatest options for website customization. You can define your database type, web platform, and choose from several website content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress. Feel free to browse through the available third party and template websites.
For the purpose of this lab guide, From Gallery create option and WordPress from the Gallery will be used.
3. Select From Gallery. This will bring up the Find Apps for Windows Azure screen. Feel free to browse through what is currently available.
When ready, scroll down and select WordPress. Then click the Circled Right Arrow to continue.
4. Configure You App
URL: Enter a URL name. This URL name is shared throughout the Windows Azure infrastructure, and if the name you entered is used, you will receive a red exclamation mark . When a unique URL is entered, you will receive a green checkmark .
Database: A new MySQL database will created.
Region: Select your closest region.
Click the Circled Right Arrow to continue.
5. New MySQL Database
Name: A name is automatically generated for your new MySQL database for WordPress. It is recommended for beginners to change the name to something that is easily manageable. If you are new to WordPress, you do not have to change this field. For the purpose of this lab guide, the name was changed.
Region: You do have the option to change the region of your database, but it is not recommended for performance issues. The region field should already be what you choose from the step above. If not, select your closet region.
ClearDB: You must check this checkbox to continue. ClearDB is used to create the MySQL database and for monitoring.
Click the Circled Checkmark to create your new WordPress Azure website.
6. The web site creation will not take long and once completed successfully, your new web site is almost ready to use. You will need to install and configure WordPress. Click the URL to install and configure WordPress.
Before your new web site has that look and feel of a traditional WordPress blog site, you have to configure a few options.
You will need to give your site a title, create the admin user, enter a password, and enter your email address.
Best practices for WordPress ask that you do not use the standard admin user for site administrator. You have the option here to change the Administrator user now, but for the purpose of this lab guide, admin will be used. You may also change this user later from the WordPress site dashboard.
You may also uncheck the Privacy box if you so wish.
Enter your information and click the button Install WordPress.
2. Once completed, click the Log In button.
3. Enter the user credentials created in Step 1 of this section. Click the Log In button.
4. You will be taken to your WordPress site Dashboard. The Dashboard is the main point of control for your site. For more information about the WordPress Dashboard, click here.
Your WordPress site is now available for viewing from any browser. Verify this by hovering you mouse pointer over your site title in the upper left corner of the gray, top navigation bar of the Dashboard screen. A drop-down menu will appear. Right-click on Visit Site and choose to Open in a new tab or window.
Congratulations! You have successfully created a WordPress site in Windows Azure.
Before we continue with your WordPress site, let’s take a look back at the Windows Azure portal and look at the new screens associated with your web site in the Web Sites category.
Windows Azure Web Sites Category Navigation
Now that your Windows Azure WordPress Web Site is up running, Windows Azure offers you several features to monitor, control, and scale on-demand resources as needed. Let’s explore these resources for your website.
From your Windows Azure portal, navigate to the Web Sites category from the left sidebar navigation.
Click your web site name.
The Quick Start screen is displayed. The Quick Start screen is fairly new to Windows Azure and is to help new users navigate the portal and features associated with the service they are currently viewing. You have the option to not display this screen on next viewing. The Dashboard screen will then become the default start screen when viewing the selected service.
From here you have the option to navigate to the resources for this selected service and the ability to install and/or download tools associated with the service.
Select Dashboard from the top navigation bar.
The Dashboard screen is the summary of all things associated with the selected service. Here you can view information about endpoints for monitoring, autoscale status, usage, linked resources, and detailed information pertaining to FTP user(s), and subscription information.
The Monitor screen is the usage graph from the Dashboard screen with specific detail analytics for your website.
The Configure screen will allow to configure or modify details pertaining to your web site such as: General settings that let you configure your web site environment, Manage SSL certificates that you can bind to your custom domain names, View additional custom domain names for the web site here, Enable application logging to collect diagnostic traces from your web site code, Gathering diagnostic information for your web site, including web server logging, detailed error messages, or failed request tracing, Monitor the availability of HTTP or HTTPS endpoints from geo-distributed locations, Specify name/value pairs that will be loaded by your web application when it starts, View connection strings for linked resources, Add, remove, or reorder your web site's default documents, and Specify a custom script processor to handle requests for the file extension that you specified.
The Scale screen will allow you to change your Web Site Mode. Use this option to ramp up the resources associated with your web site.
