Choosing a SharePoint Hosting Provider: How the different clouds stack up

SharePoint on Azure, AWS or’s Cloud?

You can easily move SharePoint to the Cloud with Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS or  But what are the real differences between the three?

First you need to examine your business. How are you using SharePoint now and what are your plans for the future?  Let’s look at the real world issues of moving SharePoint to any of the three SharePoint IaaS and PaaS providers by picking them apart one by one.

SharePoint on Azure’s Cloud

SharePoint Variables Azure
Cost Medium
Setup Low
Performance High
Integration High
Support cost High
Reseller No
IaaS Yes
PaaS Yes

Best for: Microsoft stack based enterprises with some internal SharePoint support capacity seeking tight integration of production Cloud environments and limited ongoing support.

SharePoint on Azure is made to compete directly with AWS since AWS has the lion’s share of IaaS market with 70%. However Azure and AWS are very different both in cost and performance. AWS is downright cheap but also doesn’t perform well. You get what you pay for. Azure is considerably more expensive but does perform well. So it would seem Azure is a better platform if you need tight Microsoft integration and need better performance – perhaps a production environment.

Azure is attractive for “Microsoft” shops who want everything to be as tightly integrated as possible.  The other side of the coin is that, we don’t really know where Microsoft is headed and there is some risk in the Azure platform.  AWS is far more prominent as an IaaS platform and standard.

SharePoint on Azure performs well. Microsoft has done a good job of leveraging their hosting technologies and storage to deliver excellent performance. However, supporting SharePoint is expensive and a fee based add-on. I cannot speak to the quality of the support or what actual group delivers the support. If you know whether it is a particular MCS group, please let me know.

Can you resell Azure? No, not yet. Microsoft is a bit behind the curve right now. They are focusing on automation and getting caught up in feature parity with AWS. Rumor is another 12-16 months before an Office 365 like partner program is rolled out for Azure. Sorry MPN members, ISVs and consultants.

Azure is a pure IaaS play for SharePoint and it does it well.  Office 365 is being built out as the App store or marketplace environment.  You can, of course, also do test or dev work on Azure although you are probably better off doing that piece at AWS or CloudShare.

SharePoint on Amazon’s Cloud

SharePoint Variables AWS
Cost Low
Setup Low
Performance Medium
Integration Medium
Support cost None
Reseller Yes
IaaS Yes
PaaS No

Best for: Hybrid Cloud based enterprises with strong internal SharePoint support capacity seeking fast deployment of SharePoint test/dev farms and no ongoing support.

SharePoint on Amazon AWS is a great option if you need SharePoint on the cheap, particularly for prototyping, testing or development purposes.  AWS, like Azure, has ready-made VM images of SharePoint that you can spin up in minutes.

Performance on AWS gets some mixed results and may depend more on your particular farm’s needs than anything else.  For most, SharePoint on AWS will perform fine.  But heavy IO sites have had their challenges on AWS.  Proceed with caution for production sites.

Integration is pretty good. AWS is an SOA based architecture like Google so they value open APIs and seek to keep things open so you can talk to other services as needed. However, be aware that if you have to reach a live body for whatever reason, it can be a challenge.  Again, may not be the best for production environments with tight SLAs.

Amazon has a strong partner and reseller program. AWS is the number one IaaS provider in the world with over 70% of the market. They are not PaaS and, as a result, not a great fit for SharePoint ISVs.

Warning – One overlooked aspect of AWS is risk of Microsoft software licensing non-compliance. Microsoft has no access to AWS so you are on your own to make sure all your software operating in AWS can be hosted and is compliant.  Check your EULA, EA or SA agreements.

SharePoint on’s Cloud

SharePoint Variables
Cost High
Setup Medium
Performance High
Integration High
Support cost Medium
Reseller Yes
IaaS Yes
PaaS Yes

Best for: Hybrid Cloud based enterprises with limited internal SharePoint support capacity seeking rapid deployment of SharePoint production farms and ongoing full admin support.

SharePoint on is a SharePoint optimized network built from the ground up for SharePoint with customized architectures for each customer. You will pay a little more at than Azure and certainly AWS.  But the difference is in the SharePoint support.

A deep bench of SharePoint expertise is at your disposal 24/7/365. Setup time lags behind both Azure and Amazon currently. SharePoint performance is excellent even for very large enterprise environments with globally distributed user and customer base.

Integration with the rest of the Microsoft stack is solid. Exchange, SQL, Project, Lync, Office 365. Big data storage with Microsoft PDW can serve data warehousing needs similar to the higher-end Hadoop processing available at Azure.’s Partner program has four flavors to fit consultants, ISVs and SI needs. SharePoint on is available both as IaaS and PaaS.  Either model is available with ongoing support to keep SharePoint admins freed up.

Stacking up the SharePoint Clouds

SharePoint Azure AWS
cost $$ $ $$$
setup minutes minutes hours
performance *** ** ***
integration *** ** ***
support $$$ none $$
2013-11-04T08:45:41+00:00 November 4th, 2013|


  1. Blumen November 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Good read, could you please include a comparison of Rackspace as well?

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