30 Links to Windows Azure Resources

Hello,

As you know, I have been working on Windows Azure in this last quarter of the year. I just thought to share with you my list of resources for Windows Azure.

  1. http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/
  2. http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/
  3. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/
  4. http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Windows-Azure-Mobile-Services
  5. http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/introduction-to-windows-azure
  6. http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/windows-azure-for-it-pros-jump-start
  7. http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Azure-DevCamps/AZVIR01
  8. http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Windows-Azure-for-IT-Professionals
  9. http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/windowsazure/Windows-AzureConf-2013
  10. http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Azure-DevCamps/buildingconnectedapps
  11. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/umits/archive/2013/09/23/windows-azure-from-zero-to-hero-online-series.aspx
  12. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/01/22/hosting-an-express-node-js-website-on-azure.aspx
  13. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/02/10/running-ruby-on-rails-on-windows-azure-using-a-vm-depot-image.aspx
  14. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/02/20/creating-a-facebook-app-using-asp-net-mvc-facebook-templates-and-hosting-them-for-free-on-windows-azure-websites.aspx
  15. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/03/12/creating-hashtag-monitor-app-a-application-using-windows-azure-mobile-services.aspx
  16. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/03/06/get-started-on-windows-azure-mobile-services-for-windows-store-windows-phone-ios-and-android-apps.aspx
  17. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/05/14/using-windows-azure-mobile-services-to-develop-android-applications-nigeria-devcamp.aspx
  18. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/05/27/windows-azure-multi-platform-command-line-interface-into-the-cloud.aspx
  19. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/05/28/how-to-customize-a-virtual-machine-on-windows-azure-then-capture-it-as-reusable-image.aspx
  20. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/05/30/creating-a-load-balanced-highly-available-iis-web-farm-on-windows-azure.aspx
  21. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/06/04/using-microsoft-webmatrix-3-to-easily-create-and-publish-websites-on-windows-azure.aspx
  22. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/06/07/how-to-serve-static-json-files-from-a-windows-azure-website.aspx
  23. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/06/11/deploying-windows-azure-websites-using-dropbox.aspx
  24. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/06/20/using-sql-server-as-a-service-on-windows-azure.aspx
  25. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/07/30/using-wordpress-on-windows-azure-with-sql-server-instead-of-mysql.aspx
  26. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/africaapps/archive/2013/09/23/windows-azure-notification-hubs-getting-started.aspx
  27. http://navcodeinc.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/azure-series-custom-domain-name-for-azure-web-sites/
  28. http://www.diaryofaninja.com/blog/2013/09/28/migrating-diary-of-a-ninja-to-azure-websites-and-sql-azure
  29. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/plankytronixx/archive/2013/10/08/video-connecting-android-up-to-windows-azure-mobile-services-includes-setting-up-the-android-development-tools.aspx
  30. https://github.com/okfn/ckan/wiki/How-to-install-CKAN-2.0-on-Azure-from-VM-Depot
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Assigning a Custom Domain to a Bitnami PrestaShop Instance on Windows Azure Part 2

November 5th

In Part 1 of this post I ended with the site redirect problem. At the time I had no idea how to go about it. I opened up a thread on the Bitnami Forum. In the course of that conversation, I got them to make corrections to the documentation. Some parts of the documentation were wrong. That is a risk you accept because when you are on the bleeding edge you expect to bleed.

ethnicdog.com loads perfectly. The site redirect is gone and the page loads in the root. The steps listed here are what I followed to make the site load. If you do not want to use the command line to do your updates, follow this link to learn how to enable PHPMyAdmin for your site. In the host:port section for your database insertion, use your virtual IP if you are using Windows Azure.

Once you complete the above steps, log in to the PrestaShop installation and go to the Advanced Parameters menu. Under the tabs, click on Performance and Then clear the cache.  This would make all the links in your site updated to correspond to the changes you have made.

Clear Cacheethnicdog.com is just a test store for testing purposes. Now that the URL rewrite problem is solved, the next stage is to learn how to create security certificates. I need that to enable SSL for the shop. This will allow test customers login without seeing the security warning.

