Today in a conversation with a customer I came up with a metaphor to explain some concepts about web-sites and hosting in Azure. I think this can be useful, should be recorded and developed further:

  • Think of a web-site as a Book. Pages in a book are web-site pages with text. Easy enough and translates well.
  • Web-sites to run need a server. Server is a Book-shelf that can have many books (sites).
  • You can have a book-shelf (server) in your office or in a Library. Library is a data-centre or a cloud that contains many book-shelves and many books. Somebody cares about the library for you, but you pay for the space on a shelf to keep you books there.
  • Domain Name is a Library Card that by name of a domain knows what shelf/location the required book(site) sits.
  • DNS server is a Librarian that keeps library cards organised and provides you with the right card when you ask for you site.
  • I also was explaining about having 2 publishing slots on Azure: production and staging. Production is the current book that is served to clients. Then when you publish new version of a book(site) – it is placed next to the current book(site) and then you swap these books around. Making the new book(site) to be currently in production.

Though this worked really well for me this morning, this metaphor does not explain well how on-premises hosting will work (your own tiny private library?). Or how web-sites fetch data from databases and if you swap sites/book they still serve the same data from the same database? Perhaps database can be a filing cabinet and every book contains a reference section on how to fetch data from the filing cabinet, but this is getting more complex than I like.

  • I was going to suggest exactly that for the database thing, both books contain a list of references to data kept else where (could be a filing cabinet, could be more books, could be old microfilm!) but your book doesn’t actually care, it just knows there is more info there that it can access if you need it. If two books point to the same reference they both gain access to the same info.

    Love a good metaphor and this works really well.

    • Problem with references to data – somebody need to fetch this data to show on pages. Now we need to explain to folk that books are not completely written, but there are some elfes that go to that reference, fetch data from filing cabinet. And when our users look on pages, elfes run like mad to fetch data and fill in the blanks on the pages. I think this involves too much magic and gets complex to explain.