Microsoft Azure Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters

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Azure ExplainedMicrosoft Azure is usually described as having “limitless potential” and “unlimited possibilities” (admittedly, both phrases are from our Azure page), but what does Azure actually do and what can it do for your business?

In this blog, I’ll answer these questions and show you the value with three concrete ways Azure can be used by your business and the real benefits you can gain today.

What is Azure?

At its core, Azure is a public cloud computing platform—it is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) that can be used for services such as analytics, virtual computing, storage, networking, and much more. It can be used to replace or supplement your on-premise servers.

Here are some quick facts about Azure.

Microsoft Azure – IaaS and PaaS
·         Flexible – Move compute resources up and down as needed
·         Open – Supports almost any OS, language, tool, or framework
·         Reliable – 99.95% availability SLA and 24×7 tech support
·         Global – Data housed in geo-synchronous data centers
·         Economical – Only pay for what you use

Azure is a fast, flexible, and affordable platform, and its pricing and capabilities make it the best public cloud offering on the market. Now let’s take a look at how to put it to work for you.

1. Enhance and Implement Backup and Disaster Recovery

Backup and Disaster RecoveryAzure is a backup and disaster recovery dream tool. Why? Because of its flexibility, advanced site recovery, and built-in integration.

As a cloud based solution, Azure is innately flexible; it can back up your data in any language, on any OS, and from any location. Plus, you define the frequency and extent of your backup schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).

Tape backup has a time and place, but it has limited abilities as a stand-alone backup and disaster recovery solution. Azure site recovery can enhance your tape backup with offsite replication, minimal onsite maintenance, up to ninety-nine years of data retention, no capital investment, and minimal operational costs. Azure backup stores three copies of your data in three different locations in the data center, and then another three copies in a remote Azure data center, so you never have to worry about losing data.

If you’re in a Windows virtual environment, Azure’s built-in integration for additional backup will be a quick and painless solution. Azure site recovery natively integrates with System Center and HyperV architectures, creating a robust and seamless cohesion between Azure, System Center, and HyperV.

2. Host and Develop Web and Mobile Apps

Host & DevelopWhether you’re looking for a platform for hosting, developing, or managing a web or mobile app, Azure makes those apps autonomous and adaptive with patch management, AutoScale, and integration for on-premise apps.

With Automatic patch management for your virtual machines, you can spend less time managing your infrastructure and focus on improving your apps. Azure also comes with continuous deployment support, which allows you to streamline ongoing code updates.

AutoScale is a feature built in to Azure Web Apps that adjusts your resources automatically based on customer web traffic so you have the resources you need when traffic is high, and save money when you’re not in peak times.

Through Azure, you can seamlessly link your web app to an on-premise app. Connecting apps in both locations lets both employees and partners securely access resources inside your firewall—resources that would otherwise be difficult to access externally.

3. Distribute and Supplement Active Directory

Active DirectoryAzure can integrate with your Active Directory to supplement your identity and access capabilities—this gives your DNS a global reach, centralized management, and robust security.

With Azure, you can globally distribute an Active Directory environment that is direct connect enabled. No other cloud provider has the ability to extend the reach of your domain controller and consolidate AD management like Azure.

If you have multiple locations or use on-premise apps or cloud apps like Office 365, Active Directory integration with Azure will be the central tool for managing and maintaining access to all of these tools.

Azure also enables you to utilize multi-factor authentication, adding a new layer of security to your data and applications with zero hassle for your users. You can also easily implement single sign-on for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS cloud apps.

How will you use Azure?

Azure LightbulbThese three services are just a glimpse of what Azure can do for your environment. Besides Microsoft’s defined services, it is full of cloud-computing potential that you can utilize in almost any way imaginable.

If you have questions about other ways you could use Azure, or would like to move forward and implement one of the services noted here, then let us know! You can start off with a trial and $200 in Azure credits to see get your feet wet. You can also get an idea of the costs by using the pricing calculator, or talk to one of our sales engineers and we’ll do the work for you.

Spencer Towle
Spencer kicked off the CCB Blog in 2015, pulling from his experience in the IT industry and his passion for writing engaging and valuable content.

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