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Windows Azure for PHP developers

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 12 December 2011.
Planet PHP

Windows Azure for PHP developers

Introduction

Since a couple of years the term "cloud" has moved from simplebuzz-word to real business opportunities that make a differencewithin the market. The technology behind "cloud" is not new aswe've grown accustomed to server clusters, distributed datacentersand separation of responsibilities, but the "cloud" offerseveryone the opportunity to scale and not just the companies whohave a huge cash reserve to purchase another rack with servers.

The strange thing is that cloud is being provided by companiesyou wouldn't expect to serve it. Best known are Amazon.com and Rackspace.com that offers acomplete set of services you can use to run applications in thecloud, they provide the infrastructure and you have to set up andmaintain your platform and infrastructure. Microsoft also jumped onthis cloud hype offering a platform in the cloud. And this isexactly the reason it caught my attention and got me interested.I'm a developer and I don't want to fiddle with setting up andmaintaining an operating system, basically since I don't have thetime for it.

If you are eager to learn moreabout cloud and what different kind of cloud solutions are outthere, I can recommend the book "PHPDevelopment In The Cloud" by Ivo Jansch and Vito Chin. In this book bothauthors look beyond the buzz of the cloud and discuss what eachcloud service provider has to offer for PHP developers and how youcan easily consume their services using PHP code. A must read for everyonethat has an interest in developing web applications using PHP and cloud technology, as Ialready posted abook review for this book here on myblog.

Windows Azure

I got in touch with Microsoft'sWindows Azureback in 2008 through our local Microsoft Evengalist Katrien De Graeve, whotold me WindowsAzure is like running a Windows 2008 Server with IIS in thecloud. Along with MaartenBalliauw Microsoftwas working out more tools and features to support PHP (amongst other open sourcetechnologies) on their new cloud platform.

I was completely sold when Josh Holmes came toBrussels in 2009 and told us more about what Windows Azure hasto offer and how perfectly it is to build applications consumingthese cloud services, without having to deal with setting up andmaintaining the platform the run on. And so, I started playingwith it and discovering about what Windows Azure isall about, what kind of services they offer and how I as a PHP developer could make good useout of it. In 2010 PHPBeneluxand Microsoft joindefforts to promote WindowsAzure by organizing a PHPonAzure contest todevelop an application that would run and make use of Windows Azure'sservices.

Developing for cloud

When developing PHPapplications, you mostly develop for a

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