Posts made in December, 2015

A Thoughtful Discussion with the Azure Team

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in From the Cloud, From the Mind | Comments Off on A Thoughtful Discussion with the Azure Team

Following the prior blog post, representatives from the Microsoft Azure Team requested a call with me to discuss the concerns I had with the service. I applaud them taking the initiative to set that up, and I feel the call was very productive and informational. As with a lot of what Microsoft does, sometimes the issues are largely related to communication. Here’s some important clarifications regarding their Azure Support Offerings which are listed on this page (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/plans/), as well as some other notes. Currently, there is no free technical support, even if flaws in the Azure Infrastructure are the cause of the issues customers might see. The phrase “Web incident submission” on the page is strictly limited to Billing and Subscription issues. Everyone on the call seemed to think the wording on the page was a little confusing, and supposedly, it might be revised in the future. I would revise it to “Billing Support” myself. On occasion, in the case of large outages affecting lots of customers, Microsoft does sometimes offer free technical support to customers who are having issues getting back online.  I would not recommend counting on this, as this feels very arbitrary. For a regular Support Plan to be guaranteed applicable to an Azure Subscription having technical issues, the Support Plan must be under the Microsoft Account that owns the subscription. If a Co-Administrator of an Azure Subscription has a Support Plan himself/herself, there is no guarantee that support plan will be usable to open a ticket for the Subscription they are administrating. Note that this is not spelled out on the Support Plan page, but is very important to know. So, if one of your customers is setting up Azure hosting and you are quoting the cost, make sure to bundle a Support plan into the estimate OR Convince your customer to setup the Azure Subscription under your Microsoft Account so your Support Plan will work with it. There are ways Microsoft Partners can gain special Partner Support Plans that let them support the Azure Subscriptions of their customers, but they either involve certifications and/or high monthly fees. Think $1,200 to $1,500. A key driver behind Azure’s recent pains and outages seems to be astronomic customer growth. And this growth isn’t projected to slow down. The Service Level Agreements for Azure services are solely about reimbursement for downtime. Whether an Azure Service has an SLA or not is not guaranteed to be correlated with up-time. Don’t use Azure SLAs as any promise of up-time when quoting to a customer; instead, insure to add-in things like SQL Azure Geo-Replication with Failover into your quote. I think changes to Azure Support is coming. I’m participating in a follow-up call in January, and while the Azure Team I was talking to could not discuss the future with me, they really wanted the follow-up call. I’m hoping there is new stuff to discuss in January. And I really hope some form of free support for Azure-caused issues will be part of the discussion. I’m glad Microsoft has Azure outreach efforts to discuss concerns that folks might talk about online. The call we had I believe was mutually beneficial, and I look forward to the call in January. I also hope to see a drop in outage incidents going...

Read More