Moving All of My Websites to Azure
I’ve been long overdue in moving my personal websites to the cloud. Although I’ve been helping clients with public and hybrid cloud deployments for years, it’s been a “cobbler’s kids” situation, leaving me run more than a dozen websites and applications from my home server.
At this point, there’s no compelling reason to maintain everything on-prem. The cloud has made more sense for years and now it’s time to move. Why?
- Cost: I had been running a 2U server with decent specs, powering a dozen VMs. The up-front cost was $X,XXX and I’m sure some of the RAID drives will need to be replaced soon. For the price of one SSD, I’ll be able to power all of the same workloads for months. Factoring hardware, software licenses, and electricity, the ROI is immense.
- Management: My biggest headaches have been patching, backups, and dependencies.
- . Patching: Running a WSUS server streamlined most of my upgrade needs on Windows, but I had to maintain a Linux/MySQL VM due to all of our WordPress sites. I’m still pretty clumsy on the Linux side and every “apt-get update” seemed to lead to an extra hour of troubleshooting. I’m thrilled with Azure’s PaaS offerings and the ability to leave patching behind.
- Backups: Backing up SOHO VM hosts is still too difficult and expensive in my opinion. Over the years, I tried Unitrends, Veeam, Acronis, and several other disk-based backup programs with minimal luck. They required too much attention to address ephemeral failures and always seemed to lag, even using iSCSI and USB3. Cloud backup solutions were out of grasp at the time, although I’d go that route now based on costs and faster home internet speed.
- Dependencies: Running certain workloads requires an entire farm. For years, we’ve run an internal SharePoint installation, necessitating AD and SQL virtual machines. These were more for learning than anything, but they created a rat’s nest of interdependent VMs. There’s no reason to go that route instead of Office 365 or Azure IaaS at this point.
- Availability: We’ve been fortunate to avoid any major outages. There have been a couple days of downtime, which always seemed to line up with vacations. Those were usually tied to VM restarts or IP conflicts. That said, I’ve toured the Microsoft data centers and am very confident they’ll have better uptime than I could manage!
- Performance and Scalability: In the off-chance that a website really takes off, scaling is painless and can be automated. I’m already tuning the sites and taking advantage of free services like CloudFlare, but the public cloud options for optimizing performance and scalability are amazing.
- “The Wife Factor”: Toni has been very cool about everything and understands my obsession with tech. But at this point, it’s tough to justify the giant server rack and crates of swappable parts. I’m looking forward to a slightly quieter house without the constant whirring of fans and hard disks. We’ll also get to enjoy faster internet speeds without QoS prioritizing our websites.
I’ve already moved the first batch of websites and expect to migrate the rest this next month.
Technically, I’ll still need a small machine to host my home automation VM. Downsizing from a 2U server to a silent Intel NUC? Not bad.