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Azure Storage Blob Service Can Get You A Simple Websites, 3 Cents a Month

While Microsoft has been enrolling larger enterprise, educational and government sector of all small-mid-large size businesses and individual entrepreneurs for its cloud offering AWS.

Today, a Micorosoft highlighting the benefits of using its Azure Storage Blob Service for hosting simple websites. In a blog post, a Microsoft employee Omer Amin, notes that to host a fully functional WordPress site normally an $8-10 dollar a month is charged by the most hosting companies usually.

However, since most WordPress sites are pretty static and don’t really need all the bells and whistles that come with it, there has to a cheaper alternatives that could be used.

“What if you didn’t need any server side processing, and could offload all the processing to the browser\client device? There has to be a simpler solution,” wrote Amin.

This is where comes the Azure Storage Blob Service, as a cheaper alternative to say, using WordPress or another static option, Amin advises. Blog Services could cost you as little as 3 cents a month in some instances, according to Amin’s calculations.

“From a pricing perspective, its pretty cheap as well. I did some quick math, and hosting 1 GB of space, with 100k views would cost 3 cents a month.

Check out at Azure Pricing Calculator“.

Azure Blob Storage Calculator

“The Blob Service allows you to store and retrieve content. The Blob service supports REST Api’s, therefore there is no reason why you can’t view .html files through the browser,” added Amin.

By no means, the process is as simple as grabbing a WordPress template blog, but Amin has a rather detailed step-by-step guide of creating and using Azure Storage Blob Service. From his post:

  1. Fist up, create an Azure account and login.
  2. Next, create a Storage account. You could pick a higher level of redundancy, but it wasn’t really needed in my usecase. I picked the Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) at the Standard Tier.Depending on your use case, you may want to use a higher tier of service. Here is a link to the different levels of redundancy if you are interested.
  3. Now, create a new Blob, you can name it anything you want.
  4. Set the Blob Access Policy to Blob. This will allow anonymous access from the internet. By default the value is set to Private so that only the Blob owner can access it.
  5. Once the Blob is created, you should be able to see it in the Azure Portal.
  6. Download and install the Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer.
  7. Add your Azure Account so that you can view your Storage Account.
  8. Find your newly created Blob by expanding the tree on the left.
  9. At this point you should be able to upload your html files.
  10. For the sake of this demo, I created a simple helloWorld.html page in notepad. See sample at the end of this page. Upload this to the Blob.
  11. At this point, you should copy the URL of your newly created page using the menu at the top of the Azure Storage Explorer.
  12. Paste the URL into your favorite browser and hit enter.
  13. Lastly, create a custom URL so that you can use that instead of the Azure Blob Service URL. Just create a CNAME at your domain registrar and point it to the location.
  14. You will also need to redirect the CNAME URL to the destination subfolder. Ideally you want users to enter http://www.bobsburgers.com into their browser address bar. Using the steps above, the final URL will be http://bobsburgers.com/[blobname]/default.html to access your site. This is not very pretty and user friendly, however there is a solution. URL redirection is a feature that most Domain registrar’s provide, otherwise they cost around $10 a year. A URL redirection service will allow you to pretty up the URL and allow you to remove the blob name and default.html from the landing page link.

While the above is a simple example, customers can design a more appealing site by importing BootStrap and JQuery, Amin explained. “All the processing would be done by the client and you could quickly throw up a pretty impressive website.”

To update the site, you could continue using the Storage Explorer to modify files.

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