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Microsoft BizSpark includes free Azure access (microsoft.com)
86 points by niggler 1518 days ago | hide | past | web | 53 comments | favorite

Azure is awesome, especially for startups :-) It's really easy to develop for (you don't need to set up everything by yourself, just use the available libraries) and it support virtually every programming language. Furthermore it's really fast (http://nasunicdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/nasuni_infographic_...) and pretty cheap.

It's a shame it's being ignored by most of the HN community.

It's because of Microsoft's historically hostile attitude towards anything Not Windows which rubs many people in this community the wrong way.

That and Microsoft's siren song has gotten people into trouble before. Do you know any Silverlight developers that are still happy?

Steve Jobs killed Silverlight (and Flash). Not by providing a strictly superior technology, but by declaring that the category (rich web client) is unimportant. I'm unhappy that Silverlight is dead but not because of Microsoft.

I don't think that all development should be on the Web but I think the clear winner for Web "rich clients" is the browser, not all these plugins.

no he did not , MS killed it itself.

Do you know any Silverlight developers that are still happy?

I don't know many happy Flash developers these days, either.

If Adobe had made a lean, mean, mobile capable player, produced an (understandable) open standard for what Flash is they could've had a shot at being bundled into iOS.

Adobe's done a pretty good job of sabotaging a good thing.

Maybe they'll make a fully functional JavaScript Flash player to avoid having to use the plug-in in the first place.

Adobe did sabotage Flash and basically every Macromedia products. What's left of Macromedia innovative vibe? nothing.

Adobe has 0 strategy regarding web development solutions , Flash is dead, coldfusion is dead , Fireworks is dead (a great product for webdesigners), dreamweaver lacks of basic features even a little text editor like sublime text has ... all the edge stuff is a joke.

I wish there would be a serious alternative to photoshop , i wish adobe was just died.

I still.use Fireworks 8 to do game art, especially to mix pixel art with vectors. I wish a open source clone of it existed :(

Also I wish that Adobe die in a fire. The only product they ever made that made me happy is the font Source Sans Pro.

Sorry, stI already fixed it.upid android decided to change cursor position again

the Fireworks community is still alive but no thanks to Adobe , that's what they killed communites. Macromedia relied heavily on communities to promote and make their soft better . It was a kind of bottom->top product management, you could make your voice heard , propose fixes, etc ... I guess the management at Adobe is different , and doesnt give a damn about the community. Is there a photoshop community ? no , was there a Flash community ? a Coldfusion community ? yes.

Do you know any Apple Newton developers that are happy? Or Google Wave developers?

Stuff fails in the marketplace - it is a sign of maturity that the company shoots the stuff that isn't working and focuses on the things that are.

Dude I'm a Silverlight developer, and I'm still able to leverage my XAML/C# skills to build Windows 8/Phone apps. I'm quite happy with that.

The iPad killed Silverlight, not Microsoft. The idea of a plugin-free web powered by HTML5 will ultimately benefit everyone, especially given security exploits and performance issues in browser plugins. A case of damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Silverlight still works on Windows 8 machines. What do you want them to do? Sue Apple for banning a Silverlight plugin from their tablets and phones?

The actual Silverlight and XAML skills are directly applicable to developing Windows 8 Store apps and Windows Phone apps.

So the iPod killed the Zune? And the old Windows Phone OS?

Microsoft can abandon anything that's not core to their survival, and right now that's Windows.

Cloud services are a core strategic direction for Microsoft. Office365 has millions of users. Ditto for XBox Live, etc.

Azure is a key component for integrating your business with Microsoft via Office 365. It isn't going anywhere.

So you're saying the iPod didn't kill the Zune?

The iPhone basically erased the market for standalone music players, which forced Microsoft to abandon the Zune and start catching up on the Windows Phone.

But to your point, Microsoft tends to play "me too" when trying to compete with other technology companies which results in a lot of less-than-polished and sometimes abandoned products and services.

Microsoft's old strategy of surround, starve, and destroy doesn't seem to be working against more aggressive competitors like Apple, Google and even Amazon.

Azure could be a decent server platform, but until Microsoft's intentions for that platform are made more clear, as right now with Ballmer in charge, nothing other than Windows, Windows, Windows is ever a sure thing.

Consider Microsoft's strategy to build the Surface and compete directly with the OEMs they sell through.

It's often hard to tell the difference between being a good friend of Microsoft and their worst enemy.

