Microsoft unveiled some really cool features for Windows Azure today, and one of them is the new Web Sites Feature allowing you to start small and create up to 10 free websites in a shared environment on Azure with the ability to painlessly scale each website to a reserved capacity later. In addition to creating websites from scratch, Azure has an option to install selected applications from its gallery. As it so happens, Orchard CMS is in the Azure App Gallery and can be installed in minutes, complete with full support for downloading modules and themes from the Orchard Gallery and easy management from WebMatrix. Here are the highlights for installing Orchard CMS on Windows Azure and setting up WebMatrix with Web Deploy.

Installing Orchard CMS on Azure using Web Sites Gallery

Once you have signed-up for a free trial of Windows Azure and activated the Web Sites feature, you have the ability to create a new web site in Azure by choosing an application from the gallery.

Install Orchard CMS from Windows Azure Gallery

Once you select the gallery option, you have the option of choosing Orchard as an application.

Orchard CMS in Windows Azure App Gallery

Just as with any installation of Orchard CMS, this gets Orchard installed in the website, but you still have to run it to complete set-up. Click on the website in the Azure Management Portal to browse to the website and complete the Orchard Set-up. For my test I picked SQL Compact which allows me to avoid setting up a SQL Database instance at this time.

Once I finished the set-up process I downloaded a few modules from the Orchard Gallery as well as the Contoso Theme and all worked beautifully. Took me less than 5 minutes to have Orchard installed on Windows Azure.

Orchard CMS Running on Windows Azure

Download Publish Settings from Azure and Import into WebMatrix

Once you have Orchard CMS up and running on Azure you will want to use Visual Studio, WebMatrix, or some other application to work with it. In this case, let's use the simplest thing possible - WebMatrix and Web Deploy.

First, you will want to download the publish profile for the website. A link to download the profile can be found on the dashboard of the website in the Azure Management Portal. Click on the link to download the profile on your computer.

Download Publish Profile for Orchard Website on Azure Management Portal

You then want to open a new Remote Website in WebMatrix and import the publish settings that you just exported from Windows Azure. This avoids having to type all the data in yourself.

Import Windows Azure Publish Settings into WebMatrix

Once you have imported the settings, validated the connection, and gave the website a name, you have full access to the Orchard CMS Website. Go crazy and build something cool!

WebMatrix and Web Deploy for Orchard CMS and Windows Azure


Installing and running Orchard CMS has never been easier with the new Web Sites feature in Windows Azure. Take it for a spin!