Top 5 mistakes when people talk about Azure


A sad story

I recently got to talk to some people about Cloud technology and I tried to share my experience on this topic. I use to talk honestly to people, showing my point of view  gained with my everyday work and not based on my role in Microsoft.

In the past I used to work with a lot of technologies, and I’m still a big fan of Open Source (that’s one of the reason why I love software) and this seems to be an hot topic in Microsoft too since we are in the TOP 10 contributors on GitHub.

Both for my work and for my passion for technology, I always try to be active on social communities, blogs, conferences and hackathon, and in the last year I faced with a very sad story about Microsoft Azure and tons of urban myths related to it.

 

The problem

I’ve learned that when someone talks about technology there are two crucial factors of influence:

  • the good or bad experiences he/she had with it
  • his/her personal thoughs about the owner of the technology

Microsoft has been one of the leading tech company in the last 40 years, and one of most known product is for sure Windows… the so much hated (and sometime also loved) Operating System of the Redmond’s company.

I guess that a lot of people have experienced issues with Windows and I’m pretty sure that at least the 50% of them have seen a BSOD 

image

The problem is that you cannot jump to conclusion that all Microsoft’s products are bad and, primarily, you should not have a negative opinion of a Product/Service if you haven’t tried and stressed it for real. So the first trouble I struggle with in my job is to reset people’s bias about Azure and let them explore all the services and products offered by this platform, which has been recognized as one of the best Cloud solution on the market; after that I am ready to hear a real feedback.

 

The top 5 mistakes

The simplest way for me to make people think over Microsoft Azure is to explain why some thoughts are totally wrong, showing them how many benefits they can reach using it. 

1. I need a powerful Cloud platform for my complex infrastructure, I'm not developing a simple website! 

This is for sure one of the worst thing I’ve ever heard from people. Azure is a complete cloud platform which offers a competitive and even more rich IaaS offering.

image

So if you are talking with someone who says this, he/she has probably never used, or explored in deep, Microsoft Azure! So just ignore this assertion and try to understand how you could use it to build even more a simple website. 

2. Sorry but for my business I need to use Linux OS and Open Source software, that’s why I’m forced to choose <other-name> provider instead of Microsoft

Nobody never said that you have product or technology lock-in when adopting Azure as Cloud provider, rather you can choose from a full range of Linux distributions like Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE, and community-driven solutions like Chef, Puppet, and Docker. There are no constraints for your DEV team (a lot of PaaS products for example propose Node.js as development environment) and there’s a full compatibility with 3rd party components from Oracle, IBM, and SAP.

So if you do not choose Azure for your concerns about its Microsoft’s constraints, probably you don’t know (yet) the Open Source opportunities that Azure offers. 

 

3. Azure has less services than <other-name> Cloud provider

In the Cloud competition, Azure has to fight harder to fill the gap with other competitors on IaaS battlefield, but what I’ve learned in the past two years is that Microsoft Azure has the most complete, diversified and flexible PaaS offering on the market. To give you an idea of the number of available services here’s a nice “Periodic Table” picture by Concurrency, Inc:

image

Where each color represents an area of interest of the following list:

image

 

4. Microsoft pricing model is too complicated

I have to admit it, if you are a tech-guy and not a commercial, it’s not easy to understand all the pricing and financial aspect of Cloud, but there are 4 important things you should know about Azure Pricing Model:

  • No upfront costs
  • No termination fees
  • Pay only for what you use
  • Per minute billing

Said that, the best way to understand more about pricing and to estimate how much your infrastructure would cost, is to play with these two awesome tools:

 

5. I read on a <social-network-name> that Azure has less geographic replication and not so much datacenters for its cloud services. I prefer to choose <other-cloud-provider> because they are better distributed

I heard this from the CEO of a startup during an Hackathon few months ago, and I was very surprised about it because in my mind startups have (or should have) always an up-to-date knowhow and they should not have bias about providers. My honest opinion is this: as a startup you should work with everything available on the market, try all the services and explore more and more, since this will help your company to differentiate your business and to be open to all technologies.

Said that, the datacenter global distribution of Azure is public and available and despite of the “heard from a friend of mine” assertion, Azure is available in 34 regions around the world, with plans announced for 6 additional regions. This means that Microsoft guarantee an high level Privacy and a well defined strategy for Availability and Disaster Recovery for customers.

 

Conclusion

As a tech lover and professional worker I’ve learned that you must set your mood to “continuous learning” state, especially when talking about innovative and growing things like Cloud. I never put my personal opinion ahead facts, and if my point of view is different from a friend/colleague/partner/customer that is a good reason for me to further investigate and learn new things.

