On the 17 June 2014, we hosted a virtual event around the advantages of Microsoft Azure. Various questions were raised during the Q&A, with our hosts touching on sales strategies, security issues, the development of Azure in the MEA region and much more. If you have a look at some of the questions and answers below, we're sure you'll find something relevant and useful. If you missed the event, you can watch it here
1.Question: When will Azure be locally present within the MEA Region? Is there a plan to deploy locally and if so, what is the time scale?
Azure is already available for some of MEA countries. You can click here to find out more: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/faq/. It will be expanding to other MEA countries soon please follow http://azure.microsoft.com for further announcements.
2.Question: It's hard to convince Admins in Turkey - when looking at companies that organize the annual switch, how can they save with Azure?
Microsoft Azure price calculator can give you an idea for the cost of Azure and then you can compare this with on premise licenses. It is also important to add other benefits such as project deployment speed, faster go to market and low initial cost. “Remember to choose 12 month commitment to compare the prices in open licensing.”
3.Question: What are the private connectivity options for customers in MEA?
Azure ExpressRoute enables you to create private connections between Azure datacenters and infrastructure that’s on your premises or in a colocation environment. The availability of this service will be announced later for MEA region.
4.Question: From a compete point of view, what is the singular most compelling reason to move to Azure?
Hybrid Cloud. Your business requires a flexible IT infrastructure that can scale on demand. With a private cloud in your datacenter, you can be more agile and manage resources more effectively. When you extend your datacenter to meet the public cloud, you are working in a hybrid cloud model. A hybrid cloud gives you the best of both worlds, so you can take advantage of external resources when it makes sense for your business. The Microsoft hybrid cloud combines Microsoft Azure, Windows Server, and Microsoft System Center, giving you Microsoft’s enterprise-grade technology in both your company’s own datacenter and our global datacenters. For more information, please check: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/server-cloud/solutions/hybrid-cloud.aspx#fbid=cnVCgZJQdGv
5.Question: Could this lead to Microsoft completely stopping all support to "traditional" server products like WinServer 2012 for example, say in a few years? Like 5 years from now?
Microsoft’s support policy will continue as it is covering all our products. For more details: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/product-lifecycles.aspx
6.Question: Why Azure?
Main reasons to evaluate Azure are moving faster, saving money and integrating on-premises apps and data. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/
7.Question: Is there any difference between SQL Server and Azure SQL?
Similar to an instance of SQL Server on your premises, Azure SQL Database exposes a tabular data stream (TDS) interface for Transact-SQL-based database access. This allows your database applications to use an Azure-based SQL Database in the same way that they use your on-premise SQL Server. Since SQL Database is a service, administration in SQL Database is slightly different.
Unlike administration for an on-premise instance of SQL Server, SQL Database abstracts the logical administration from the physical administration; you continue to administer databases, logins, users, and roles, but Microsoft administers and configures the physical hardware such as hard drives, servers, and storage. This approach helps SQL Database provide a large-scale multi-tenant database service that offers enterprise-class availability, scalability, security, and self-healing. For further information: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff394102.aspx
8.Question: More than one person may use an Azure account? Can I share with my team member?
You can assign co-admins or you can use system center management console to manage your platform on premise or on Azure.
9.Question: How is usage-based pricing? (ex. SQL Database, Backup Services, VM Services)
Microsoft Azure price calculator can give you an idea for the cost of Azure. You can choose any service you want to use from the price calculator and compare the prices. The link for the calculator: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/
10.Question: How does the on-demand and/or usage (HDD space, CPU, RAM, Bandwidth) affect cost? Especially if demand exceeds initially planned/paid-for?
Customers can set up alerts for their account credit by their own preferences. When the account credit gets low, an alerting mail will automatically be sent. When a customer’s account credit hits zero, customers will no longer be able to access their services (this will be effective within a few minutes). However, data will be preserved for 90 days. The customer has the option to buy new tokens through Open from their respective partner. Alternatively they may top up their account immediately using a credit card.
11.Question: How can Microsoft Azure scale the resources dynamically to save time or money? Is there any traffic manager or real time monitoring tool etc?
