AWS, GCP, Azure Consoles Graded

I work with all three major public cloud vendors for various clients.  I find it interesting to observe the differences in their approaches to the design (and subsequent usability) of their web consoles.


The AWS console reflects the state of their services (and their market share).  It is consistent, clean and very usable.  It loads very fast on browsers I use (Chrome mostly). This page show exactly the information I need (and no more). Interestingly, it does NOT show any of my security information by default on the main page.  Services are organized in a logical way, service icons ‘make sense’ in color, type and size. The ability to add service shortcuts at the top improves usability.  Also, surfacing resource groups on the first page is great, as this is a feature I use often.

I would like to see my total AWS spend per region per account on this page as well.

Grade A



The GCP console recently had a major overhaul and the results are very positive.  The amount of improvement from previous version is significant.  GCP uses the concept of one or more GCP projects as containers for billing and a set of GCP service instances.  I do find this convenient because I can easily see my total project costs.  I also like the ‘Billing’ widget on the first page.

Although the list of services available in GCP is easily findable by clicking the ‘hamburger’ (three white lines) menu in the upper left, I do find that this method of showing all possible services does confuse some customers (particularly those who are moving over or adding to AWS).

One feature I particularly like is the integrated command line tool (gcloud) console.  It’s fast, usable and works great!

Although I can’t think of how to do this (I am a UX consumer – rather than designer!), I’d like to see a more intuitive way to see all of the currently enabled GCP services (and all possible services) shown in the main console window.

Grade B+



Azure uses two consoles, both an a ‘classic’ and a ‘current’ console. For the purposes of this review, I am including the ‘current’ console only. As you can see by the image below, Not all of the tiles render in my browser (Chrome). I’ve tweeted about this bug a couple of times, but haven’t seen any improvement.

Azure uses the concept of subscriptions as containers for services and billing. I find the layout of this portal confusing and unintuitive. That coupled with the fact that the main page renders slowly and usually fails to render correctly is very frustrating to me.

Also the default listing of service types (which is some subset of the actual services available – some items are services, others are category names for groups of services) is once again, unintuitive and generally irritating to me.  What does ‘classic’ mean? Is it good, not good, should I use it, etc…?

Also the odd sizing of the tiles (too much blank space) is not helpful.

Generally, this ‘new’ Azure portal is not showing the increasingly more competitive set of Azure service in a positive way to me and my customers.

Grade D


I am interested in your opinion. Do you use any or all these cloud consoles?  If so, how do you find them?  What works well for you?  What doesn’t? What do you wish would be added and/or removed for improved usability?

Happy Programming (in the cloud)!


Code Sample for D&B Business Verification API published

D&B Business Verification Service

I’ve been doing work with Dun & Bradstreet (and am also a D&B MVP), to that end, I wrote a code sample for working with their Business Verification service API in C# and published it to GitHub.

D&B’s Business Verification service is useful for many of my clients as it provides the ability to take partial (and potentially duplicate) customer information and returns back cleansed, completed, validated company information.  Also their unique identifier, the DUNS number, helps to identify duplicates.

My code sample is in C# and access their endpoint which is hosted in the Windows Azure Marketplace. D&B has a number of other data services, in addition to this one.  In addition to the Azure Marketplace, D&B has data services available at endpoints via their own D&B Direct site.

If you don’t need to code a custom solution the D&B Business Verification service is also available via the Windows Office store (as an Excel 2013 add-in) or via Excel Power Query.

D&B Business Verification Add-in for Excel

Enjoy my code sample and screencast (below) – happy programming!


First Look – SQL Server 2014 RTM on Windows Azure

It’s a SQL Server kind of day.  First, congratulations to the team at Microsoft for releasing SQL Server 2014.  Also, thanks again to Microsoft to awarding me their MVP award for my SQL Server community education activities for the second year in a row.

As promised, the Azure team made a set of Azure Virtual Machine images with SQL Server 2014 RTM available today as well.
SQL Server 2014 RTM images on Windows Azure

I took the standard edition out for a spin and recorded the results in a short screencast (embedded below) – enjoy!