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I'm working in a startup which looks to deploy their code to the "cloud". One of the options is Microsoft Azure - the questions is should it be used?

We use .NET with SQL Server. The front end consist of a Web Service and a Web Site. We use AppFabric Caching service.

Anyone had experience with Azure? Deployment? Scaling? Performance?

I can't really decide should we move to Azure or maybe to Amazon? GoGrid? RackSpace? What should we be considering?

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We're a startup currently using most of the Azure stack and our experience with it is great so far. As a discalimer though, we're members of the BizSpark program (so are not currently paying for the service as we're within the free limits) and I've not had as much experience in other cloud areas so this isn't a comparison.

SQL Azure

Really simple to deploy and manage, is currently missing the facility to backup a database to a file.

Compute

The "out of the box" Visual Studio experience is very slow, but it's nice and straightforward to implement your own upload scripts via powershell or to use the web interface. Adding new instances is as simple as changing a config setting and then 15 minutes later it's at the level you requested. Upgrades take about 5 minutes to deploy (but if you have more than one instance running it does them in groups so you have minimal-to-no downtime).

Once a month Microsoft will automatically patch your Windows instances (this usually happens for us around 2am) but again if you have more than one instance they will be done in groups.

I think that all of the cloud providers out there offer pretty much the same in terms of scaling out as they all seem to run on a multi-tenant virtualised architecture. It's worth looking at the various free trials you can get. Amazon offers a free "tier" where if you have small requirements it doesn't cost anything, and Microsoft have free trials and accelerator programs (eg BizSpark) to get you up and running.

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Great. Thanks for the answer :) The only concern is porting an existing .NET code to the Azure platform. Did you have any experience with that? easy? –  Bob May 19 '11 at 12:43
    
I haven't done, but if your .NET application runs on ASP.NET then it will work out of the box. Session can be handled by AppFabric Caching if you require it. –  Matthew Steeples May 19 '11 at 13:57
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