Traffic Manager allows you to load balance incoming traffic across multiple hosted Azure services whether they’re running in the same datacenter or across different datacenters around the world. By effectively managing traffic, you can ensure high performance, availability and resiliency of your applications. Traffic Manager provides you a choice of three load balancing methods: performance, failover, or round robin. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/traffic-manager/
12.Question: What is the main difference between the classical cloud system and Microsoft’s Azure cloud system?
The promise of cloud is choice, and Microsoft is best positioned to offer businesses and developers the greatest breadth of choice as they engage in cloud computing. Microsoft differentiates itself from any other competitor in a fundamental way by providing customers the flexibility to use on-premises technology, cloud technology or both, as part of Microsoft’s software-plus-services (S+S) strategy. Microsoft is poised to deliver the most comprehensive set of services, spanning from consumer to business and offering developers the most inclusive onramp to the cloud.
13.Question: What is Azure’s Security Level?
Through cutting-edge security practices and unmatched experience running some of the largest online services around the globe, Microsoft delivers enterprise cloud services customers can trust. For more information regarding security: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/trust-center/security/
14.Question: What is the level of privacy when using Microsoft Azure? Is it 100%?
Privacy is one of the foundations of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing. Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to privacy, which is an integral part of our product and service lifecycle. We work to be transparent in our privacy practices, offer customers meaningful privacy choices, and manage responsibly the data we store. For specific details about Microsoft Azure Privacy Statement, please read: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/legal/privacy-statement/
15.Question: How can you handle your security management?
If you want to have a better management option you can use System center as a management tool.
16.Question: If the recovery takes a lot of time, it might not be good for some companies. What’s the solution?
Azure Site Recovery can help you protect important applications by coordinating the replication and recovery of private clouds across sites, whether you’re protecting dozens – or hundreds of virtual machines. For more information regarding service level agreement and Azure support please check the following links: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/legal/sla/
17.Question: Can Azure advise or analyze this data for us?
Azure provides the right solution for your data needs, from sql database to blobs to tables. Leverage existing skills and gain the scalability, flexibility, and cost effectiveness of the Azure data services. HDInsight is a Hadoop-based service from Microsoft that brings a 100 percent Apache Hadoop solution to the cloud. A modern, cloud-based data platform that manages data of any type, whether structured or unstructured, and of any size, HDInsight makes it possible for you to gain the full value of big data. For more information, please check: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/data-management/
18.Question: When will it be available in distributors’ price lists?
For more information please contact your Microsoft distributor account manager.
19.Question: Can we create a redundant Server with Azure?
Yes you can set up a cluster server if you like but the data/servers are kept at 3 different copies in different datacenters to provide you the redundancy
20.Question: Can Azure Recovery Services support my physical Server?
You can use Azure online backup services for your server on premise. For more information, please check: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/backup/
21.Question: Who is my vis-a-vis in case of problem in azure?
Customers have access to a support phone number to call at any time to report potential issues with the Windows Azure platform service. Issues with the platform will be escalated to the Windows Azure platform operations team to investigate and correct. You can also call at any time for developer support to assist you with your application. Developer support is charged on a per incident basis. Premier customers, MSDN subscribers and MPN members can leverage support incidents and support hours provided as part of these program benefits. We will also continue to provide moderated forum support at no charge. You can access more information regarding your support options at the following URL: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/support/
22.Question: If you check the price that you will pay and the price for your internet it’s not much different. Why should companies buy Azure?
Internet cost is dropping every year and this is related to demand. If you compare mobile phone bills from 10 years ago you can expect the same trend for internet as well.
23.Question: Is there a minimum charge for using any of these services? Or minimum /yearly fees?
For pricing information please click: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/overview/
24.Question: Are the security practices being taken care of by Microsoft or by the customers?
25.Question: Can we use our existing licensing in Azure?
Yes, through license mobility if you have SA you can "bring-your-own-license" for all Virtual Machines supported server products except Windows Server. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/faq/#solutions
26.Question: Why don’t you provide easy to use application development interfaces for mobile application development on windows mobile devices?