All in all I am glad that today marks the end of a process that started last month. I have crashed virtual machines and had to start all over again to get here. But my knowledge of PrestaShop, Bitnami and Windows Azure is better for it. Days like this make the suffering worth it.

This is Truston Ailende I am a member of the Zished Team and this is my 71st day in Kenya.

Assigning a Custom Domain to a Bitnami PrestaShop Instance on Windows Azure Part 1

Bitnami

In this previous post, I detailed how to run PrestaShop on a Windows Azure Virtual Machine. The end result was a test store which created the above screen shot. However, you cannot expect your users to memorize an IP address. You need to give them a domain name to use in accessing your application.

I followed the instructions in this post on how to assign a custom domain to a Windows Azure instance. In the end, you can view the site here.

The current stack I am using is made up of Prestashop, Bitnami and Windows Azure. In getting here, I followed the following steps:

  1. In Godaddy under the Zone files, I changed the @ to point to 168.62.204.11
  2. In bitnami, I wrote a RewriteRule to point 168.62.204.11 to 168.62.204.11/prestashop
  3. I restarted my Apache server in the Bitnami stack

What I intend to achieve is to have a user visit http://ethnicdog.com/ and not have the site redirect to 168.62.204.11/prestashop I am close. Just need a few pointers.

Running PrestaShop on Windows Azure Virtual Machine

I will begin this post with a disclaimer. I started using Windows Azure on the 13th of September. I am in no way an expert neither have I finished any training courses. Microsoft Virtual Academy has some great courses on Windows Azure but I am yet to finish any.

I am definitely sure that what I have done has some security flaws and I welcome any advice on how to shore up security. In the course of reading this, please do not be offended by the depth of my ignorance. My main reason for writing this post is because I have learnt that by sharing what I know, it is easy to get help.

To run PrestaShop on Windows Azure Virtual Machines I think you should already understand how to create a Website in Windows Azure. I pieced together how this was done from various sources on the internet so without much ado.

Log In To Your Windows Azure Portal

Go to https://manage.windowsazure.com/ and log in with your credentials.

Add a Bitnami Image

Once you are logged in to your management portal, click on the Virtual Machines section and then on your Images tab.

Images Tab on Windows Azure Virtual MachinesClick on browse VM Depot. It will bring up the screen shown below.

Browse VM Depot

In my case I am trying to set up PrestaShop so I will select it and click on next.

Create a Storage Account

I started with a fresh installation. So I get prompted to create a storage account. From my observation you need a storage account to keep all your files.

storage accountOnce you click next, the process of creating a storage account begins but you have to wait for Windows Azure to add the image. Note that you are adding 30GB so you might have to wait for a while. Once the process is complete, click on the image and register it.

Launch Your Machine

Once your machine is selected, click New in the left bottom corner. Select Virtual Machine then from the Gallery option. Go to My Images in the new pop-up window and select your new image.

Virtual Machine

Create a Virtual MachineEnter your machine name, login, password, instance type and DNS name in the machine configuration wizard. I choose to provide a password over uploading an SSH key.

Open Network Ports

Your VM gives would now be listed. Click on it and you will see the screen below:

VM CreationClick on the Endpoints Tab.

EndpointsYou goal is to add a port 80. Click on the add tab and follow the wizard. Select HTTP and click OK.

Access Your Application

Once your application is running and port 80 is opened, you can enter you applications domain name in our browser. You can view PrestaShop running on Windows Azure Virtual Machine here. It runs beautifully.

Access the Administration Area

In order to access the adminstration area, type yourdns/prestashop/administration. Log in to your admin area.

For bitnami installation, they all come with the same username of user@example.com and password of bitnami. So log in immediately and change the username and password.

Conclusion

Windows Azure is really an awesome cloud computing service. The documentation to solve almost any problem is out there but you must be willing to piece it together. In this case I would say I got lucky.

If you are aware of any flaw in my process or gaps in my knowledge, please let me have your opinion in the comments area.

An End to a Windows Azure Pass

Pass ExpirationSunday the 13th of October was the last time I would be able to log in to my Windows Azure account using my personal email address. Windows Azure has a trial mode where for 1 month you can use the platform for free. To sign up you just need a pass code. However, in order to get a pass code, you need someone from Microsoft to give it to you.

