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What Is Microsoft Azure and Is It Right for Me?

23 August 2022

There’s no denying that the future of computing is in the cloud. 

Today, cloud computing platforms and applications are growing by the day, serving as the IT infrastructure that drives new businesses. More and more companies are increasingly moving to the cloud, utilising its power to become more efficient, effective, and competitive. 

Research shows that the overall cloud adoption rate in the UK stands at 88%. 

Many cloud computing platforms exist, but only two platforms dominate the cloud computing domain: Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

While Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure is the fastest growing and currently the most-preferred platform. This article will focus on Microsoft Azure, including its features, usage, and pricing. 

Here at ICT Solutions, we have many years’ experience of working with this powerful resource and can advise you on how you should use it to meet your goals and manage challenges. 

Let’s get to it!

What Is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a collection of cloud computing services offered by Microsoft. 

There are over 500 services that fall under the Azure umbrella, but it’s simply a cloud computing platform on which apps and services can be built, managed, tested, and deployed.

At its core, Azure is a cloud-based platform, with solutions including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). These solutions can be used for services such as networking, storage, analytics, virtual computing, and more. Azure can also be used to replenish or replace your on-premise servers. 

Microsoft Azure is a fast, reliable, and affordable cloud computing service. Its pricing capabilities make it one of the best public platforms on the market.

Microsoft Azure Features

Azure offers a huge array of features so we’ve highlighted a few that we think are relevant to most businesses:

  • Disaster Recovery

A 2017 ITIT survey revealed that 79% of businesses require a minimum of 99.99% uptime to ensure smooth, uninterrupted operations daily. 

The survey also revealed that 81% of companies (from 47 different countries) estimate the average cost of downtime exceeds £250,000. It’s no wonder many organisations consider disaster recovery a top priority and are looking for easier ways to implement it! 

Azure provides a robust yet affordable disaster recovery solution. With Azure, you get access to the following disaster recovery services:

Site recovery – Helps your critical business applications and services stay online during an outage by replicating the workflows from a primary to a secondary location

Data storage – Azure provides multiple data centers for data storage, allowing you to deploy cloud services to different locations worldwide

3X data replication – Every single bit of data stored in Azure is copied three times, either to a single or secondary data centreTraffic manager – Azure traffic manager allows for automated traffic routing to predefined locations in the event of a region-specific failure

  • Development Tools

Most companies’ computing environments don’t have room for development and testing. This means companies have to purchase new hardware/software for development purposes or outsource development projects to third parties, which can be costly down the line. 

Azure provides the best development solution. Since you’re only paying for what you need, developers can quickly build business applications and run testing without purchasing additional software. 

On top of that, Azure provides a wide array of tools and templates that help reduce the time it takes to build and deploy an application. Azure’s DevOps features include:

Visual Studio Team Services – This Microsoft service is free for up to five users and enables teams to collaborate and organize their work effectively

Easy Integration – Developers can easily integrate their apps with many other DevOps tools, including Jenkins

Azure DevTest Labs – This allows the DevOps teams to create cost-effective test environments

  • Elasticity

Do you run a website that handles a large volume of transactions during peak hours? Or maybe a company that experiences large workloads during certain times of the year?

Whatever the case, you’ll need additional capacity built into the existing system to handle the increasing workload. The good thing about the cloud is that it offers highly scalable and flexible solutions. You can quickly increase your resource base and decrease it if need be. 

Microsoft Azure has in-built tools that analyze and monitor your utilization of cloud resources, which can help you determine whether to decrease or increase your computing environment. Better still, you can make the changes in seconds.

  •  Easy Access to Resources

Azure offers businesses a broad range of resources they would otherwise not access with an on-premise data center. For instance, in the age of AI, many companies are looking to leverage machine learning in their data analysis to derive better insights from data. 

Using Azure, you can take advantage of these capabilities without incurring any additional costs. Additionally, you can quickly deploy a Linux server, which traditionally requires a series of rules to set up and get it running. 

Setting up a Linux server afresh could take you hours. However, with Azure, the whole process can be done in less than five minutes. To improve your business agility, consider these features in Azure:

Azure ML Services – These help you build AI-powered applications

Azure Marketplace – This Azure’s app store of data center applications helps you locate, try out, and deploy and cloud apps you want fast 

Azure Quickstart Templates – Helps you deploy multiple resources quickly and consistently every time

  • Cost Effective

Azure is cost-efficient. There are three reasons why this cloud computing platform is so efficient when it comes to cost. 

(i) You only pay for the resources you need. Azure bills on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you will never have to pay for the resources you haven’t used

(ii) You’ll never have to pay for costs associated with renewals and service calls

(iii) No initial investment is required for purchasing hardware/software or building on-premise or remote data centers. You’ll also avoid maintenance costs and costs of replacing hardware (as most computing hardware have an average lifecycle of 2 – 3 years)

Now that you have a better understanding of the core features of Microsoft Azure, let’s briefly go over some of the benefits of using this robust cloud computing service. 

Benefits of Using Microsoft Azure

The extensive features of Microsoft Azure provide many benefits to businesses.

The obvious benefit of Azure is seen in its cost efficiency. As mentioned, with Azure, you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware/software as the service provides all the tools you need to build, test, and host applications. 

This kind of computing power would be costly to replicate in-house. Azure provides an on-demand pricing model that provides businesses access to cutting-edge tools and resources that would otherwise be incredibly expensive to acquire in-house. 

Azure also makes businesses more productive and efficient. The tools offered under the Azure umbrella allow businesses to transform their workflows and processes more efficiently. With this kind of automation, your teams can do more in less time. 

There’s also the scalability aspect of Azure. This cloud service is highly scalable, meaning businesses can adjust their computing environment based on the organisation’s needs. Moreover, companies can scale up without needing changes in infrastructure or additional resources. 

Last but not least, Azure allows business heads to make more informed decisions. The analytical capabilities of Azure allow departmental heads to derive valuable insights from data—using artificial intelligence tools—which results in better business decisions.

Who Uses Microsoft Azure

Due to its accessibility and massive scalability, Azure can be used by companies of all sizes. Whether you own a budding startup or a multinational enterprise, you’ll benefit from using Azure services. In fact, 90% of Fortune 500 companies run processes on the Microsoft cloud. 

This flexibility is what gives it an edge over the competition. 

Users can add new services, increase their storage, and create new applications as they go without having to worry about whether they have the resources or infrastructure to support the changes. For these reasons, Azure is the fastest-growing cloud computing service.

How Much Does Azure Cost?

Microsoft provides its cloud computing services on a resource consumption basis. 

The service doesn’t have any upfront costs or hidden fees – you’re only charged for what you use each month.

ICT Solutions Can Help 

Want to transform your business with Microsoft Azure? ICT Solutions can help! With many years of working with this powerful resource, we know the ins and outs of the platform and can advise you on the best Azure services that fit your business needs. 

Ideal for companies of all sizes, Azure offers many benefits to businesses. It’s scalable, flexible, reliable, and cost-effective. On top of that, this cloud service allows businesses to utilise its power to become more efficient, effective, and competitive. 

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you start using this powerful resource.