Microsoft Azure Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters

By Avni Singh 30-May-2022
Microsoft Azure Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters

The adoption of cloud computing platforms and applications is increasing across industries and organisations today. The cloud makes up the IT infrastructure for a growing number of digital businesses today. Cloud applications and platforms are revolutionising how businesses operate every day and the processes they follow. Over 77% of business organisations today use cloud computing infrastructure either completely or in part. 

There is also a growing list of options when it comes to choosing a cloud computing platform. Two of the most dominant cloud computing platforms in the industry today are Microsoft Azure and AWS (Amazon Web Services). AWS is the world’s largest platform for cloud computing, but Azure is the second-largest as well as the fastest-growing cloud platform today. If you are looking to sharpen your skills and understanding of cloud computing, this is the right place to start. 

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft used its ever-widening global network of data centres and created Microsoft Azure. The Azure cloud platform helps businesses to build, deploy and manage apps and services remotely. It allows businesses to integrate new cloud functionalities into their existing networks using its PaaS (platform-as-a-service) model. You can also entrust the platform with all your business requirements for networking and computing using its IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) model.

Both the Iaas and Paas options give you reliable and secure access to data hosted on the cloud infrastructure created using Microsoft’s advanced architecture. Microsoft Azure gives you a consistently growing range of services and products that can help you meet your business needs using a single easy-to-manage and convenient platform.

ALSO READ: Top Microsoft Technology Trends 2022

Uses and Applications of Microsoft Azure:

Microsoft has a directory that contains all Azure services, including the services added over time. It has every element your business needs for delivering apps or services and building virtual networks. This includes:

  • Virtual Machines: Businesses can create Linux or Microsoft VMs (virtual machines) in minutes using a wide selection of available templates or customised system images. These virtual machines are cloud-based and can host apps and services as though they reside in a business’s in-house data centre.
  • SQL Databases: Microsoft Azure provides managed SQL databases as one of its key services from one database to as many as required. This helps your business save overhead costs and expenses on software and hardware as well as the cost of in-house expertise. 
  • Azure Active Directory Domain Services: Microsoft’s Active Directory Domain services is built using the same technology that makes up Windows Active Directory. This Azure service allows businesses to manage authentication, group policy and other operations remotely. This makes it easier to move security structures to the cloud either partially or completely, with just a couple of clicks. 
  • Application Services: Azure makes it simpler than ever before to create and deploy applications globally that are compatible with all leading portable and web platforms. Reliable and scalable access to the cloud allows you to respond faster to business demands and workflows, ensuring you save both money and time. With the rollout of Azure WebApps into the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, managing production and testing and deploying scalable web applications has become much easier. 
  • Visual Studio Team Services: Visual Studio teams service counts as an add-on service within Azure and provides businesses with a complete ALM (application lifecycle management) solution. A developer can track and share code changes, deliver apps for production and perform load testing using Azure to collaborate across the world. Visual Studio team services simplify delivery and development for large organisations and new businesses, helping to build their service portfolio.
  • Storage: You can depend on Azure’s global infrastructure for secure and accessible data storage functionalities. With its smart pricing and massive scalability, you can store rarely accessed data at cost-effective prices. This helps you keep your data safe without burning a hole through your budget. 

Also Read: An Overview of Exam AZ-500: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies

Why are More Businesses Turning to Azure?

The future of on-premise data centres looks bleak at best. Like its predecessors such as the dial-up modem or mainframe computer, affordable and easily available cloud solutions are rapidly replacing self-hosted data centres. Many leading IT industry players have started trying to make their mark in the cloud sphere. This includes Amazon, IBM, Apple iCloud and other bigger names. Industry leaders such as BMW, GE and 3M are quickly turning to Microsoft Azure and relying on it for their workloads. 

Understanding the reasons for this shift is not hard. Here are some of the advantages of turning to Microsoft Azure. 

  • Flexibility: Microsoft Azure allows businesses to create new offerings and scale their data storage functions on the go. This is a great advantage over static data centres that require you to add new hardware and also to purchase, provision and deploy operating systems before you can make any positive impact on your organisational challenges. Such flexibility from Azure makes for a lucrative solution for any business regardless of its size.
  • Cost: Microsoft Azure solutions go beyond just making infrastructure scaling easier and faster. They also help to significantly cut down costs. Physical infrastructure and service devices such as load balancers and routers can take your costs up significantly. Add to this the expertise needed for running, maintaining and managing this equipment in-house. This will all add up to major overhead through payroll and employee benefits. With Microsoft’s global expertise and infrastructure, Azure helps you avoid all these physical infrastructure costs.
  • Applications: Microsoft Azure offers individual a la carte style services such as Visual Studio Application Insights, Visual Studio Team Services along with on-demand scalable storage for cold data as well as frequently accessed data. This makes it extremely simple for organisations to develop and test mission-critical applications. You can move apps from ‘Test’ mode to ‘Production’ mode almost instantly across a network that is spread across the world. Microsoft also provides significant licensing discounts that help businesses to migrate their present applications to Azure, further reducing business expenses.
  • Disaster recovery: You cannot always predict when disaster will strike, but you can take appropriate measures to mitigate the damage. Microsoft provides a geographically decentralised high-speed infrastructure. This creates countless new options to plan for disaster recovery. During periods of recovery, businesses need to ensure that all critical data and applications can run through redundant sites. These recovery periods can go on for hours or minutes, as opposed to days of recovery with traditional recovery infrastructure. 

With over 200 services in their arsenal and hosts of benefits, Azure is the fastest-growing cloud platform by a huge margin. According to expert predictions, Azure’s revenue crossed $19 billion in 2020. Such rapid growth in the world of cloud computing and Azure implementation by businesses has significantly increased the opportunities and demand for IT professionals equipped with the skills and knowledge to operate in this domain.

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Avni Singh

Avni Singh has a PhD in Machine Learning and is an Artificial Intelligence developer, researcher, practitioner, and educator as well as an Open Source Software developer, with over 7 years in the industry.

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