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Setting Up Azure and Deploying Your First Application

  • October 2, 2009
  • By Matt Goebel
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Deploying an Application to Azure

Once your URL and region/affinity is set up, clicking the "Create button" finalizes the creation process of the hosted service and takes you to the service's summary page. Deployments and migrations from staging to production are initiated from the service's summary page.



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Figure 1.5 First Azure Application Deployment

Below staging, click on the Deploy button to select the application package and configuration settings for your application.



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Figure 1.6 First Azure Application Staging Deployment

The package extension for the application will be '.cspkg' and the configuration settings '.cscfg'. Don't worry too much if you are unfamiliar with these extensions since the Visual Studio add-in for Azure does almost all the lifting. This walkthrough uses an application package and configuration settings already built using VS 2008.

The last thing to note on the deployment page is to "Provide a label for the deployment," which is an easy way for you to keep track of the deployment version. Enter "1.0" and click Deploy to deploy your first application up to the cloud. The initial deployment should only take one to two minutes. During deployment, the uploaded configuration file is used by Azure to copy the application to the correct number of instances (machines).

Immediately following a successful deployment, you will notice that your staging environment is 'lit' now that it contains an application. Under the staging environment, you will see detail about how many instances are set up with your application and the private test URL, using a private deployment ID (GUID), which you can use to test your application before moving it to production.



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Figure 1.7 Hosted Service - Staging

The Configure button allows you to update your configuration settings after uploading your application. From the configuration editor, you are able to change the number of instances the application will use, update the storage account end point URL and access key, and many more things. In the future, Microsoft has plans to extend the uses and options in the configuration file.

Once the application is deployed and configured, click the "Run" button to have Azure start up the configured number of instances (machines). While you wait on Azure to start the servers, it is nice to appreciate at this point that with a few clicks of a mouse button you (really Azure, but you can take credit) have set up a staging environment, deployed your application, provisioned load balancers and networking devices, handled patching of the OS, ensured redundancy against hardware and made sure that plenty of storage was allocated for your needs.

After the application is running and tested, you have the ability to move it into your production environment from staging. Since these environments are actually virtual, Microsoft plans in the future to let you have multiple environments like "Dev", "Test", "QA", etc. Clicking the 'sync' button in the middle, between the two environments, moves the application from staging to production.



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Figure 1.8 Hosted Service - Production

Wait a few minutes for the DNS to propagate before navigating to the web site URL. If you get a 404 page error, wait a few minutes and try again. The time it takes to propagate for the first time varies.

Conclusion

As you can see from the above walkthrough, Azure makes it extremely easy to set up scalable environments, deploy your application to those environments and configure it on the fly. Microsoft Azure creates a unique, comprehensive system ideal for simplified managements and resource organization, which can greatly decrease unnecessary costs. The "pick and choose" service can save time, money and resources while simplifying complex systems into a manageable application.

About the Author

Matt Goebel is a consultant with AP Innovation, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. He can be reached at 859-802-7591 or matt .goebel@apinnovation.com.





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