Having worked with the Windows Azure Platform since 2008 it’s easy to forget some of the initial hurdles I ran into and assume that others won’t have the same challenges. Of course, any time you assume anything you risk being wrong. Rather than assume you won’t run into the issues I did, I thought it would be good to review some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years and share what I’ve learned. In the first lesson I wrote about Windows Azure billing. In this lesson, I’ll look at running multiple web sites with Windows Azure.

Many people I talk to who are interested in using Windows Azure to host their web sites, but don’t know much about the platform tell me something like this:

“Well, we’ve looked at using Windows Azure, but the annual cost to host our four web sites is way more than we’re paying with our current hosting provider.”

To which I reply:

“OK. Let’s take a look at how you determined your Windows Azure cost.”

We’ll spend some time white boarding the solution they’ve put together, and it typically looks something like this:

azure-mult-sites-00-initial-solution

In this case, we have a company that has four web sites. The company thinks that they need to run each web site in it’s own web role, and that they need to have at least two instances of each web role to get guaranteed SLA’s from Microsoft. The math to determine monthly costs from the company’s perspective is pretty simple:

Sites

 

Servers/Site

 

Hours

 

Rate/Hour

 

Total

4

x

2

x

720

x

$0.12

=

$691.20

In fact, if we use the Windows Azure pricing calculator, we get the same thing:

azure-mult-sites-01-cost

At nearly $700/month it’s hard to argue against the client’s case that Windows Azure is just too expensive. It’s at this point in the conversation I’ll ask this question:

“Did you know you can run multiple web sites in a single web role?”

I’ll then take to the whiteboard and draw something along these lines:

azure-mult-sites-02-alt-a

I’ll then do the math:

Servers

 

Hours

 

Rate/Hour

 

Total

2

x

720

x

$0.12

=

172.80

As well as verify using the Windows Azure pricing calculator

azure-mult-sites-04-alt-a-cost

This will usually raise some eyebrows. The Windows Azure champions at the client will say:

“See! I told you we could save money! Let’s do it now!”

That statement is usually tempered by someone else in the room who will respond with:

Well, that’s nice and all, but we don’t want traffic from our marketing site affecting performance of our other sites.”

Based on the last requirement of not letting the marketing site affecting the other sites, we can use a deployment that looks like this:

azure-mult-sites-03-alt-b

The math:

Servers

 

Hours

 

Rate/Hour

 

Total

4

x

720

x

$0.12

=

345.60

As well as verify using the Windows Azure pricing calculator

azure-mult-sites-05-alt-b-cost

What’s the point of all this? Simple, Windows Azure isn’t a one size fits all solution. You can mold the platform to your needs rather than having to retrofit an exiting solution to the demands of the platform. As a result, it’s very easy to slice and dice your applications to get the performance and scalability your business needs while keeping costs in line.

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