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Microsoft Azure OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft Azure is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Infrastructure as a Service Clouds. It is most often compared to Oracle Cloud Platform: Microsoft Azure vs Oracle Cloud Platform

What is Microsoft Azure?

Windows Azure is Microsoft's cloud platform where developers can create, deploy, and maintain their apps. This cloud application platform allows developers to concentrate on the actual applications, while it takes care of all the elements behind the apps.

Windows Azure offers open across multiple frameworks,languages, and tools. It is fully scalable, localized in that it is hosted globally in many datacenters, and has widespread capabilities are, catering for all elements of application development, deployment, and management.

Azure is comprised of several different service modules,including Infrastructure; Web; Mobile; Dev & Test; Big Data; Media;Storage, Backup & Recovery; and Identity & Access Management.

Microsoft Azure is also known as Windows Azure, Azure, MS Azure.

Microsoft Azure Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft Azure Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Microsoft Azure Customers

BMW, Toyota, easyJet, NBC Sports, HarperCollins, Aviva, TalkTalk Business, Avanade, and Telenor.

Microsoft Azure Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft Azure pricing:
  • "Pricing of Microsoft Azure services depends on the build of what you prepare to deploy."
  • "It is important to consider ROI when looking at the cost of a subscription."
  • "It's a metered environment, and it's pay-as-you-go. That's the big challenge with a metered environment."
  • "It is operational expenditure (OPEX). There is no cost upfront. When you start using it, you have to pay the charges. Initially, the cost is less, but after you start using it more and more, the cost will go higher. It is a little bit costly, but that is okay because you get better resources. You also get better support in terms of how you create the resources. Documentation is available, and the SLAs are met."

Microsoft Azure Reviews

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MT
Principal Consultant at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
Top 20
This helps us meet multiple requirements other PaaS solutions do not but there is a lot of room for improvement

Pros and Cons

  • "It is a flexible solution that is straightforward to use."
  • "Stability can suffer in the context of a large architecture."

What is our primary use case?

I work with our enterprise architecture. In my network, there are almost 400 total applications. I have been working here for almost six months on a network migration and in those six months, I have been working with many of those applications that have been included with the involvement of Azure in the migration.   

We are migrating everything from the old network to a new architecture. There are multiple teams that I work with and people work with me throughout the organization. I review all the target architectures and the deployment and everything that comes along with the pieces of the migration that involve Azure. Any issues, large or small, I have to look into. These issues might be simple certificate issues or they may involve multiple interfaces that need to be used for a solution.  

Because we have a very complex system, it is not easy to complete the migration. The landscape also has a mixture of different technologies and platforms. If I have to customize, I just get a Terraform script or ARM template from a developer who is assigned to that task. I review all that stuff that they give to me.  

When we went to the version of Azure that we use now, there are certain solutions that we created. If we had trouble, we worked with Microsoft to create that solution for our organization and the problems that needed to be solved.  

We define our own solutions with Microsoft that are not available in the open market. Because of the way we have used Azure, we do not really have a very focused end-product. It is a highly customized product that we have built using many tools.  

Azure is now a mixture of solutions. There are certain applications, which are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) applications, where we just go and use them. Then there are certain applications that are a mixture of IaaS and PaaS (Platform as a Service). For certain parts, we use private clouds, public clouds, or hybrid clouds. We originally wanted to use more public clouds, but as we proceed, we are moving into more hybrid mechanisms. In the future, I don't know exactly what direction we will take because the technologies and the climate are changing so quickly.  

But right now, we are only using Azure with images being created from the existing architecture. For Azure, we use private cloud, public cloud, and mixed, or hybrid cloud as needed and all of these work together.  

In the future, we may go for some specific function-based services or even open-market APIs. We can use open APIs with Azure. API management is also possible. So there are a lot of permutations and combinations that go with each application based on sizing and NFR (Non-functional Requirements) validation.  

For Microsoft Azure, we use the product itself as a platform, I work mostly with their services. These can be PaaS services or DNS services, monitoring services, storage services — basically all the supporting services that are available to us with Azure. Anything that is not available, we try to build on PaaS. If the services we want are not available, I have to do a complete fabrication.  

So we use mostly PaaS services for most of the supporting services and then we work further in solution optimization, which is something we can accomplish through Azure. Ultimately all that depends on the budget. If a company is ready to spend on a cloud solution, an ROI (Return on Investment) model helps. The amount of customizations and the real need for a solution comes out of the realities of the ROI.  

Our contracts are based on supplying solutions for what the customer needs. If they have selected that a particular application will be available and make this a system mandate which we have to flow, then we have to keep those applications. Azure is one of the tools that we are using to help make these kinds of customizations and to meet their expectations after the migration.  

How has it helped my organization?

