What is Microsoft Azure?

Are you considering implementing cloud solutions across your business, but unsure which provider to choose from? Fortunately, you’re in the right place, with our expert cloud consultants on hand to offer expert and accredited guidance! And where better to start than one of the biggest cloud platforms of all: Microsoft Azure

 

In this article, we’ve explained what Azure is and how it works, what Microsoft cloud is used for and its available services, and the notable benefits of Azure. So, without further ado, read on to explore the reasons to choose Microsoft Azure. 

 

What is Azure and how does it work?

Microsoft Azure (previously known as Windows Azure and often referred to simply as Azure) is a multi-service cloud computing platform run by tech giant Microsoft. Notably, Azure offers public cloud and hybrid cloud environments. 

 

With countless data centres across the globe, Azure delivers accessible, scalable, and flexible cloud functionality to users around the world by leveraging the company’s international infrastructure. 

 

What is Microsoft Azure used for?

Microsoft Azure cloud offers various uses and applications, making it an ideal cloud solution no matter your company size or infrastructure. Below, find out some of the ways Azure can elevate your business, just as it has for the likes of Heathrow Airport and Pret a Manger

Website hosting

Azure allows you to host and manage websites and applications, with full back-end support. From within the platform, you can even scale frameworks up and down with the touch of a button.

App development 

Azure is a robust and safe environment for application testing and development, with streamlined workflows and easy collaboration. 

Updating business infrastructure

Azure can be used to update IT and computing infrastructure on a business-wide scale, as you migrate to the cloud. 

Data management

Data processing, management, and analytics is simple with Azure, which boasts a wealth of services for you to choose from.  

AI innovation

Microsoft’s cloud platform welcomes machine learning and artificial intelligence, meaning you can adopt, innovate, and drive your business forward. 

 

Azure services and functionality

Among the benefits of Azure is the platform’s long list of available services, and the high-tech you get with each. To help you identify whether it’s right for you, we’ve provided an overview of Microsoft’s cloud platform and the available functions. 

 

Alternatively, get in touch with our team of expert cloud consultants who’ll offer more detail around any of Azure’s many services. 

Containers

Azure offers a few notable container services, to suit a variety of requirements. First up, Azure Kubernetes Service (often abbreviated to AKS) simplifies application and software management, while Azure Container Instances (ACI) helps run applications without the need for servers or complicated infrastructure. 

Virtual machine

Enjoy on-demand virtual servers when you opt for Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Machines service – whether you’re running and managing applications, hosting data centres, or tackling resource-heavy computing tasks. 

DevOps

Azure’s wide array of DevOps tools simplify the processes involved in planning, developing, and managing applications from the back-end. Specific Azure DevOps services include Azure Pipelines for CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery); Azure Boards for seamless project management; and Azure Artifacts, which streamlines data sharing and collaboration. 

Security

Azure’s range of cloud security services (including Azure Security Center and Azure Sentinel) provide high-level threat-detection and management, by regularly monitoring your environment for irregularities. And of course, Azure is also wholly compliant with wider industry standards, meaning you’re getting best-in-class security and data protection. 

Storage

Another benefit of Azure is its storage capabilities, offering secure and accessible solutions for all kinds of information – including a service called ‘Blob storage’ for unstructured data! What’s more, file sharing is made easy, with all data readily available no matter where you’re accessing from.  

Backup

Azure’s backup and recovery capabilities make it a reliable cloud solution, giving you the peace of mind that your data is safe and available at all times. Not only does it protect against accidental deletion, but you can also be confident you’re also safe against corruption and ransomware. 

 

What are the pros and cons of Azure?

Reading on, discover some of the most important Microsoft Azure advantages and disadvantages, including what to be aware of before choosing the cloud platform. 

Microsoft Azure benefits

Scalability

Whether your business experiences seasonal peaks and troughs or you’re undergoing a growth period – or you just want the flexibility to add and remove resources – scalability should be one of the first considerations you make when choosing a cloud service provider. And it’s something Microsoft Azure offers with aplomb. 

Making it easy to scale your cloud computing up and down with the click of a button, one of the core benefits of Azure is you’ll only pay for what you need. 

Integration with Microsoft products

A significant reason to choose Azure is its seamless integration with other Microsoft services, such as Office 365. Ways in which Azure complements Microsoft’s broader product range include: 

  • Enjoy consistent sign-in across all Microsoft services.
  • Leverage Azure functionality to build bespoke experiences across Office 365.
  • Maximise efficiencies across your Microsoft eco-system, using Azure data monitoring.
  • Access all data from the same source, for simpler and more direct management.
  • Streamline costs and pricing, to optimise spending. 

Global presence

Microsoft’s global presence gives it the edge compared to many other providers, with data centres in almost every region around the world – meaning you have in-the-moment access to all essential cloud services. 

Comprehensive selection of services

As you’ve probably realised from the above sections, Azure offers the full spectrum of cloud services, from effective containers and storage to easily-accessible virtual servers, DevOps, and best-practice security standards. 

 

What to be aware of before moving to Azure

Of course, while there are plenty of Azure benefits, it’s important to acknowledge any drawbacks that come with such a complex cloud system. For instance:

  • Requires platform expertise: Due to the wide range of Azure services on offer, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the platform and how to navigate it, to ensure all moving parts complement each other. 
  • Requires management and maintenance: When moving resources to Azure’s cloud network, you’ll need to ensure you have the infrastructure to support expert server monitoring, management, and maintenance

 

There are a couple of ways to approach the above considerations, with the first being to build out your team to have an on-site Microsoft Azure expert who’ll be on hand to tackle any difficulty, complexity, or technicality that may arise. 

 

Alternatively, consider an experienced cloud consultant to fill the skills-gap. They’ll be aligned to your business needs and be on hand to offer continual support, from building out your cloud architecture to managing and strategizing growth. 

 

What are the alternatives to Microsoft Azure?

Azure is by no means the only cloud service for you to choose from, and there are a whole range of other solutions to consider, with each option offering its own benefits. 

 

For example, another popular cloud service, from an equally dominant provider, is AWS (short for Amazon Web Services). Just like Azure, AWS provides a range of cloud options, and leverages Amazon’s global infrastructure to effectively-service regions around the world. 

If you’re interested in learning more about either Azure or AWS, or how your business can benefit from a cloud-native approach, get in touch with our team of experts who’ll be happy to help. In the meantime, head on over to our blog for even more insight, the latest updates, and cloud advice!


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