Although many people have already tried Windows Azure and even created several implementations, I would like to dedicate this post to those of you that haven’t tried Windows Azure yet and don’t know where to start. This blog includes the following information:
- What are the requirements to get a free trial of Windows Azure?
- I am a student and I don’t have a credit card
- What happens when the Windows Azure trial ends?
- How do I remove the spending limits of my Windows Azure trial?
- Can I convert my free Windows Azure trial subscription to a pay-as-you-go account?
- My Windows Azure account has been disabled before the end of the trial period
1.What are the requirements to get a free trial of Windows Azure?
The simplest way to try Windows Azure is by signing up for a non-obligatory 30 days free Windows Azure trial.
The following post by Scott Guthrie explains the signing process in more detail. It is an easy process and it takes less than 2 minutes to complete.
Learn how to setup a trial version of Azure here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2012/01/19/getting-started-with-windows-azure.aspx
As you can see from the above blog, the pre-requisites required for creating your Windows Azure subscription are:
- A Windows LiveID account which will be used to sign-in and manage your account.
- A mobile phone number where we can send (via SMS) you a verification code.
- A credit card to authenticate you when you sign-up.
Note:Now, you can also use your Org ID to set up and manage your Windows Azure subscription.
The last two items are used for proof of identity. The credit card is not billed during the free trial. You’ll have a spending limit set to $0. If you exceed your credits, your service will be automatically disabled.
Try out Windows Azure for free here: https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/
In case you have any issues during the registration process for the free trail of Windows Azure subscription, you call the support number for your country which is listed in the below link:
2. I am a student and I don’t have a credit card
If you are a student and you don’t have a credit card, you can still get a free trial of Windows Azure by applying for an Educator Grant using this link: http://www.WindowsAzurePass.com/azureu. The Windows Azure university team will contact you once you fill in the application form. On approval, you will receive a set of codes for redemption that you can share with your colleagues and students.
3. What happens when the Windows Azure trial ends?
When the period for the trial ends, the account gets disabled for the remainder of that billing month. You will receive notifications once you reach the spending limit.
Once subscription is disabled due to spending limit or non-payment, data stored in Windows Azure will be unavailable to you and it can’t be accessed. Once you decide to remove spending limit or pay the outstanding balance, subscription will be re-enabled.
You can remove the spending limit if you want to continue using the Windows Azure services. In this case, any usage in excess of the monthly allocation will be charged at standard rates.
If you decide to convert your subscription to pay-as-you-go at the beginning of the next billing month, your subscription can be re-enabled and you can re-deploy your hosted service(s) and have full access to your storage accounts and databases.
4. How do I remove the spending limits of my Windows Azure trial?
By default your free trial subscription to Windows Azure is created with what is called a “Spending Limit” which ensures that if you ever use up all of the credits you still don’t get billed – as the subscription will automatically suspend when all of the free credits are depleted (ensuring your bill is never more than $0).
You can optionally remove the spending limit if you want to use more than the free credits and pay any overage on top of them.
Below are the three different option available to you for removing the spending limit.
- Remove the spending limit only for the current billing cycle (ideal if you know that it is a onetime spike)
- Remove the spending limit indefinitely if you expect to continue to have higher usage in future
- Reset/Turn back on the spending limit from the next billing cycle forward in case you’ve already turned it off
For the procedure to remove the spending limit please read the blog below by Scott Guthrie.
5. Can I convert my free Windows Azure trial subscription to a pay-as-you-go account?
Before the 30 days trial ends, you have an option to remove the spending limit. If you remove the spending limit, your subscription will move into Pay As You Go after the trial period. Once you remove the spending limit, you start getting charged for consuming resources beyond your monthly allocations.
- If you have consumed all the free benefits before the end of billing cycle, you will need to remove the spending limit to resume services.
- If your subscription had already expired, you can contact Windows Azure billing support to upgrade the subscription to Pay As You Go. You can contact our billing support team using: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/customer-service-phone-numbers
Note: VMs are not taken down when your subscription is disabled. It will only be made unavailable. After re-enabling your subscription you can resume the services instantly.
- If your subscription has reached the spending limit, you can:
- Remove Spending limit for the current billing cycle
- Upgrade the free trail of Windows Azure to Pay As You Go
Note: The upgrade from trial to Pay-as-you-go doesn’t affect any of the services already deployed or in use.
At this stage you might want to check Pricing Calculator here:http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/?scenario=virtual-machines
6. My Windows Azure account has been disabled before the end of the trial period
If you find that your account has been disabled before the end of the trial period, it could be that you might have exceeded the expending limit. From http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/spending-limits/
"If you exceed these allocations, a spending limit will apply and your service will be disabled until the beginning of the next billing month".
Free trial account usage limitation
750 small compute hours per month
10 Shared Web Sites
10 Shared Mobile Services
1 Database Unit of Web Edition and Business Edition SQL Database
35GB with 50,000,000 storage transactions
Unlimited inbound / 20GB Outbound
I hope that blog post provides you with all the necessary information you need to start using Windows Azure without any hassles or concerns.
So what are you waiting for, sign up for a free trail to Windows Azure here. http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/
Blogged on behalf of Maria Esteban Garcia, Windows Azure Support Engineer.