Azure gives us a different form of PaaS to work with during our migration and helps us to meet multiple requirements that current solutions do not provide in any one product. 

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable things about Azure, I think, is that it is pretty straightforward. There are well-defined processes and it is not a bad product to work with. I only work on Azure right now most of the time. I cannot directly compare it with other solutions in the present situation because it is not always practical to consider every solution. Certain platforms on the market are very strong with other services. For example, Kubernetes on RedHat Openhift is better for working with AWS. But I have to ask from a usability, a complexity and a budget standpoint if that is really required.  

If I do my work and my applications are sorted out well in advance, I do not have any issues. From a user perspective — not from a cloud architect or enterprise architect perspective — my requirements are being met. As long as these requirements are met, I do not see anything as a showstopper. If there is a showstopper which I think I absolutely can not solve with Azure and I think another solution would handle, then possibly we may go into a multi-cloud scenario.  

That is also a limitation for our organization. The goal is never to seek complexity. Personally, I think there is no direct comparison between what solution is better and what solution is worse. There are only solutions that work or are capable of doing something and those solutions which can not do it, or were not designed to do it, or do not want their product to do it, et cetera.  

Part of my place in working with these solutions as part of my process is working with products I am comfortable with. So the more that I use Azure, the more comfortable I get with what it can do as a solution, and the more comfortable I am using it. If I started using AWS more, I would get more comfortable with AWS and maybe incorporate that more heavily in the solutions.  

What needs improvement?

There are some small things that could be done to improve Azure. I think they should actually do more to implement function as a service. It is a completely separate capability that they currently do not address. Function as a service can be a completely different scheme altogether than PaaS or IaaS which it does quite well.  

For an example of a FaaS, I think the Azure product can be stronger in terms of storage. I would like to see it have better management systems as a service specifically for managing documents. Right now they are handled as a more generalized object.  

Say Azure came out with Microsoft Document Management and it was very strong as a service. It would not have to be deployed as a complete infrastructure. I would be able to use that as a service inside my organization and it is a product that any organization can use.  

The question is what is the separate USP (Unique Selling Point) that Microsoft will provide to the user that would fit a unique need when making FaaS solutions available. Document management systems have already been proven to be very popular by Google. Microsoft Office uses OneDrive storage. There may be a better way to promote document management in a more general PaaS. Sometimes it is very useful to virtualize a platform or an infrastructure, but in the same way, it is sometimes valuable to virtualize a function. Applications may be a collection of functions.  

It is this type of branching out of services that Azure can do within the structure they already have.  

They are targeting Azure into specific domains and not working as much with open-source as they could. That would be helpful. I think eventually this approach will just drive the competition away. If I have a product that is very good for manufacturing as a function — something like is being done with Edge — it might be beneficial for Azure to be able to tie in this FaaS and let manufacturing clients start working with the solution without having to reach outside of Azure. Right now that I do not see that happening and it is an opportunity that Microsoft is missing with Azure.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I am responsible for designing our migration, so I have to work with Azure to define the parts of that solution. I had previously been using AWS mostly for personal services so I was familiar with PaaS platforms, but I have now also been using Azure exclusively for the last six months to supplement the functionality we require.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable. There are a few qualifications attached to that.  

I think the stability of Azure varies depending on the workloads. It is more stable from the perspective of how it behaves in a mid-size deployment. For a very, very large implementation, I have yet to see that same kind of inherent stability. I believe it is because of the complexity of the client's system or architecture.  

You may be able to say that if it is more of a Microsoft product landscape, then possibly it is more stable in general. The more that there is a mixture of technologies, then it will tend to be less stable. No application can be stable in every circumstance.  

As the project I am engaged in is very large, we have experienced some episodes of instability. We solve the stability problems as we go along to a great extent. But I think there are a lot of situations that have to be dealt with in real-time. Though we have direct contact with a Microsoft team architect, it is difficult for them at times to just jump in and solve an issue. You can not usually solve a problem instantly looking down at it from 55,000 feet when the situation on the ground is very, very complex.  

At first, they only have generalized solutions to your problem. I think they need an extension of the existing team. This would be like a core team to work with client organizations to do case studies to define patterns in what is causing instabilities.  

Because Azure is cloud technology and cloud comes with its own problems, these bleed over into Azure stability. All these patterns that contribute to instability have to come out in order to be solved. As Microsoft collects more case studies and more knowledge of where these problems tend to occur, this should enable them to stabilize the product against those issues.  

Overall, I would say Microsoft Azure is a stable solution, but even as a stable solution, it usually has some bugs or glitches.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As of today, we have almost 1,000 people using the solution. We have a very big migration project that will last for the next four to five years before it is completed. They have many applications and many users for those applications. If the volume of users or applications were to scale, that should not be a problem.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I do not really have much direct contact with the Azure or Microsoft support teams. We have a separate team for that. I have a great architect that I work with here (Sweeden). But if an issue comes up, the application team goes to work on it to support the resolution. It is their option to contact Azure to raise that issue or resolve it themselves.  

