Windows Azure Training Series: Understanding Subscriptions and Users

In the latest release of Microsoft Windows Azure many new features were added, and there were some slight changes in terminology.  In this series of articles, I’ll cover some of the basics for getting started with Windows Azure.  In this article, I’ll review how to set up a Windows Azure account, get a subscription and add users to manage those subscriptions.

Windows Azure Home Page

The first thing to do to use Windows Azure is go to its home page at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/. There, you can find lots of information, case studies, help, and links to resources. The page is show below.

Windows Azure Subscriptions

Before you can create your first Azure program, you need what is called a Subscription. To purchase one, click on the “Sign up now” button on the Windows Azure home page. This will take you to the Subscriptions page where you can choose a plan appropriate to you.

If you’ve never used Azure before, choose the introductory special and you’ll get some compute hours for free. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick one of the programs. If you pick “Consumption”, you will only be charged for usage. This means you can experiment with Azure and it won’t cost you anything, unless you deploy something to the cloud. Just don’t forget to delete what you deploy when you’re done with your testing! There are also a number of deals for MSDN subscribers and Partners, and also some discounted rates if you commit to a monthly fee. It’s all very confusing, see this link, http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/offers/popup/popup.aspx?lang=en&locale=en-US&offer=MS-AZR-0001P.

As a part of checking out, you’ll need to create a Windows Live ID and supply a credit card. You will also use this ID when logging into the Windows Azure Management Portal.

Windows Azure Management Portal

The Windows Azure Management Portal (formerly known as the Developer Portal) has recently gone through a significant rewrite. It is now a Silverlight application and is vastly better. (If you don’t know about Silverlight, come to Learning Tree course 975, WPF and Silverlight Introduction: Hands-On.)

To log onto the portal, go to https://windows.azure.com/. If you do not have Silverlight installed, you will be prompted to do so. When you get to the portal, click the button on the left side labeled “Hosted Services, Storage, Accounts and CDN”. You should see that you have at least one subscription. See the picture below.

Adding Users to Subscriptions

When I first wrote the Learning Tree Azure course only one user account was supported per Azure subscription. This was not ideal because there are multiple instructors teaching the course. My way around this was to tell every instructor they had to use their own Azure subscription when teaching the course. With the new release of the Azure Management Portal, it is now possible to add multiple administrator accounts to a single subscription.

To add users, click on the “User Management” link on the left side of the portal. Then click on the “Add New Co-Admin” button at the top left. Each user simply needs a Windows Live ID to log onto the portal. They will be able to deploy and configure applications within that subscription.

To learn more about Windows Azure, come to Learning Tree course 2602, Windows Azure Platform Introduction: Programming Cloud-Based Applications.

Doug Rehnstrom

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