Microsoft Azure provides easy to use application development interfaces on any platform-–iOS, Android, Windows or Mac. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/mobile-services/
27.Question: What about phones?
Mobile Services provides a scalable and secure backend that can be used to power apps on any platform–iOS, Android, Windows or Mac. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/mobile-services/
28.Question: What are your plans to extend the geographical areas where servers are hosted, when do you expect to have servers locally in South Africa?
Microsoft currently operates Azure in data centers around the world. Data centers are located in United States, Europe, Brazil, Asıa Pacific and Japan. For new information and announcements please check the link: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/news/
29.Question: What is the difference in tiers?
The Basic, Standard, and Premium tiers are designed to deliver more predictable performance for light-weight to heavy-weight transactional application demands. Additionally, the new tiers offer a spectrum of business continuity features, a stronger uptime SLA at 99.95%, and larger database sizes up to 500 GB for less cost. The new tiers will also help remove costly workarounds and offer an improved billing experience for you.
Basic: Designed for applications with a light transactional workload. Performance objectives for Basic provide a predictable hourly transaction rate.
Standard: Standard is the go-to option for getting started with cloud-designed business applications. It offers mid-level performance and business continuity features. Performance objectives for Standard deliver predictable per minute transaction rates.
Premium: Designed for mission-critical databases, Premium offers the highest performance levels and access to advanced business continuity features. Performance objectives for Premium deliver predictable per second transaction rates.
For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/blog/2014/04/24/azure-sql-database-introduces-new-service-tiers/
30.Question: What is the status of the coherence with other private cloud environments?
Hybrid Cloud. Your business requires a flexible IT infrastructure that can scale on demand. With a private cloud in your datacenter, you can be more agile and manage resources more effectively. When you extend your datacenter to meet the public cloud, you are working in a hybrid cloud model. A hybrid cloud gives you the best of both worlds, so you can take advantage of external resources when it makes sense for your business. The Microsoft hybrid cloud combines Microsoft Azure, Windows Server, and Microsoft System Center, giving you Microsoft’s enterprise-grade technology in both your company’s own datacenter and our global datacenters. The System Center Manager console does not only manage Windows based platforms but also other platforms. For more information, please check: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/server-cloud/solutions/hybrid-cloud.aspx#fbid=cnVCgZJQdGv
31.Question: When you provision 2 or "n" amount of servers, can you load multiple "gallery" choices onto one machine? I.e. do I have full control on what to run on what VM, even multiple services to make better use of the server?
You have full control in VMs, and you can connect multiple VMs in to the same cloud service with Load Balancer to provide a scalable and HA service.
32.Question: How can we calculate based on consumption for a client deploying VM's to run business apps and SQL DB, knowing that it is being consumed around 8 hours a day?
Compute Services per minute + Storage per month + Services (SQL Database, Virtual Network) + Output Bandwidth
33.Question: Does the creating visual studio online in Azure allow us to increase basic TFS users (5 member)?
Yes. Please check, http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/visual-studio-online/ for more information.
34.Question: How can we linearly scale Azure instances? For example if we deploy more than one instance in the same network, are they able to connect together or not?
If you create VMs in same cloud service or in same Virtual Network these VMs can communicate through Private VIPs.
35.Question: How can I assign a static Public IP, which I got from my ISP in one of the server in Azure?
You can’t move existing IPs to Azure but you can reserve an IP from IP Pool to a service.
36.Question: Are there any plans for supporting SharePoint public websites as PaaS in Azure?
Not possible for the moment.
37.Question: How many databases can we host on a single Azure SQL instance?
Azure SQL Databases allows to create 150 databases per database servers. Multiple database servers can be created. For more information: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn495641.aspx
38.Question: Do I need to re-create my website when I want to transfer to another hosting location?
39.Question: Our customers don't believe and don't have faith to upload their data in Azure. How can I convince our customer to use Azure?
Customer needs are essential. If the customer needs to save money, move faster or integrate on-premises apps and data then Azure would be a satisfying option. Not everyone will move to the cloud, for some customers this is a big change, but at the end of the day we can protect this data better than any local copy, because we do it on scale.
