I tried the platform for almost 24 hours. During these three days, I was able to implement a small cloud infrastructure with:
- on network (Burgundy) with its own DNS and Active Directory server (Vougeot)
- a SQL Server 2008 R2 server (Pommard)
- a Sharepoint 2013 server (Gevrey)
I am clearly not an OS nor a network engineer, but I did it quite easily using standard virtual machines provisioned on Azure.
Why three days? mainly because I passed half of my time configuring my SharePoint site and browse trough the different pages offered by Azure administration tool to discover the platform capacities.
By the way, what about the administration tool? I would say that it took me 1 hour, no more, to discover it by myself and understand the main principles of it. A great work has been done here to simplify the administration and make it as simple as possible.
I used Google App engine some months ago, and clearly, it was not as mature as Azure is, proposing a set of services to host application in an PaaS approach, but having impact on produced code.
I use a bit iCloud from Apple but it is mainly a SaaS approach with a continuous approach between device software and cloud storage.
Microsoft on its side propose a global approach, with provision of hardware and software, on a transparent and global approach.
So yes, Azure clearly does the "Waouh effect". If you want to check, just do it. It's free.
Free, you said?
Yes, the trial is free. You get 150€ of service credit and a 30-days limit to use it. Mine was used in 3 days, due to the SQL Server resource that was costing a lot.
As you can see above, SQL server service represent around 70% of global cost. This is mainly due to the fact that SharePoint is particularly greedy in SQL transactions and as I played a lot with it in order to obtain the configuration I wanted, it costed me a big part of my credit.
Having seen that, a proper alternative may be SharePoint online, but I didn't had the opportunity to test it yet.