How to host a simple Umbraco site in Azure as cheap as possible
This post is mainly targeted at small Umbraco sites such as this blog you are reading from right now. Your mileage may vary.
There are many hosting providers you could use to host your Umbraco site some at a cheaper rate but why am I using Azure to host mine? PaaS or Platform as a service. Ever since I started working with Azure I loved the idea of Web Apps. Don't get me wrong there are some scenarios where its great to have your own Virtual Machine (IaaS). But with ever increasing threats and exploits discovered its great that I can sit back and let Azure take the hassle of updating the underlying software/hardware for me. Everything is more abstract, I don't need to worry about whats on the virtual machine itself or maintain it in any way.
What resources am I using in Azure?
It's quite basic really, I am running this site on an Azure Web App with a SQL Database, that's it. I have an additional web app that's on a separate free tier App Service Plan (ASP) that I use as a staging environment and the app for production is on a paid app service plan (D1: Shared). To get a custom domain name I needed to use a paid ASP but if you are happy to have your url ending with azurewebsites.net than technically you could run your umbraco site on a free ASP tier. The problem with this is that you won't be able to leverage Cloudflare as you don't control the azurewebsites.net domain... I suggest an alternative off topic solution further down in this post if you are looking for something lighter.
Any tricks to cut costs?
Yes! I use Cloudflare to handle the majority of the traffic and HTTPS certificate. However if you read my previous post Six ways to secure your Umbraco back office the HTTPS protection is only half way, so from a security standpoint logging into the back office or using logins on the front end such as a forum login via the main site url could compromise credentials in transit. Since I have Cloudflare on the front that reduces the cost in Azure as the web app receives less requests to it but it means I have to log into Umbraco via the azurewebsites.net domain not mattou07.net to have full HTTPS protection.
Cloudflare performs its own caching in front of the web server and a Global CDN which provides fast performance for visitors around the globe. Try running a test on a cloudflare enabled site using GTMetrix: https://gtmetrix.com/ not bad for a free service.