Microsoft Azure Review

It enables a breakdown of IT silos and speeds up micro-service architectures.

How has it helped my organization?

We are faster to market with greater integration of the development and infrastructure teams.

Develop solutions quickly using the normal toolset be it either as developer, IT, DevOps or BI. Expand into new world via AI and Machine Learning.

What is most valuable?

Update two years later.... Microsoft Azure continue to expand its Platform as a Service value and has set itself apart from other cloud providers that are focused on the IaaS world. If you are a Microsoft house e.g. Visual Studio, .Net, Xamarin, O365, Windows Server or Windows Users this is a clear winner. It is easy to expand you in-house, in-data center knowledge into the cloud and Microsoft's enablement of hybrid/spanning on-premise with Cloud makes transitions easy.

In general, the entire suite of PaaS is valuable. It enables a true breakdown of IT siloes and allows an organization to embrace DevOps. It speeds up micro-service architectures and provides interesting and new opportunities to staff, generating morale boosts.

What needs improvement?

Two years later..... This has been resolved by Microsoft. There is now starting to be the challenge of figuring out which service you want to use and it is no always clear which PaaS is best for the job. This is Microsoft achilles heal across its services.

Predictability and quality need improvement. Make sure things work predictably, as expected, and are documented.

As my organization learned the new tooling that Azure provides we encountered topics where the behavior of the PaaS Resource was behaving slightly different than expected and outlined in the documentation. We usually would open a service request on the topic and be told that it is supposed to work as we expected but there is a problem and Microsoft provided a work around. An example of such a topic was IAM where a contributor on a resource group who were creating a Storage resource were told they were not authorized. The main reason was around the registration of the resource that had to be done by an administrator and manually as a one-time task. Talking to Microsoft they admitted this was an error. This was for us predominant for Storage Accounts but it did occur for some other resources as well.

The second topic we encountered were related to VM’s that would suddenly and without warning would go offline. Response from Microsoft support request was that as long as the SLA is below 99.95% they cannot do anything. Obviously you can expand the resource and the cost using a availability set, fault domains etc. but my expectations was that VM’s would only be taken down for maintenance with prior notification. This one is less critical as I agree that you need to design your VM’s using the high availability features.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not seen any stability issues. High availability and reliability is good if you follow Microsoft development practices.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Provides fast scalability, based on demand.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is outstanding. They provide fast and high quality support, even with lower support contracts.

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

I used traditional data center solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was complex. There is a lot of training that needs to occur with both development teams and infrastructure teams. It is a different approach. In some ways, it is more structured.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Keep to PaaS to gain the optimal benefits from an OPEX finance and resource perspective.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I also use AWS. While AWS is ahead in the IaaS technology, for a Microsoft shop, Azure is more aligned to skills.

What other advice do I have?

Learn and spend up-front time on training the organization.

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