What Is Windows Azure and What Are Its Benefits?
Today large companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, that have extensive experience managing large data centers, are offering customers to “rent” data capacity. This is great news for companies that want to focus on their core business application and not worry about the underlying platform. Microsoft’s cloud platform offering is called Windows Azure.
Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s premiere cloud platform, has contributed to significant revenue growth for Microsoft since its launch in 2010, coinciding with the company’s ongoing transition into the cloud market by forming strategic partnerships with cloud leaders like Salesforce.com. Not only does Azure boast strong platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities, but the solution is currently the only major cloud platform that is a leader for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), as ranked by Gartner. Recently, Forbes predicted that annual revenue for Azure would be close to $2.3 billion.
Azure is gaining traction as the cloud infrastructure of choice for many IT professionals. Here are a few reasons these pros are turning to Azure as their cloud platform of choice—and perhaps why your organization should also consider doing so:
Cost Savings and Quick Scalability
With a model such as Windows Azure, companies only need to pay for the resources that their applications are using. Should a company need to increase its number of users or its data storage, for example, Microsoft can simply adjust their rate, making it extremely convenient and scalable. With this “pay-as-you-go” approach, businesses only pay for the amount of space that they need, instead of having to pay for empty storage at the maximum amount which they may never use.
In addition to cost savings and quick scalability, another advantage of Windows Azure and the IaaS/PaaS model is reliability. Windows Azure services are provided from cloud data centers which have multiple built-in redundancies. If one server crashes, a company’s applications will automatically run on another server in the data center.
Microsoft Azure supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. New web applications and upgrades can easily be added.
Closely integrated with other Microsoft tools
For organizations that are reliant on Microsoft tools like SharePoint (which was recently ranked the No.1 platform for enterprise collaboration), Office 365 and Outlook, investing in a cloud platform that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products makes sense. Organizations can also use the same virtual machines in Azure that they use on-premises, like Windows and Linux, which further simplifies operations. Many industry experts expect Azure to slowly but surely gain adoption due to this ability to offer users a completely seamless and integrated service package.
IaaS and PaaS
Azure boasts an enticing combination of IaaS (managed) and PaaS (unmanaged) services. IaaS enables companies to outsource their cloud computing infrastructure and pay for only for what they use. PaaS allows companies to create their own Web apps and/or software without having to buy and maintain the underlying infrastructure. This enables organizations to customize their cloud software—like Office 365, for example—to meet their exact specifications and requirements. Because Azure is an industry leader in both of these categories, companies can more quickly and easily build, deploy and manage applications.
Strong BI and analytics support
Azure provides managed SQL and NoSQL data services and built-in support for digging deeper into data and uncovering key insights for improving business processes and decision making. Specifically, organizations can leverage their SQL Server in the cloud and can use HDInsight, Microsoft Azure’s Apache Hadoop-based cloud service, to build Hadoop clusters to more deeply analyze data.
Azure has a fully integrated delivery pipeline
Once you start comparing Azure benefits from an enterprise perspective you realise that there are many elements beyond mere storage.
From an architecture perspective, you really need a unified delivery pipeline – here’s Azures:
- Source control
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- Go live tools
While the argument can be made that assigning specific workloads to different environments can at times be advantageous. There is great continuity and reduces risk of integration failure when all tools are available under one umbrella.
It means that in the case of product updates or any other changes, Azure can guarantee [to a high degree] that their pipeline is designed according – which creates a compelling business case.
Disaster recovery in Azure
With data being transferred globally, it is important for providers to have in-built fail-over and disaster recovery capabilities. They have regional and global fail-over options, hot and cold standby models as well as rolling reboot capabilities that work out of the box. These capabilities put them far beyond the, plain-old storage option. While this may not be something that is a daily issue to a business, it is definitely something that you can confidently know is happening in the background.
Let us know which Microsoft Azure business benefit was the most interesting below. Should you wish to learn more or need any help with it, contact us.