Gartner recently published their report on “Cloud Infrastructure As A Service” market in which Microsoft was positioned as a leader along with Amazon. After entering the market in 2013, Microsoft has been adding new features and capabilities to Azure’s IaaS every other week. Since Microsoft already has a strong PaaS offering, they are trying to integrate IaaS and PaaS components that operate and feel like a unified whole. Also, all their IaaS offerings integrate well with hybrid private/public cloud scenarios as well. Read what Gartner reported about Microsoft in their analysis below.
Microsoft is a large and diversified technology vendor that is increasingly focused on delivering its software capabilities via cloud services. Its Azure business was previously strictly PaaS, but Microsoft launched Azure Infrastructure Services (which include Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Virtual Network) into general availability in April 2013, thus entering the cloud IaaS market.
Offerings: Microsoft Azure offers Hyper-V-virtualized multitenant compute (Virtual Machines), with multitenant storage, along with many additional IaaS and PaaS capabilities, including object storage (Blob Storage) and a CDN. The Azure Marketplace offers third-party software and services. Enterprise-grade support is extra. It has a multi-fault-domain SLA. Colocation needs are met via Azure ExpressRoute. See the In-Depth Assessment for a detailed technical evaluation.
Locations: Microsoft calls Azure data center locations “regions.” There are multiple Azure regions in the U.S., as well as regions in Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Brazil. There are also two regions for the U.S. federal government. (Azure China is a separate service operated by 21Vianet.) Microsoft has global sales. Azure support is provided in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Portuguese. The portal and documentation are available in those languages, as well as Russian.
Recommended mode: Microsoft Azure appeals to both Mode 1 and Mode 2 customers, but for different reasons; Mode 1 customers tend to value the ability to use Azure to extend their infrastructure-oriented Microsoft relationship and investment in Microsoft technologies, while Mode 2 customers tend to value Azure’s ability to integrate with Microsoft’s application development tools and technologies.
Recommended uses: General business applications and development environments for Microsoft-centric organizations; cloud-native applications; batch computing.
- Microsoft Azure encompasses integrated IaaS and PaaS components that operate and feel like a unified whole. Microsoft has been rapidly rolling out new features and services, including differentiated capabilities. It has a vision of infrastructure and platform services that are not only leading stand-alone offerings, but also seamlessly extend and interoperate with on-premises Microsoft infrastructure (rooted in Hyper-V, Windows Server, Active Directory and System Center), development tools (including Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server), and applications, as well as Microsoft’s SaaS offerings.
- Microsoft’s brand, existing customer relationships, history of running global-class consumer Internet properties, deep investments in engineering, and aggressive roadmap have enabled it rapidly to attain the status of strategic cloud IaaS provider. Microsoft Azure is growing rapidly, and is in second place for market share, with more than twice as much cloud IaaS compute capacity in use as the aggregate total of the remaining providers in this Magic Quadrant (excluding market share leader AWS). Microsoft has pledged to maintain AWS-comparable pricing for the general public, and, on a practical level, customers with Microsoft Enterprise License Agreement discounts obtain a price/performance ratio that is comparable to AWS.
- Microsoft has previously reliably met its promised time frames for introducing critical features that help Azure fulfill enterprise needs for security, availability, performance, networking flexibility and user management, but it has not finished introducing all such functionality. Customers who intend to adopt Azure strategically and migrate applications over a period of one year or more (finishing in 2016 or later) can begin to deploy some workloads now, but those with a broad range of immediate enterprise needs may encounter challenges. Furthermore, customers express concern about the global impact of many past Azure outages, which may necessitate ensuring that critical applications on Azure have a non-Azure disaster recovery solution.
- Microsoft’s partner ecosystem is still relatively nascent. It recently launched a software marketplace and has begun aggressively recruiting managed service and professional services partners. However, many of these partners lack extensive experience with the Azure platform, which could compromise the quality of the solutions they deliver to customers. Furthermore, the Azure ecosystem is very dependent on existing Microsoft relationships. Although customers do run heterogeneous environments in Azure, this lessens the appeal of Azure to non-Microsoft-centric organizations.