There are quite a number of folks using Azure out there. If you are just starting out with Azure there are a number of routes to getting started with it. As of this post in August 2015 I've identified no less than six different ways for you to get going with Azure for your cloud computing scenarios. If I find more I'll update this article. After reading this you'll have a good idea of ways to get going on Azure and how to proceed.
Work for a large corporation? Have they purchased some blocks of Azure for use? Talk to your software folks and find out if you can use Azure via your coporation's Enterprise Subscription. What is an Enterprise Subscription? If you're a big corporation using large amounts of cloud computing, you're most likely not going to use a credit card to pay for your consumption. Customers may purchase Azure through Enteprirse Agreements. Customers add Azure upfront to their EA and the spend is consumed over the year. A sepecial Enterprise Portal for managing user an allocating resources to employees is provided. No limits on usage. Must be purchased from a Microsoft Account Rep or Reseller. More information at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/enterprise-agreement/
. Information on purchasing from a Microsoft Reseller can be found here -
30 DAY AZURE PASS TRIAL
Want to play and explore with Azure but don't want a committment? Try a 30 day Azure Trial subscription. Thirty days or $200 worth of Azure to use, whatever comes first. Account is by default capped so you cannot accidentally spend over your $200 allocation. To sign up a free trial go to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/ .
Do you have an MSDN subscription? Did you know you have up to $150/month Azure credit you can use? Head over to the "My Account" tab on your MSDN subscription and activate your Microsoft Azure benefit. The next time you go to the Azure Portal you should see up to a $150/month credit available. Details on the offer are here - http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn-benefits/ . MSDN subscribers can also get up to a 40% discount on pay-as-you-go-rates ( http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0023p/ ).
Software based tech startup? Less than 5 years old? Privately held? Earning less than $1m annually? You're eligible for Microsoft Bizspark, our program for startups. Essentially Bizspark gets you the MSDN Subscription for up to five of your developers gratis for three years. With this you get up to five subscriptions for Visual Studio Ultimate + MSDN. This amounts to $150/month per developer. You get a number of other benefits such as operational software licenses and more. Qualify? Apply at https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/ .
DREAMSPARK FOR STUDENTS
If you're a student, we have a special setup for you. You can get DreamSpark, which gives you access to range of software benefits. The Azure Dreamspark benefit for students gets you up to ten Azure Web Apps ( formerly Web Sites ) without requiring a credit card. Web Apps support html, js, node, php, phython and more. This is a great way for students to have hosted projects off their local box to showcase.
GIVE IT A GO
There are many different ways to get going, suitable to a number of different scenarios. Give Azure a try. Love to hear how it goes.