Windows Azure offers three modes for you to run your web sites: Free, Shared (PREVIEW), and Standard. In the Free and Shared modes, all web sites run in a multi-tenant environment and have quotas for usage of CPU, memory, and network resources. The maximum number of sites you can run in Free mode may vary with your plan. Shared mode is a preview feature that employs less stringent resource usage quotas than Free mode, but provides a reduced SLA when compared to the Standard mode. When you choose Standard mode, you choose which sites run on dedicated virtual machines that correspond to standard Windows Azure compute resources.
To show your web site's dependencies on other resources, you can link new or existing Windows Azure SQL Database instances, MySQL instances, or storage accounts to the web site, and then monitor their usage on the web site dashboard.
That was just a quick overview of what is available in the Windows Azure portal to monitor, control, and configure your website.
If you are already familiar with WordPress, you make skip the next section of this lab guide. For those new to WordPress, continue to follow along to learn how to perform simple administration and customization tasks and make your first post and page.
Let’s jump back to your WordPress site and perform a few common tasks to get you started on using WordPress. Switch back to your web browser with the WordPress Dashboard.
If you closed that tab or logged out, from the Windows Azure portal, navigate back to the Web Sites All Items screen and click on the URL for your website. Then scroll down and click on Log In. Use the credentials that you created earlier in this guide.
Common WordPress Tasks:
Create a Post:
1. Select Posts from the left sidebar navigation. You may also select from the pop-out menu All Posts or Add New. For now, just click on Posts.
The Posts screen is displayed. You will notice that a sample post has already been created. You may delete this post.
2. Click Add New. The Add New Post screen is displayed.
· Enter a title for the post
· Enter text in the post body
· Click Publish
You screen will refresh, staying on the Add New post screen, but now you will be in Edit mode for the post. You will notice that the Publish button has now changed to Update.
Click on All Posts from the left sidebar navigation. You will see your new post listed. To learn about the other fields in the Posts screen, such as Categories, see the WordPress site for more information.
If you have another tab open with your site, refresh it and see your new post.
Switch back to the WordPress Dashboard browser tab and click on Dashboard in the left sidebar navigation.
Create a Page:
1. Select Pages from the left sidebar navigation. You may also select from the pop-out menu All Pages or Add New.
The Pages screen is displayed. You will notice that a sample page has already been created. You may delete this page.
2. Click Add New. The Add New Page screen is displayed.
· Enter a title for the page
· Enter text in the page body
· Click Publish
You screen will refresh, staying on the Add New page screen, but now you will be in Edit mode for the page. You will notice that the Publish button has now changed to Update.
Click on All Pages from the left sidebar navigation. You will see your new page listed.
If you have another tab open with your site, refresh it and see your new page listed in the navigation bar under your site title.
Switch back to the WordPress Dashboard browser tab and click on Dashboard in the left sidebar navigation.
Creating posts and pages is very straight forward and easy with WordPress. Now, there is a lot more you can do in both, such as add images, media, formatting, etc., but that is up to you learn. WordPress has a great community of users that are willing to help even beginners on their web site, documentation, and forums. Make sure to visit them for help and resources.
One of the most common administrative tasks in WordPress is Updates. You may have notice that there are a couple of items that require updating after the initial install of WordPress. Let’s see what needs to be updated.
1. From your Dashboard screen, click Updates from the left sidebar navigation.
2. The WordPress Updates screen lists all the available updates for WordPress itself, installed plugins, and installed themes. Let’s update WordPress first. Click the Update Now button.
3. This update will only take a moment. Once the update is successful, you’ll be taken to the update summary screen for WordPress. Scroll through this page to see what was updated in WordPress 3.5.2.
4. On the left sidebar navigation, hover over Dashboard and select Updates. You still have a Plugin that needs to be updated.
5. Select the checkbox for the Akismet plugin and click the Update Plugins button.
The update process will only take a moment.
Click on Dashboard. You are now ready to explore more of the features in WordPress.
There are many more administrative tasks and settings that can be configured for your site. There are also thousands of plugins and themes you can download and install to make your site the way you want it. Explore the WordPress site to find out how powerful WordPress is.
This article and lab guide was authored by Blain Barton and Alex Melching.
This lab guide has been tested thoroughly, but if there are any questions, problems or any errors later discovered, please email Alex Melching at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference this document.
If there are any updates or service changes to the Windows Azure Web Sites service or the portal, this lab guide will be updated.