My latest 10th Magnitude blog post is up, in which I dig into Microsoft's changes to Azure Web Sites announced Monday. The biggest change is that you can now point your own domain names at Azure Web Sites, which solves a critical failing with the product that has dogged them from its June release.
Since this Daily Parker post was embargoed for a day while my 10th Magnitude post got cleared with management, I've played with the new Shared tier some more. I've come to a couple of conclusions:
- It might work for a site like Inner Drive's brochure, except for the administrative tools lurking on the site that need SSL. Azure Web sites still have no way to configure secure (https://) access.
- They still don't expose the Azure role instance to .NET applications, making it difficult to use tools like the Inner Drive Extensible Architecture™ to access Azure table storage. The IDEA™ checks to see whether the Azure role instance exists (using RoleEnvironment.IsAvailable) before attempting to access Azure-specific things like tables and blobs.
- The cost savings isn't exactly staggering. A "very small" Web Role instance costs about $15 per month. A Shared-level Web Site costs about $10. So moving to a Shared Web Site won't actually save much money.
- Deployments, however, are a lot easier to Web Sites. You can make a change and upload it in seconds. Publishing to a Web Role takes about 15 minutes in the best circumstances. Also, since Web Sites expose FTP endpoints, you can even publish sites using Beyond Compare or your favorite FTP client.
I did upgrade one old site from Free to Shared to move its domain name off my VM. (The VM hosted a simple page that redirected users to the site's azurewebsites.net address.) I'll also be moving Hired Wrist in the next few days, as the overhead of running it on a VM doesn't make sense to me.
In other news, I've decided to go with Mercurial for source control. I'm sad to give up the tight integration with Visual Studio, but happy to gain DVCS capabilities and an awesomely simple way of ensuring that my source code stays under my control. I did look at Fog Creek's Kiln, but for one person who's comfortable mucking about inside a VM, it didn't seem worth the cost ($299).