40.Question: We are using Azure for around a year now. We have created a VPN tunnel between our on premise datacenter and Microsoft Azure Western Europe DC for that a public IP is mandatory as per Azure specs here in UAE. We have to start with only 1MB to max of 16 MB from Etisalat that is expensive also around 1500 AED for 1MB per month. Is azure have any plan in the road map to bring an alternative to the above, like providing a free public IP for subscriptions?
Yes, 5 Reserved VIP is free, Please check http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/reserved-ip-addresses/
41.Question: How can partners get the auditing reports on the SSAE 16 Type I and Type II?
Please contact support.
42.Question: Is there any solution to keep me safe when internet connection is down?
Depends on scenario, sync logic & DR implementation is required for all sort of implementation.
43.Question: How can we access to IIS logs on Azure?
For Web Sites connect through FTP, for Cloud Services and VMs you can directly connect through RDP.
44.Question: Can Azure provide a Static IP Address for example hosting VPN's etc.
Yes, please check: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/reserved-ip-addresses/
45.Question: Are RDP CAL licenses included in the service price?
Only 2 RDP CAL license is included by default.
46.Question: Is there any data protection or encryption mechanism that protects the flow of information between Microsoft datacenter and the end-user device?
All communication with Azure is encrypted. When replicating to Azure as the secondary site, your data is encrypted and you can also select encryption for data at-rest. Please check the following links for more information.
47.Question: What’s the estimated time for recovering?
Azure Site Recovery can help you protect important applications by coordinating the replication and recovery of private clouds across sites, whether you’re protecting dozens – or hundreds of virtual machines. You can protect your applications to your own second site, a hoster’s site, or even use Azure as your disaster recovery site (preview) and avoid the expense and complexity of building and managing your own secondary location. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/site-recovery/
48.Question: Will I have a local copy of all data for emergency. Imagine I lost the connection and I need to continue work or, the service provider 'accidently' deletes my data? Most importantly, what will be the penalty in this situation? Because you couldn't secure my data.
49.Question: What is the process to license the Azure. Is it available under OLP or enterprise agreement?
50.Question: How well does Azure performance scale to demand? How is this demand determined/measurement?
Azure enables you to easily scale your applications to any size. It is a fully automated self-service platform that allows you to provision resources within minutes; elastically grow or shrink your resource usage based on your needs. If you want to find more about Azure scalability feature: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/cloud-services-how-to-scale/
51.Question: In MEA people refuse clouding in business. How do we make them satisfied with clouding in business?
To start with, it is very important to understand customer needs. If the customer needs to save money, move faster or integrate on-premises apps and data then Azure would be a satisfying option. You can use the price calculator to show the benefit of Azure platform. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/
52.Question: Can I use an active directory against the local one I have?
You can extend Active Directory and any other on-premises directories to Azure Active Directory for single sign on to all cloud-based applications. User attributes can be automatically synchronized to your cloud directory from all kinds of on-premises directories. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/active-directory/
53.Question: Is there any price advantage of having agreements like EA OVS for Azure.
To discover different purchasing options: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/purchase-options/
54.Question: Microsoft have a City Next vision. We know, public sector will grow. Ok. But, public sector does not have Azure adaptation as required because of legal regulations. Although there are no regulations, top managers are scared of the cloud. What would you recommend to help make Azure a project in the public sector?
There are many different Azure usage scenarios governments even can leverage. The regulations are most of the time restricting local customer/financial data transaction to abroad. However, scenarios like UK Olympics or social media could be still considered by governments. For more information: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/
55.Question: Stand-alone Azure SQL Instance vs. Virtual Machine with installed SQL: We use IIS & SQL for our application. Should we get a dedicated SQL server, or should we get a Virtual Windows Server and install a SQL Server Instance on that?
It depends on the requirements, please check performance guidelines for SQL Databases from the following link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn741340.aspx
56.Question: Is there any big society using AZURE in Tunisia? For reference?
Azure is already available in Tunisia. For specific case studies you can use the following link for research: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Advanced_Search.aspx