LiveSide on Windows on Azure: some first impressions

This weekend, we completed a move from a dedicated Windows Server 2008 “real” machine to the Windows Server 2012 R2 Virtual Machine running on Azure, rebuilding our WordPress installation and reworking our theme at the same time. We won’t get into the details of the move or the configurations today, but just offer a few quick first impressions.

Azure seems quite easy to navigate and manage. We were initially a bit skeptical about Windows Server 2012, as familiarity with Window is what has kept us on a Windows box and away from Linux to begin with, but we’ve found the new interface to be easy to manage, too.

Azure offers a simple interface for both setting up and managing cloud services. Of course it’s built to handle a lot more than we’ll ever use it for, but it’s nice that the basics aren’t hidden by more robust features. Azure offers some pretty pictures, too: here’s a screenshot of our “monitor”, complete with endpoint monitoring from Chicago, Amsterdam, and Singapore:

We know we’re pushing this little VM, so it’s nice to have some indication of how the server is performing under load.

As far as running WordPress on Windows / IIS, there isn’t anything special about running it in a VM versus what we’ve been doing for years. Setting WordPress up using the Web Platform Installer is pretty straightforward, and we’ve gone ahead and moved to the latest versions of WinCache and PHP. Other than that, and a few php.ini and mysql.ini tweaks, we really haven’t done much at all. There is one silly bug when running WordPress on Windows, and that is that you need to point wp-config.php at “” instead of “localhost”. If you don’t, you’ll face tremendous lags whenever WordPress accesses the database, which is of course quite often!

We’re running on Azure so that we can become a bit more familiar with what’s being offered both from Azure and Windows Server 2012, so we can spend some time talking about Azure, and to see if we might even be able to save a bit of money. Even if we don’t, our first impressions are pretty positive. We’ll let you know how it’s going from time to time, but if you have any questions on running on Windows or on Azure, feel free to drop us a line at feedback *at* liveside *dot* net and we’ll be happy to share our experiences.