Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Windows Azure

I haven’t written a blog post for a while because I’ve been programming. So much fun!

I’m working on a new Web site using Microsoft ASP.NET Dynamic Data and Entity Framework. ASP.NET Dynamic Data is a bit like Ruby on Rails. It allows Web pages to be automatically generated based on the data they are displaying. Entity Framework automates all the data access code. I’m using what’s called a “model-first’ implementation of Entity Framework, so I don’t even have to manually create the database. That is automated as well!

The whole thing is very cool. I create the models using a graphical designer, and apply attributes for field validation and formatting. Then, on the one side the database code is generated, and on the other side the user-interface is generated. It’s a bit more complicated than I make it out to be, but once you have it figured out making changes to the application is very simple. That’s why I wanted to use this approach in the first place. (Check Learning Tree course 2620 to learn more about it.)

Okay, so what’s this have to do with the cloud? I have to decide where I want to deploy my program, on EC2 or on Windows Azure. I guess I’m writing this article so I can weigh the pros and cons of each.

Advantages of Amazon EC2

  1. EC2 is cheaper, at least to start. I can get an EC2 Windows 2008 R2 Server instance up and running for about $40 per month.
  2. EC2 is familiar. The nice thing about EC2 is it’s like having your own Windows Server without buying the hardware. I can do anything I want to it; I just have to remote desktop into it.
  3. I’m already using EC2 for a couple of projects.

Advantages of Microsoft Windows Azure

  1. Azure may be cheaper than EC2 in the long run. Azure is a zero maintenance solution. You just deploy your application and Microsoft takes care of the software, patches and backups. There’s a cost to maintenance which has to be taken into account when using EC2 compared to Azure. The problem is that cost is a bit hard to calculate.
  2. Scalability with Windows Azure is seamless. There’s a good chance this application will grow to have many users and consume a massive amount of data. If it does, adding additional machines with Windows Azure is as simple as changing a value in the configuration file.
  3. It’s completely integrated with Visual Studio. Once set up, deploying changes from Visual Studio to Windows Azure is just a couple clicks.

Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but interestingly I’m not even considering setting up my own server. Maybe I should go to Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course. That course covers cloud computing in general and explores a number of different vendors and options for taking advantage of the cloud.

You might also like to go to Learning Tree’s Windows Azure course. That course covers Windows Azure in detail.

Doug Rehnstrom

As cloud computing continues to make information technology headlines, vendors are aggressively promoting the many benefits it can provide organizations.  Our White Paper, Cloud Computing Promises: Fact of Fiction , addresses the claims and questions that are often raised in relation to cloud computing and provides a clear view of what the cloud can—and can’t—deliver in reality.

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