> until Microsoft's intentions for that platform are made more clear

Here are the intentions from the latest shareholders letter


"Helping businesses move to the cloud is one of our largest opportunities. All the online services people use today — both from Microsoft and other companies — run on servers in datacenters around the globe. The volume of Internet services used will continue to grow as people connect to the Internet from more devices for more purposes — fueling incredible opportunity in our server business. Unique to Microsoft, we continue to design and deliver world-class cloud solutions that allow our customers to move to the cloud on their terms. For example, a company can choose to deploy Office or Microsoft Dynamics on premises, as a cloud service or a combination of both. With Windows Server 2012, Windows Azure and System Center infrastructure, businesses can deploy applications in their own datacenter, a partner's datacenter or in Microsoft's datacenter with common security, management and administration across all environments, with ultimate flexibility and scale. Our business customers tell us these capabilities are critical to harnessing the power of the cloud so they can reach new levels of efficiency and tap new areas of growth."

If their intention is to try and capture the Windows Server hosting market, then it's a risky bet. They risk alienating large Windows OEMs like Dell and HP that would be cut out of arrangements like this when customers start buying server services from Microsoft directly.

This is all well and good if you're a company using the Microsoft stack, but it doesn't mean they're as committed to making a platform-agnostic hosting platform like Amazon is with AWS or other big vendors like Rackspace are.

>Microsoft can abandon anything that's not core to their survival, and right now that's Windows

First, Microsoft has three major divisions bringing in somewhat equal amounts of revenue, Windows, Office and Server & Tools.

Second, if you apply the same metric to other companies, it would be foolish to use OS X, Gmail, Docs. App Engine. Android, and perhaps even Azure.

Third, Microsoft could've competed by making a better Zune, perhaps, but it's not the same thing as the iPad killing Silverlight, because that was done by not supporting plugins. Tablets are slowly overtaking PCs in sales, what sense does it make to push new versions of a plugin that will never run on most of them?

The transitions have mostly been smooth, VB apps still run on Windows. Hell, a game bundled with the Windows 95 CD still runs unchanged on a Windows 8 machine.



Google App Engine is a risky bet for the same reason as Azure, and perhaps even more so. Google could decide tomorrow that it's not worth supporting and tank it, or change the pricing model to make it no longer cost effective.

I don't think the same thing can be said for Amazon's AWS or other infrastructure providers like RackSpace where that would be as much as going out of business.

I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't take care of Windows, if anything they support it too much, but anything that's not Windows is just one executive decision away from being shut down.

XBox runs on Azure from what I hear. Its not getting shut down anytime soon. In fact, if I were a betting man, I'd even go as far as to say that Azure is the future of Windows Server.

I don't think the iPad killed Silverlight per se. I think it was dead on arrival for the most part; it was just not a good technology.

Lol , Microsoft killed silverlight. And silverlight developers to use HTML5 instead , what a joke. Latest IE versions dont even support silverlight anymore but do support Flash ... that what you get when you use closed source solutions , you cant even patch them yourself...

Yeah and IBM helped [Goldman rule] before WWII so they cannot possibly do anything good, ever.

That and Microsoft's siren song has gotten people into trouble before. Do you know any Silverlight developers that are still happy?

Ironically, Microsoft is usually known to support things for ages, getting a lot of flak in the process.

Aside from windows and some of the developer tools, not really aware of much that MS has supported more than 1 generation back, which is pretty typical of most software companies.

My only point of contention here is that I won't use a "cross platform" MS technology that hasn't made it to a 3rd release on the non-windows platforms. I do a lot of .Net (ASP/MVC mostly) for server-side code... but never really saw an advantage to Silverlight over Flash/Flex development.

I don't fault MS for shuttering Silverlight... but do think that MS should have made efforts for taking Silverlight projects into desktop applets, since the web stuff is a dead end for non-JS/HTML5.

MS took what seems like ungodly long to release IE10 for Windows 7... a year ago, it was current... now a lot of new focus has been on WebRTC, where IE will again trail the pack. IE also introduced some new inconsistencies with the Metro docking behavior. I do like the IE10 grid system a bit better than what will likely become the blessed spec though.

we run on AZURE! it rocks (period).

Could you share with us how you're using Azure? I'd love to hear from other startups running Azure.

I am on Azure as well for my startup (sharpplm.com). We are a document/quality management system for small mfg companies. The app was built as a straight .NET web app with sql server backend, so I went the VM path for now. Since its bootstrapped, Bizspark really has helped cut the startup costs. So far I've been really happy, also all the other software is a nice added bonus.

Yes, we run two webapps on azure, migration was super easy (we were on amazon before) its pretty straight forward couldn't be happier to be honest. We applied to bizspark and got accepted (which was also straight forward). So since we have Azure free for a year we deployed our apps pretty recently actually. TBH, not that any of the services are that complicated, the UI is way better than Amazon's, amazon has a strange way of doing things even on amazon.com. In short, clean, easy to scale, and does the job.

edit forgot this: startup is www.bemvi.com

We're using Azure Web Sites for our site (public/admin), planning on using storage and cloud services soon.

