Microsoft Azure represents a cloud computing platform that allows companies to develop applications, empower data centers, or use it as their sole IT environment. The secret of its popularity lies within the platform’s hybrid features and a powerful combination of services to build, deploy, and manage high-performance applications. That technological paradigm helps even small companies and startups to appear on equal footing with large corporations.
Microsoft Azure can be quickly scaled to meet various requirements, so the customers only pay for the platform’s actual use. A per-minute reckoning for infrastructure services such as computing power, storage, and data movement speed in the data center guarantees the best price for the resources used. Nowadays, Microsoft Azure is used extensively in various domains such as:
- Big Data analytics;
- BI (Business intelligence);
- The development of web, mobile, and hybrid apps;
- Serverless computing;
- IoT services.
The platform relies on a growing global network of data centers managed by Microsoft. This approach enables clients to run high-performance applications targeted at users from around the world. Microsoft Azure supports numerous operating systems, languages, tools, and frameworks, from Windows to Linux and SQL Server to Oracle. The biggest benefits of Microsoft Azure services include:
- data integrity;
The platform provides the best out of the Windows ecosystem and enables you to create apps and services that run on any device. In this article, we're going to find out what Azure is, so you can better understand its basics when deciding to adopt the platform.
Microsoft Azure or AWS?
Before we plunge into Azure services, let's touch upon a vital question. Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs. Microsoft Azure - which one is better?
There's no definitive answer: both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are worth every dollar spent. In the majority of cases, the choice boils down to the specific requirements of a business. If you're looking for a reliable Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider, choose Azure. If Windows integration is a necessity, the answer is the same. On the other hand, AWS would be the preferable choice if a business needs a robust infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
Both AWS and Azure have a large list of IaaS and PaaS offerings. However, it would be fair to say that choosing Azure would be wise for big players, while AWS is the choice for SMBs (especially US-based ones). Vlad Yanum, Cloud and Big Data architect at Akveo, suggests basing your choice upon the following aspects:
- Current usage of the CSP;
- Availability of the needed services (mainly PaaS);
- Familiarity with the toolset;
- Vendor lock-in vs. open-source tech support;
- Regulatory/industry compliance;
What types of cloud services exist?
Microsoft Azure includes three primary services: Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service provides infrastructure and tools to develop your software from scratch. With PaaS, you don't have to care about hardware at all. Instead, you get everything you need to start creating your application right away, from programming language execution environments and databases to an operating system.
PaaS may be preferable for companies with an IT infrastructure in place. Sure, employees will have to configure the PaaS platform software themselves. Still, in return, the organization will have greater control over the development processes when delivering the finished software to customers.
Software as a Service (SaaS): With SaaS, you can access an application available to the general user audience on the Internet. The idea behind this service is easy: think Office 365, Gmail, Salesforce, or GoToMeeting. In other words, an app is ready for work once you've logged in.
SaaS services work best for organizations that can't afford to buy on-premise solutions. In their turn, large companies can use this model for short-term projects that require fast, simple, and reliable solutions.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This service offers an infrastructure to store data or deploy and run applications. With IaaS, the client can choose data storage, virtual servers, machines, operating systems, networks, and load balancers.
If you don't want to maintain your own on-premises data center, such a service is a perfect match for your business. IaaS services are a cost-effective alternative to buying equipment and creating local infrastructure. In simple terms: migrating to IaaS saves time and money in the long term.
What’s more, Azure provides an array of SDKs and tools for managing and interacting with Azure services. Check out the whole list from the official website:
What products does Azure include?
It's worth saying that Microsoft has fully embraced the open-source movement. Using Azure HDInsight, it's possible to run open-source frameworks such as Apache Hadoop, Spark, Kubernetes (AKS), Hive, Kafka, etc.
The support of open-source tools allows businesses to avoid vendor lock-in solutions. This basically means that customers might migrate to/from Azure from other CSP/on-premise easier.
To supplement its services, Microsoft Azure comes with a rich product line that offers a solid base for web/mobile apps, networking, computing, storage, databases, big data analytics, security, etc. Let's check some of these products in detail.
The platform provides tools for building, deploying, and testing both web and mobile applications. Plus, Microsoft Azure provides full support for APIs. Azure Web App Service allows developing and deploying robust web applications using the language of your preference. The service supports Windows and Linux environments and automatically deploys applications created using .NET, PHP, NodeJS, Java, Python, etc., frameworks through VSTS and GitHub. Azure Mobile App Service allows developers to create native Android, iOS, and Windows smartphone apps. It also supports hybrid cross-platform applications developed with Cordova or Xamarin.
As data is only growing globally, storage space is one of the most critical requirements for businesses of any size. Azure Storage Service provides storage options such as disk, file, blob, and queue, not to mention backup and recovery mechanisms. What's even more important is that all the user data stored using Azure Storage Service is secure and durable.
And what about database storage? Microsoft Azure allows storing large volumes of structured data using several types of database-storage options. These database-as-a service services include:
- Azure MySQL and PostgreSQL Database;
- Azure SQL Database;
- Maria DB;
- Table Storage;
- Azure Cosmos DB;
- Redis Cache.
Undoubtedly, security is a vital concern for any business, especially in today’s circumstances. Azure Identity provides single sign-on and multi-factor authentication to help protect users from 99.9% of cyber attacks. Azure Key Vault service offers security and control over keys and passwords and strengthens data protection and compliance. Multi-Factor Authentication Service offers a two-step authentication access to the simple sign-in process. With a supplementary layer of user verification, the app you're using becomes more secure.
AI, Machine Learning, and chatbots services are also available. These Azure services allow the creation of top-notch analytics solutions and ML & AI models to deploy via the cloud. As for the creation of chatbots, Azure Bot Service gets you fully covered.
What is Microsoft Azure consulting?
So why does one need to resort to Microsoft Azure consulting? The answer is rather simple: such services help companies proceed with successful Azure migration and carry out reliable cloud-native development and environment optimization.
Usually, Azure consultants start with pre-assessment and strategic planning to move further to Azure deployment itself. Overall, with Microsoft Azure consulting services, it gets a lot easier to accelerate the digital transformation for a business of any size.
How can Akveo help with Azure consulting?
Here at Akveo, we help businesses across business domains renovate their infrastructure, operational processes, and business applications. Our Microsoft Azure consulting services include everything you need to take towards successful and cost-effective Microsoft Azure migration. From a step-by-step strategic plan to implementation and further maintenance, we're here to support your digital transformation. The team of industry-leading Microsoft Azure consultants will convert your vision into reality.
Our certified Azure experts can help you implement a secure, scalable, and easy to manage cloud infrastructure. It's possible to hire our experts on a full-time, part-time or temp-to-hire basis. Contact us today to discuss your project.
To sum up
Over the last five years, many industry professionals have seen the rise of cloud computing as "unprecedented." In 2020, the public cloud services market grew 24.1%, with the IaaS and PaaS segments growing at an even faster pace. This growth means that companies are increasingly relying on cloud infrastructure and cloud-native platforms for application deployment.
Nowadays, the Azure platform is gradually becoming a household name in industries worldwide. According to the report by Business Quant, Azure made up to as much as 10.5% of Microsoft’s total revenue in 2019. What's more, Gartner predicts public cloud spendings to increase by 18% internationally in 2021. As many as 70% of companies will increase their cloud spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This way, it would be fair to conclude that Azure is a match made in heaven for businesses of any size, from aspiring startups to established corporations. Our certified team of Microsoft Azure consultants, solution architects, and engineers will help you get the best out of Azure migration consulting, development, and optimization. Contact us at [email protected], and let's start your journey towards digital transformation today.
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