Sitecore Azure deployment using Visual Studio Cloud Service project – Part 1

This series of blog posts is going to describe a way how Sitecore 7.2 rev. 140526 (it most likely works with other versions as well but I haven’t tested it) can be deployed using Visual Studio and the Windows Azure integration. The big advantage that you will get from this is that the deployment can be automated using PowerShell scripts should you choose to setup continuous deployment using a build server such as TFS (yes I am biased, I like TFS). So the aim is not having to use the Sitecore Azure module for your cloud deployments.

Why am I not very fond of the Sitecore Azure module?

  1. The module is a black box, it’s not clear what it does under the hoods
  2. The module doesn’t allow automation
  3. It’s tedious to trouble shoot if something goes wrong
  4. To my understanding, the module doesn’t allow to include extra roles (e.g. worker roles) as part of the deployment

I am sure I could come up with more but I think you get the point. 🙂

This first blog post is concentrating on deploying the Sitecore databases to Windows Azure. If you have used the Sitecore Azure module you may have noticed that this is the starting point. Given that the content of this blog is only required once I decided that it won’t be worthwhile to automate the steps described.

Required steps

Create and configure SQL Azure server

The following article describes in details how to create a new SQL server on Azure:

Migrate Sitecore databases

The easiest way to migrate existing and fresh Sitecore databases is to use the SQL Database migration wizard which can be downloaded for free from Codeplex.

  1. Launch the migration wizard
  2. Select Database from the ‘Analyze/Migrate’ section
    Select ‘Next >’
  3. Connect to the database server where the Sitecore databases are attached
  4. Select the database that you would like to migrate and hit ‘Next >’
  5. Choose Objects: Keep the default settings since we want to migrate everything
    Select ‘Next >’
  6. Script Wizard Summary: Select ‘Next >’ and confirm the popup dialog
  7. After the preparation of all the scripts is complete you will be presented with the results summary:
    Sidenote: If you are migrating the Sitecore Core database there will be one error in the report. Don’t worry about it, that stored procedure isn’t used but included since it is part of the ASP.NET membership setup.
  8. Enter connection details for your Azure SQL Server
  9. Select ‘Create Database’
    Based on your needs you might select a different Service Tier but Standard an Performance Level S0 is a good starting point. You can always switch to a better performance level and larger size later.
  10. Select ‘Next >’ and confirm the popup dialog to start executing the script against your new Azure database.

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