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In my Windows Azure web role I need to send emails. Looks like one of the options is to use my company SMTP server. I asked our admins - they say I have to join the Azure role into our corporate VPN for that.

How do I do that joining? Do I use Azure Connect?

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If your SMTP server is behind a firewall, Azure Connect would be a way to get around that. Using Azure Connect, you can create a virtual network group with your Web Role instances + one or more servers on-premises. In this case, you'd have the Connect Agent most likely running on the SMTP server itself, allowing your role instances to directly address the server.

Keep in mind: Those same admins will probably have final say regarding what gets installed on production servers on-premises, so they may or may not allow this configuration, even though it's a secure connection limited to the specific servers you include in your Connect Group (editable in the portal).

One alternative is to use a 3rd-party email service such as SendGrid. In fact, SendGrid just announced a partnership with Windows Azure, and they're providing a free tier with 25,000 emails / month. More info on that promotion here.

If you download the Windows Azure Training Kit, you'll see a lab called Connecting Apps with Azure Connect. This is a good starter tutorial.

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I considered using Connect - looks like it allows to join non-Azure machines into an Azure VPN. What I need is to join an Azure machine to my corporate VPN - the opposite thing. Will Connect do that? –  sharptooth Mar 1 '12 at 6:27

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