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Why We Use Azure Web Apps

azure web apps blog post header
Written by
Gary Evans

Our core competency is building functional, usable, secure, and elegant software. In addition to web work, many of our clients are looking for a deployment solution and hosting platform. They long for a solution they don't have to manage—a solution that just works. We provide this for quite a few clients. Our hosting fits hand-in-hand with our development, saving clients time and money by seamlessly deploying changes from Development to Staging to Production. For each environment, we use Azure Web Apps.

AzureWebAppLogo In 2014, we begin exploring the pros and cons of Microsoft Azure's Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, Azure Web Apps. After years of hosting hundreds web sites in Azure using Web Apps, I'd like to share some of our favorite features of Microsoft 's PaaS offering.

Resilience to failure
This is probably the most underrated (or least talked about) feature of Azure Web Apps, and it 's my favorite. The underlying architecture for Web Apps is brilliant. If an App Service Plan crashes or becomes unavailable for any reason, all web apps on the app service plan will immediately spin up on another web server. The files are served up from a File Server, living in Blob Storage. The web site settings are stored in the Application Database. The Application Request Router knows how to instantly route traffic to the new web server. If your site does not have a huge initial load time, the entire process happens almost instantaneously. This is baked in to Web Apps—it is the architecture—and it requires zero user intervention. This one feature alone does away with all worries about hardware failure or OS crashes or web server disk space issues or IIS crashes. If any of those happen, a new server spins up and starts hosting all web apps.

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From Ken Cenerelli at https://www.slideshare.net/KenCenerelli

Scale up or down in seconds
With Web Apps, scaling is extremely easy and seamless. As long as your web app was written to run on multiple servers, you can add up to 20 instances (web servers). After sliding up the instance handle up, Azure spins up the requested number of web servers and handles the routing, load balancing, web settings, and file storage for you… instantly. This is done in seconds, with no user intervention (except sliding the handle up).

Azure_ScaleUp

Quickly spin up (or down) infrastructure
The ability to quickly spin up new infrastructure—a load balancer, a database, or another Web App server—has proved itself valuable time and time again. If I need to isolate an issue on a website, I can spin up a new App Server in seconds and move my web app to the new server with a button click. Then once I've tested or researched the issue, I can move the site back to another server and shut down the new app server. Very handy.

99.95% SLA
The service level agreement for Azure Web Apps is 99.95%, which comes out to about 22 minutes per month. This is great for the sites we host, but I think the actual uptime is much better. The web apps do restart when they are moved to a different app server. This only happens when Azure performs maintenance on the App Servers or Azure Storage. Other than that, they're stable.

Secure and Compliant – ISO, SOC, and PCI
Azure_security_logo Security is important to us at Smooth Fusion and we know it's important to our clients. Azure also places a huge emphasis on security with Azure web apps. These are a few highlights taken from App Service security page:

  • Web apps are secured from the other customers' Azure resources.
  • VM instances and runtime software are regularly updated to address newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  • Communication of secrets (such as connection strings) between your app and other Azure resources (such as SQL Database) stays within Azure and doesn't cross any network boundaries. Secrets are always encrypted when stored.
  • All communication over the App Service connectivity features is encrypted.
  • Connections with remote management tools like Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure SDKs, REST APIs, are all encrypted.
  • 24-hour threat management protects the infrastructure and platform against malware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle (MITM), and other threats.

You can read more about Azure Web App Security here.

 

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