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

I was using AWS before Azure, but I was using it mostly for my own personal needs. I was deploying my own applications. I used it for about two years but not from a company perspective. I deployed my own applications in the public cloud and loaded them there for use at a personal level.  

In the company right now, I am only using Microsoft Azure. The company itself is using everything, really. At this point, my experience in the company is specialization as the person who is helping to utilize Azure.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was simple and it is simple for a simple application. If I want to build with a simple application, I simply go do that. But if I have a very heavy interface-based application, then the choices become more difficult and involved.  

If I have a WebSphere application, that is easy. A complex platform or a complex interface dependence becomes difficult to implement because of restrictions. If I can not simply go and deploy as it is, obviously it is more complex to deploy in the system.  

For a small company with a typical landscape of Microsoft technology, it becomes very easy to work with Azure. It is possible to go through that setup by yourself and test your servers and the entire functionality. 

After deployment, you will require maintenance. We can not simply have a production list and push everything out. You need pre-production, testing, and then deployment. All that has to be done on Azure.  

There are a lot of things you will have to work out with security certificates. Meanwhile, things keep on changing in the product itself. New upgrades keep on rolling out. If the old version does not support the new upgrade, then you will need to get involved with patching and other upgrades to take care of the issues that are introduced.  

We have a dedicated team for maintenance. We know we need to do testing and that is why we created tasks for that. But, generally, I think complexities in the setup depend upon what applications you are building. Simple applications and simple systems make for simple deployment.  

What about the implementation team?

We are working with the vendor directly. We also have contacts with Microsoft. Microsoft directly provides us all the tools and information we need for implementations.  

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

The pricing of Azure depends on the build of what you prepare. You can optimize everything, and with Azure, you can optimize your utility and costs. For example, say you create a subscription and you want to do more backups and you want a private cloud for that. This will affect your cost differently than if you do not add the backups with Azure or if you add the services with a public or hybrid cloud.  

We have very good, large contracts with big organizations. We do very high-level analytics and modeling to predict outcomes. For example, we may show that a certain solution that we implement with Azure will be likely to reduce a company's cost from the current level to 50% over the next five years. That, to me, is important when considering the cost of a subscription. It is not just the cost perspective that is important, but the ROI as well.  

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend Azure as a solution because it is a popular product by a major brand and it is very easy to use. I think those people I would recommend it to should normally be those who understand the cloud and the advantages and disadvantages. I use it for a lot of things and I do not see any problems. I love it now as a solution so I would recommend it. But if I have a different experience with another very large migration project using a different product, I would have to compare Azure with that. I may get more comfortable with the other product for reasons I have not discovered yet.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Microsoft Azure as a seven-out-of-ten. It is a good product and I love using it but it could do even more and has a lot of possibilities to grow as part of a relatively new technology. The future is more open than closed to the possibilities.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
OmarJimenez
Future Datacenter Consultant: Microsoft Azure Cloud. at a tech company with 5,001-10,000 employees
MSP
Top 20
Great environment assessment tools and monitoring features with pretty good scalability

Pros and Cons

  • "The user interface is very nice and makes everything easy to use."
  • "Support could be improved. If you pay for a higher plan, it's okay, however, the lower plans don't offer as good of a service experience."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is basically a platform as a service for web applications, virtual machines, Azure identity, et cetera.

My day-to-day is to migrate servers using Mover or some other app to access on-premises data centers. We then use Azure Migrate to move the servers in order to take advantage of the new functionalities and things like that.

What is most valuable?

The solution offers good monitoring features that allow us to configure items better in the customer environment. The monitoring is really awesome.

Occasionally, clients have specific requirements for their applications and we can move them onto Azure services or apps. 

Overall, it offers a better way to move the applications and monitor or configure the applications with higher availability. For example, there are load balancers, different types of layers that load balancers use, traffic managers, Front Door, and things of that nature that are available to us and the client via Azure.

Overall, I like how the solution works. It offers everything I need, for the most part.

The user interface is very nice and makes everything easy to use.

The power share modules have been improved, and the AC module was introduced - which has been great. There are ten or 15 more regions on the way as well.

The tools on offer are excellent. It has some really great environment assessment tools as well.

What needs improvement?

There are preview features we are waiting on. When I contact Microsoft support, there is no timeline given or clear information about when those preview features are going to be on GA, general availability. It would be ideal if they could finally give us at least an estimation of how much longer we have to wait.

