Microsoft Azure, formerly Windows Azure, is Redmond’s cloud computing platform. In addition to its name change, the service has also recently expanded. Essentially, whatever you can do with traditional, on-premise Microsoft software—run SharePoint, manage SQL databases, deploy Active Directory—you can do within Azure. With its new capabilities, Azure offers the easier creation of hybrid clouds and more robust disaster recovery options for businesses.
What we like in Microsoft Azure
Azure is a polished, complex service, yet it’s one that’s also very easy to get up and running for those who have worked with Windows systems. In fact, it’s Azure’s general ease of use and excellent wizard-driven setup that cause it to stand out among the competition as our Editors’ Choice for small business cloud services. Rackspace in particular trails Microsoft in this regard, relying on the user to search for solutions among text-based FAQs and knowledgebase entries. Furthermore, Azure delivers superb performance, better than either Rackspace or Amazon EC2.
Azure may cost more than the competition, but you get your money’s worth with the polished interface, peppy performance, and close integration with Microsoft’s other services.
Expensive. Hosted server prices do not include any storage. We were impressed with Microsoft’s entrance into the PaaS market; Windows Azure is a great product on an impressive infrastructure. While you may end up needing a workaround to use your preferred language on Azure’s platform, the community around the platform and the Azure support team will have you up and running in no time.
Microsoft does a great job of supporting MS Azure. It’s overcome the common PaaS ailment of lacking immediate support by offering email and phone support for paying subscribers. It still comes at an additional cost, however, with support packages being offered in tandem with hosting plans.
The written documentation and tutorials for MS Azure are fantastic and very in-depth. We had little trouble following the written instructions to get our own application up and running. The questions we did have were relatively minor and were quickly answered by an appeal to the MS Azure community