Windows Azure VMs
I’ve had some time to play with the new durable instances on Windows Azure. Overall, I’d say it’s been a good experience. The VM started up quickly and I was able to remote in without much trouble. Virtual Machines in Azure have their own little firewall settings under each instance. Look for the “Endpoints” option. I wasn’t clear on this at first and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t reach my web server. I figured out that I needed to add an endpoint for port 80.
Speaking of that feature, MS establishes RDP on a non-standard port. That may be a good practice, but it could cause issues in other areas. For instance, I found that my corporate firewall doesn’t allow the port that MS established for RDP. I might be able to change the endpoint to a suitable port, but I’m afraid to touch it and lose access. You can’t create an endpoint for 3389 (the standard port) as long as the other entry exists.
The server functioned fine and I was able to get a default web server running in no time. I even installed Apache and PHP. I didn’t expect to have any issues and there were none.
As with other services, you don’t have access to a console. This isn’t always a problem with other cloud providers because other services have pretty good support resources available. That’s why I like services like GoGrid and Rackspace; I can reach a human to get some help. With Windows Servers, I lose remote access once in a while. This usually occurs during a patching session. Without console access or someone to call immediately, your server could be hosed for quite some time. That’s a concern for me if I choose to put a production system on Windows Azure. If I placed a high profile project on Azure, I might need to purchase a support plan with Microsoft. I wonder if the savings that I realize through cheaper VMs will be wiped out by the need to purchase support. I don’t have enough information right now, but that’s something to keep an eye on.
Windows Azure VMs are still in ‘preview,’ which I guess is the new ‘beta.’ This offering makes much more sense than the original Azure Cloud Services. If they can streamline some of the setup and bring the service into production, I can see this as another excellent option for running applications in the cloud.
data-text=”Windows Azure VMs (Shannon Whitley)”