There is no disputing that the future of computing is in the cloud. Digital businesses, especially, are adopting cloud computing as a means of transforming their IT infrastructure. The results include more efficient, effective, and competitive business operations. Microsoft Azure is one of the cloud computing platforms enabling this digital transformation. Learn more about its services in this post and how it can help to grow your business.
What Is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure, in simple terms, is a cloud service that offers everything a business requires to run its entire or part of its IT operations virtually. This includes storage, servers, networking, analytics, and databases, among other computing operations. Azure is provided by Microsoft and is one of the two largest cloud computing platforms in the world.
Traditionally, if you wanted to set up virtual computing operations, you needed to construct and maintain the necessary physical hardware. From Ethernet switches to disk storage and servers, you had to build and manage all. However, you do not have to today. Public cloud computing services like Azure now do all the hard work. You only need to rent out the resources you need.
Azure offers its platform as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This is enhanced by its more than 600 cloud services and operability on various developer tools, databases, and operating systems.
Who Uses Microsoft Azure?
Most companies have adopted cloud computing services, mostly in combination with on-premise datacenters. Many of them prefer Azure. In fact, 85% of Fortune 500 companies rely on the platform.
Numerous small and medium businesses also prefer to use Azure. The top reason for this is due to the hefty costs associated with building and maintaining their own data centers. The fact that numerous SMBs lack in-house experts ready to offer support and maintenance makes a top cloud computing platform like Azure highly appealing.
Where Will Your Data Be Stored When You Start Using Microsoft Azure?
One thing is obvious with cloud computing services: Your data will not be stored in your company’s servers. So, where exactly will it be stored?
Microsoft builds and maintains the physical servers which house all the data Azure users have in the cloud. Currently, there are more than 100 Microsoft-managed datacenters distributed in 36 regions across the globe, with the number set to increase in the coming years.
You have a preference of where you want Microsoft to store your data. It is generally advisable to choose a location closer to your users. This leads to reduced latency and a better commuting experience.
To ensure that you can quickly access your data at any time you want to, Azure uses a process called replication to keep multiple copies of the data. You can choose a replication method that works for you. Whether you want two copies stored at a similar location or multiple copies distributed in varying geographic locations, it’s all up to you.
What About the Security of Your Data?
In the era of enhanced cyber-attacks data security is something that every public cloud services provider prioritizes. Microsoft is particularly laser-focused on this, as demonstrated in the company’s recent expansion of its Azure Security Center.
The Azure Security Center monitors your Azure resources for security threats and vulnerabilities. The management tool uses advanced analytics to detect suspicious activity and offer recommendations for potential remediation of your hybrid cloud workloads. You only need to review the steps and take appropriate action.
What Are the Benefits of Microsoft Azure?
Azure offers incredible value to businesses of all sizes and circumstances, from garage startups to multinational corporations. Below are some of its top benefits to your company.
Information Technology Intelligence Consulting recently released a survey which indicated that 79% of corporations need at least 99.99% uptime for the main line of business applications, operating systems, and mission-critical hardware. The survey also revealed that 81% of businesses across all industries spend more than $300,000 hourly to fix hourly.
Azure changes all this by offering your business a robust disaster recovery solution at an affordable price. This includes the following features:
- Azure traffic manager. It automatically routes your networks to different regions, that you already predetermined, in case there is a location-specific failure
- Multiple datacenters. Allows you to conveniently deploy a cloud service to different regions of the world
- Azure site recovery. This service replicates critical business applications from a primary site to a secondary one to ensure that they keep running during a disruption or outage
- 3X data replication. Azure copies all your data three times, either to a single or secondary datacenter
When you run a website that experiences sudden bursts in peak usage, it is easy for it to get overwhelmed. This is why it may be necessary to have the additional capacity that is built into the system to support high-volume workloads. When you are relying on an on-premise data center, you will have to buy extra hardware and conduct maintenance all through the year.
When you are relying on a cloud platform, you can expand and decrease your resource base to suit your needs. Additionally, you will only pay for the resources you need and use, rather than waste money on resources that will lie idle for several months.
Microsoft Azure makes the deal even better by offering resources that allow you to analyze and monitor how you utilize cloud resources. This ensures that you can swiftly determine the advantages of modifying your computing environment. If you need to make a change, it will take you only a few seconds.
Cost-efficiency is probably the biggest reason why any business chooses to enroll in a cloud-based computing service. Azure makes this highly practical in the following ways:
- Removing all the huge initial investment associated with constructing a remote or on-site data center. You will also not need to buy any extra software for additional workloads or development later on. Additionally, the replacement hardware needed every 2-3 years -which is the lifecycle of most computing hardware- will not be necessary to purchase.
- Removing all the costs associated with warranty renewals and service calls.
- Billing you only for the resources you need and use. Azure bills you per second and rounds your bills to the last minute of your usage.
Easy to Access Resources
Your company’s IT department will immediately have access to a huge pool of resources that are unavailable in an on-premise data center when you enroll for Azure’s cloud computing service. One such resource is machine learning and automation to make data analysis more effective and efficient. Azure enables you to equip your system with those capabilities and enhance better decision-making without the need for costly resources or data science expertise.
The following are some other features available in Azure that will help to enhance your business agility:
- Azure Marketplace. This feature allows you to quickly and consistently deploy numerous Azure resources at all times.
- Azure Quickstart Templates. This is an app store where you can easily find, attempt, and launch cloud software you desire swiftly.
- Azure Machine Learning services. Artificial intelligence can help you to collect and analyze data more efficiently and with minimal effort.
- Ready to start your journey with Microsoft Azure?
Learn More About Microsoft Azure
Depending on your company’s unique needs, you can use Azure in a number of ways to make your operations more effective, efficient, and cost-effective. You can get started with a free account that is available to all customers who are new to the platform. Microsoft will even offer you credits worth $200 to spend on your first 30 days, as well as a number of free services.