The ability to easily scale above 10 instances makes Websites applicable in a larger range of use cases. The virtual network feature grants your website access to resources running on a vnet (virtual network), including being able to access web services or databases running on Azure Virtual Machines.
While clouds like Amazon Web Services require at least some development knowledge to navigate, Microsoft is setting up Azure, and more specifically Azure Websites to be easy to use for most.
Microsoft continues to make mass market-type enhancements to its cloud, lowering the barrier to entry to start using Azure. This somewhat threatens the traditional mass-market hosting space in a way that bare-bones developer clouds do not
“Instead of buying new servers, you simply drag your Instance slider to get more machines,” wrote Erez Benari, program manager, Azure Web Sites. “Instead of having to deploy and configure the additional machines, Azure Websites ensures your data and apps are available from all instances immediately. The sizable array of 10 instances available in regular hosting plans is more that most customers will ever need, but for some larger customers it isn’t always enough to deal with high-traffic sites or Web services. If this is a situation that you find yourself in, we are happy to accommodate.”
The virtual network connection capabilities complement the Hybrid Connections capability. Hybrid Connections offer the ability to access a remote application and the hybrid connections agent can be deployed in any network, connecting back to Azure. “This provides an ability to access application endpoints in multiple networks and does not depend on configuring a VNET to do so,” wrote Chris Compy, senior program manager at Azure Websites. “Virtual Network gives access to all the resources in the VNET and does not require installation of an agent to do so.”
Through a new user interface, users can connect to a pre-existing Azure VNET or create a new one. For Azure Websites Virtual Network integration to work, users must have a dynamic routing gateway and have Point to Site enabled.
The virtual network feature is being released in preview and is currently available only at the Standard tier. Standard tier web hosting plans can have up to five networks connected while a website can only be connected to one network. Several websites can be connected to the same network.