Couple of years ago a reliable and decent performing Windows hosting was not affordable to many enthusiastic developers who want to try a startup idea or build a hobby site. I tried to start an ASP.NET website few years ago to provide services like – Mobile Tracing, Vehicle Tracing. But due to high cost of Windows hosting I developed those services using PHP (not an easy task for .NET developer) and hosted on them Linux servers.
But with recent evolution of Windows Azure, hosting ASP.NET websites on highly reliable servers is affordable. Today anyone can host a high responsive and available ASP.NET website for just $20/month using Windows Azure. My website coziie.com is running on Windows Azure and serves close to quarter millions visitors a month with 99.97% of uptime and most of the page load times are less than 3 seconds. All I spend to run this website is just around $20, if you translate it to India rupees its roughly Rs.1000.
The web sever of coziie.com is powered by a single Extra Small Web role instance and the backend is powered by a SQL Azure instance. Azure is quite impressive to provide 99.97% of uptime. Response times during peak are around 3 seconds and on nomarl loads it is around 1.5 seconds. Here is the report of uptime provided by Royal Pingdom over last one year
For just $20/month Windows Azure takes care of the following apart from hosting
- Patches up Windows OS to the latest version
- Upgrades ASP.NET to the latest version – coziie.com is running on ASP.NET MVC 3 and soon I’ll upgrade it to ASP.NET MVC 4
- Hosts data on latest and best version Sql Server database
- SQL Azure maintains 3 copies of database and automatically recovers in case of server failures and disasters. I never worry about database backups/restore.
- Provides staging environment for deploying applications for testing purpose and move them to production – I upgrade twice a month on average
With Windows Azure I no longer focus on server maintenance or data backups. They are taken up by Microsoft team and I just focus on building my website. Wish there is a low cost Linux version of Windows Azure so that I can stop worrying about server maintenance of this blog!!
If you are looking for a Windows hosting, look no further than Windows Azure. If you find $20/month is a bit expensive to start with you may explore Azure Website (sort of shared hosted environment) which is free to start with and as your traffic grows you can move to paid hosting.