Frustrating costing of Microsoft cloud services


Recently I purchased Microsoft Office 365 licenses for users in locations abroad.
Since there is so many options in Office 365, there is no way for a newbe to know it all.

So, I contacted Microsoft and asked how much would I pay for Azure server, (is this the term?), to have my AD synced with the on Azure server and my files synced to OneDrive for users abroad to access.

They couldn't tell me.
As I read here, some points to a pricing calculator.
OK. Have you used it for Canada?

Could someone explain what would cost to have AD synchronization online with AD on premises, files about 1TB in total synchronized to one drive and accessed by 25 Office 365 users?
Those files are MS Office files, pdfs, SolidWorks files, MS Project files, pictures, movies, etc.

Or should I just go around the corner to a psychic and she would tell me more correct prices than experts?
I meant here Microsoft and their two partners.
Because it definitely looks like this business is done by some ghosts, in the cloud.
Who is Participating?
Adam BrownConnect With a Mentor Sr Solutions ArchitectCommented:
There are a *ton* of different solutions available in Azure, with more being added every day. If you don't want to use OneDrive, that's fine, but it's the only Office 365 solution for *just* file sharing. It utilizes SharePoint on the back end to provide file access, but SharePoint is a much more robust solution for file sharing and management. If neither of those are options for you, take office 365 off the table.

Azure AD is a separate service that utilizes the same AD environment as Office 365 to enable cloud based AD services. You can join computers to an Azure AD (as long as you have Azure AD Premium) and sync AD accounts up to it using ADConnect, but that solution will probably be more expensive than you need.

What you will want to do is get pricing on just a VM with 1TB of storage (or more). The pricing you have above looks to be accurate, so I'll explain some of the ones you are confused about:

1. Put operations are basically the creation of new files and folders on the storage device. These are recorded by MS for billing and they divide the number by 10,000 and charge that X .122 for that month. List is shown there as well, so that would be any time someone examines a folder to see the files there.
2. Other operations would be deletes, permission changes, and other file system operations that don't include the operations in 1. This may include file Read operations, but I don't know for sure.
3. Write operations are changes to existing files. If someone opens a file, makes a change, and saves it, that's a write operation.
4. Data retrieval is basically a file recovery cost for deleted files. Azure storage has some restore functionality built in, this is the cost of using that functionality.

5. The region (Canada West) is the physical location of the datacenter used to store the data. They do not advertise Datacenter locations with any more detail than a general region, so Canada West means the datacenter could be in Alberta, BC, or even NW Territories (Probably a great place for Datacenters with low cost AC units :D)

6. Redundancy options are LRS (Locally Replicated Storage) or GRS (Globally Replicated Storage). LRS data is replicated to other storage devices in the same Datacenter. Essentially, this protects you from data loss unless the datacenter your data is stored in gets hit by a meteor. GRS stores your data in multiple datacenters, which will protect your data from pretty much anything short of the complete breakdown of civilization.

Now, you *can* probably use the storage option for your purposes along with ADConnect to sync the users from on-prem. The users and groups you could then use on the Azure Storage would all be managed entirely on prem, and cannot be modified in the cloud (aside from password if you don't use password sync).

Note, though, that your existing permission settings might not make it in the migration. If you wanted to ensure that the ACLs remained after migration, you'd probably want to us the Azure VM solution, rather than storage. An Azure VM can be used to migrate an exact snapshot of an on-prem system to the cloud, including ACLs and everything. You can either utilize the Azure Point-to-Point VPN to directly connect the VMs to your environment or have them exist entirely in the cloud. If you use this option, ADConnect is not usable, because the VMs will be utilizing a completely different AD than ADConnect syncs with. You'd basically just be extending your AD environment to the cloud or moving it wholesale. You can also assign as much storage to the VMs as you want, but be aware that pricing for additional storage on VMs in Azure is different than for Azure Storage. VM storage is priced on an hourly basis. You get a certain amount of storage and are charged for every hour the VM that storage is attached to is in operation. The storage included in VMs can be extremely expensive (Up to $10 per hour, but the price for storage in a VM is included with the assigned CPU and RAM), so the Azure Storage option is probably better for you, since the first VM profile that holds enough data for you is the G3 solution, which is a monster VM with 1.5TB of SSD based storage, 112GB RAM, and 8 CPU cores. Pretty much overkill. That said, 2TB of Azure storage is 160 a month or more, depending on utilization, with a very large bill the first month due to the operations required to migrate data.

Azure storage can be connected to Azure VMs, so you can combined the two if you want. The most economical solution would be to get 1-2TB of Azure Storage and a cheap(ish) VM, connect the VM to the storage, connect the Azure tenant to your on-prem environment with the Point-to-Point VPN system, add the VM to your on-prem AD, and copy the data up. What you will probably find, though, is that the cost of actually having a VM in the cloud connected to Azure Storage is not justifiable unless you absolutely have to have data redundancy and multi-datacenter replication of data. It makes absolutely no sense to use Azure if you don't need those features (File servers are cheap...High Availability file servers are not).

