Taking The Mystery Out Of Microsoft Azure And What It Can Do For Your Business
If you’re like most business owners, no matter how big your company is or what it does, you’re always looking for ways to grow, cut costs and be more efficient. In a nutshell, Microsoft Azure can help you do all of those things. In the sections that follow, we’ll go into more detail about how Microsoft Azure can help take your business to the next level.
According to the latest statistics, the United States and US businesses in particular are the targets of choice for the world’s hackers, and the damage they cause is extensive indeed. The average cost of a data breach of a US company averages a staggering $7.91 million dollars, and that’s not counting the intangibles like the loss of consumer confidence in your operation.
While there’s no such thing as a perfect defense against hacking, one critically important thing you can do to protect yourself is to make sure you’ve got a solid backup system in place. That way, if the worst happens and hackers destroy significant amount of your company’s data, you can get your firm back up and running in short order.
The problem is that conventional backup methodologies tend to be resource-intensive and expensive. Cloud-based backup plans change that, and Microsoft’s Azure service takes data backups to the next level. With your data being stored in a total of six different locations for redundancy, you’ll never again have to worry about the threat of data loss.
Another thing that companies of all sizes struggle with is access control. Simply put, this amounts to making sure that only the right people have access to sensitive company data.
The Azure service is built on the same framework that Windows Active Directory utilizes, so it’s something most people are already familiar with. By putting your company’s most important data on the cloud, it’s easy to control access from a central console, allowing you a birds’ eye view of who has access to what and creating an easy to follow audit trail in the event that something needs to be investigated.
Using Microsoft Azure, creating virtual Microsoft or Linux machines is a snap and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes thanks to Azure’s template-driven approach. Even better, the templates are just the beginning, given that they’re infinitely customizable. You can create exactly the virtual desktop you want and need, and maintain as many highly customized templates as you like.
Azure is much more than simply an infrastructure-as-service offering. It’s also a platform as a service, which makes it an ideal tool for app development, especially if your development team is far-flung and scattered all across the country, or even all across the globe.
Azure boasts a robust collection of development tools that make it easier than ever for your team to collaborate and create. Even better, when you’re finished, the platform makes it simple to roll your new program out to everyone in your company.
Back in the ‘good old days’ of IT, keeping software up to date across your network required a huge investment in time and manpower, with one of your IT staff having to make the rounds and physically go to each PC the software in question was installed on and apply the latest update by hand.
Thankfully those days are long gone, but Azure makes keeping applications up to date simpler, faster, and easier than ever before, and again, you can control it all from a central console that gives you a top level view of your network so you can keep tabs on every aspect of it.
As amazing as all of this is, it barely scratches the surface. Azure has more than one hundred different app service components built in, and you have access to them all. Here are just a few of the other possibilities you can explore:
- The Azure Bot Service - infinitely scalable
- Azure Batch AI
- Azure Databricks - consider these to be digital legos, useful for building collaborative analytics
- Computer Vision
- Speech to Text Service
- Text to Speech Service
- Cognitive Services
- Content Moderator
- Azure machine Learning
- Microsoft Genomics – obviously not for every company, but if you’re in the biotech field, this service is invaluable
- SQL Data Warehouse
- Data Lake Analytics
- Development File Repositories
- DevOps Tool Integrations
- Azure Artifacts
- Azure DevTest Labs
- Event Grids
- Azure Maps – intuitive location APIs that provide geospatial context to data
- Machine Learning Studio – a complete set of tools for building and managing predictive analytic solutions
- Azure IoT Hub – connect, monitor and manage all of your company’s smart devices
- Azure Service Health
- Azure Resource Manager
- Traffic Manager
- Built-In Scheduler
- Network Watcher
- Content Delivery Network
- And more!
The Azure platform does it all, giving you a whole host of powerful, intuitive tools designed to allow you to manage every aspect of your network to be sure that access levels are appropriately set and your system is up to date and performing exactly as it should.
As you saw in the previous section, the Azure platform has a lot to offer in terms of helping you ensure your network is performing optimally and that your data is safe and secure. Those are all good things, and there’s definitely some cost savings potential to be found in the increased efficiencies the platform provides, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to those savings, Microsoft Azure simply costs less to use than competing products, and it does so while simultaneously offering many more tools than similar products.
Take Amazon’s AWS service, for example. It’s a widely used, undeniably exceptional service, but it not only costs significantly more to use, it also offers substantially fewer tools and resources, making Azure the logical choice. That’s why a staggering 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure.
Simply put, it’s the most trusted name in the industry, backed by the power of one of the largest companies in the world with more than three decades’ worth of experience serving Enterprise customers.
When you invest in Azure though, you’re getting more than just a great service backed by a world-class company. Azure boasts a vast, globe spanning partner network that contains more than 68,000 companies and is the most compliant cloud-based service in existence with more than seventy certifications under its belt.
The final thing to mention where cost savings are concerned is this: One of the things that makes Azure so affordable is the fact that you only pay for what you use. Many other cloud-based providers have rigidly defined plans that often see companies constrained by the limits of their current plan, which blunts the usefulness of the cloud service they’re employing, or, just as bad are the plans that offer far more than a given company needs, which sees you paying for capacity you’re not using.
With Azure, you pay for only what you use, and nothing more. That enables a small startup to invest in Azure for an incredibly low price, and enjoy the benefits of infinite scale, with the costs increasing gradually as your business increases in size.
While it’s certainly true that given a big enough budget, you could invest in sufficient infrastructure to replicate most, if not all of Azure’s functionality in-house.
The problem with that approach, of course, is that it would take a budget-busting amount of money to accomplish, and you’d need to hire a massive staff solely dedicated to the task of maintaining your sprawling infrastructural footprint. Then, of course, there’s the related issue that you’ll find yourself with far more in the way of infrastructure and capacity than you need, and when you finally do grow into your investment, further expansion as your business continues to grow would be ruinously expensive and difficult to manage.
This is perhaps the biggest and most important advantage Azure offers. It’s the ultimate level playing field. You don’t have to invest in vast amounts of infrastructure. You can simply leverage Azure’s existing infrastructure, tools and partner network, and best of all, you can do that for an unbelievable low price.
Low cost paired with incredible functionality is the key to taking your business to the next level. The bottom line is simply this: Whatever business you’re in, Azure can help take it to the next level. It provides an amazing collection of tools and services under a single umbrella, allowing you to start with a modest investment that enables you to explore the possibilities, then scale up as needed as your business continues to grow and thrive.
With Azure, the possibilities are truly without limit. There’s no end to the ways you can use the platform to help your business grow or run more smoothly. When you’re ready to take the next step, getting started with Azure is a lesson in simplicity, and given the company’s world-class customer service and support team, you’ll begin to master its use in no time at all.