As Azure becomes more and more popular and I encounter more startups, I find myself doing this tutorial all the time and explaining it. Therefor, I have decided to write a blog article with pictures, to make my life (and yours) easier.
What is BizSpark
BizSpark is the best thing since sliced bread for a startup. It is literally every development tool and license that Microsoft has to offer for free for commercial purposes for 3 years. Not only that, but you get $150/month (as of this writing) in Azure for 3 years as well. As if it couldn’t get any better, you get access to reduced pricing on various products from Microsoft Partners. Microsoft being such a giant of a company, there are a TON of partners you get special pricing from. BizSpark also includes product licensing such as just your simple windows licenses, or visual studio licenses, and even SQL Server licenses. Its everything! Usually at this point I get the question, so what’s the catch? There is no catch! Microsoft wants you to use their tools and be successful with their tools so that when you become a giant company, you are using their tools and not a competitors. Therefor Microsoft gives these tools to high potential startups for free! If you think you qualify, apply or come to an event I attend (usually found on the events tab). You can also ping me on twitter @DavidCrook1988.
So About Getting that Free Azure
Once you are approved, you will receive an email in your inbox like this:
Inside the email will be a link with a security code attached to it. It is possible through working directly with your local evangelist or BizSpark Network Partner to receive JUST the security link and no invitation email. Follow the link.
Sign Up for a Microsoft Account
This is a step that occasionally goes wrong with many folks. If your account is tied to an MSDN account, do not use that one. Make a new Microsoft account. The easiest way to create a Microsoft account is to go to www.outlook.com and register a new account/email there. You can alternatively follow the link, which will walk you through that process. Ensure that whatever account you use as your Microsoft account for BizSpark is not tied to DreamSpark or MSDN. If you are logged in, the single sign on process will attempt to keep you logged in, just navigate to a Microsoft property (such as www.outlook.com) and sign out.
Answer a few Questions
Choose your language (English for me). The part that is most confusing about this process is it “appears” like you are enrolling and not already signed up automatically. The key here is the optional ENROLLMENT CODE. If that code is not auto populated, that code should match the security code at the end of the Url you were provided either in the email or via other means. SecurityCode=ENROLLMENTCODE.
Many folks also get hung up on the company name. The fact of the matter is that your legal name is considered a sole proprietorship in the eyes of the United States. If you do not have a company name or can not decide on one right away, do not worry, use your legal name instead. After this sheet, click continue, check the box for the agreement and VIOLA! You should be here:
The MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER
On the above image, you can see your page, next to your logo is the “MSDN subscription ID”. This number is very important, as it is your key to all of your license and Azure benefits. Write it down for reference later.
Click the “My Benefits” link.
A new page will show up with various benefits to you. Click the “How do I get it” link. Lets do this for Azure.
Click on the “My Account Link”. If you are signed in, sign out. Sign in with the new Microsoft account you wish to receive your benefits from (typically the same email address, or the email address of your lead developer). If you sign in with your BizSpark associated account, your subscriber information will be auto-populated. If not, try to download Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate (or similar expensive product), and enter your subscription key when prompted (you wrote this down earlier).
From the MSDN page, within the “Quick Links”, click “Access your benefits”. This will pull up the page viewable below.
From here, you will be asked for more information yet again. Make sure you enter a valid phone number, as you will receive text messages for security validation. If you can’t respond to the text message, you will not be getting into your account without a phone call to support, so make sure you use a real number. After receiving the validation code, enter it, click validate and wait a few seconds. You will then make it through the process. Click Sign up and you will be directed to a page that says “wait 5 minutes”. After you are done waiting, click the Start managing my service button. This will take you to the Azure Management portal.
From here on out, you can log into www.azure.com using the msdn account we activated and start standing up VMs, Web Sites and other Azure services. Welcome to Azure.
During this article, we reviewed getting into your BizSpark account and activating both MSDN and Azure. Hopefully this is helpful to you all.