What is Microsoft Azure and How Can it Benefit My Business?
There are many reasons why businesses are moving to the cloud for more than simply storage – efficiency, cost-savings, scaleability, reach, and many more. With flexible cloud computing solutions like Microsoft Azure or AWS available, small and medium businesses have access to the same tools which is a large advantage.
But what exactly is Microsoft Azure? And how does it compare to other options like AWS or Google Cloud? What can you do with cloud computing and what service offers the most for your business applications?
Cloud computing is a relatitively new concept that can actually refer to a wide range of services, so if you don’t yet fully understand it, that’s ok.
What are Microsoft Azure Services?
In the simplest sense, Azure is a cloud provider that can offer any level of IT service that you could expect in a large business. Think of large underground server rooms, data centers, and even IT staff updating computers, troubleshooting your email and backing up your important data. These critical departments in a business can be rented out on immense data centers, saving on physical space and associated costs.
What does this mean for you? It means you can have a server room a fraction of the size of huge multinational corporations at a scaled-down cost, information and applications that can be accessed anywhere in the world, and world-class information technology services without a twenty-story building to host it.
But what does Azure actually do?
This might sound initially confusing with talk of serverless computing, scaleable data centers, and non-existent IT staff fixing your point-of-sale systems on the shop floor. It is difficult to grasp a quick understanding of Microsoft Azure simply because the actual offering is so broad.
One business may use Azure to connect its Microsoft programs across multiple clouds and handle emails. At the same time, another may keep its entire data center on the cloud and use cloud computing to derive high-level insights from that same data.
For simplicities sake, Azure is a public cloud computing platform which can be split into four categories; IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), and serverless, with more comprehensive services utilising a full system including these services in a ‘stack’. At its most simple, you can host applications with access globally via web apps, but it can become as comprehensive as your entire business existing on the cloud.
How can cloud computing help my business?
Broadly speaking, any computing, communication, information access, use, management, and, really, any IT needs your business has can be hosted on Azure.
But why use cloud services?
An Azure platform has many benefits over a legacy or local infrastructure-based system.
It’s flexible – any new application, data resource, analytics tool, or software your business requires can be immediately installed with your cloud service provider, ready for use as you need it. Likewise, applications you no longer need, or servers that aren’t consistently used can be removed from your platform.
Pay what you use – Azure products and services work on a charge-as-used basis, so if you need to double your computing power for a single week each year, you only pay for that one week. The potential operational efficiencies this offers you shouldn’t be ignored.
Scaleability – building a new server room, or a first server room for that matter, is no small cost. You either need a lot of confidence in the growth of your business, or you wait until the growth is there, potentially hindering your progress. With Azure, you can scale your access up or down as needed, giving your business the room and support to grow and scale.
Stability and accuracy – with support for just about any programming language, operating system, application, or use, Azure services are extremely stable to use, with direct functionality with Microsoft applications to boot.
Should I use Microsoft Azure over other cloud services?
For many businesses, cloud computing is the single toolkit that enables them to compete in the modern world and is rarely a mistake to investigate. But the question remains; which cloud-based environment is the most suitable for your business?
The three biggest players in cloud computing are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Gooble Cloud. The three are largely similar, with mostly equivalent offerings for a broad range of services, but they do have their own advantages in some cases.
AWS is the larger of the two services with more functionality, the scope of service, and more tools to play with. For an IaaS system built from the ground up on the cloud, AWS may be more suitable for your needs. But Microsoft Azure is naturally designed to fit the windows operating system, which likely includes many of the applications that your business currently uses.
Large corporations will likely enjoy the app development tools and computing resources available with AWS. Still, small and medium businesses that typically run on Windows applications often find more use with the Windows Azure platform.
Talk to Digitize to discuss the benefits Azure can bring to your business, and begin your journey into cloud infrastructure.