Installing PHP on Windows Azure leveraging Full IIS Support: Part 1

Update: The Windows Azure PowerShell CmdLets have added the necessary bootstrap information in order to set up PHP on Windows Azure Cloud Services. Download the Windows Azure PowerShell CmdLets.

Considering this blog post is about an open source language (PHP), I’m intentionally avoiding my trusty development tool Visual Studio. Even without using Visual Studio it will be necessary to download the Windows Azure Tools & SDK 1.3, this will provide us with some necessary command-line tools. That’s right, Windows Azure is Console Ready!

Context is Everything

Over the next three blog posts, I am going to be describing how to Install PHP on Windows Azure.

With the release of the 1.3 release of the Windows Azure SDK, Microsoft has enabled Full IIS (Internet Information Services) support in Windows Azure [this provides support for IIS Modules] and Start-up Scripts [which allow you to run command-line or powershell scripts on your deployment while the role is starting].

We will be leveraging start-up scripts to execute the [new] WebPI Command-line tool to install and configure PHP in IIS within a Windows Azure Web Role.

There has been an update to the WebPI Tools, download the WebPI v4 Command-line tool

We need a few things to Help us along the Way

  1. Web Platform Installer [WebPI] Command-line Tool [Any CPU]
  2. Windows Azure Tools & SDK 1.3
  3. Your Favourite Text Editor [I like Notepad++]

Creating your Start-up Scripts

Before we can even write our first start-up script there is one thing we need to get out of the way first and that’s where we create them. To understand what we’re doing lets do a quick break down on how deployments work in Windows Azure.

Breaking down a Windows Azure Deployment

Windows Azure requires only two files when deploying an application to the Cloud.

First, is a Cloud Service Package file which is essentially a Zip file which contains a number of encrypted files. Amongst these encrypted files are:

  • A Cloud Service Definition file which defines the fixed resources for our Windows Azure Compute Instance. The Service Definition is responsible for setting up Web Roles, Worker Roles, Virtual Machine Roles and Network Traffic Rules. These settings are then relayed to the Fabric Controller which selects the appropriate resources for your Compute Instance from the Fabric and begins provisioning your Deployment.
  • Your Application, which can consist of many Roles. Considering we’re using the Platform as a Service Model that Windows Azure offers, there are two main types of Roles: Web Roles and Worker Roles. A Web Role is like a typical Web or Application Server which runs IIS and Serves up Web Content. A Worker Role is a continuously running process which basically mimics a Windows Service.

Second, is the Cloud Service Configuration file which builds on top of what the Service Definition file provides to the Windows Azure Fabric Controller, only these values can be changed without the need to redeploy the Service Package. The Service Configuration is where you control the number of Instances your application is distributed across, as well as Windows Azure Storage Service Connection Strings and other values which may need to get changed over an Applications Lifespan.

That’s Great, but why did you tell me this?

Windows Azure is using the Convention over Configuration approach when it comes to start-up script location. You will be configuring where your application is actually located on your physical machine, but the Azure Tools are going to be looking for your scripts in ‘AppRoot/bin’. The AppRoot is determined by the name of your Role within the Service Definition file.

For now, lets stick with a very simple directory structure and we’ll talk about the Service Definition in the next post. In a directory that you’ve created for your deployment create a ‘Deployment’ directory and within that create a bin folder. We will be adding our start-up scripts to the bin folder.

Folder Structure for a Custom Windows Azure Deployment

Show me Teh Codez Already!

Fire up Notepad++ we’re going to create our start-up scripts to enable PHP within IIS in Windows Azure.

[Update: The Windows Update Script is no longer required by WebPICmdLine]

The first script that we need to create will enable Windows Update on the Windows Azure Web Role Image. The WebPI tool uses the Windows Update Process to install the Items that have been downloaded. Create a file, ‘enable-windows-update.cmd’ and paste the following script.

Script for enabling Windows Update

All Windows Azure Instances run on 64bit Processors, so you can possibly get rid of the Conditional logic.

Our next script is going to leverage the WebPI Commandline tool which you would have downloaded from the resource list above. This download is also required as part of the Cloud Service Package that we will be creating in a future post. Within the Deployment directory, create a folder called ‘Assets’ and another folder within ‘Assets’ called ‘WebPICmdLine’. Copy the WebPI binaries into the newly created WebPICmdLine folder.

Note: The WebPI tool is very powerful tool and can do much more than just install PHP. You may want to read the documentation found on the IIS Blogs and on MSDN.

Create a new file, ‘install-php.cmd’ and paste the following script.

Script for installing PHP with WebPI

PHP 5.2
PHP 5.3

The last line of that Script is a call to another script that needs to be run after PHP is actually installed. This isn’t a necessary step, however the ‘install-php-azure’ script [provided below] will place the ‘php_azure.dll’ in the php/ext folder and add the extension within the php.ini file. Adding the dll from the Open Source Project Windows Azure SDK for PHP available on CodePlex gives you the ability to leverage Blobs, Tables, Queues and other Azure API features.

You will need to add the php_azure.dll file that you download from CodePlex to the Assets directory [for consistency create a directory called ‘Windows Azure SDK for PHP’]. Create a file, ‘install-php-azure.cmd’ and paste the following code.

Script for Installing Windows Azure SDK for PHP

After you have completed creating these three files your folder structure should look like this:

image image

 

Download all Files

 

Until Next Time…

We have completed creating the scripts required to install PHP on Windows Azure. In my next blog post in this series I will explain how to create the Cloud Service Definition and Cloud Service Configuration files. We’ll start to get a better understanding as to how our Deployment fits together in the Windows Azure Platform. In the Third Part of this series we will package the Deployment using the command-line tools for Windows Azure and finally deploy our application to the cloud.