By now I’m sure you will have heard of Microsoft Azure, but you may not be aware of exactly what it is, how it works and what benefits it can deliver to your business.
Cloud computing is growing in popularity and is seen as the ‘future’ when it comes to business IT operations. Digital transformation is a key priority amongst top businesses and Azure is a way of achieving this allowing you to become more efficient, productive and competitive.
It is believed that almost 80% of businesses have at least one application in the cloud already with many more looking to join them on their cloud migration journey. Many of these businesses intend to move their whole IT infrastructure over to the cloud within the next 5 years.
With cloud there’s still a lot of misunderstanding and concern, so we’re going to outline the basics of one of our most popular cloud solutions (Microsoft Azure), the questions we often get asked and cover the main features.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure (formerly Windows Azure), is a public cloud computing platform providing a range of cloud services including storage, compute, analytics, and networking. Businesses can pick and choose from these services as required, to develop and scale new applications, or run existing applications in the public cloud.
A wide range of Microsoft’s products are hosted on Azure. Azure offers three core areas of functionality; Virtual Machines, cloud services, and app services.
The next question we often face is “what is a virtual machine?”… A virtual machine is a computer file, that acts like a real / physical computer. Virtual Machines (or VM’s) usually run in a window, like traditional computer programs. Virtual Machines provide a separate environment in which you can safely test things for example access virus-infected data, and run applications on operating systems they may not be typically compatible with, without the risking damage to the whole IT infrastructure or network.
Azure supports open source technologies, so you can use the tools and technologies you prefer. Run virtually any application using your data source, with your operating system, on your device.
What is Microsoft Azure used for?
There are tonnes of services you can use within Microsoft Azure. It can be used to run pretty much any cloud computing product or app. Azure is also the only consistent hybrid cloud, covering more locations / regions / countries than any other cloud service provider.
Is Microsoft Azure suitable for my business?
Microsoft Azure is extremely flexible and scalable – meaning it can be and is used by companies of every shape and size, from one man bands / start-ups, all the way up to large scale enterprises. *90% of Fortune 500 businesses run part of or all of their infrastructure in the Microsoft cloud.
What are the benefits of Microsoft Azure?
Reduced costs and better budgeting / cash flow management – Azure can practically eliminate all costs for hardware such as servers and routers. In addition, you would usually have to then pay to have this hardware maintained. Most Azure services operate on a pay as you go basis, giving you a real-time view of how much is being spent.
Flexibility and scalability – you can add /remove services, upgrade storage and create new apps as you go. This is extremely useful when you need to react to changes in demand or circumstances. There’s no need to worry about investment in additional hardware or capacity of your infrastructure.
Guaranteed uptime – The reliability offered by Microsoft Azure is unrivalled – with 99.99% uptime guaranteed and a large offering of disaster recovery and backup systems.
Productivity and efficiency – using the modern and up-to-date tools offered by Azure you can transform your business digitally. Many of the services available have been proven to make operations more efficient and productive.
Actionable insights – Analytics help deliver valuable, actionable data allowing businesses to make better, more informed decisions.
Service availability – The extent of products and services available through Azure is hugely beneficial. To replicate this computing power and resource in house would not only be very difficult, but extremely costly too.
Where is the data in Microsoft Azure held?
Microsoft Azure runs on datacentres around the globe, covering more areas than any other cloud service provider and you can select the datacentre region that’s right for you.
Microsoft opened its first datacentre in 1989, and continues to add new regions to its Azure coverage all the time, expanding upon the services available to each location. Currently, not all Azure services are available in every region, but typically the most popular services will be available at all.
How much does Microsoft Azure cost?
The cost of Microsoft Azure varies depending on which services your business decides to use and how much of it is actually used. There are no upfront costs and you only pay for what you use, with many services charged at an hourly rate.
Who are Microsoft Azure’s competitors?
In terms of market share, the only real competition is Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services features similar components and has been around for longer than Microsoft Azure, but it does not has as much geographic availability. The main advantage of Azure when being compared to AWS it that it has the benefit of being integrated with many commonly used business applications, such as Microsoft 365.
Is Microsoft Azure secure?
Microsoft Azure is as secure as it could possibly be, as security and privacy is a key concern and priority amongst businesses. It is reported that Microsoft spend more than $1bn per year on security monitoring. Azure is the only public cloud platform to offer continuous security-health monitoring.
How can we migrate our business to Microsoft Azure from on-premise servers?
Businesses wishing to move to Microsoft Azure should reach out to a Certified Microsoft Partner to begin the journey.
Microsoft Azure is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We conduct a Readiness Assessment for all businesses before recommending moving to the Cloud. The objective is firstly to provide an expert witness report and measured risk assessment of the technical operation and continuity plans. Second, to provide an opinion on your businesses ability to scale rapidly as growth plans are implemented. Third, to assess any operational efficiency gains that can be delivered through smarter use of technology.
We hope that this article has answered all of your Microsoft Azure questions. Please get in touch if you’re looking to start your journey to the cloud, we would be delighted to assist.