When I talk with a friend/colleague/partner/customer I tell them to do not look at me as the Microsoft employee who has to sell his products but rather then a passionate guy who always tries to do the best on his work and is always open to study and learn more, which is basically what everyone should do.

 

Post scriptum =)

image

Comments (13)

  1. Thanks for sharing, I learned a bit for next cloud aware dinner party ;-)

    1. Glad to hear that Søren, I hope it will be a more interesting dinner then :)

  2. john hughes says:

    Microsoft pricing model is too complicated — yes it is!
    I have spent many hours trying to come up with a budget using the price calculator only to walk away lost…

    1. eheh John I know it may appear very complicated at the beginning but I think it’s something you can handle with some practice. I’ve played around with all the platforms and I can say that cloud’s pricing is not so easy to understand in general. What I can suggest to you is to start playing with a Free plan and then choose one of the available plans which better fits your needs.

      1. Craig says:

        In most basic terms the pricing is fairly easy. For example, you want a particular size DB you know what it will cost. It is all the bandwidth/transfer costs which are virtually impossible to estimate that are the problem.

        1. Hi Craig, I agree with you that for each resource you should estimate the potential cost and choose the best pricing approach. Since you mentioned DB I can share with you my experience with SQL Database PaaS resource:
          a customer was not sure of which size to choose between basic and standard, and even if they tried to simulate a real scenario they were not 100% sure about the ideal size. After a quick advisory session with a colleague of mine, data expert engineer, we finally found a solution with the Elastic pools which is for definition a “simple, cost-effective solution for managing and scaling multiple databases that have varying and unpredictable usage demands”. So once again my advice is to explore in deep all the possible solutions

    2. Randy Minder says:

      I could be a cynic and suggest that Microsoft has intentionally complicated this so we really don’t know what we’re spending until we get a bill each month. But, to counter that, I will say that AWS isn’t any better. I think Microsoft has taken licensing, in general, whether it’s the cloud or SQL Server licensing, to a level so complex, only a few can understand it. I don’t really understand this either. Microsoft is in a life and death struggle with AWS (and Google soon). You would think that Microsoft could gain a real, significant, competitive advantage by keeping costs as simple to understand, and manage, as possible.

      1. Thanks for your feedback Randy and well, my experience is that whenever you talk about costs and pricing the discussion becomes complex, whatever technology or cloud solution you are using (and I’ve tried ALL the main cloud provider).
        My opinion is that you have to accept the fact that Cloud computing requires a new perspective than on-prem approach and I can try to give you a simple metaphor:
        Imagine that you have to choose which transportation method to use to go from a place A to a place B; your could:
        1. take a taxi/uber (fixed price)
        2. use your personal car (variable costs)

        If you choose the solution 1 you will have fixed or pre-calculated costs, but you don’t have control on the itinerary or the vehicle used, and this is the classic “closed box” situation where you simply use a service without any decision power and with vero poor flexibility.
        If you choose the solution 2 you cannot predict the exact cost of your travel, even if you estimate it calculating the fuel pricing * the distance from A to B, but you will hav for sure all the flexibility and decisional power in your hand. You can decide to take a shorter itinerary (paying more because of an highway) because you want to arrive in short time or you can avoid highways and drive only on free roads, which will reduce your travel costs but you will spend more time into the car.

        This is a simple metaphor but about me it reflects the two scenarios :
        – Cloud : 100% flexible, 100% customizable but costs are not 100% predictible (but estimable)
        – On-prem or fixed price provider: costs already known at the beginning but you have constrains on scalability, 50% (or less) control on the infrastructure, additional non-predicible costs if you want more

  3. Paul says:

    The one I tend to agree with is 6) Azure is too expensive, particularly the PAAS offerings which are FAR more expensive that VMs

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your feedback. When saying “is too expensive” could you please give me an example?
      I think that when using PaaS you should first work to define a well balanced usage/consumption plan of your resources, which is the very new approach if you come from a on-prem/IaaS background.
      PaaS on Azure has different plan levels, starting from $0.075/hr for Basic istances to $0.30/hr for a P1 Premium level. The power of PaaS is that you can start using a cheap plan for your environment and then scale-up the resources if needed (in a well-designed scenario the scaling process is automated by metric rules); so my opinion is that you cannot compare PaaS to IaaS pricing model, since if you choose to use PaaS you have to think that it’s a totally different service and design your application in a different way to push on PaaS approach.

  4. Amit says:

    Typo @ #3 `services then`

  5. kaityer says:

    Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. That
    is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it
    and return to read more of your useful info.
    Thank you for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

Skip to main content