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HomeAvePoint BlogIs Microsoft Azure the Right Choice for Your Microsoft SharePoint Implementation?

Is Microsoft Azure the Right Choice for Your Microsoft SharePoint Implementation?

I recently wrote a post for TechNet UK discussing how organizations can determine whether Microsoft Azure is the right choice for hosting their Microsoft SharePoint implementations in the cloud.

Many businesses have organizational policies and compliance restrictions which dictate that not all content is “cloud ready”. Other organizations have significant investment or integration points to other technology within their business. These situations, along with many others, can pose unique challenges and concerns. Microsoft Azure has the ability to bridge the gap for those who may not be able or willing to move to a full SaaS setup but would still like to take advantage of cloud technology.

Azure is a very appealing option for many organizations for a number of reasons:

  • Knowledge barrier to entry is low: Although moving to the cloud and using Azure can sound complex, deploying SharePoint in Azure is faster and easier than most would imagine.
  • You can still achieve more customizable solutions: For those with more complex requirements or existing customization investments, Azure gives you the ability to deliver these features on a cloud-based SharePoint environment just as you would on premises.
  • Less capital expense: For those without SharePoint or those who need to scale up their environment quickly and easily, you can avoid the lead times and capital expenses of on-premises deployments.
  • Migration considerations: For businesses with large amounts of data in SharePoint or those that are looking to move a significant amount of content into an environment, Azure can present a simpler migration option.
  • Long term cost proposition is low: There is no debate that the total cost of ownership of an Office 365 SharePoint solution is the lowest available. The Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) nature of Azure, however, still offers substantial cost reductions regarding ongoing management in comparison to on-premises deployments.
  • Single vendor with a unifying ecosystem: For those already invested in Microsoft technologies, Azure makes sense as the next step in an IT strategy. Microsoft has a unified vision for its on-premises, public cloud, and private cloud offerings. For those looking to move toward a seamless user experience, Azure has an advantage over merging disparate vendor offerings.

To read more about the major differences of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 for SharePoint, please visit TechNet UK.

Learn how we can help your organization simplify SharePoint management across hybrid or all-in cloud deployments, visiting our website.

Blair H.
Blair H.
In his former role at AvePoint as Director of AvePoint Client Services, Blair worked in Australia, the United Kingdom and continental Europe in designing and implementing enterprise collaboration solutions for clients across all industry sectors. Blair has been focused specifically on SharePoint since 2007, with specific expertise in designing and implementing document management solutions for members of the banking, legal and professional services industries.


  1. I’ve also found that the contract and licensing familiarity make Azure a very attractive offering for businesses. Azure is much more geared at the established business than any other offering I’ve seen.

  2. There’s no doubt that Azure is up to the task… but I’d love to see a real comparison of competitor’s offerings, to see where the plusses and minuses line up.

    • For those of you interested, what are you looking to achieve with azure? VM’s running in the cloud? Full cloud applications? Bottomless storage? What types of workload?

      Would be nice to get some ideas together for figuring out what’s important and what people are really keen on azure for.

  3. Our company has been teetering between Azure and AWS… Our first dip into Azure was so-so… We’ll be evaluating AWS next.

  4. I think my company like AWS more than Azure. I wish I can do some comparison between the two so we can compare Apple to Apple on the services each provided.

  5. I have started testing Azure. I’m looking hard at the price for what we will need and if the features are worth it for a small firm.

    • If you don’t mind me asking, how many people in your firm? I’m just curious to see if there is a certain user number required to move into Azure or AWS. If one or the other is better suited for small, mid, and large enterprise environment. Thanks.

    • As someone who has spent a lot of time working with different law firms, i find that office 365 is often a good fit for their needs. SharePoint online is very good at delivering document management solutions for small to mid sized firms. Out of the box components with a provisioning mechanism wrapped over top can deliver excellent results for matter and client workspace creation.

      • Thank you Blair for taking some of your time in answering my question. I really appreciate your great information and opinions. Take care.

  6. Sounds like a great alternative to on-prem. Unfortunately I can also see bigger companies being adverse to storing their data off site.

