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Recently I decided it was time I got to grips with this whole cloud business. I’ve been in IT for quite a while and always liked the idea of being in total control of my data not wishing to relinquish control to any third party. In addition I am wary of the potential costs involved which could be considerably more than traditional hosting. 

Well time is marching on and not wishing to get left behind I decided to dip my toe in the cloud. As a user of DotNetNuke for many years I thought it best to start by attempting to setup a DotNetNuke web site running on my MSDN benefits Azure account.

At a recent DotNetNuke EU meeting held in Banyolas, Spain, I attended a talk by David Rodriguez. David, a Senior Developer at DotNetNuke Corporation, talked about the various options for running DNN on Azure. As I understand, the preferred method is to use the DotNetNuke Azure Accelerator available as a free download. The Accelerator works as a wizard and walks you through the process of creating the various services on Azure and installing DotNetNuke. The wizard starts off by connecting to your Windows Azure account. First you download a credentials file which the wizard then uses to make the connection to your Windows Azure account. If you do not have an MSDN account you can get a Windows Azure 90 day free trial.

The wizard steps you through creating a hosted service allowing you to select a location near to you.


Hosting


The next step creates a Storage Account


Storage


followed by a database.


Database


You can also enable Remote Management. I choose RDP and FTP to allow me access the files within the created DNN site.


Remote Access


The next steps allows you to enable SSL and setup Virtual Network Settings. I choose not to select these on this occasion. All that remains now is to select the type of package and version of DotNetNuke to install. I chose the default of “DNN Azure Single and Small” and the latest release of DotNetNuke. A summary is presented and once you click Next the installation process begins. The installation package is downloaded directly from CodePlex which makes the whole process very quick.


Deployment Package

Summary


Summary


Once installation has completed your site will be available at http://myservicename.cloudapp.net where “myservicename” is the name you gave your service in the first step of the wizard. You will find this URL when you login to the Azure portal at https://manage.windowsazure.com under Cloud Services –> Dashboard. Here you will also find the IP address of your instance.


SNAGHTMLf237898


SNAGHTMLf237898

See the results

The quickest way to see your site on its own domain is to change your DNS A record for @ to point to the IP address shown in your Cloud Services Dashboard. Alternatively you can edit the hosts file on your PC. However you should note comments from David Rodriguez:

First thing: don’t use A records, use CNAME. This is because if you redeploy the cloud service for whatever reason (i.e. upgrading with a new service package), the Virtual IP address changes between redeployments.

So to answer your question, you will need to create CNAME records pointing to myservicename.cloudapp.net. But…

…this is different when using Naked Domains like the one you setup (without the “www”, only “myservicename.com”). The problem is that you can’t create a CNAME for the “@” entry, it’s mandatory to use an A record. Options?

a) Create both records:

a. www.myservicename.com CNAME myservicename.cloudapp.net

b. @ A 111.222.133.144

but remember to change the IP address in your DNS domain registrar on the A record if you redeploy your instance (normally you will be doing it after updating with a new DNN Azure accelerator release, something that could be a problem if you manage more than 200 cloud services).

b) Use a 3rd service like  http://www.dnsazure.com/ service.

c) Use redirection services. Take a look to this post: http://blog.appliedis.com/2012/08/20/naked-domains-for-the-cloud/

The next steps are the usual – login to your site as host and adjust the various settings as normal. Don’t forget to change the default host and admin accounts/passwords.

SQL

You can use SQL Management Server on your local machine to connect to your SQL database. You will find the server name by going to the Azure  Control Panel > SQL Databases, select your database and click Dashboard. On the right hand side you will see the full server name. It will look something like x66hdetf8x.database.windows.net

You will need to use the Server username and password that you entered in the “SQL Azure connection settings at step 3 of the wizard.

FTP

You can access your DotNetNuke files using ftp by using myservicename.cloudapp.net along with the Remote Access username and password entered in step 4, Remote Management Settings, of the wizard.

RDP

To access your instance using Remote Desktop, go to the Azure Control Panel > Cloud Services. Click on the instance you require (myservicename) and select INSTANCES from the top menu. At the very bottom you will see CONNECT. image Click this and open the downloaded file. This will run an instance of Remote Desktop. Use the username and password entered in step 4, Remote Management Settings, of the wizard.

Conclusion

This concludes my first run at using DotNetNuke on Windows Azure. It has shown me how easy it is to get DotNetNuke up and running on Azure. I have also been able to ftp files to the site and change database content using SQL Server Manager from my local PC.

You are reading this on the site created in the steps above, running on Windows Azure.

Next …

The next step is to perform an upgrade of DotNetNuke, download a copy of the site to my local PC and make sure I can get it running there for further testing.

 

Discalimer

I hope this helps others but as I am just dipping my toe in the cloud I suspect I have a lot to learn.

Useful links

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