15. Kudu, CloudBerry and Sendy
The Kudu open-source project is a useful troubleshooting tool and client-side process explorer for capturing memory dumps or looking at deployment. It’s also a site extension and welcomes community participation.
Another useful freeware tool is CloudBerry Explorer for Azure Blob Storage, which offers a file manager-style user interface to Azure Blob Storage.
If you’re already mucking around in the cloud, you may have e-mail update needs that can be met by Sendy or similar tools. Sendy was designed to work with Amazon Simple Email Service, but can be adapted for Azure as well. The cost savings versus a hosted e-mail solution such as MailChimp can be enormous.
16. Remote debugging
In its September 2015 white paper, “Practical Guide to Platform-as-a-Service Version 1.0,” the Cloud Standards Customer Council notes that no PaaS worth its salt should be without remote debug capabilities. “Application developers should have access to tools that enable them to control activities in the PaaS—for example, uploading (‘pushing’) application code, binding services to applications, controlling application configuration, starting and stopping application instances,” it said.
“Such capabilities should be provided in a way that fits well with the other tools used by the developer—command-line tools, graphical tools, embedded components for development environments. Ideally these tools should work via an API that is exposed by the PaaS system—cloud service customers should look for these APIs and assure themselves that the API can be used by a variety of custom tooling code.”
Remote debugging with Visual Studio fits the bill: Developers interact with cloud applications as if they were on-premise. Best used with Visual Studio 2013, remote debugging lets you manipulate memory, set breakpoints, and step through code—with the caveat that breaking a running process could break your live website. Save this one for pre-production sites.
17. Performance testing
Another public preview that is currently free to use, performance testing, allows you to generate thousands of virtual users from around the world and test your application against the load.
“We started using performance testing in the past six months,” said Garcia. “If you spin up a Web application, you’re able to do a performance test right from Azure, right in the cloud. Before, it was more on the Visual Studio side. So I can see what it looks like if 1,000 people hit my app at once. It’s very useful in knowing how to scale the application: We can have fewer servers, but make them stronger by adding this performance testing feature right within the Azure portal when you first launch an application.”
18. Easy ROI: Lift and shift
Want an instant return on your cloud investment? Eliminate idle servers that only handle periodic loads. “This is something people forget about when they’re thinking about the cloud,” said Hanselman. “Azure storage, that’s an infinite disk that’s out there. You probably have a machine sitting under your desk and it’s got a VM, running maybe an expense reporting system. It’s something that you need to lift and shift into the cloud. There are migration tools that can help you. Literally, it’s Hyper-V in the cloud, but that’s only the most basic way of using Azure. So, Step 0: Lift and shift. Then start thinking about other ways to exploit stuff.”