Wordpress and Azure Websites: I want my Domain Name

Update: You can now point your domain name directly at your Azure Website without any of this nonsense. Read the announcement for more details.

If you set up Wordpress on a free Azure Website, which means you went with the Shared model, you may have discovered that Microsoft gives you a custom subdomain, such as http://codethug.azurewebsites.net. However, if you want to use a custom domain, such as http://codethug.com, you can’t.

You can try pointing directly to the IP address of your server, or you can even try using a CNAME to point to codethug.azurewebsites.net, but neither will work.

Custom domains are available today, but only on reserved Azure Websites.
Custom domains are planned for the future for shared websites, according to @scottgu
However, with a little bit of jQuery, we can get it to work like we want, even on a shared website.

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Azure Upgrade Costs

So you have an application running in Azure, running on a set of web and worker roles, and you need to upgrade it. What do you do?

Well, you could redeploy your application to the live, production instances of your web and worker roles, but that would result in half an hour of downtime or so. That’s probably not the best option if you have users that connect to your site, unless you have periods of time where it doesn’t matter if your site is down.

You could also do an in-place upgrade

The third option is to do a VIP Swap, where you set up a completely new set of servers in Azure with the new version, then you click a button and your production IP address immediately starts routing to the new servers.

The following chart, from Mark Russinovich‘s recent talk on Azure, shows some of the limitations with these three options:

That’s great, but how much is this going to cost?

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MySQL on Azure

Yes, it’s true. Microsoft is now providing hosted MySQL on Azure, via ClearDB. For now the MySQL hosting is free, but Microsoft will likely charge for it once the trial period ends. You can sign up for a MySQL database when creating an Azure Website. See my other post for information and screenshots on the sign-up process.

There are, however, a few limitations on the MySQL databases.

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Installing WordPress on an Azure Website

I’ve been a fan of Azure for a while now, but some of my coworkers, @cromwellryan and @stevemgentile, have compared it with Heroku and found it to be lacking. Heroku hosts web applications that have cloud scale an can be quickly deployed with git. Microsoft has apparently heard these complaints and recently released Azure Web Sites.

So what is an Azure website and how does it compare with what we’ve had in the past with Web and Worker Roles? And how do you create a website with Azure websites?

This is the first of a 2-part series of posts:

  1. Setup of Wordpress on Azure websites
  2. Migrating a blog from Blogspot to Wordpress on Azure websites
    Let’s get started.

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