Microsoft Azure Review

Information protection is great as is the ability to provide temporary and secure access to vendors


What is our primary use case?

The product is being used for document sharing and archiving. The company wants their customers to be able to pull certain documents that they put on file. The idea is that through active directory B2B, they will offer access to the different files and customers will be able to pull the files they need from the server. The company uses information protection to make sure that only the right people have access to the right files. We are integrators, mainly on the software side. We are partners with Microsoft Azure and I'm a senior solution architect. 

How has it helped my organization?

The company has different vendors that they bring in. This product has made it easier to onboard those individuals and to provide access to them when needed and then to basically cut them off when the time comes. The way they have it set up, documents can't be downloaded. They are only accessible online but can be accessed from anywhere so the company doesn't have to worry about setting up VPNs and the like. They provide a username, password, a two-factor authentication and that enables access.

What is most valuable?

Information protection is a good feature because you can label different documents and different files, and that allows them to put like NDA files in a specific bucket, as opposed to just regular, safe or confidential storage.

What needs improvement?

This solution is not user friendly to set up and it's difficult to understand, particularly with regard to information protection and the sort of licensing needed to utilize it. Simplification would go a long way. 

I'd like to see them improve on the watermarking. There's a feature that allows you to watermark documents that are checked out. Currently it watermarks a document with whoever publishes it. For example, if you wanted to watermark the email address, it doesn't watermark with the person checking out the file, but with the person publishing the document. It would be more valuable if the watermarking was related to the person checking out the document, in case it leaks out.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for several years and on my most recent project, for the past six months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been great. We haven't had any issues whatsoever with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As far as I know, scalability is fine. Our current customer isn't huge so I can't speak to enterprise size customers. It's not infinite scalability, but it is Azure Cloud. If you need more storage, you buy more storage. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is fairly complex. There is a ton of documentation, but once you get through that it's really not difficult, it's just not intuitive. The product requires better documentation that explains things. I think a lot of it has to do with the licensing requirements. It's not obvious and so you can be following a step-by-step tutorial and still not get it right because the software requirements aren't right but it doesn't give you that in clear text. 

You can probably set this up within 30 minutes, realistically, as long as you know all the steps. Unfortunately, it took about four or five hours to troubleshoot the situation because we didn't understand what the license requirements were. We had to go and obtain those licenses and try it a second time. It'll be fine now because we understand it but there are certain things like having to be a security administrator within the roles and responsibility matrix, and that's not really outlined in the documentation.

What was our ROI?

The company wanted it to deploy rapidly. They didn't want to spend a lot on this project to buy storage, and clear that storage, ensuring that it was 100% secure. This was either going to be a very short-term project or it was going to blow up to something large and they weren't sure which direction it was going to go. Enabling them to use OPEX spend just to utilize what they need when they need it at a low cost, was super valuable to them.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend anyone wanting to implement this solution to carry out background homework on active directory, on information access management (IAM), and then understand the licensing before you deploy. That aside, it's pretty straightforward. I've learned that setting up secure documents doesn't have to be difficult as long as you take into account those caveats of understanding your licensing and active directory.

I would rate this solution an eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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