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Announcing the New Windows Azure Web Sites Shared Scaling Tier

Windows Azure Web Sites has added a new pricing tier that will solve the #1 blocker for the web development community. The shared tier now supports custom domain names mapped to shared-instance web sites. This post will outline the plan changes and elaborate on how the new pricing model makes Windows Azure Web Sites an even richer option for web development shops of all sizes.

Free

Shared

Reserved

# of Sites

10

100

100

Egress

165MB/Day

5GB/Month Included

5GB/Month Included

Storage

1GB

1GB

10GB

Throttling

CPU/Memory/Egress

CPU/Memory

Unlimited

Price

Free

$.02/hr per site, per instance

$.08/hr per core

Setting the Stage

In June, we released the first public preview of Windows Azure Web Sites, which gave web developers a great platform on which to get web sites running using their web development framework of choice. PHP, Node.js, classic ASP, and ASP.NET developers can all utilize the Windows Azure platform to create and launch their web sites. Likewise, these developers have a series of data storage options using Windows Azure SQL Databases, MySQL, or Windows Azure Storage. The Windows Azure Web Sites free offer enabled startups to get their site up and running on Windows Azure with a minimal investment, and with multiple deployment and continuous integration features such as Git, Team Foundation Services, FTP, and Web Deploy. 

The response to the Windows Azure Web Sites offer has been overwhelmingly positive. Since the addition of the service on June 12th, tens of thousands of web sites have been deployed to Windows Azure and the volume of adoption is increasing every week.

Preview Feedback

In spite of the growth and success of the product, the community has had questions about features lacking in the free preview offer. The main question web developers asked regarding Windows Azure Web Sites relates to the lack of the free offer’s support for domain name mapping. During the preview launch period, customer feedback made it obvious that the lack of domain name mapping support was an area of concern. We’re happy to announce that this #1 request has been delivered as a feature of the new shared plan.

New Shared Tier Portal Features

In the screen shot below, the “Scale” tab in the portal shows the new tiers – Free, Shared, and Reserved – and gives the user the ability to quickly move any of their free web sites into the shared tier. With a single mouse-click, the user can move their site into the shared tier.

clip_image001

Once a site has been moved into the shared tier, a new Manage Domains button appears in the bottom action bar of the Windows Azure Portal giving site owners the ability to manage their domain names for a shared site.

clip_image002

This button brings up the domain-management dialog, which can be used to enter in a specific domain name that will be mapped to the Windows Azure Web Site.

clip_image003

Shared Tier Benefits

Startups and large web agencies will both benefit from this plan change. Here are a few examples of scenarios which fit the new pricing model:

  • Startups no longer have to select the reserved plan to map domain names to their sites. Instead, they can use the free option to develop their sites and choose on a site-by-site basis which sites they elect to move into the shared plan, paying only for the sites that are finished and ready to be domain-mapped
  • Agencies who manage dozens of sites will realize a lower cost of ownership over the long term by moving their sites into reserved mode. Once multi-site companies reach a certain price point in the shared tier, it is much more cost-effective to move sites to a reserved tier. 

Long-term, it’s easy to see how the new Windows Azure Web Sites shared pricing tier makes Windows Azure Web Sites it a great choice for both startups and agency customers, as it enables rapid growth and upgrades while keeping the cost to a minimum. Large agencies will be able to have all of their sites in their own instances, and startups will have the capability to scale up to multiple-shared instances for minimal cost and eventually move to reserved instances without worrying about the need to incur continually additional costs. Customers can feel confident they have the power of the Microsoft Windows Azure brand and our world-class support, at prices competitive in the market. Plus, in addition to realizing the cost savings, they’ll have the whole family of Windows Azure features available.

Continuous Deployment from GitHub and CodePlex

Along with this new announcement are two other exciting new features. I’m proud to announce that web developers can now publish their web sites directly from CodePlex or GitHub.com repositories. Once connections are established between these services and your web sites, Windows Azure will automatically be notified every time a check-in occurs. This will then trigger Windows Azure to pull the source and compile/deploy the new version of your app to your web site automatically.

Walk-through videos on how to perform these functions are below:

These changes, as well as the enhancements to the reserved plan model, make Windows Azure Web Sites a truly competitive hosting option. It’s never been easier or cheaper for a web developer to get up and running. Check out the free Windows Azure web site offering and see for yourself.

Stay tuned to my twitter feed for Windows Azure announcements, updates, and links: @clinted

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Clint Edmonson

Clint Edmonson is an Architect Evangelist for Microsoft focused on Windows Azure and Cloud Computing. He has been developing software with Microsoft technologies for the last 20 years, working on everything from custom shrink-wrapped software at small startups to enterprise architecture and methodology adoption at fortune 500 companies. He spends his days helping companies understand Microsoft’s latest developer cloud offerings and developing strategic roadmaps for their adoption. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is the host of www.notsotrivial.net. You can follow Clint on twitter at @clinted.

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