Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, launched in February 2010. It is an open and flexible platform used for building, testing, deploying, and managing virtual machines, object storage, and content delivery networks (CDNs) through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers in 42 regions around the world and includes open-source, standards-based technologies and proprietary solutions from Microsoft. According to Synergy Research Group, the market is growing rapidly (cloud sales are at $7.9 billion – 17% growth over the year before) and Azure is currently the second biggest cloud provider with 13% of the market, behind Amazon at 33%. It services include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and supports numerous programming languages, tools and frameworks. The advantage of using cloud services like Azure is that there are no upfront costs for physical hardware, that Azure services are scalable and you can instantly provision computing resources on demand. Azure’s billing structure is the pay-as-you-go model; based on resources used such as CPU, storage, and consumption, which is similar to Amazon Web Services.
Here is a list of some of the more important services that Azure has to offer:
- Compute – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Websites, and WebJobs
- Mobile services – Mobile Engagement and HockeyApp
- Storage services – Storage Services, Table Service, Blob Service, Queue Service, and File Service
- Data management – Azure Search, Cosmos DB, Redis Cache, StorSimple, SQL Database, SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Factory, Azure Data Lake, Azure HDInsight, and Azure Stream Analytics
- Messaging – Event Hubs, Queues, Topics, and Relays
- Media services – Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- CDN – A global content delivery network (CDN)
- Developer – Application Insights, Visual Studio Team Services
- Management – Azure Automation, Microsoft SMA
- Machine learning – Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML), Cognitive Services (formerly Project Oxford)
- IoT – Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Developer Kit, Azure Sphere, and IoT Edge
- Microsoft’s Vison & Leadership
- Market Growth
- Product Positioning/Competitiveness
- Flexibility & Scalability on Demand
- Competitive/Predictable Cost
- Work from Anywhere
- Development Environment/Increased Collaboration
- Service Adoption
- IoT Integration
- Disaster Recovery
Azure Questions and Answers
Q: “I’m hesitant to move to cloud IaaS because my business is beholden to several compliance mandates.”
A: Microsoft Azure has the most comprehensive list of compliance certifications of any hyper-scale cloud provider. Azure also has industry-leading capabilities to meet the needs of key compliance requirements. Please visit the Microsoft Trust Center to get a full list of Azure’s certifications and attestations.
Q: “I don’t want to increase security risks by migrating to the public cloud.”
A: As a hyper-scale provider, Microsoft can make greater security investments than the majority of companies in the industry. By incorporating automation and machine learning capabilities into the core, Azure is continuously improving its ability to detect, isolate, and remediate potential threats. Moreover, Microsoft adheres to strict industry standards for security and is constantly tested and audited by 3rd party entities. Learn more at the Azure Security Center.
Q: “I don’t want to lose control of my company’s sensitive corporate and application data by moving to the cloud.”
A: With Azure, you have ownership of your data—that is, all data, including text, sound, video, or image files and software, that are provided to Microsoft by you, or on your behalf, through the use of Azure. You can access your data at any time and for any reason without assistance from Microsoft. Microsoft does not use customer data or derive information from it for advertising or data mining.
Q: “I’m worried about the cost of transitioning to a new service delivery model. Won’t these new investments increase my overall operating costs?”
A: Quite the opposite in fact. With the flexibility of cloud, you can spin up the resources you need instantly, scaling up and down based on demand and traffic. You only pay for what you use. With on-premises infrastructures, you may be stuck with under-utilized resources that require ongoing maintenance and capital investment to maintain.
Q: “Why can’t I just buy Azure infrastructure services directly and deploy it myself?”
A: That is definitely a viable option, albeit much more challenging than you may think. It takes a lot of technical expertise to stand up the environment, right-size the deployment, and ensure the workload is migrated correctly so there are no setbacks. Additionally, once your workload is in the cloud, you must continually maintain it to ensure it’s performing optimally. As a Service Provider we are here to offload the burden of maintaining your cloud infrastructure so you can focus on your strategic initiatives and the things that actually add value to your business.
Q: “I am hesitant to get locked into an Azure commitment long term, do I have options here?”
A: One of the excellent benefits of Azure and the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is that you only pay for what you use If you want to try Azure out for a while, you can. It is a true pay-as-you-go model and does not require a large upfront payment or multi-year contract.