WordPress as an App Service on Azure

I’ve blogged on the WordPress platform for years, starting way, way back when I had what I thought of at the time as a shell account at Pair Networks. Since then I’ve installed and run WordPress on other web-hosting accounts, as well as on virtual private servers and, for a short period of time, even on a spare Linux box under the desk in my office. I’ve spent most of my career doing Windows system administration and a goodly bit of it using a Mac as my primary desktop/laptop computer, but I learned just enough Linux to install and keep Apache, PHP, MySQL, and WordPress running. At some point I grew tired of caring and feeding for WordPress itself, so I just imported my blogs into WordPress.com, paid for domain mapping and their “no ads” service, and let the folks at Automattic worry about it.

Will This Be Hard? No.

My first thought about running WordPress on Azure was that I would rather not go back to managing WordPress the old fashioned way involving managing the entire stack from the OS (Linux or Windows) on up. Turns out, as Jeramiah alluded to in his recent post, I don’t have to. There’s certainly more opportunity (and need, especially since I wanted to make my Azure-hosted blog secure) to fiddle with nerd knobs running an Azure App Service, but when it comes to getting WordPress up and running, it took about the same amount of time on Azure as it did at WordPress.com. Want to see how easy it was? Let’s build another one together.

1. Log into the Azure Portal and click on App Services, then click Add.

0718 Azure Add App Service

2. You may be tempted to select one of the WordPress options you see right away. Resist that urge, unless of course you want to run WordPress on Linux or something else.

0718 Azure App Service Search

3. Instead, type WordPress into the search and hit enter. Select just plain WordPress as shown below, then click Create.

0718 Azure Just Plain WordPress

4. This next step is important for a few reasons. First, whatever App name you choose here will become your hostname in the domain azurewebsites.net. Second, you will choose whether to create a new resource group or (if you have one), use an existing one. Most importantly, and it may not be obvious at this step (it wasn’t to me), you’re choosing whether you want to run and pay for a separate database service to run MySQL. I went that route at first, but after conferring with Jeramiah, I decided I’d rather save the money/credit and just run MySQL inside the App Service plan. I’ve included the disclaimer Azure shows you below as well.

Azure App Service Options0718 Azure DB Disclaimer

5. Click Create. I chose to pin my new App Service to my dashboard.

So five steps (maybe a couple more total clicks) to deploy. It takes Azure a minute or two to deploy the new App Service, and once it’s finished, it is fully live, as shown here:

Azure WordPress Setup

And just a minute or two after filling out the basic info for the WordPress Setup, I had a working install up and running, and even prompting me to update to the latest version.

Azure New WordPress

Back in the Azure Portal, I was presented with a nice data-rich view of my new App Service, along with lots of options, some of which I’ll go into when I detail how I used Let’s Encrypt to secure my new Azure blog.

Azure App Service Dashboard

 

And once I finished taking the screenshots I needed for this post, deleting the App Service was just as easy as creating it. Just click Delete, confirm by typing the App Service name, and click Delete again.

 

Azure Delete App Service

So Why Do This?

That’s a fair question. As I mentioned in my previous post, this blog was being neglected over at WordPress.com, but I could have simply fired up MarsEdit and kept posting to it there. But I want to learn more about Microsoft Azure, maybe get outside my comfort zone a little bit, and I figure one way to encourage me to do that is to port this blog over and set myself a challenge to document the experience. So that’s what I’m doing.

If I didn’t have an MSDN subscription with a monthly Azure credit, would I pay to host my blog here full time? I don’t know – maybe, maybe not. But I do, so I am. I figure hosting my blog is the least interesting thing I can do in Azure, but it’s a start.

If you have suggestions for other stuff I can try in Azure, let me know via Twitter, where I’m @mikestanley