So you’re looking for a dedicated SharePoint hosting solution for your business?
There are a lot of great cloud comparison charts that detail the differences between SharePoint specific hosting services. However charts can sometimes interfere with understanding because you can get a great feel for what features are offered and by whom, but you don’t get much information on how these differences affect you specifically. This blog is aimed at providing just that, concise and relevant information to help you see which cloud service offering is right for you – both on a technical and support level.
Let’s approach it from a Technical level:
An important factor in deciding which service fits you would be the read and write disk speed each service provider offers.
Microsoft’s Azure is optimized for read speed using caching which is great for static websites. However, when SharePoint is used for collaboration, it needs excellent write speed performance for a fast user experience, search, BI data refreshes, simple file uploading, etc.
Basically the write speed for Microsoft’s Azure is slower than what you would want for a production environment. For test and development environments a slow write speed is fine, but most SharePoint experts shy away from using Azure for production because of the low IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) on their disks. To see a breakdown on why IOPS is important, check out my colleague Jared Baer’s blog: Not All IOPS are Created Equal.
In our own testing, we saw that Azure’s read speed was just fine but write speeds were about half of what Fpweb.net disks offer. A small site with few documents shouldn’t experience any issues, but SharePoint is a platform typically involved in heavy doses of collaboration and uploading/downloading files. You certainly don’t want to frustrate your users because your IOPS are not performing as well as they should.
Since everyone uses SharePoint differently, it’s up to you if a slower write speed is important within your own environment.
Let’s approach it from a Support level:
With Fpweb.net’s Managed SharePoint Cloud offering, a high level of SharePoint specific support is included. Our Customer Care is just one piece of our SharePoint Support Team that acts as your advocate in technical and billing matters. They also answer all your calls personally so you don’t have to deal with automated annoyances. You also get access to our Support Team, all of whom are MCITP Certified in SharePoint and Microsoft Gold-Certified experts in the hosting field. Since SharePoint is our focus, we make it very easy to speak with the specialists.
At Azure, if you want the same level of support that Fpweb.net provides at no additional charge, too bad.
With Azure, there is no SharePoint-specific support – if you want the option to have phone support, it will cost an additional $1,000 per month. That “Professional Direct” response can still be up to an hour. Otherwise, you only get web based support which can leave you waiting several hours for a response. The Fpweb.net Support Team has an average support ticket initial response time of less than six minutes. That is something Azure simply does not offer, at any price.
So ask yourself this, how seriously should your service provider take your support requests? If you like the idea of being hosted at one of the largest providers simply because they are large, terrific, but don’t be shocked when they address someone else’s support problems before yours.