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We have all been there before. You have a web application that runs in your data center, and the load the website is generating is increasing. You need to buy more servers and increase your bandwidth to the Internet as well. Every year you find yourself back in the same place, adding servers, increasing bandwidth. The costs of your simple little website keep expanding. In this article we are going to explore how you can leverage Microsoft Azure to ease this burden. You will be able to serve more visitors with the same servers you have today, give them a speedier experience, and reduce your bandwidth usage.
As traffic to your site grows, so does the demand on your servers and bandwidth. There is a very simple solution to help you out of this ever increasing need for resources. That solutions is cloud computing with Microsoft Azure.
You may not want to or be prepared to move your whole application to the cloud. Perhaps moving the application to the cloud doesn't make sense in your scenario. The great thing about Azure is that it is meant to be used in pieces; it isn't an all or nothing scenario.
Imagine keeping your application wherever it is today, under your desk, in your datacenter, or at a hosting provider. All we are going to do is move half of our web server's responsibilities to the cloud. We are going to move all of our static media to Micrsoft Azure, and have it hosted there.
How can Microsoft Azure help?
Microsoft Azure has three types of storage in the cloud. They are BLOBs, queues and tables. BLOB is an acronym that stands for Binary Large Object, and you might have had reason to work with BLOBs in a relational database like SQL Server. Your experience as a developer was likely terrifying. BLOBs are hard to use in a database, since databases aren't really made for storing large unstructured pieces of data.
Don't worry about BLOBs in Microsoft Azure. In Azure they are simply a file system in the cloud. There are a lot of ways to leverage BLOBs in your application, and in this article we are going to look at the simplest of those scenarios, simply hosting you public files in a better place than your server.
Hosting your static media in Microsoft Azure can gain you a lot of benefits. You will quite easily remove a lot of load from your servers. This allows those servers to host even more simultaneous users. This puts off the day when you have to add more servers to your web site. You should track the work your web servers are performing; I think you will see a big spike in the amount of users you can host on one of your servers if they no longer have to respond to the static media requests.
The second benefit is that your users will be able to download more files at the same time. Each browser is limited to downloading only two files per host name. This is an old networking standard that doesn't really apply to today's modern networks, but it is still enforced. One cheat many users do is to change the registry of their Windows machine to download more than two files at a time from each host. You can't rely on your users really doing this to improve the performance of your site.