Overall Satisfaction with Windows Azure
We were looking to expand our operations adding new functionality which would cause tremendous strain on our existing servers. The web and worker roles were the perfect solution, allowing us to develop a front end application tied to SQL Azure and an Azure Service bus which would relay data and messages to the back end worker role. The processing jobs could take over 10 hours of hard computing, so off loading this work was imperative. Azure gave us an inexpensive, robust, and immediately scalable solution to make this happen.
- Scalability: Since Azure was set up with load balancing and scale in mind, its very easy to add more processing power to your business with just a few clicks and the monitoring reports give you excellent insight to evaluate if scaling is required.
- Management: Azure's service management portal is extremely user friendly and intuitive, but the best part for me as a developer is how integrated it is into our development tools. It gives you access to all key areas of your account including the compute instances and your SQL Azure database.
- Cost Management: Getting started with Azure is easy and low risk. Using the no-contract subscription and the low cost of the entry level systems, it was very easy for me to make the case that our company should try Azure. This was especially easy when you couple this low cost with powerful scalability should this new endeavor ramp up and gain traction.
- Typically, our systems need to do more than simply host a web site or run a worker. Giving us the ability to integrate management of these types of services from Visual Studio in the role configuration would greatly simplify this process.
- The earlier versions of Azure were of course lacking support in some key areas, and persistent storage in blobs was counter intuitive and difficult to manage. That said, with what seems to be an endless army of developers, support staff, technical writers, etc. Microsoft rarely misses opportunities to improve their services and Azure is no exception. Using the provided technical documentation and demo applications, working with persistent storage has because quite painless.
- Our first solution added to Azure is a long shot service offering. That said, we could not afford to sink a lot of money into something which may have a long tail to revenue. Azure has allowed us to launch this project for less than $50 per month and enabled us to test this concept to see if there is more demand for it out there.
- Amazon Web Services,Google Analytics,Hosting.com
We evaluated several options from small cloud hosting providers to AWS and Azure. In short, we choose Azure due to cost, a no contract option and ease of use. The management portal functionality was another major factor in choosing Azure over smaller shops.
Cloud hosting is typically more expensive than hosting a physical box yourself. For this reason, the key aspects to consider are:
- Can you host the solution yourself? If your company has the manpower and resources to host and support servers, then this is typically going to be the less expensive path in the long term with a much higher up front setup cost. Azure is the right solution for anyone looking to offset high initial server cost in favor of low recurring monthly payments until the project begins to draw in revenue.
- Should you host the solution yourself? Hosting your own physical box requires a lot of planning and disaster recovery forethought which Azure takes out of the equation. Again, if your company lacks the resources/manpower to manage these tasks, Azure is the right solution for you.
- Is the projects success guaranteed? Even if your company does have the resources to host your own servers, Azure gets you to market faster than hosting your own box. If the project becomes successful, you can always fall back to local hosting and use Azure for disaster recovery.
Using Windows Azure
As I have stated, low initial cost has been key for us. I have even decided to use Azure for my personal projects outside the office and plan to continue to advocate the use of Azure for future projects and clients.