What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is mostly for deploying services where we do not have the local infrastructure like hardware, or where it's not necessary for us to have the knowledge about how to set up a certain service. We just want to use it without concerns regarding running the service, backup, availability, etc. That's the reason we pay Microsoft the money for its Azure services, so we can just go ahead and use the product. Some of the services they've rendered have become business critical for the company, so we're using the solution on a daily basis.
What is most valuable?
I like the reliability of the solution and the ease of provisional services which can be a click and go. I also like the broad diversity of services that are being offered.
What needs improvement?
I find that in many cases it's more expensive than AWS, and for no good reason. The pricing itself is also quite difficult to comprehend, it's not easy to know the total cost and not worth checking the calculator because the outcome is going to be totally different anyhow. I also find it difficult that they are specific to x86 and x64 machines, I haven't found any ARM-based virtual machine images that I could run in my IP test lab, which would be a great boost for productivity because I could run the internal pipeline in the cloud and would not have to divert to locally installed devices.
If they want to be serious with IT devices then they should find a way of deploying ARM-based devices to Azure, to get more freedom of choice with virtual machines and services. It would be hardware virtual machine image offerings to other platforms, not only PC-based or x86-based. It would make my life much easier.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using this solution for four and a half years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There are some glitches but it's a pretty solid solution.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's a scalable solution.
How are customer service and technical support?
Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the technical support. There were different expectations about what I had understood from the description of the support offered and what the architects of Microsoft meant to deploy. Some of the documentation for Azure is sketchy enough to leave room for questions and that had to be sorted out with support, which is not a fault that the support guys should have to concern themselves with. If the documentation is not clear and the cloud device goes, then there's clearly room for improvement.
How was the initial setup?
The start was far easier than we expected it to be, but the complexity caught up with us half a year later also. It got more complex as we went along. We carried out the deployment ourselves. I'm a very experienced administrator, I know a lot about concepts of data centers. I know how they work, I know how to set them up. This is just another data center, it's just that it's not mine.
What other advice do I have?
We found it difficult to train our regular Windows admins to dive into Azure things, so it's important to get the right people or the project is doomed. There are too many people who don't really want to get to grips with the cloud. I would also suggest not starting from a fully regulated basis. We have our deployment fully integrated with Azure Active Directory, which can be quite a hindrance when it comes to just playing around with things. It's essential to give people developer accounts where they can just play around, break things, work through them, like a little lab.
I would rate this solution an eight out of 10.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?