Rethink database design with Microsoft Azure

I am definitely not a database expert, so what I am writing here is only from my experience migrating all my applications to Microsoft Azure. If you think that I am doing something wrong or you know a better way, please feel free to leave a comment, so that I can learn more about living in the Cloud.

In this blog post I will write a little bit about what I have been using for a very long time before moving to Azure. Then I will write about my experience with SQL Azure and Azure Table Storage, specifically the problems that I have when migrating from SQL Azure (or MS SQL in general) to Table Storage. You can go directly to the last part if you would like.

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Steps to install WordPress on Azure Virtual Machine running Ubuntu

I have moved my blog to Azure Website for a while and I am quite happy with it. However, recently I have decided to move my blog to an Azure VM running Ubuntu.

I have to say Azure Website is very fast, convenient and easy to set up: you just have to create a new website, chose the WordPress template and go though the WordPress’s 5-minute setup. However, that require you to scale up to Shared, Basic or Standard plan (which cost at least 10 USD/month) to get some more advanced features such as setting custom domains. Besides, the free MySQL database by ClearDB provides you with only 20MB, and the cheapest upgrade is another 9 USD/month for 1GB (quite huge for my blog).

Recently, I happened to create a Ubuntu VM for my research. And most of the time the VM is idle. So instead of turning it on an shutting it down all the time to save cost, I decided to move my blog again to the VM, and buy a new domain for it:

However, setting WordPress up on a Virtual Machine with Ubuntu 14.04 is not really as joyful as on an Azure Website. It cost me almost 3 days to solve all the issues, so I decided to note down all the steps I take here in case I need to move my blog again in the future, or someone else gets the same problems.

Read the steps

Some mid-night thought from the TechEd keynote

It is almost morning, but TechEd is so much exciting, so I cannot go to bed yet. Besides that, Visual Studio Update 2 is also installing so I cannot write codes either. So I will jot down all the excited features that I have just learned from the keynote.

Visual Studio Online API

Just one word: AWESOME! I have been waiting for this for too long.

Recently I have migrated all my project codes to Visual Studio Online from my previous Subversion provider. Moreover, with the extensive support for project management in Visual Studio Online, all my app’s backlogs and bugs are recorded here as well. The current VSO web portal has many great and advanced features; unfortunately, it lacks a responsive design for smartphones which is very important for me when most my development is for the phone and many of my tests are on the phone itself.

I always imagine about detecting a bug or thinking of a new feature when using the app and then being able to add it immediately to the backlog in a simple phone app (voice control could be cool as well, something like VSO record a bug for XXX app about …). It is now all possible with the introduction of VSO API.

Even more than that, the team has also released WebHooks as well. So not only can you poll your backlog for information, but you (and your code) can also know exactly when something has changed. Let’s say you can write some code to easily send your phone a toast when your backlog items are changed by other team members!

Azure API Management

This one is also a very nice feature that has just come to Azure. Basically this API Management is a proxy to your current API, where you can map new endpoints managed by API Management to your existing Web API endpoints. In addition, this proxy does provide you with so many useful facilities, for example, a developer console with example generation, testing support and a management console with throttling, caching, analytics, notification, security and many convenient functions for your APIs. You can also customize your developer console by changing LESS variable, adding posts, navigation items and widgets.

New & Exciting Microsoft

Microsoft has so many great products through out its history. However, with the new focus on services, Microsoft is now opening up many of its services (e.g. OneNote, OneDrive, VSO, Office 365, etc.), which is so nice for app developers and so nice for my imagination.

Let’s start some new projects right away!