Support could be improved. If you pay for a higher plan, it's okay, however, the lower plans don't offer as good of a service experience. It also seems as though each different tier doesn't talk to the other. they should be able to communicate and share details internally with each other so that they are learning from each other instead of staying siloed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for the last few years. I would estimate it's been about five years at this point. It's been a while. I've definitely been using the solution over the last 12 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of stability, for me, it works. However, depends on the type of project that's happening. If you're going to have just a virtual machine running there then it can fail. That said, the platform offers a lot of options to improve the capability, so it depends on how much money a client wants to invest.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability works just fine. I've had some issues before with Azure App Service, with an App Service environment allocation, however, Microsoft has improved that, making a bigger rack. Since then, I haven't seen issues with scalability. That was maybe a year ago.  

We currently have three clients on Microsoft Azure.

How are customer service and technical support?

There is room for improvement with technical support. I work with premium support and therefore don't really face issues. We have good engineers. There are some issues when you get a new support person. They have a lot of rotation in their personnel. They train people for a couple of months. They're trying to help however, it's not the same as getting a seasoned professional. It really depends on the support line you buy. If you go for a lower tier, you're likely to get less experienced assistance.  

How was the initial setup?

For the most part, the initial setup is straightforward. It was not overly complex. I worked with a Microsoft support engineer. I had contact with the product group and know the technical advisors and technical matters, which made it very easy for me.

For example, in comparison. I tried to use Amazon Web Services by myself, and I got confused as I didn't have that level of support. With Azure, the interface is nice, and it's pretty straightforward. Anybody with a little bit of technical knowledge about working, virtual machines, or similar items can use it with little to no problem. The implementation is pretty good.

The time it takes to deploy the solution depends on the customer environment. If they have 25 servers versus five there will be radically different deployment times.

Typically, we use Microsoft strategies as a foundation assessment. We'll look at the customer environment and be in the background for a couple of weeks to pull some data so we can have a better understanding of the customer environment. After that, we create a plan to start migrating the servers. Each client is unique.

What about the implementation team?

I worked alongside a Microsoft support engineer who assisted in the process.

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

You do need to pay for technical support and there are different tiers of support you can get. The higher the tier, it seems, the better the service you can expect.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I haven't used AWS or Google Cloud, therefore I don't really ever compare this solution to them. I don't say "this platform has that and I like how this works". For me, Azure just works and it's fine and I don't need to go in-depth and look at other options.

The company I am working at new does use AWS and we're planning to introduce new cloud technologies as well. 

I'm not a salesperson, however, I can say that we would move the client to whichever technology made sense to them after doing an evaluation of their requirements. That, of course, is handled by a different department.

What other advice do I have?

We are a reseller and a Microsoft Gold partner. We are a CSP, a Cloud Solution Provider. We offer managed services to our customers. We are moving data centers to Azure, however, we are a managed service provider. We have access to the customer's environment in order to pull analytics data to help them with consulting services, and things like that.

My basic advice to those considering the solution is that planning is essential. Microsoft does a good job of advising their customers at the outset to ensure they get what they need, however, it's helpful to go in and understand deeply what it is your company needs overall. 

That said, Azure is a strong cloud and its technology is great. Microsoft offers good implementation with service legal agreements and good practices.

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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SS
Information Technology Consultant at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
Consultant
Extremely scalable with the capability to build an environment in minutes and offers good automation

Pros and Cons

  • "The product scales extremely well."
  • "They need to make storage easy and offer more interconnectivity between solutions."

What is our primary use case?

I primarily used the solution for hypothetical cases. I used the solution to look at the 2019 active directory environment, some remote SQL storage, and storage access from on-premises to the cloud.

What is most valuable?

There's a feature for automated tasks. As an administrator, handling administrative-type tasks, it's quite useful. For example, I was spending lots of money when I would spin things up. I'd spin up a SQL server. I'd spin up different types of things. They cost a lot of money. I would get distracted, walk away, and go to bed. I'd get up in the morning, and I'd see I'd have a bill. Therefore, I spun up an automated task and wrote a PowerShell script, put it in an automated task, and it would run at seven o'clock every night, and delete all my resources. It saved me money.

You can build an environment in minutes. It's very good in terms of being an infrastructure as a service, and I found that really fascinating.

All the devices they have up there that replace existing devices in the real world like load balancers or F5 are helpful. I'm not sure how they relate or how they form compared to F5, or the firewalls compare to the ones that are in data centers, however, they looked all right to me.

The solution is mostly stable.

The product scales extremely well.

What needs improvement?

It's a bit of a mystery how the storage is going to perform. For example, when you've got a storage device like Hitachi or NetApp, you can run reports on that storage and you can do all this good stuff. I'm not sure if that's the case with Azure. A lot of the stuff is kind of proprietary, at the moment.

The cost is quite high.

You can't control the data as much as you would like to. When it's theirs, it's theirs. With Hitachi, Hitachi has its own policies. You can move data around based on how much it's used into lower-cost discs and whatnot. You might be able to do that with Azure. However, I can't verify that.