At a training program at the iHub last month, I met Umit Sunar who is a Cloud Computing specialist for Microsoft. He was in Nairobi to give a talk on Windows Azure. At the time my start up was considering a Cloud Computing platform.

We had a choice between Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure. The problem was that I would have to learn how to use the platform we chose. Since I would be the donkey for the journey, I decided that I would pick my load carefully.

I had previously looked at Amazon Web Services and I hated it. Windows Azure looked good but I had to be certain that I could learn how to use it. When I heard about the trial pass, I got one immediately. I even registered at the venue. That was on the 13th of September.

In that time I can confidently say that I am impressed with what I have seen with Windows Azure. In fact I was so impressed that my start up has signed up for BizSpark. Now the true test will start. In the coming months, I intend to stretch the infrastructure in order to be certain that it can perform effectively.

So the end of a Windows Azure pass marked the beginning of a BizSpark account. I hope Windows Azure meets all my requirements in the months to come. Considering Amazon Web Services is too hard to imagine.

I am a programmer today because at the very beginning of my career, I learnt Visual Basic. Popular wisdom said that you needed to learn C++ and some of my friends took that route. Sadly many of those who went down that path are no longer programmers.

Whenever a tool is too hard to independently pick up, beginners will easily become frustrated. The Websites feature in Windows Azure was one I fully explored on the free pass. Now that my start-up has BizSpark, I can now learn how to use Virtual Machines for our projects.

I sincerely hope that Windows Azure passes the testing phase. I have come to really like it.

Getting Started With Windows Azure

First LoginI will begin this post with a disclaimer. I am not a staff of Microsoft 🙂 I am the CTO of a West African start-up called Zished. We got venture funded by Savannah Fund. As a result of that, I became the first Nigerian to get accepted into the accelerator. With that knowledge, I intend to do whatever it takes to make sure my start-up succeeds. However, I am also conscious of the need for speed so at the end of the day, my criteria for tool selection will always be based on functionality and ease of use. I currently use a six year old HP Pavilion dv6000 which was given to me by my only sister. Due to my personal attachment to my hardware, I will only use tools that work with my current hardware. I plan to replace my machine when I visit Nigeria to see my sister. Absurd yes. But hey I am the one writing the code here 🙂

In the cloud computing space today, Amazon Web Services is currently number 1. I tried it a while back and I found it a bit confusing to use. I am a Generation 3 programmer (I learnt how to program in my 20s) so I am not particularly fond of the command line.

I was one of the earliest adopter of Google App Engine for PHP in May this year. I even created my first PHP application on Google App Engine on May 25 (10 days after the Google IO announcement). The problem is that till date Google has a process of whitelisting which means you application is placed on a queue. I am a Nigerian and I know from first-hand experience that waiting on a queue is a recipe for disappointment.

Last week there was a Windows 8 event at the iHub. I was unaware of the event until Kojo came downstairs to call me. I met some Microsoft officials at the event and they told me that Friday the 13th of September would have a focus on Windows Azure.

True to the information I was given, the focus on Friday was Windows Azure. The presenter Mr Umit Sunar did a very good job of showing the participants all the features of Windows Azure. At the end of the day I had found what I was looking for. The next steps would be up to me.

Interested participants were given keys to enable them access the 30 days Windows Azure sandbox. I registered at the venue. After the program, the presenter was patient enough to answer all my questions and I did have a shipload of them. I also got access to online resources.

I headed home around 6pm (I told you I had a load of questions). I went online and found some videos. I looked at them until I nodded off.

The next day, I would log into my Windows Azure sandbox and really fumble with it. I am simply grateful that all my sins here would be forgiven and never remembered after 30 days. I would cringe at the idea of doing this on the production account.

Yesterday I was able to create my first website on Windows Azure. I had to download WebMatrix to get it done. In the end, I have achieved a measure of understanding of Windows Azure. I am happy to have gotten started. I know there is a lot to learn but every programmer knows that the first step is always the hardest.

My first website features an installation of PrestaShop. You can check it out here.

This is Truston Ailende. I am a member of the Zished Team and this is my 21st day in Kenya.