Comparing Azure Window Server AD VM vs Azure ADDS for IaaS

When designing an Azure IaaS architect; should IaaS use a Windows Server AD VM or Azure ADDS for managing user and service accounts? The diagram below show two strategies.   The yellow arrow points to WCC2016AD, which is a windows 2016 server running AD. The red arrow points to Azure Active Directory. Each with their advantages and disadvantages.

AzureAD-ADDS.png

Using Azure to setup IaaS environments for either TEST and QA is a great way to reduce costs. Typically for an on-premise solution, the organization’s support costs may double or triple for supporting a production application. TEST and QA environments are typically created for supporting application. This means additional hardware and software are added to the total cost for support. For a large IT shops this may not be a problem; however, for small and medium size, it can be a real burden.

Azure IaaS (Infrastructure as a Solution) can be a real cost saver if managed properly. The cost saving occurs when VM are turn off when not needed. When VMs are turned off, there is no billing for compute processing and disk storage is a relatively low billing item. In my small world, I can keep all my Azure costs below my MSDN subscription fees and thus not pay anything at end of month.

A typical IasS includes Front-End Server, Application Server, SQL Server, Windows 10 and Active Directory VM.  Typical for me, because I build and configure many different SharePoint environments and need a minimum of five server VMs. The Azure LAB environment provides a good enough environment to typical production environment. Over time, I have always wonder if it would be cheaper or better to use Azure ADDS or continue to use my Azure AD server VM.

The answer really depends on what you are doing and trying to accomplish. In my case, keeping costs down is important.   The ADDS cannot be disable. It can only be deleted and causes a lot of trouble when rebuilding. Because of this and many other factors, my preference is to continue to use the Azure Windows Server AD VM.   Spin it up when it is need and turn it off when done.

Azure ADDS Azure Windows AD VM
Cost Minimum of $2 /day Zero cost if VM is turned off
Managing Accounts Useful (half dozen) Useful (six)
Account creation Must be done on Azure and synced Not required using VM
Syncing User Profile Required for testing AD Sync Not needed unless testing

In summary, my preference is to use Azure Windows Server VM with Active Directory installed and configured to support my TEST and QA environment.

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