The initial setup is complex.

They need to make storage easy and offer more interconnectivity between solutions.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for about a year or so. Maybe a year and a half at most. It hasn't been that long.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of stability, I've seen it go down twice now. They've had two problems with the active directory. That said, I would describe it as stable. They have different sites, regions, and whatnot, where you can move your data around in case you lose a data center or you lose a region. However, if you lose the active directory, that can take everything down.

It's not any more stable than an enterprise environment, to be honest. Maybe a little bit, however, if you lose a network connection to it, that's not stable.

I worked in a bank, a huge 50,000 employee enterprise. I saw their infrastructure go up and down about the same, once or twice a year. That's about the same as Azure, therefore, it's not anything different than an enterprise. You can make an enterprise resilient if you have lots of domain controllers and you do lots of redundant paths. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is very scalable. It's one of its great selling points. If a company needs to scale, it can do so with ease.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never been in touch with technical support. I can't speak to how helpful or responsive they are.

How was the initial setup?

For a layperson or someone who is not trained, it wasn't an easy initial setup. It had some complexities.

I've personally gotten used to the process. The deployment, for example, wouldn't take that long now. While in the beginning, a deployment might take a month, now that I am more comfortable with the solution and more familiar, I can likely do it in a few days. 

That said, it depends on a company's plans and its own unique environment and complexities. It can vary. Most people seem to struggle with all of the connections they had before.

The number of people you need to deploy or maintain the solution really depends on the size of the environment. After implementation, you could probably scale back your employees from 10% to 50% with Azure.

What about the implementation team?

I can handle an implementation myself. I'm getting better and faster at it.

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

I've found the cost to be a bit high. You also get dinged for extra things along the way.

The charges are also unpredictable. Even if you think something is a relatively static item, they'll charge you for it and it will change your expectation of the cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've looked at other solutions, such as Hitachi and Netapp.

The biggest struggle a person would have these days, as an architect, is to determine what the cost-benefit of going to Azure would be rather than going to a storage device such as a Hitachi or a NetApp. Which has better value? What's going to be better in the next couple of years? You can really get screwed if you're going to be pulling data down from the cloud. If you pull a lot of data from the cloud, it's going to cost you. You don't get charged for putting it up. You get charged for pulling it down.

What other advice do I have?

I basically used the solution to study.

I used a few different deployment models. I made an on-prem environment, Hyper-V environment, on my laptop and I connected it to the cloud.

I'd advise those considering the solution to not put all of their eggs in one basket. By that, I mean, it's a good idea to go hybrid and not full cloud. Going hybrid covers that network loss that you could suffer if you lose the network. If you lost a data center or a region, you could still have your on-prem server running an image of the cloud onsite.

I'd give the solution an eight out of ten. I haven't had a chance to study AWS or Google, however, I like this solution very much.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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IW
Cloud Architect at a legal firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
A classic solution in jeopardy of losing its flexibility due to becoming SaaS

Pros and Cons

  • "If you're interested in going with Microsoft, my advice would be to do it. Everybody's using Microsoft."
  • "The support, the cost, the way they have the tiers, this could all be improved."

What is our primary use case?

I work for a Naval Shipyard. We build fighter ships for fighter aircraft. The Navy is our sponsor. Everything that we do is Navy or Navy-related. A lot of what we do is classified; however, I can say that we do some robotic AI work. 

Microsoft is our corporate authentication piece, so everything has to authenticate to Microsoft Azure. Everything in the whole entire company has to authenticate there. Even if you're building something, you have to be leading up to the point where it's going to authenticate to Microsoft. They are the vendor of choice, as far as authentication, but they're not the vendor of choice as far as all things at the shipyard. 

Our entire organization uses this solution. Size-wise, we're similar to a small city.

What is most valuable?

No features really stand out in particular. The reason that we use Microsoft Azure is that Microsoft has left us no choice — that's what I would say. If you use Microsoft, you've been curtailed in your on-prem data center. There are certain things we can do with Azure on-prem that we can't do on the cloud. We're now fully in the cloud. But even most of the Office products, which are in Office 365, are still on-prem. I came to this company to do cloud, but the company isn't ready to go to the cloud. It sounds like upper management is going to be changing some of the business structures. The better information I can give upper management, as far as our features and capabilities, will help them to make better business decisions. That's kind of where I am currently.

What needs improvement?

