After 1 week of testing we moved the Hobbytronics website over to Windows Azure this weekend. Initially we had some significant performance issues which was sorted out by upgrading our eCommerce software to the latest version. We also experienced that the latency in the West-Europe datacenter (Amsterdam) was much higher then North-Europe (Dublin).
Cloud computing is not only for big corporations - small companies (such as ourselves) can have access to cloud computing. The advantages of the cloud are numerous:
- Cost effective;
Why Azure - simple - our shopping cart is written in .Net (nopCommerce) and Microsoft currently offers a 90 day free trial on Azure - so we decided to try it. Since we are a growing our business we want to ensure the best reliability & performance for our clients. The SQL Azure database provides backup and automatic fail-over support.
Why not host a VM in South Africa? For exactly the same reason many web-sites are hosted overseas - price. Also when you choose Azure - there are several data centres around the world you can choose from - unfortunately Africa is not one of them.
Currently we are sitting with an approximate 150MB SQL database; the next step is to remove the BLOB's from the Azure database and install them on a CDN (Content Delivery Network) - which will lower the price (less computing cycles) & increase performance since CDN’s performs caching or proxies can handle these objects much better than dynamic created content.
Our experience so far - it works - no need to switch from & to MSSQL Management Studio, IIS Manager - the current Azure dashboard is slick and you can manage your infrastructure quite comfortably. Using the same dashboard we have setup bi-directional replication between our cloud database and our local database - so we always have a local copy on hand. Since we do quite a bit of interfacing in the office between our production, stock & accounting system (Entity Framework) this is a major bonus. Changes made to our local database are automatically propagated to the cloud and vice-versa.
You can publish your site directly from Visual Studio to Azure - or you can use the more traditional FTP method.
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