What are the disadvantages of Microsoft Azure

Cloud computing

When entering cloud computing, many companies are faced with the question: Microsoft Azure or AWS? Not an easy decision. Both platforms are solid infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings that give organizations access to extensive computing resources around the world. They look very similar on paper; most of the differences only emerge in practical use. And since the platforms are constantly evolving and improving, comparing them is like trying to hit a moving target. We asked IT experts on the Spiceworks social network about their experiences with setting up and managing Azure and AWS.

AWS: pioneer and market leader

As the first major player and market leader in the cloud computing arena, the name Amazon naturally carries a lot of weight, even if Microsoft has long since caught up with the Internet giant. But even among IT professionals, the belief is still widespread that AWS is better suited for highly scalable web applications that are used by a large number of users. For example, AWS EC2 is used by the streaming service Netflix and the housing agency Airbnb, which use the platform to interact with their customers all over the world.

Azure: Versatile and easy to use - at least in the Windows environment

On the other hand, Azure is considered to be easier to use - at least in Windows environments in smaller companies that do not run highly scalable applications. And the ease with which the cloud servers can be set up in Azure and integrated into other Microsoft products makes the transition to cloud-based infrastructure easier for many companies.

Please also read our series "Cloud giants":

Amazon Web Services - a lot of cloud for little money

Microsoft Azure - with the German cloud to new sources of money

T-Systems - with four IaaS platforms against AWS and Co.

IBM Softlayer and Bluemix on the test bench

The Oracle cloud still has a lot of room for improvement

The big catch-up from Google

Costs are difficult to compare

Amazon and Microsoft offer a variety of differently sized cloud instances to cater to the needs of companies of all sizes. The pricing structures are similar, but with Azure a certain amount of storage capacity is included in the price, while customers have to purchase the storage separately from AWS. That means additional costs and less transparency overall. On the other hand, many IT pros say that AWS storage can be better tailored to their needs, which is a definite plus.

The costs vary on both platforms, depending on how often companies use their cloud instances, how much performance and capacity they need, how much data is transferred and whether they value sophisticated functions such as load balancing or auto scaling. The different rounding models also have a not inconsiderable influence on costs: Microsoft rounds up to the next minute when calculating usage, while Amazon rounds up to the next hour.

Technical support

Both Microsoft and Amazon offer different levels of technical support - depending on how quickly the problems should be solved and whether customers want a dedicated contact person in the company. What distinguishes the two providers, however: With Azure, technical support is billed via a monthly flat rate fee. With AWS, on the other hand, the support costs depend on the monthly usage, which can quickly drive them up.

Reliability and uptime times

Azure and AWS aim for service availability of more than 99.95 percent. And both pay their customers money back if the uptime falls below this value. That can happen. There were phases at both Amazon and Microsoft in which there were repeated failures. Popular services such as Netflix or Office 365 have also been affected.

Setup and ease of use

For Windows administrators, Azure is of course a home game. The integration of Windows servers and cloud instances - for example to set up a hybrid cloud environment - is easy.

An Azure instance consists of a virtual server that is operated under Hyper-V and enables you to log in using a remote desktop client with full administrator rights.

And finally, Azure instances work seamlessly with other Microsoft cloud services - such as Azure Active Directory and Azure SQL Database.

AWS has a highly configurable offering with a wide range of functions that you first have to familiarize yourself with. But if you take the trouble, you will also benefit from a platform that offers a lot of performance, flexibility and customization options and supports a large number of third-party providers. And: AWS is the perfect platform to host Linux instances.

  1. Azure Microsoft Cloud Germany
    Microsoft has been offering cloud services "Made in Germany" since mid-2016. For this purpose, two data centers in Frankfurt am Main and Magdeburg were put into operation.
  2. Azure Cloud: Nadella in Germany
    Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft at the presentation of the Deutschland-Cloud in Berlin in November 2015: "Our approach is to build a highly scalable public cloud. We offer our customers a real hybrid and distributed computing platform."
  3. Azure Paired Region
    Higher reliability through "paired regions": Users of Azure cloud services can replicate data and resources such as virtual machines and databases between two Microsoft data centers. Both are in neighboring regions, such as Western and Northern Europe, but must be at least 300 miles apart.
  4. Azure Marketplace
    Just like Amazon Web Services and other cloud service providers, Microsoft has set up a marketplace for third-party products on Azure.
  5. Microsoft Cloud Trustee Model
    In Germany, Microsoft has set up a separate Azure cloud infrastructure. Only an intermediary trustee, in this case T-Systems, has access to the customer data.
  6. Alex Stüger
    Alex Stüger, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Microsoft Germany: "From our point of view, the connection of our Microsoft cloud platform with German infrastructure and German data trustee is unique on the market."

Conclusion

Azure and AWS are solid IaaS platforms with advantages and disadvantages. Which is more suitable in practice depends on the respective requirements. It is therefore advisable to start with a free trial version. This allows users to find out which provider best meets their requirements without financial outlay. And if costs play a decisive role: With the help of an online cloud calculator, you can easily estimate how much money you are spending on IaaS each month. Cloud monitoring tools are also practical. Companies can use it to track current IaaS usage and are automatically notified when their cloud costs get out of hand.