At this point, it is clear: every business should operate with cloud computing in some way. It is known for delivering significant cost benefits, improving efficiency levels, and a whole host of other advantages.
When it comes to cloud computing, however, there are various decisions that need to be made. You cannot simply shift your company onto the cloud within a day or two. First of all, you have to select the right cloud platform for your needs.
In that sense, there are three main choices on the table: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. While all have their positive aspects, the following guide is going to place a particular focus on the latter option.
Is Azure the right cloud platform for your business? To answer this question and learn more about this cloud entry from Microsoft, simply read on for all the information you’ll need.
Microsoft Azure: What is it?
First things first, it is important to clarify what Microsoft Azure is and what features it supplies. To put it simply, Azure is a platform that features everything a business requires to run its computer-based operations virtually.
This includes aspects such as storage, networking, servers, and networking. If a company only requires a part of its computer operations to run on the cloud, this can also be facilitated by Azure.
Not long ago, an organization would have to rely on building and managing their physical computer hardware. This means they would have to put together servers, Ethernet switches, disk storage, and the like to ensure their business could operate as expected.
While effective in a sense, it is also a costly experience in putting together a physical computer network and maintaining it on a constant basis.
With Azure, however, that cost can be effectively slashed from the budget of a company. As with other public cloud computing platforms, they deal with the purchasing and maintaining of computer hardware. As a result, you essentially ‘rent’ the hardware resources your business requires.
Due to the benefits, plenty of companies are opting against on-site datacenters and dedicated IT departments and instead are going with Azure as their all-in-one computer solution. Others have decided to go with a combination of the two, while certain enterprises are even leveraging the advantages of enlisting multiple cloud providers to maximize results.
Why is Microsoft Azure so popular?
Based on a 2017 survey reported by Forbes, Microsoft Azure was recognized as the cloud platform that customers would most likely purchase or renew. It received 28 percent of the total response, which was noticeably higher than Amazon Web Services (22 percent), Google Cloud Platform (15 percent), and IBM Cloud (10 percent).
While public perception may have swayed to some degree since there is no mistaking that Azure is one of the most popular public cloud providers on the market today. Why is it such a prevalent option for businesses of all sizes, to the point that 85% of Fortune 500 corporations reportedly use Microsoft’s offering?
As you would expect, there is no single answer to this question. Azure boasts a wide range of positives, all of which combine to explain its popularity. Below is a look at some of the main advantages.
1. Resources for learning
Even if you are a complete novice to the world of Microsoft Azure, don’t worry – you can quickly get up to speed. From extensive written guides to YouTube tutorials, there are many resources you can use to learn about Azure and cloud computing in general.
To go that step further and ensure you receive the best education, there are also specialist courses that can provide an ideal foundation for Azure and give you the best chance of passing the AZ-900 exam.
2. Data centers around the world
Thanks to Microsoft’s vast resources and technical expertise, you can be safe in the knowledge there will be an Azure datacenter close by to your business.
In fact, Microsoft claims Azure features a greater number of global regions than every other cloud provider. There are over 100 data centers located across the globe, and this number is only going to increase in the near future.
You will typically be given a chance to specify which region to use when storing your data. When doing this, it is highly recommended you select the datacenter which is closest to the location of your users. Ultimately, this will lower the latency they will suffer when trying to access your content.
3. Security is a priority
Of course, this applies to each major public cloud platform. Yet Microsoft arguably goes that step further with the security of Azure.
The Azure Security Center backs up this sentiment. This security center is a tool that allows you to monitor all of your Azure resources. You can check for threats and security vulnerabilities and even utilize advanced analytics to detect activity that could be potentially malicious.
With that said, there is one negative point when it comes to the Azure Security Center. Not all of its features are available for free. If you want to upgrade from the free to “standard” tier, you will have to pay to enjoy the advanced threat detection features it includes.
4. Disaster recovery
No business wants to suffer from downtime. Even if their website is only down for an hour or so, this could cost them a large number of sales – particularly during busy holiday periods. As a result, it makes sense that a lot of companies regard disaster recovery as a high priority.
When you use Microsoft Azure, there is no need to worry about what type of disaster recovery solution to use – it has one ready to go. You can deploy a certain cloud service, for instance, to multiple data centers across the world.
There is also the chance to replicate data three times in total, which further ensures your operation maintains that all-important 99.9% uptime.
5. Development tools
If you want to develop your own services and introduce new innovations, Microsoft Azure is a great cloud provider choice. The platform supplies an assortment of solutions, services, and templates which you can start using immediately for development.
As you don’t have to purchase any new equipment to get going, Azure is an ideal playground for playing around and testing out a wide range of scenarios.
Even if something doesn’t work, it isn’t going to cost your business much other than a relatively small amount of time. Plus, the rewards could be huge if the development pays off.
6. Elasticity for busy periods
Visitor numbers can fluctuate wildly for certain businesses. This is especially the case for e-commerce stores, which rely on busy holidays for the bulk of their sales. Because of the need to handle additional capacity, it is essential your system is prepared for the situation when it comes around.
If you are maintaining an on-site datacenter, this isn’t exactly an ideal scenario. You will have to purchase hardware and maintain it year-round, even if you only need the extra resources for a few days.
With Azure, you simply increase or decrease your virtual resource base as and when needed. Changes can be completed in a matter of seconds, and it ensures you maximize your expenditure and don’t waste it on unnecessary resources.
The advantages of using cloud computing
Aside from the specific benefits of using Microsoft Azure, it is also important to highlight the advantages gained from using cloud computing in general.
In that regard, there are many positives of cloud computing. Below are a few of the main points to keep in mind.
1. Save money
As touched upon already, using the cloud means you don’t necessarily have to dedicate resources to building and maintaining your own IT system.
All you have to do is pay for your cloud service, which is considerably cheaper in general. This is particularly the case when you factor in that you only pay for what you need. You’ll get the exact features and data storage requirements your business needs – no more, no less.
2. Mobility for employees
If your employees have access to the internet and a suitable device, they can use the cloud. They don’t even require a desktop or laptop – they can gain access to the business information they require from their tablet or smartphone.
This type of mobility is particularly handy for remote workers. Even if they are working from home or are traveling across the country, they can still complete their work with ease.
Following on from the previous point, cloud computing is also an excellent tool for collaboration. Various employees can be scattered across the planet, but they can still collaborate with ease and in a secure manner.
One of the best tools you can have is a cloud-based system when it comes to maintaining consistency and avoiding the potential damage caused by human error.
It ensures all documents are kept in one place, and they follow a single format. Plus, due to all of your employees accessing the same information, it is easier to maintain data consistency and record document updates/revisions.
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