    • For bigger companies they should embrace the cloud, as their costs for operating a large DC with redundancies and technicians and failovers and offsite backups and capacity planning… whew… will drop considerably! You can’t do it anywhere near as well and cheap as large cloud providers. The price war continues!

      If you haven’t compared all of the costs to run your DC, to the resource cost in the cloud, you should spend some time and do so. It’s eye opening.

    • True, but this is changing. Pressure on CIO’s to constantly offer more for less as well as a natural desire to innovate has seen the conversation change from “not sure of putting my data in the cloud” to “which of my data and systems are cloud ready?”

      Pure cloud implementations are unrealistic and not required in many cases. But big businesses know value and cost savings when they see it.

    • I laugh every time I hear a company say “we want our data safe” so we’re going to keep it here. I wonder how many data breaches have happened local vs. cloud storage? Of course, I’d be more interested in seeing the numbers on something like SharePoint online vs. Azure to make a good comparison.

      • You are right Mark. Sure cloud does offer some security concerns, and you can work with partners to figure those out. Many security issues are caused by those within the organisation and their internal behavior. Cloud solutions are subject to those too.

  7. For us Azure would be great for our SharePoint development servers. We have so many and the ability to quickly spin up a server is beneficial. Also believe azure servers would perform better then our Dev VM cluster.

    • I am currently running a week long training and implementation workshop. The demo lab is an environment built using the azure so farm template. I can tell you it spins along very nicely.

      • Total cost of ownership is azure is higher than o365. But still lower than in prem. it’s partly because 365 comes with a bunch of things that are easier to consume as a service. Lync and exchange for example.

  8. We have just completed migrating our intranet to SharePoint Online and if we had known half of the issues we might have rethought our approach. Would love to discuss pros/cons at Ignite!

    • Dennis, what were your major issues with SharePoint Online that you think you would not have had with a different approach for SharePoint?

    • I would also be interested to know the issues that you have run into as we are considering migrating as well.

    • can anybody provide any links to any articles/blog posts that list the differences and any shortcomings/limitations of moving to online from on-premise?

      • Hey Jason.

        I have been involved on moving an O365 setup to on premise and on premise to O365 for a number of client. Are you going to ignite? If so we can have a chat about it.

  9. we have a couple of our clients that moved to azure – sharepoint and its been working great for them.

  10. Who remembers the nineties? Word not being compatible with Word Perfect, uncertainty about the right backbone for the network… I am reminded of this lack of clear integration today. All the pieces were there they just didn’t quite work together.

    I just want to turn on my device using one set of credentials then have the business apps (Office) talk with the conversation apps (Outlook, Yammer, One Note) and have my data available anywhere I go. I know this is the promise but like in the nineties they don’t quite seem to work together… yet.

  11. I am curious about the challenge of on-prem vs. off-prem. Our challenge tends to be during a security audit. Many larger clients want data only on-prem.

  12. It’s great to see the new Azure Machine Images for a full farm (even High Availability). I created one just to check out internals. Looks sharp, domain joined, config DB present, simple but clean base platform.

    Would be better if has used to create ALL Service Applications (Search, Managed Metadata, BCS, EWA, etc.) and then just delete what you don’t need.

    Maybe a UserVoice request for future? 😉

  13. Cost for running production servers can be prohibitive for some companies, but IMO for running development machines it’s a great idea. I run a couple of SharePoint servers for development in Azure and am careful about starting and stopping them as required, so far I’ve had one month where I ran over my MSDN credit, and that was because I left a machine running for a week when I didn’t need it.

  14. We were able to conduct our initial SharePoint training for internal employees using Azure virtual servers. It ended providing a launching pad for us to use for some of our production systems. We are now asking the question “How can we get the majority of our data into the cloud?” Instead of being negative the very thought. it has been an interesting change of thinking for us.

  15. Indeed the CapEx is low, eliminating some of the barriers of entry, however SharePoint is indeed a platform as much as an end product. So in the event that the deployment and adoption goes poorly, the bright side is that you can cancel subscriptions as well. That said, regardless of where the back end sits, a well planned deployment and end user education on what and how the product works and how it is intended to work in your organization specifically is key.


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