30 Days of Azure’s “Free Trial” Subscription – Adventures and Lessons Learned

30 Days of Azure’s “Free Trial” Subscription

Adventures and Lessons Learned

My name is Kathleen. I am an engineer that loves continuous learning and exploring tech. I’m also a fan of Microsoft products and am a life-long student. This article was written to share with you some of the amazing things I did with my Free Trial with Microsoft Azure and the lessons learned with my pre-existing Azure account resources that were affected after the trial expiration. My experiences may help you plan your own Free Trial exploration.

Before my Trial

Microsoft Imagine Program

As mentioned, I am a life-long student and am currently enrolled in a university program where I need to use Microsoft products to develop, test, and learn IT technologies. Microsoft provides qualified university students with access to the Microsoft Imagine program [link] where they can download product licenses for free and use them for academic purposes only. Azure has a related subscription program for students called “Microsoft Imagine”, however I found by experience it is very limited and restricted on what a student can do, create, publish, etc. and there needs to be change to allow students more benefits and more free resource access with their Azure subscription. Benefits to Microsoft would include be an increased knowledge pool of Azure engineers available in private industry ready to tout their products and services with paying clients, corporations, etc. Also, I found and reported several potential issues with the Azure product during my time with the Free Trial, so students are great for free beta/product testing too! Most students don’t have MSDN licenses (like corporate developers) with monthly free money hanging around to spend on tinkering with Azure products. It would be amazing if we did have a way to learn by working with the Azure resources that expands on the current academic subscription to allow for special access to create, publish, and showcase resources like we would do in the real world.

Risks with Existing Resources

This may or may not apply to you, but if you have existing resources, subscriptions, resource groups in Azure you should be very careful on signing up for the Free Trial, especially if any of these resources are currently under a “Free Tier”. You can skip ahead to the section “After my Trial” to better understand some of the problems, tech support, and potential solutions. In summary, all my resources were originally under the Microsoft Imagine Program. When I upgraded my subscription to the Free Trial, I thought … hmm… logically my subscription and resources should revert BACK… to my original student subscription after the Free Trial expiration. I do not remember having a choice not to move/upgrade my existing resources over to the Free Trial, and they were automatically upgraded.

Well I thought wrong.

My original Azure resources and subscription were not changed back to the Microsoft Imagine subscription after my Free Trial expiration, but they were now disabled and STUCK and I was foo-bared from changing it (see section “After my Trial”). So be careful to not let Azure change your existing resources to the new Free Trial subscription and if you notice it changed, try and get that resource changed back asap. Don’t assume the subscription and resource assignments will revert back to what it was before, because it probably won’t and you will be stuck.

About the Free Trial

Microsoft is currently running a “Free Trial” promotion where you can test drive Azure with a $200 credit, but that credit and promotion lasts only a month. Give me $200 anywhere and I will spend it! Seriously … I am accepting donations of Microsoft dollars to play, spend, develop, publish, write tech articles, etc…

 

You can buy a digital code gift card here [link] and then send it to me!

 

You can also donate to the “feed an unemployed engineer program” by sending all monies, Bitcoins, etc. … to me [link]. All funds go to a good cause of paying my tuition and/or feeding me Pho.

How I Spent It

My “Free Trial” money spending went through three distinct phases in 30 days’ time:

  1. Cautious and miserly in my spending … I was tracking down to the pennies how much resources costed for my projects and picking the cheapest options (not always the wisest choice, especially on the slower and cheaper HDD Virtual Machines!)
  2. Hands-on-head, monitor, wait in anticipation to see if the resources I created would drain me penniless in the day or two I ran my project, which fortunately did not happen (Note: I later found out some resource costs were calculated and deducted from my Azure $$ maybe 1-2 days after the usage … so be aware)
  3. Clickety-click, “Spend Away!”, charge, cha-ching… Honey Badger Don’t Care… Just sign up and buy what I needed… plenty of monies left! Spend it all before time’s up!

Costs

I would share my final Azure resource costs with you, except there were too many items. Keep in mind, I usually created and used resources only for a day or two for the duration of my project, then deleted the resource group per project. I also did not leave my Virtual Machines up and running all the time, which can be costly. Reflecting on my own Azure resources costs, the Virtual Machines and VPN connections were the costliest.

At the end of my 30 days of exploring Azure with the “Free Trial” subscription, I had only spent approximately $110 of my $200 credit. I had created quite a few resources and projects. Some of my projects, I wrote tech articles about and would like to share with you under the next section called “Adventures”.