The support, the cost, the way they have the tiers, this could all be improved. For example, our company has been purchasing Microsoft Office 365 cloud licensing for approximately five years, and we do not have any production. We have five divisions and these divisions have different classification and levels of data. This company has changed hands over the years. We now lead the was as far as IT, but the corporate office didn't do a top-down infrastructure. It's a long story, but the way that we do things is not the way that everybody else does things. Just because others are moving to XYZ doesn't mean we're going to go there today. We might look and see how everybody else is doing everything, and once we decide we're ready to go, then we'll go. It might be 10 years later. It might be next week, but we don't follow the crowd. We follow the Navy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Microsoft since the very beginning.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Although I am not the administrator, there are some things that are kind of quirky. The biggest problem is that we're a really, really, really big SharePoint user. Everything that's 100% SharePoint online, is not a one-for-one into the SharePoint that we have on-prem. 

Security is a problem, that's why we only allow web products for Office 365. SharePoint doesn't give us everything that we need. These are a few of the drawbacks for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is complex, but only because our company is complex.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support depends. For the professional services, they're usually pretty good.

For other divisions, the support hasn't been that good. Anytime we have problems and we try to ask for support, what we paid for is one thing and what we're getting is another thing. Because of this, we often have to renegotiations with Microsoft. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very complex because we're a complex corporation.

The review board has actually approved all of the Microsoft Office 2016 products and applications. We have the licenses, however, we're not using them.

Teams is the one collaborative product that everybody wants to use. We've approved Microsoft Teams on the web only. Because of our security constraint, we don't want our users to use every feature that's actually on Teams. We don't want to allow third-party vendors to use that application in order to get into our environment. 

For example, you can share your screen, but I can't share my screen. I can share an application if it's been approved, but I can't share my screen. The only way I can actually talk to you is if we talk about topical issues that you would read about in the newspaper or something like that. I can't tell you anything that's company proprietary.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Right now we're looking at Microsoft TFS, Azure on DevOps. However, all of the features have to be configured by someone. It's not that ADO can't do it, it's just that it would take a lot of time — we'd have to have someone physically come in and do it. That would require Microsoft Professional Services which costs a lot of money. Often, people can just buy stuff off the shelf when they want to use another product. For example, all the ALM tools actually integrate with TFS. So, if we have a product that already has that capability, why are we purchasing those new products? Why are we doing a POC for that? So that's what kind of hat I wear here.

What other advice do I have?

If you're interested in going with Microsoft, my advice would be to do it. Everybody's using Microsoft.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of seven.

The problem is that I'm an old Microsoft engineer. I like to build it the way I want to build it.  I don't want it to be SaaS. I liked the fact that you could build your servers in the AWS environment and build out the servers the way you want. They're actually taking away a lot of the applications. More and more companies are switching to SaaS or IAS, etc.

Now, the structure is going towards SaaS. I think I have a three-year lifecycle on my licenses and then I will have to drop or either migrate my data to SaaS. It's probably cheaper for people to go that way, but it gives you less flexibility. There's probably more security, but you're depending on the vendor's security or however they have that set up. You lose a lot of your flexibility when you go into SaaS.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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RL
Enterprise Architect at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
A scalable cloud computing service with valuable automation features

Pros and Cons

  • "I think Azure's level of automation to achieve efficiency or agility is valuable. I also like the change capability cadence, the showback capabilities, and understanding what our costs are."
  • "We like that they have the new capabilities, but sometimes they're deprecating capabilities faster than we can handle. If we had to improve it, we would want to stay on some of these older capabilities a bit longer."

What is our primary use case?

Our use cases are basically cost agility and efficiency.

How has it helped my organization?

Microsoft Azure really enforces the automation capabilities of our workforce. It drives us towards a new operating model in terms of delivering services more quickly and more automatically.

What is most valuable?

I think Azure's level of automation to achieve efficiency or agility is valuable. I also like the change capability cadence, the showback capabilities, and understanding what our costs are. We don't have that in our on-premise environment. That whole showback capability is very interesting for us. It helps to hold the stakeholders accountable for our spending. 

What needs improvement?

Talking about improvement is like a double-edged sword. We like that they have the new capabilities, but sometimes they're deprecating capabilities faster than we can handle. If we had to improve it, we would want to stay on some of these older capabilities a bit longer. It's a brilliant platform for our staff to be more agile and more efficient but probably doesn't match with us in terms of maturity.

For example, they offer this tagging capability, but they keep introducing new platforms without it. We've become heavily reliant on tagging, but in the case of NetApp, they introduced it into the environment, and now we're not able to get the showback off of that. 

If they introduce new capabilities, they have to have all the features and functions on that new capability. They're not very good at that. If they introduce new capabilities, all the feature sets on these new capabilities should be available immediately. From my perspective, that's where they need to improve.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Microsoft Azure for about a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Microsoft Azure is very scalable. Our data center staff are using the solution, and then the application teams are engaging the data center staff to use that solution. We've just had a few use cases in there, and now we're just gaining experience.

Like with any new technology, we're currently re-skilling staff. It's the way we're approaching it on a six to 12-month journey before we start to get to the product and the benefits.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is average.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup isn't straightforward. You need to bring in an experienced system integrator to help you with the knowledge transfer. That's the approach we took.

