Microsoft Azure Block Storage Review

Easy to deploy and to scale up, but availability can be a challenge

What is our primary use case?

We are creating VMs for some of our development testing, and we are using Azure Block Storage in that context. We are not using anything from Azure for production systems. We are just using it for staging and development.

What is most valuable?

Azure Block Storage is

  • easy to deploy
  • easy to scale up
  • pay-as-you-go. 

So whenever we need something, we use it.

What needs improvement?

One of the biggest challenges on Azure infrastructure is that sometimes we don't get what we want. Either we have to wait for it or contact support because something is not working for us. Most of the time it works fine. But sometimes, when we want something critical, apart from block storage — we want to increase the capacity of the VM or we want to increase the cores of the VM — we have to wait. We get a response from Microsoft from a North American location. We want to host everything within the UAE. But we are redirected through North America or Europe. That is a challenge with Azure. It's the system availability that is the difficult point.

Also, billing is an issue. We have had a lot of problems when it comes to billing. We started working with minimal resources and we opted for pay-as-you-go mode. Microsoft needs to invest in some resources to improve the billing part. It's not about the money, but the visibility. I see a lot of invoices, but I don't see whether we have paid them or not. And if we have paid, I don't see when it was paid and through which credit card or account we paid. I see invoices, but I don't see the information related to those invoices.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure Block Storage for less than a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Availability is sometimes an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support, overall, is good. The response is very good. We don't have any issue with that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have our own data center and we use its storage system. But we want to upgrade that because it's not fulfilling our current requirements and we don't see it fulfilling our future requirements either. We have a need to upgrade our system.

How was the initial setup?

Initially, we had some issues but we were not trained. We were used to the legacy environment, so we had challenges. But anyone who has technical knowledge will be able to set it up and understand it, once they start reading about how to set it up and how to use it. 

There are a few challenges, especially when we are setting up block storage or setting up the network. There are complexities of the network environment, such as creating the virtual networks, etc. It's complex.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We started looking at Dell EMC and some other solutions such as QNAP. We are evaluating them.

What other advice do I have?

We have our own team to maintain it. We are still trying to add more resources to the team and trying to find someone who Azure will certify.

I would recommend Azure Block Storage so far, per my current usage, but I would also highly recommend learning how it works and how to configure it properly. Block Storage, in particular, is a bit confusing. People who do not have proper knowledge should not try R&D with it. I would highly recommend getting professional support if you really want to use it. The solution is very good, but the configuration and initial implementation should be done by professionals.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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