I like the great developer toolchain that comes with the Windows Azure cloud services. I have found it quite easy to develop on top of the platform-as-a-service api for web and worker roles. What I had never tried before was Windows Azure’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering. I signed up for just that and played with it this weekend.
Signing up was a piece of cake on the Azure Management portal (which is where I expected it to be in the first place) – they needed credit cards but had an offer for 3 months free. After selecting an operating system image from the VM library, I could provision a VM and started using it over a secure channel.
Time flew by quickly as I create a new instance of mongodb in the VM and tested out the installation. By the time I was done, I was beginning to like the overall experience even though there were no developer toolchains like Visual Studio etc involved.
I wanted it for the cheapest, got it for free; but they have my credit card and if I keep liking it and using it – charge they will for my attachment to the service. If the service was not free to begin with, I may not have tried it. The “free” removes a barrier to trial and greases the path to purchase when there is some invested collateral (my precious time) and the value proposition is clearer.