What about the implementation team?

We brought in an experienced system integrator that helped us build the environment and did the knowledge transfer into our workforce. I think that's a requirement. We had a very positive experience with our system integrator. The setup, we call it the Azure landing zone, and it's the data center. To set up the foundational build was a three-month engagement.

The system integrator is the intermediary between Microsoft and us. That's the value proposition of a system integrator. The system integrator helps cut through some of that. Microsoft is a big organization, and it's sometimes very hard to get to the right resources with the right knowledge. The challenge with Microsoft is that they have multiple solutions, and it's up to you to pick the right solution path. That's very hard for most organizations to do.

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

It's a metered environment, and it's pay-as-you-go. That's the big challenge with a metered environment. The challenge is optimizing how you use that to reduce your meter costs. It's like your children have to be good at not leaving the lights on in their bedroom to save on the power bill. That's a cultural change. 

You have to change your consumption patterns, and that's hard to do. You can get a very big bill because your consumption patterns aren't very good. We're no different than any other organization that's gone to a public cloud. You get these surprise bills, and then you've got to figure out how to manage them down appropriately.

For us, the additional cost is connectivity to the Azure data center. They said that we had to set up an Equinix data center to get from our location here in Regina, Saskatchewan, to Toronto down East. Those are some big new communication charges that we didn't have before.

That adds a significant cost to that. Private internet connectivity to a cloud is a big expense. That can be a very big cost, especially for remote businesses that are co-located to cloud data centers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Microsoft Azure was a strategic choice. We wanted to go with a multi-cloud model, but we felt like we didn't know enough about clouds. We just kind of thought Microsoft was one of our strategic partners and decided to go with them and learn before we took the multi-cloud approach.

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would give potential users would be to focus on their cost management skills and metering skills. It's all about managing your consumption. You've got to understand your consumption patterns and then learn how to manage consumption patterns going forward.

It's a really good product. In terms of leading hyperscalers, they offer very competitive features, functions, and rates compared to AWS and Google. They continue to advance their technical capabilities as rapidly or more rapidly than the other two hyperscalers. So, I would rate Microsoft Azure very high.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Microsoft Azure a nine.

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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DB
Sr Solutions Architect at System Soft Technologies, LLC
Real User
Top 20
Information protection is great as is the ability to provide temporary and secure access to vendors

Pros and Cons

  • "Good information protection feature."
  • "Could be more user friendly; initial setup is difficult to understand."

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.
KR
Information Technology Administrator at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to add on services, relatively stable, and very scalable

Pros and Cons

  • "Microsoft offers free courses and an exam on their products. Many of my colleagues who use Microsoft Azure take advantage of those free courses to help them learn about the solution in depth."
  • "It would be nice if there was an on-premises version of the solution, and it wasn't just cloud-based."

What is our primary use case?

This solution is used to migrate data to the cloud. They have a few different ways that this can happen. You can use the public cloud or private cloud, for example. Or you can use a hybrid as well. 

If you want to add some services, they have that capability to do that. Even if you want to improve your network, and you want to add your storage, or you want to maybe improve the speed of your infrastructure, they have that capability. 

What is most valuable?

They own a SaaS model. They have applications such as Microsoft Office 365, which is a cloud service. When I was using Oracle Linux desktop, I was still able to use Microsoft Office 365 to do my daily work.

If I want to send a Word document, I don't have to install anything. I don't have to hassle with the installation of Microsoft Office in Linux. It's quite a process to do that. However, if we have the internet, we can do everything we need to without having to install anything. You can do all of the Office activities including PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook. It's very easy.

Microsoft offers free courses and an exam on their products. Many of my colleagues who use Microsoft Azure take advantage of those free courses to help them learn about the solution in depth.

What needs improvement?

It would be nice if there was an on-premises version of the solution, and it wasn't just cloud-based. Oracle, for example, has both capabilities. Some people don't understand the cloud, or are hesitant, and this might prevent them from adopting the product. Also, migrating to the cloud can bring a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of trouble to some companies. Some prefer that their data is not moved from the premises, or have requirements to that effect. If Microsoft could address these concerns, that would be ideal.

The solution has a lot of terms of services. These should be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

I haven't been using the solution for very long. In fact, it has only been a few weeks at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's quite reliable for our organization.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have noticed that they have the capability to scale. Even you are not using some of the services, you can still scale. Let's say, you have bought large storage, and you notice that you no longer want to use it anymore. You have the chance to reduce that and not have to pay for more than you need. You pay as you go, therefore they have the capability to accommodate shifts in sizing. Most of the cloud providers do have that capability whereby you don't have to use something that you do not need.