Office 365 licenses will not cover any of these services. O365 covers Exchange Online email, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Skype for Business, and a few other services. O365 accounts can be synced with ADConnect and the user accounts that you have in O365 can be used to grant access to Azure VMs and Storage, but you can't advertise files in Azure Storage on Sharepoint in O365. The services do not interact with one another at any level. They are separate solutions, and only the AD data is shared between them.

Does all this help clarify things?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Azure AD Basic is free. Supports sync.

Pick the office 365 plan you want and that's your cost. No crazy calculations needed. E1, E3, and E5 all come with onedrive for business and sharepoint. The decision is purely what other features you want or will use, and the comparison chart is easy to read. You can even mix and match...E5 for management level, and E1 for entry level workers, for example.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
I probably should try that.
Still doesn't tell me the pricing.

Region: Canada Central
Storage option:
Capacity 2TB - $29.18
Put operations per 10,000 (put, list, create container) x $$.0.122 per month. (What are those?).
Other operations per 10,000 x $0.012 per month. (What are those?).
Data retrieval x $0.012 per GB.  (What are those?).
Date write (not data write), per GB x $0.003 per month. (What are those?).

Then storage again:
Region: (chose) Canada West (redundancy?)
Same pricing.

Azure Active Directory (I assume this is synced and has the same containers and permissions set as the AD on premises) - 17.02 per month.

Total $46.28 per month. Not bad.
Is it?

Do you know what all of those operations are?
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Based on what you initially posted, you don't need *any* of that. Azure is not Office 365. They are two completely different services.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
Sorry, seems I am losing my mind already.

This is the question:
How much would I pay for Azure server, (is this the term?), to have my AD (on premises) synced with the one on Azure server, and my files synced to OneDrive for users abroad to access?
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
Now. Do you mean I do not need OneDrive, because I would have files stored in Azure server with dedicated space there?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
You won't be using azure for either of those things. You'll be using office 365 for those things. So you don't need to look at or price Azure *at all.*
Adam BrownSr Solutions ArchitectCommented:
Azure AD is Microsoft's VM/Cloud managed App solution. You don't want pricing from Azure for handling purchases of OneDrive storage. Just look at OneDrive for Business:
The US price is $5 per user per month, with 1TB of space per user. File types don't matter, but the way OneDrive works means that you would store everything in a single OneDrive and share it to the other users.

It includes the ability to use ADConnect, which is Microsoft's free AD Sync tool to create cloud users based on AD users. It's also able to sync passwords if you want to use that feature.
Adam BrownSr Solutions ArchitectCommented:
There is no "Azure Server". Azure allows you to purchase VM functionality and storage attached to VMs. This is in addition to a lot of very complex solutions and applications that can be deployed via Azure, but the heart of Azure is that it's a Cloud-based Virtual Machine deployment solution. Unless you want to have a cloud based SMB file sharing setup (I don't recommend this at all), you don't want to use Azure for file storage and sharing. You want OneDrive for Business.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
To answer your reply ID 41778539, this is what the Microsoft guy told me, to have AD on premises synced (permissions to folders), I need Azure.
He just couldn't tell me how much it costs. Directed me to pricing.
Same with their certified partners.
Although, one is going to get back to me by the end of this week hopefully.

I just would like to understand how it works.
Cliff GaliherConnect With a Mentor Commented:
This expert suggested creating a Gigs project.
It sounds like you think Onedrive for Business is a drop-in replacement for a file server (folder permissions.) It isn't. You'll need to plan how you want to migrate your data. As such, the guidance you were given was presumably based on forklift moving a file server into azure, which *would* have multiple VMs, storage, and more. But it would NOT be OneDrive for Business at all. It'd also be expensive, error prone, complex... you'd want to implement this with a partner, not just pump them for free advice. Personally I don't recommend the forklift/azure route at all. But again, hiring and working with a partner can help you find and implement a better solution.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
ID 41778540.

Please, let's leave the Office 365 subscription out.
I already have it and can get whichever version of it I require and I do not want to share everything in there.
This is my whole issue.

So, Adam, what you are telling me here is something different than what MSoft and its partners say.
ADConnect seems like what I need.

Again, to be on the same page.....

This is what I have.
A file server with files for Accounting, Service, Manufacturing, Engineering, Marketing, etc.
Those files are accessed based on assigned AD permissions.

I need those files to be synced to the cloud, which I thought, and at least this seems correct, to sync to OneDrive.

Now, I do not want to dump every file for everyone to see. (I didn't mention HR folders).
I need the same security structure in OneDrive as I would have in AD on premises.

Is it even possible? Too many different directions and opinions.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
Cliff, I am going to work with a partner, but even those guys choose different directions. So, there is no pumping for free advice.

