When I want to develop or test, or even break SharePoint 2013 I no longer opt for an on-premises development farm, my first choice is now an Azure VM.
I am lucky enough to have access to an MSDN premium licence. This gives me access to software downloads and to a vast resource of information, but also to Azure.
As part of the Azure benefits, MSDN subscribers get £65 of credits. These can be redeemed against usage of virtual machines and other Azure services.
How I use Azure
I use Azure for two primary purposes:
- This blog is hosted on an Azure web site
- Virtual machines for development
I have created an Azure web site that is provisioned with WordPress. There are almost 50 different apps that the web sites can be provisioned with, including PHP, Node JS, Joomla, Drupal and Orchard.
A WordPress site is free unless you want a ‘vanity’ URL such as https://blog.eardley.org.uk
As part of the web site there is basic reporting and a management page to configure the site.
Development Virtual Machines
Because my Azure subscription is linked to a MSDN subscription, there are special Virtual Machine templates that can be used to provision SQL or SharePoint development environments.
How to create a Development VM
There are lots of excellent posts on how to create a SharePoint development VM so I shall not repeat the content:
- Create SharePoint 2013 development environments quickly on Azure
- Visual Studio 2013 Gallery image for MSDN subscribers
- Step-by-Step: Build a FREE SharePoint 2013 Dev/Test Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services
A Note of Caution
It is great to have the ability to develop SharePoint solutions on a virtual environment, but remember that the MSDN subscription provides a limited amount of “free” credits, after which you will be charged.
If you do not switch your virtual machines off from within Azure, you will be charged for the resources that the machine consumes.