Friday, March 20, 2015

Evaluating Windows Azure as an IaaS solution

If you have been following the growth of Windows Azure as an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud solution, the growth options have been absolutely amazing!!

  1. Windows Azure is offered as a free service for website hosting up to 10 websites for the public
  2. Windows Azure is offered as a free service to all MSDN Subscribers with a set cap limit depending on the level of your MSDN Subscription
  3. The Self Service and PowerShell management capabilities of the Windows Azure Portal is absolutely out-of-this-world and is probably unmatched by any other Cloud hosting service in the world.
  4. Microsoft is continually expanding and globalizing their datacenters around the world
  5. Microsoft is continually adding new features and functionality to their hosting services such as new options for processors, disk space, SQL database hosting etc.
  6. Microsoft is becoming more and more competitive with their pricing for hosting and is constantly reviewing and reducing their prices

All of the above reasons make Windows Azure hosting for IaaS very, very compelling indeed.

However, there are some downsides to Windows Azure IaaS as well:

  1. Windows Azure hosting, by default, comes with absolutely no support.  All management is Self-Service unless you plan on purchasing a separate support plan.  Depending on the level of support you need, these support options can become rather pricey.
  2. Without a support plan in place, you are reliant on your IT team to be able to manage any failures that may occur in the Azure cloud.
  3. In recent months, Windows Azure demand seems to be growing too fast for Microsoft to keep up with the demand resulting in numerous outages over the past year.  In many cases, the Windows Azure environment has been down for several hours at a time on numerous occasions.  Many of these incidents have confounded the Windows Azure team and customers have never really been notified of the underlying cause for these outages and failures.

Therefore, if your business ABSOLUTELY needs 24 x 7 support and 24 x 7 availability higher than the 99.9% availability that Microsoft offers (some hosting companies offer 99.99% or even 99.999% availability options), then Windows Azure may not be the absolute best choice for you.  You may be better off choosing another Cloud Hosting company that can offer you the round-the-clock support that you need to make sure that your environments automatically fail-over and recover quickly and seamlessly.

However, Windows Azure still may be suitable for less mission critical needs and Windows Azure is actually ideal for development and testing/QA environments because the environments can be brought up and torn down very quickly and the self service management of virtual machines makes performing all these operations (even for developers) a breeze.

No comments:

Post a Comment