I would like to understand what needs to be done.

It was dumped at the beginning of the month and there was no time to choose a plan. New users can receive and send email using our domain and the first step works.

Now, I would like and need to take a step back if it comes to sharing files.

I like your forklift example.
Complicated or not, if achieving the active directory sync is MS Azure with VM there, then let's be it.
Or, is it ADConnect?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
If you want a drop-in replacement for your on-prem file server, that' be multiple VMs in Azure. *Not* OneDrive for Business, and not Azure AD (or ADConnect.)

But if you are willing to take the time to migrate your files and plan, OneDrive for Business, with Office 365 Groups, and SharePoint Team Sites, is a more forward looking solution. And that doesn't use Azure priced services in any way.

The two options and distinctly separate. Your first step is to choose one.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
So, what are Office 365 Groups and SharePoint?
Any one page articles on it?

I still plan to hire someone. Just need to understand before I make the decision.

I am one guy here 'cleaning computers' for 120 users, 5 physical servers, 5 VM on Hyper-V and a 'printer not working'.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:

If this helps, Adam?
I have to re-read it and re-read it and re-read it again.

MSoft partner sent me an email suggesting AD Connect and saying that this gives users 'as for sharing files, users can upload files to OneDrive for Business and share these folders / files with whomever they choose from your AD groups and users'.
So, with the above solution, it is up to user what files they share and with who, and not up to company policies which would be imposed by AD permissions.

I don't think the points amount here is enough to award anyone.
Somehow I will have to.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:

If I said I understood all of it, I would lie.
It is just too much in too short period of time.
My other question would be if there is other solution which could be used for what I need, but I guess this is another question.
And, definitely I won't rush anything.
Thank you.
Adam BrownSr Solutions ArchitectCommented:
This is what I have.
 A file server with files for Accounting, Service, Manufacturing, Engineering, Marketing, etc.
 Those files are accessed based on assigned AD permissions.

There are a *lot* of options in the cloud for doing what you want. That's the problem. Aside from having these files in the cloud, you haven't really given us a good idea of what your requirements are. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you just trying to get all your shared files available for the users in the Cloud in such a way that only HR can see the HR files, Accounting can see Accounting files, etc.?

It's very hard to give you details on every possible solution in this format without knowing details about what the change to Cloud is trying to accomplish.

For instance, if you just want a central location in the Cloud to store files with security the way you have it now, using SharePoint with Document libraries for each of the company departments would be the cheapest (and probably easiest) solution, because that's part of Office 365, which you already have licenses for (assuming you have the right licenses to use SharePoint). This takes a good bit of effort to really accomplish, though, since SharePoint is an open-ended platform that allows you to design simple file repository solutions or extremely complex automated systems that can do some pretty crazy stuff.

But, you could just as easily accomplish your currently stated goals with Azure's VM system, essentially taking your current file server and migrating it to an Azure VM. That is significantly more expensive than using SharePoint, but it gives you exactly what you have now, just in the cloud.

We can't really tell you which you should choose because we don't know any specifics or requirements that you might not be telling us. All we can do is answer your questions as best we can and give you the details you would need to meet what it seems like you're telling us. Essentially, the thread starts as a question about licensing costs, but it doesn't sound like you've really gotten a grasp on what will meet the requirements you have to work with. You need to go back a bit and figure out what exactly you have to accomplish and why before you can start really examining which solutions will meet your needs.
MezczyznaAuthor Commented:
I absolutely agree that I don't necessary know what I want at this point.
A bit more money for VMs in Azure is OK. But if this is much more money, is it OK for the owner to pay?
There is a short term and a long term goal.

The short term is just this:

..... trying to get all my shared files available for the users in the Cloud in such a way that only HR can see the HR files, Accounting can see Accounting files, etc.? ... and not by getting a forklift to move the file server from AD on premises to VM in Azure, but to sync those files to cloud, (in Azure or OneDrive).
Basically, giving the new users access to our files based on their departmental assignment.

It seems that the 'pretty crazy stuff' solution involving SharePoint would be better for the short term.

Long term (2 - 3 years) is to go full cloud. Almost no servers on premises.

Thank you.
Adam BrownSr Solutions ArchitectCommented:
Okay. SharePoint will probably meet all your goals, *but* it should be pointed out that syncing files to SharePoint is not very reliable right now (The utility MS provides for syncing files to SharePoint is very poorly done and will regularly fail to sync data or it creates a whole new copy of everything that is on-prem). There is talk of a new tool for handling this, but it hasn't been released yet.

That said, you can create some simple SharePoint Document libraries for each of the departments, assign permissions to those libraries to groups that have the users in them, then upload all the files you need by dragging and dropping them into the web browser with the document library opened in it. That's the absolute simplest method of accomplishing your short term goal. The only problem with that is your users will need to go to the cloud version of the file as soon as the files are all uploaded, because, as I mentioned, SharePoint sync sucks right now.
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