Microsoft Azure Review

We have the ability to quickly create and manage resources is critical to getting things done, Azure just makes getting things done a lot simpler.

What is our primary use case?

Building development and production environments to support business acrivity.

How has it helped my organization?

Getting resources up and running quickly and providing secure access to those resources makes life easier. Also, Microsoft Azure really does offer a great deal which allows one to completely think about software development in new ways. I love the WebApps feature and am currently learning everything I can about Logic apps.

I am really into the Everything as a Service model that Azure seems to be heading towards. Less fussing over VM's and Operating Systems.

What is most valuable?

The ability to quickly create and manage resources is critical to getting things done, Azure just makes getting things done a lot simpler.

What needs improvement?

You eventually end up with a large collection of 'bits' all working together, I find it hard to be able to create a logical 'box' and put all the 'bits' that need to be in that box / application into the one place.

We're still learning though, so odds are there's something that will help us with this already in Azure.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, so far we've had no problems with anything we've deployed onto Microsoft Azure, rock solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

At our early stage we've not encountered any scalability issues at all, and we're not likely to either, Azure will easily handle whatever workload we plan to throw at it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Excellent! I raised a support ticket on a question I had and got a prompt, clearly articulated and knowledgeable reply from the Microsoft Technical support person which addressed our question in a very short time-frame.

Technical Support:

Excellent! Was very impressed with the person I liaised with.

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

I was using an on-premises solution with servers running a HyperVisor, we were due to replace old hardware and needed to make resources available everywhere the team is, Microsoft Azure 'just made sense'.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up was quite simple, before jumping in though make sure you watch some of the video's on the MVA site about virtual networking and so forth, the Azure user interface makes deploying these resources relatively straight-forward.

What about the implementation team?

We went in-house, learning as we go. We're still very new to Azure and learning all the time, we'd be beginner to intermediate at most. We're not deploying to production for some time and will work with a Certified Microsoft Partner when we get to that stage.

What was our ROI?

Several thousand dollars and counting, we haven't needed to upgrade on premises hardware (In fact we eliminated all of the old on-premises hardware and run 100% on Azure) or pay for it's maintenance, power etc.

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

Understand and use the pricing calculator!

Learn PowerShell, a quick tip is that you can shut down and de-allocate your VM's when you are not using them, this way the VM's are not incurring charges. We absolutely love this feature, as it means that when the environment is not in use, it isn't costing much (if anything), so it lends itself to making the I.T environment more efficient.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at AWS, but we chose Azure because we use a lot of Microsoft Products and it just felt more integrated.

What other advice do I have?

Start with the simple things first, design your environment before deploying anything, even a simple development environment. Understand the charging model used and get to grips with the basics of PowerShell, as nice as the web based front end is, PowerShell is very handy.

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