Adapting the hosting capacities to our real needs
At Incredible Web, we have been using cloud hosting to to host our diverse range of services and products for quite some time. Our cloud hosting platform of choice is Microsoft's Azure Cloud Platform. Azure is an extensible, sophisticated cloud computing platform providing a very wide range of products from fully managed web hosting services to virtual machines made available on an IAAS (Infrastructure as a service) basis.
At the top of our list, Microsoft Azure Web Apps (as a product) is definitely our favourite and most utilised Azure offering. Web Apps are Azure's flagship Platform as a Service product. The main selling point of the product is that it makes it as easy as possible to deploy, manage and scale your website as necessary. It also gives us the flexibility to adapt the physical and software capacities on the data servers, depending on real-time scaling based on traffic, memory and processing consumption making it easier to face a load increase.
The load increase corresponds to growing performances requirements. This could be explained by an increase in traffic and more resource hungry services demanding more memory and processing requirements. Our applications tend to need more resources as traffic gradually increases.
Sometimes web scaling can be useful for a high surge in traffic for a very short period of time. Let's take the example of an online store such as Action or MaltaWarehouse. These websites tend to experience a substantial increase in traffic during the Christmas and holiday seasons. During these periods, the application would get more customers, thus more transactions. The application would therefore become more resource hungry. With a classical hosting service, we would have had limited capacities and would have probably had to move the website to a bigger service which may result in some downtime. On the other hand, with the help of Microsoft Azure, we get a real-time adaptation to our real needs. Servers are connected together, and the assembly has a variable size, synchronised by Microsoft Azure. Thus the clients save money by paying only for the used instances at a specific point in time making sure that their website maintains hight availability times.
Ensure an available website
Besides allowing our applications to evolve gradually, having a scalable solution also increases stability and resilience. Having your solution hosted on multiple servers ensures better availability and robustness from an infrastructural point of view, you eliminate the single point of failure risk.Thanks to the cloud, the website would just be moved to another instance , thus keeping it available for our customers.
Focus on the application, not the infrastructure
Another advantage concerns applications which require a lot of memory, like a huge shop catalogue for instance, that would be more stable if hosted on multiple servers. We could obviously host the solution on a non cloud infrastructure, but that would imply that we need to setup and maintain the infrastructure itself, the network configurations, the softwares we would install on the different machines, the technical capacities and the way data is being conveyed.
Thanks to Azure, there's no need to worry about where the application would be physically hosted or how it is stored. We deploy our applications on a PaaS basis. Microsoft manages the virtual machines and there instances, and we can then focus on the application that is run. It saves a lot of time to focus on what's really important as developers: the application!
Tools that improve our effectiveness
Microsoft Azure also provides a wide range of products to help you in various areas of your business. Tools such as Power BI services that connects to your SQL databases, analyses them and help you improve your query performances are an example of such tools. The power of Azure is its ability to connect to both on-premises and cloud based databases which makes it easier for companies who wish to retain some or part of their current infrastructure but slowly move their core business functionality to the cloud.
In future blogs we'll talk about how you can set up your own website on Azure for free. Stay tuned for more :)