No procurement costs (for HW)
The costs for necessary hardware (servers) are precisely zero, as the infrastructure and required services are made available in Azure. What’s more, Visual Studio subscribers have the added advantage of using development and test licenses and hence of cutting their software licensing costs.
You only pay for what you actually use. Billing mostly takes place per minute of deployed resources – apart from fixed IP addresses or the storage space required for virtual machines. This enables high scalability of resources, for instance in stress or load testing, or to include additional servers that are disabled again at the end of the tests. This cuts the costs of ongoing operations.
Scalability and availability
SharePoint infrastructure can be up and running at the drop of a hat. As we have seen, the system allows the configuration of test and even development environments. Horizontal and vertical scaling are possible for productive deployment. Servers with the same configuration can be pooled as resource groups, facilitating horizontal scaling and also ensuring high availability of services configured on the servers themselves.
You have the option of using predefined solution templates. A solution template is like a master copy that can be loaded to provide a certain system in Azure.
Equally, you can quickly configure individual SharePoint servers and any other ones you may need – for instance SQL servers and Windows servers (with Active Directory) – yourself or connect the SharePoint server with your local servers. This would produce a possibly hybrid scenario, in which you host the Active Directory (Windows server) or critical company data (SQL server) in a local environment, while outsourcing the host function for SharePoint in Azure.
Development and test environment
Hosting SharePoint in Azure is particularly suitable for development and test environments, as well as for user acceptance tests (UAT). The benefits speak for themselves. Farms can be made available quickly and conveniently using templates or scripts and then disabled just as fast once the development or test phase is complete. This allows your company to save on hardware and other resources, reducing operating costs, time spent and resources invested. SharePoint on Azure is also just as good as a staging environment to test solutions or new updates, before rolling them out across the productive environment.
I hope this information will be helpful!