We do plan to use the solution into the future as it does offer us good flexibility.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'm not really on the technical side of things, and therefore I don't generally deal with technical support. Therefore, I can't speak to their level of knowledge or their responsiveness.

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

Previously, I've also used Oracle and IBM.

How was the initial setup?

I personally didn't have to do an installation.

All you need to do is read the documentation, and everything you need to know is right there. It's quite straightforward in that sense.

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

The solution offers a freemium model. There are some things that they can give for free, however, if you exceed certain levels in terms of what you were initially given, then they have to charge you for that. That's why, usually when you create the account, they want you to use your credit card so that when you exceed your limit, they will be able to charge you for that.

When you want to do the license, there is a certain amount that you need to pay. The pricing varies according to usage and differs in terms of the services and the models that you need. For those who need a platform as a service for developers, or infrastructure as a service, or software as a service, they provide for those scenarios. However, the pricing will depend on the service that you want.

What other advice do I have?

I'm a consultant. I work as a partner with Microsoft.

We're using the latest version of the solution at this time.

I would recommend the solution to others.

I'd rate it nine out of ten overall.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
AK
Sr.Consultant at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Very scalable, no upfront expenses, fast time to market, and maximum uptime for our services

Pros and Cons

  • "Its scalability is valuable. Depending on our requirements, we can add as many virtual machines as we want. We are able to get high availability for services. Services are always available, and they have the maximum uptime. If there is any issue with one of the services, another service is always available. It is pay-as-you-go. You don't have to spend any money upfront. You use the service and pay after one month or a couple of hours of use."
  • "For deploying multiple resources in a big number, such as in hundreds, we need a streamlined process and more user-friendly scrips. The scripts have to be more user-friendly, and they should also supply some standard templates to deploy multiple resources at a time. Currently, it is very easy to deploy a couple of resources, but if you want to deploy multiple resources, it becomes complex. The material that they provide for integration with an existing on-prem data center is complex. They have to make them user-friendly. The scripts related to resource management need to be simplified."

What is our primary use case?

The existing infrastructure of our customers is on-prem. We will be migrating or moving from on-prem to Microsoft Azure cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

We don't have to spend money to purchase the hardware, set up a data center, get people to work on it, and maintain security. We don't have to spend any money on these things. It is ready to use, and resources are available for us. We just create an account on Azure and start using the services. 

The time to market is very fast. We just supply the resources, virtual machines, and databases, and our applications are up and running. This helps our customers and us to be more future-ready and cloud-ready.

What is most valuable?

Its scalability is valuable. Depending on our requirements, we can add as many virtual machines as we want. We are able to get high availability for services. Services are always available, and they have the maximum uptime. If there is any issue with one of the services, another service is always available. 

It is pay-as-you-go. You don't have to spend any money upfront. You use the service and pay after one month or a couple of hours of use.

What needs improvement?

For deploying multiple resources in a big number, such as in hundreds, we need a streamlined process and more user-friendly scrips. The scripts have to be more user-friendly, and they should also supply some standard templates to deploy multiple resources at a time. Currently, it is very easy to deploy a couple of resources, but if you want to deploy multiple resources, it becomes complex.

The material that they provide for integration with an existing on-prem data center is complex. They have to make them user-friendly. The scripts related to resource management need to be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for one year. In our company, we have been using it for four to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has a very high uptime for services. They are able to provide as per Service Level Agreement (SLA). We are not seeing any downtime for our applications. Our users have not reported any issues. 

They have their internal redundancy for hardware and software. If there is an issue with any hardware, another hardware is ready to take the load.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. We can add as many virtual machines as we want. We have 400 to 500 people who are using this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not worked with support. We work in a design team where we have a dedicated Microsoft account partner to provide support. That support is fine. If there is an issue with running virtual machines or there are any infrastructure issues, another team takes care of that. I've not got any complaints from them that their support is not working.

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

Previously, we had the regular on-prem solution with our own data center. We had to deploy physical servers, networks, databases, and everything else. We needed flexibility and scalability for our customers and applications, and that's why we moved to the cloud.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy. 

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

It is operational expenditure (OPEX). There is no cost upfront. When you start using it, you have to pay the charges. Initially, the cost is less, but after you start using it more and more, the cost will go higher. It is a little bit costly, but that is okay because you get better resources. You also get better support in terms of how you create the resources. Documentation is available, and the SLAs are met. 

What other advice do I have?

Companies are now starting to switch over to Azure, and before doing any kind of migration, they need to plan each and everything from scratch. They should have a Microsoft consultant or somebody from Microsoft so that they can plan well before using Azure. Otherwise, they will not be aware of where they are spending and how they can reduce the spending. They would also not know whether their security compliances are being met and whether their network is being fully utilized or having some issues. Proper planning has to be done before using Azure. 

I would rate Microsoft Azure an eight out of ten.

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