We'll be talking about traditional shared hosting vs Azure in a later post, but suffice to say that I was not happy with our previous hosting provider and in fact, I have not been happy with any of the shared hosting providers I have used in the last few years. A VPS or dedicated service may well have improved reliability but it is difficult to justify the cost when 95% of the time, shared hosting works just fine for a fraction of the price. Enter Microsoft Azure.
We are now hosted on Azure Websites. The cost is zero thanks to an MSDN subscription but even without that, it would be comparable to the cost of our previous shared hosting.
The zero cost is obviously a nice plus but there are three far bigger benefits:
- It is more reliable. We have been on Azure for a month now and as yet, no downtime and no errors. This is backed up by my Azure experience on other projects for the past two years.
- Deployments are a breeze. Commit to Git. Website is automatically deployed. Nice.
- It is faster. This is harder to attribute solely to changing our hosting but the site is definitely faster. It could just be the use of the Azure CDN but I get the impression that it is more than that.
We have gone for a very simple design based on the popular HTML5 Boilerplate. The site uses responsive design to scale effectively from mobile devices all the way up to HD monitors.
At the same time, we have looked at performance. The old site was reasonably fast and utilised many standard performance enhancing practices such as bundling, minification and output caching. The new site still uses all the practices mentioned but we also perform image optimisation, use the Azure CDN and reference fewer front and back-end libraries.
All these changes should result in a better experience for you. YSlow likes us and we hope you do too.
Behind the scenes, we have moved from SQL Server to a NOSQL store and replaced filesystem storage with Azure Blob Storage. We have also updated to MVC5. Rather ironically, our previous site used Castle Windsor as its IoC container rather than Unity (ironic because I am the author of several Unity integration libraries such as Unity.MVC*, Unity.WCF and Unity.WebApi). The new site now uses Unity together with Unity.MVC5.
We hope to be doing a lot more blogging in the coming months. We'll still be focusing on .NET develoment (ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API and Microsoft Azure) but we'll be mixing in some startup posts coming from a technical perspective.
If anything is not working, please let us know in the comments or by contacting us.
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