Sitecore Azure

Getting started with Sitecore Azure

Abstract

Introducing Sitecore Azure. A helpful topic for Sitecore administrators to read before using or installing.

Sitecore Azure provides an integrated user interface to manage your cloud delivery infrastructure and simplify the deployment of your website to the Microsoft Azure cloud. You can use Sitecore Azure with Sitecore to host your website in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Sitecore Azure is built around Microsoft Azure cloud services (PaaS), and includes automatic deployment of web servers as well as SQL databases. You can also deploy from the on-premise content editing server to any number of Sitecore Azure cloud services that are hosted at various Microsoft Azure locations globally. This means continuous delivery because you can deploy code and Sitecore items to the Sitecore Azure cloud on demand.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud-computing platform and an infrastructure for building, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of data centers managed by Microsoft.

If you already have an existing Microsoft Azure subscription, you can continue to use it for your Sitecore installation by providing your subscription information, and you still gain the benefits of using Sitecore Azure tools. Sitecore Azure provides:

  • Extreme scalability, simplicity, and stability.

  • A highly available infrastructure with 99.95% uptime with Microsoft Azure's service licensing agreement (SLA).

    Note

    You must have two or more instances deployed in the same availability set to qualify for guaranteed 99.95% of external connectivity.

  • Significantly reduced costs and time required to deploy your solution to a new server.

  • Greater savings on the cost and time required to provide geographically distributed load balancing.

  • Reduced redundancy between geographies for performance, as well as disaster preparedness.

  • Reduced cost and time required to adjust server capacity to meet the expected load.

  • Automation of most of the process of migrating a website to Microsoft Azure.

Sitecore Azure versions 8.0 and later support content editing as well content delivery from the cloud. You can choose the best combination of on-premise or cloud-based editing and delivery environments. An editing environment is called an editing farm and a delivery environment is called a delivery farm. A farm is a set of web roles connected to a single SQL Azure instance.

The following sections describe three examples of possible deployment topologies.

This example illustrates an on-premise Sitecore installation for content editing that publishes to several Sitecore content delivery farms in multiple Microsoft Azure locations across the globe.

In this type of installation:

  • Content editing is carried out on the on-premise server.

  • Content delivery server clusters are deployed to Microsoft Azure.

  • The on-premise server is published to Microsoft Azure.

    SitecoreAzureOnPremiseInstallation.png

This example illustrates a Sitecore installation that runs in live mode. Both content editing and content delivery run on the same farm, so no publishing is required. Editing changes that are made on the content editing server are immediately available to the public.

In this type of installation:

  • The on-premise development environment deploys the full environment to Microsoft Azure. This includes both the Content editing and Content delivery environments.

  • The Master database is maintained by Microsoft Azure.

  • You can have a multi-instance live-mode deployment within a single farm.

  • The front end reads from the Master database.

    SitecoreAzureLiveMode.png

This example illustrates how both the content editing and content delivery environments run in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

In this type of installation:

  • The on-premise development environment deploys the full environment to Microsoft Azure. This includes both the Content editing and Content delivery environments.

  • The Master database is maintained by Microsoft Azure.

  • You can have multi-instance authoring deployment within a single Microsoft Azure location which can publish content to all of the other locations in Microsoft Azure.

  • Content delivery deployments are rolled out from the on-premise server and published directly from Microsoft Azure's content editing server.

    SitecoreAzureContentAuthoringContentDelivery.png

One of the features of Sitecore Azure is that you can deploy directly to the Microsoft Azure local emulator that is included with the Azure SDK. This means that you can test your deployment without incurring any cost.

You can test deploy to the local emulator, in Sitecore Azure, on the ribbon, in the Environment Type group, by selecting Local Emulator from the drop-down list.

SitecoreAzureLocalEmulator.png

Note

To run the Microsoft Azure local emulator, you must have administrative rights to the computer. You also need to download and run the Runner.bat file when prompted in the notification field at the bottom of the dialog.

The Sitecore Experience Database (xDB) and Sitecore xDB Cloud Edition collects all online and offline customer interactions from all channel sources in a real-time big data repository. Sitecore xDB connects interaction data to create a comprehensive, unified view of each individual customer, enabling marketers to manage the customer experience in real time.

With a Sitecore 8.1 installation, you can set up Sitecore as an on-premise solution, as a hybrid solution (partly on the premises and partly in the cloud), or as an entirely in-the-cloud solution.

Sitecore xDB is a scalable architecture that can handle large amounts of customer data. You can scale up or down from small single-server, low traffic solutions to larger solutions consisting of hundreds of servers designed to handle high volumes of traffic.