 

Adventures

Thanks to $10 Black Friday specials on Udemy courses and a 30-day free trial of “LinkedIn Learning” I used the Azure topic “video courses” and the Microsoft Azure portal with my “Free Trial” subscription to practice and do “hands-on” learning, labs, and also freely play in the Azure portal. Since nobody would believe me if I just said I have “Azure tech skills and knowledge”, I decided to also blog and write about my projects for the non-believers out there to showcase what I can do. Some projects and articles are listed below with content links.

 

Fun with the Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN)

 I tried this Content Delivery Network (CDN) out by creating my own little network, sharing with my social media, then exploring the data analytics behind my CDN with my Free Trial subscription for Azure. I’ll share with you how I created it and my data analytic results in this article. [link]

 

Exploring Azure’s Traffic Manager with My Web Apps

I tinkered with my “Free Trial” subscription by creating and configuring a Traffic Manager in the new Azure Portal. I also setup a test sub-domain on my personal site to redirect website visitors to this traffic manager. Then I tested traffic routing by performance, weighting, and priority methods to my endpoints that I also created in Azure. [link]

 

Creating my Custom Domain with Azure Active Directory using the new Portal

I created my very first own custom domain of users (community.katiegirl.net) on my Azure Active Directory using both the classic and new portal methods. [link]

 

My Experiment with Recovery Services Vault – Azure Backups

I created my own Recovery Services Vault with a client Azure Backup using the new Azure Portal. I relied on the Microsoft documentation online to complete the process using the new Portal. [link]

 

FUN WITH AZURE – I CREATED MY OWN POINT-TO-SITE VPN

Welcome to my VPN World. Do you want to be part of it? Well, to join my secret VPN on Azure, you would need a special certificate that I created. Sorry, not going to give that out to just anybody! But I will share with you how I did it! [link]

 

AZURE FUN: CREATING A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK WITH THE NEW PORTAL

I created my very own Virtual Private Network (VPN) in the new Azure portal and would like to share my project and story. [link]

 

Making a Racing Game with Unity3D and Azure Backend

Guess what world? I made my first Unity3D Game today and I made a cool back end Azure mobile app for the racing game to hold the leader board and crash heat map. It was so much fun!! [link]

After the Trial

Disabled Subscription

On the last day of my Free Trial, I disabled the subscription for fear it might actually charge my credit card on file. I am assuming it would had been automatically disabled on its own.

I then noticed my pre-existing resources (created before the Free Trial) were still latched on to using the now newly disabled “Free Trial Subscription”.

Service Plans are Stuck

My first approach was to see if I could modify my App Service Plan to utilize a different subscription – the Microsoft Imagine one. However, I noticed no process to modify or change the subscription on this App Service Plan. I later confirmed with a help service ticket that my App Service Plan was latched on to the now disabled Free Trial subscription and could not be modified or changed. So, I would need to create an entirely new App Service Plan to utilize with my resource apps.

Except now when I tried to create a new App Service plan (remember this one was pre-existing), it now ignores my “Microsoft Imagine” subscription. This App Service plan was created and working before under the Microsoft Imagine program but now I cannot create another new plan? The old plan was upgraded for the trial and I cannot change or add a new one. Catch22?

Resources Cannot Be Moved from Disabled Subscriptions

I tried moving resource groups and individual resources from the disabled “Free Trial” subscription to my Microsoft Imagine subscription. The user interface was setup to process changes but the actual changes were not allowed.

There was not much to do except ask Microsoft about it and they confirmed I could not move my resources under a disabled subscription. Re-enabling the subscription would require me to change that expired Free Trial to a paid subscription and risk my credit card being charged for resources or the admin process of changing resource assignments, etc… (and my resources would be re-enabled while I made the change too!). It seems like a user experience issue and does not make sense to me that an Azure portal admin cannot change the resources from a disabled subscription to an entirely new subscription without first re-enabling the disabled subscription (and in turn the resources) first.

If I had known this was going to happen in the first place, I would had kept my existing resources under the Microsoft Imagine program or taken steps to better prepare to transition back, if that was possible. I had assumed my original resources would revert back, but they did not. I began to wonder how other Azure accounts, subscriptions, etc. could be affected by a temporary try out of the “Free Trial” subscription, if those resources would be affected or disabled as well.

Summary

I hope you have enjoyed reading my article and learned a few things from my experiences. If you are thinking of trying the “Free Trial” subscription, my advice would be to get the best utility out of that 30-day free credit by taking some online tutorial classes where you can follow-along step-by-step to get “hands-on” with creating your projects in Azure. Remember the credit expires at the end of 30 days, so plan a month where you will be most available to tinker or work on your Azure projects.