Microsoft Azure

Azure: Overview

Windows Azure, which was later renamed as Microsoft Azure in 2014, is a cloud computing platform, designed by Microsoft to successfully build, deploy, and manage applications and services through a global network of datacenters. This tutorial explains various features of this flexible platform and provides a step-by-step description of how to use the same.


What can Microsoft Azure Do?


- Virtual machines: Create Microsoft or Linux virtual machines (VMs) in just minutes from a wide selection of marketplace templates or from your own custom machine images. These cloud-based VMs will host your apps and services as if they resided in your own data center.

- SQL databases: Azure offers managed SQL relational databases, from one to an unlimited number, as a service.This saves you overhead and expenses on hardware, software, and the need for in-house expertise.

- Azure Active Directory Domain services: Built on the same proven technology as Windows Active Directory, this service for Azure lets you remotely manage group policy, authentication, and everything else. This makes moving and existing security structure partially or totally to the cloud as easy as a few clicks.

- Application services With Azure it’s easier than ever to create and globally deploy applications that are compatible on all popular web and portable platforms. Reliable, scalable cloud access lets you respond quickly to your business’s ebb and flow, saving time and money. With the introduction of Azure WebApps to the Azure Marketplace, it’s easier than ever to manage production, testing and deployment of web applications that scale as quickly as your business. Prebuilt APIs for popular cloud services like Office 365, Salesforce and more greatly accelerate development.

- Visual Studio team services: An add-on service available under Azure, Visual Studio team services offer a complete application lifecycle management (ALM) solution in the Microsoft cloud. Developers can share and track code changes, perform load testing, and deliver applications to production while collaborating in Azure from all over the world. Visual Studio team services simplify development and delivery for large companies or new ones building a service portfolio.

- Storage: Count on Microsoft’s global infrastructure to provide safe, highly accessible data storage. With massive scalability and an intelligent pricing structure that lets you store infrequently accessed data at a huge savings, building a safe and cost-effective storage plan is simple in Microsoft Azure.


Why More Companies Are Moving to Azure


1. Ability to dig into Big Data: The selection of Azure by business is driven most importantly by its efficiency at handling ‘Big Data’. This allows businesses a highly scalable and robust platform to store, manage, analyze and monitor data. Using business analytics solutions, such as demand forecasting and inventory optimization, businesses can focus on finding the real value in the data.

2. Truly Consistent hybrid capabilities :Microsoft offers an end-to-end, hybrid data infrastructure to its users on their own terms. Azure’s hybrid approach to cloud helps businesses overcome complexity and optimize existing assets. Azure provides hybrid consistency in application development, management and security, identity management and across the data platform. The ability to support more than one “as a Service” architecture is something companies look forward to.

3. Simplified IT Infrastructure Management: Azure has the best IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) service, where it enables companies to outsource their cloud computing infrastructure and pay for only for what they use. In IaaS, everything from hardware upgrades to security updates is taken care of by the cloud provider (read Azure) and the price for this service is included in the IaaS subscription the company pays. This also gives small and mid-sized companies the flexibility in the context of how much they pay and when.

4. Fully integrated delivery pipeline: From an enterprise perspective, Azure benefits go beyond mere storage. Azure offers a unified delivery pipeline – source control, unit testing, integration testing, delivery, go live tools. With Azure, companies experience great continuity and reduced risk of integration failure as all tools are available under one authority. Azure’s fully integrated delivery pipeline is designed for efficiency in the case of product updates or any other changes, which creates a convincing business case.

5. Companies That Value Security Trust Azure: One of the biggest concerns of companies moving to the cloud is the security. Taking into account the fact that companies adopt cloud computing only if they are confident about the provider’s cloud security measures, Microsoft has designed Azure keeping security in mind. Azure focuses on the three key areas of cloud security: encryption, design and operational security, and identity and access management. Microsoft Azure currently has more security compliance certificates (more than 20) than any cloud service provider, including ISO 27001 and 27018.

6. High Availability: Unlike other organizations that have single servers or multiple servers, if that server fails or goes down, the complete process is down. Microsoft Azure offers high availability and redundancy in data not only locally, but across the globe. Azure can offer a SLA (service level agreement) of 99.95% availability i.e., approximately 4.38 hours of downtime per year, which is something that most businesses fail to achieve.

7. Azure high scalability leads to cost-effectiveness: Microsoft Azure’s scalable architecture allows for the flexibility to scale up or down your IT resources depending on the workload demands. And, depending on the service that a company chooses, the company can even do so without the downtime. Moreover, the pay-as-you-go model enables companies to save all the upfront expenses of procuring new hardware, a new space and manpower to stand up new servers. Azure is designed to grow businesses, minimizing upfront costs and high maintenance fees, which seem pretty attractive for small and mid-sized businesses.

8. Microsoft backing migration to Azure with new tools: To help companies use a hybrid cloud approach and to help them migrate smoothly to its cloud platform, Microsoft has launched a number of tools and resources. An important one among these is the new Cloud Migration Assessment Service. It is a free tool to provide you with detailed information, like how much it will cost, how to size your environment, what virtual machine option to choose, and more, based on the specific configurations of your own datacenter.