It's been very fast and perfectly reliable, also free thanks to BizSpark =)

Oh the irony of hosting a pro-Azure benchmark image on the Amazon (S3) cloud.


Not true at all.

"So you basically need to buy windows and visual studio to work with Azure"

Comes with BizSpark (http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/5/4/15454442-CF17-4... http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5246500)

"if you are not into windows centered development, Azure is not that interesting ."

You can use their website to set everything up. I did it from my iMac. As a simple test:

http://niggler.azurewebsites.net/ <-- this is using their Heroku-like offering. You push to a git endpoint.

http://niggler.cloudapp.net:1337/ <-- this is using a ubuntu VM running in their AWS-like offering.

Both are running the nodejs script:

    var http = require('http');
    var port = process.env.PORT || 1337;
    http.createServer(function(req, res) {
      res.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': 'text/plain' });
      res.end('Stop niggling!\n');

you can do everything on a Mac or Linux. you don't need to be a Windows user. In fact, the CLI for Azure is a node.js app.

Another thing to know about BizSpark is that it has higher tiers. If you are doing something interesting on Azure and it gets traction, you should reach out to Microsoft and let them know. They have a tier called "Bizspark One" where you can get $60,000 in free resources and visibility in their customer base by co-presenting at shows etc.

Finally, they also have an accelerator allied with TechStars in Seattle - where you can get all of this plus TechStars mentoring: http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/accelerator/

BizSpark is really one of the best free/open resources for startups that I've ever seen. It's not as useful as, say, YC, but it's essentially open to any legitimate startup, and gives you fairly substantial benefits.

Something that most people might not know about this is that you can spin up at least 2 small linux instances on this plan.

I run a Node.js app on a small Ubuntu instance with git based deployment (great guide here based on ec2: http://cuppster.com/2011/05/12/diy-node-js-server-on-amazon-...). Right now this server also runs my Mongo server, but as we scale I'll probably move it to its own instance.

2 small instances and storage for free. Its a great offer - we host our bootstrapped node.js application on Azure and it works great - and is net free for us.

It's actually more flexible than that too. You get 1500 hours of small instance credit, but you can apply it to larger instances sizes (for proportionally less time) or other services like "Websites" which I haven't used but is apparently some sort of PaaS.

I was looking for this detail - and not sure where it says you get 2 instances free. Can you post a link?

Edit: I did my math wrong previously. It is 1500 hours/month.

1500 hours a month - so for a small instance that works out to 2 instances. Eli below has it right - you can scale that up as well and get a smaller number of free instance time.

Can you also choose to use (more than 2) extra small instances? They provide better bang for the buck than the small instances.

Sure. And you have 10 of those MSDN subscriptions, one for each developer. You can't use say 20 small instances for one site, but you can use 2 instances for 20 separate sites/services.

Their VM depot is their equivalent to the AWS marketplace and is a good place to start if you want to launch apps on Azure http://vmdepot.msopentech.com/

Wow, reading through this and pretty psyched that people want to talk about this. I run community management in Mountain View for the global BizSpark program, which gives free software licenses to developers. I am all for helping you all know more about the program and helping get more information on Azure. If you all want to chat with me, you can email me at dcrets at microsoft. Thinking of doing a meetup on Azure and having some tech evangelists there. We would also livestream. Let me know if anyone is interested.

It also seems at this stage of development Microsoft are putting a lot of resources into quality support. Someone at my office started using Azure for free through biz spark and got someone from Microsoft on the phone who knew the tech details answering their questions.

Something I couldn't imagine ever getting from AWS or google, especially before dropping some serious dollars for extra support.

I'm in a techstars-affiliated accelerator in Adelaide (Australia) and part of our perks include $60k in Azure credits, which is an absolute godsend for cash-poor startups like ours. There's no way we could afford to do what we're doing on AWS.

My startup is in Bizspark and uses Azure. (http://stackify.com) We looked at AWS vs Azure and decided on Azure due to its PaaS capabilities. It has its quirks like anything done. Their support is fantastic. We have two local evangelist type reps, a local sales rep, and have talked to many people through their tech support. Even exchanged emails with their developers and management.

I really like their SQL federations and table storage. Both are designed for massive scale. Although they don't have a true NoSql solution, you can accomplish most things you would want NoSql for with those two options. I do wish they would allow secondary indexes on their table storage. It is possible to use VMs on Azure and use MongoDB or some other product. But part of the reason we chose Azure is we don't want to administer any of that junk.

Good news about Azure is they use the platform internally which will continue to drive it's innovation.

As others have mentioned, BizSpark is indeed a great program. IActionable.com just 'completed' the 3 year program. Azure sure has changed quite a bit since those early days :)

Ehh... Hasn't it always?

I was on Bizspark which gave MSDN which gave Azure usage as part of the perks :/

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