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The basics of Microsoft Azure

Microsoft is synonymous with technology, and it is at the forefront of technological advancement. In fact, if you’ve got a business, you probably use some of their amazing products. But if you don’t know your Azure from your Windows 365, don’t panic!

You are about to embark on a journey that will help you understand the world of Microsoft Azure and why it is the preferred cloud-based software of many businesses today.

What is the cloud?

Cloud concepts have been around for some time but with the emergence of the pandemic we are hearing a lot more of it. Cloud computing is a technology concept where software and hardware infrastructure is available over the internet through a web browser as opposed to an internal company network where physical hardware is purchased and maintained on premises. Instead, cloud services are rented through cloud providers like Microsoft, and businesses pay for the resources they use on a monthly basis.

The cloud is fast, as Microsoft have many servers located all over the world to balance loads. The technology is scalable, so you can add and remove resources, like an SQL database, with a few clicks. The services available through the cloud range from applications to virtual servers and databases to telephony services to entire development environments. Many powerful tools are available through cloud computing to help businesses thrive.

There are public and private cloud options as well as hybrid options so businesses can choose a configuration that works for them. With programs such as BYO PC for companies, cloud computing supports a remote yet centralised workplace.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud-based application that can operate as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas), with plugins into software-as-a service (SaaS) offerings like Microsoft 365. IaaS provides services for cloud-based outsourcing of infrastructure like networks, storage, and servers. PaaS is a service for cloud-based platforms like operating systems and development environments. SaaS provides cloud-based software services. Because it is cloud-based, Azure doesn’t need to be installed on a physical machine. It is kept up to date and maintained by Microsoft, eliminating this headache for businesses. Basically, Microsoft Azure is a gateway into accessing the power the cloud has to offer.

Some of the many Azure features

Underneath the umbrella of Microsoft Azure sits over two hundred products and services, allowing businesses to tailor their IT solutions to their unique requirements.

Microsoft Azure offers many resources from databases to virtual desktops to machine learning applications and quantum computing.  Microsoft Azure allows companies to set up a virtual cloud infrastructure that can be managed and accessed from anywhere in the world. With the emergence of the pandemic, Microsoft Azure is an attractive option as it supports a remote workforce. Its flexibility and cost savings are just two of the reasons why many organisations have made the switch to Microsoft Azure.

Here are some of the features:

  • Azure Resource Manager: allows for the organising of assets into resource groups for easy provisioning, monitoring, access control, and cost management.
  • Azure Content Delivery Network: when sending audio, video, apps, photos, and other files it uses the server closest to each user for quick and reliable communication.
  • Azure load balancer: provides high availability by distributing incoming traffic among healthy virtual machines by monitoring their health.
  • Secure single sign-on (SSO): users only need to log in once to access the business’s complete IT network.
  • MFA: multi-factor authentication forces users to authenticate who they are with their phone, for example.
  • Azure Service Bus: a messaging platform for the sending of data between decoupled systems.
  • Azure Advisor: Azure offers various billing and budgeting tools to help companies analyse their costs. Azure Advisor provides recommendations on how to optimise usage and reduce costs.

The Azure Management Portal

One of the benefits of Azure services is its ability to provide remote administration for a company’s IT infrastructure through a web-based Azure portal user interface without a need to have staff on premises. The tasks that can be performed range from user management in Azure active directory, where user permissions are stored, right through to complex cloud deployments.

Microsoft Azure and backup, recovery, and cybercrime

Malicious attacks can be very costly for a business which is why Microsoft is at the forefront of cybercrime. It’s in their best interests to keep their servers safe and secure. They spend over one billion a year in cyber security to do just that. Using the Azure network means your organisation has access to a level of security, reducing internal IT costs. Staffing costs are cut as there is no need to invest in protecting an on-prem server.

Azure offers tools to help fight cybercrime, such as Azure Security Centre, Azure DDoS Protection and Azure Web Application Firewall. Azure provides security recommendations such as turning on multi-factor authentication and verifying identity on every access with a zero-trust security framework.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can also alleviate even more of the burden of cloud infrastructure as they have experts that can manage your Microsoft Azure service and cloud infrastructure with 24/7 support including proactive cyber prevention and disaster recovery strategy.

Microsoft is responsible for the maintenance and security of its servers. If one fails, they can quickly allocate Azure resources to one of their many worldwide servers. If a business only has one server on-premises and it crashes, this can be disastrous for businesses. Downtime risk is reduced with a cloud computing platform and Azure. Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery provide easy data and application cloud backup and quick recovery should the unthinkable happen.

In 2019 the independent research firm GigaOm found that when it comes to throughput performance between SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines and SQL Server on AWS EC2, Azure is the clear winner for mission-critical workloads, up to 3.4 times faster and up to 87 percent less expensive.

Microsoft Azure is a powerful cloud-based application that can be used in conjunction with cloud computing to yield promising results for businesses. Together, they have revolutionised the way business infrastructure is setup and executed, saving businesses valuable time and money. Talk to the Azure experts at INTELLIWORX to find out more about how Microsoft Azure can help your business harness the power of the cloud.

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