You may have heard of Microsoft Azure and you may be wondering what it is and how it works. Learn about it here with Microsoft Azure defined. Thanks to the increasing use of cloud computing, companies are more able to utilize computing resources without having to pay for expensive and labor-intensive data centers. And they no longer have to spend a bunch of money on running servers too.
The cloud computing platform from Microsoft is called Azure. So what is Azure defined? It’s essentially a system of services that leverages proprietary technologies from Microsoft. It simplifies the licensing process for Microsoft applications for businesses.
Are you interested in learning more? Continue reading, and we’ll walk you through what Microsoft Azure is and how it works.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Before we dive into everything Azure, let’s start with some basics. To put it simply, cloud computing is the process of using the internet to access services, software, and store, instead of running, installing and storing applications on your hardware.
For example, you may already use a cloud computing platform like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store your data. Instead of saving files on your hardware, where they take up space and can only be accessed from that computer, the information is stored on Microsoft’s computers. These are massive servers that can be accessed from anywhere with a connection to the internet.
Cloud software works much in the same way. The cloud software is installed and then run on a remote server. The company that develops the software runs that server.
And when you want to use that software, you just connect to a website and go into your account from there. Instead of using a standard desktop program, you would use a web browser.
Cloud computing can be used in an almost limitless number of ways. And it gives the user access to vast amounts of computing power that they most likely would not be able to create on their own. A lot of benefits come with this kind of platform, which is why cloud computing is becoming so popular these days.
How It Works
To access cloud services and applications, all you need is a computing device and a connection to the internet. This means that you won’t have to worry about purchasing and maintaining servers and hardware as much.
Cloud software tends to cost less, and you usually pay for it on a pay-as-you-go basis. So businesses don’t need to spend a ton of money to purchase software upfront.
With cloud computing, files, software, and other services become accessible from any place, at any time, on any device, so long as you have a connection to the internet.
Microsoft Azure Defined
There are several hundred different services that work within the Microsoft Azure platform. Generally speaking, Microsoft Azure is a web-based program where services and applications can be tested, designed, managed, and used.
Azure hosts a variety of Microsoft’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) products.
There are three main areas of functionality worth knowing about: app services, cloud services, and virtual machines.
What Is a Virtual Machine?
Virtual machines are one of the most useful and popular aspects of Microsoft Azure. Virtual machines are computer files, sometimes referred to as images, that act like computing systems.
A virtual machine will usually run in a window, much like a standard computer program. Essentially, you can run a computer system within your actual computer without affecting the host computer.
Why would someone need a virtual machine? These systems allow developers to safely build system backups, test things like beta releases, access virus-infected information, and operate apps on operating systems that are normally not considered to be compatible. And they can do all of this without worrying that they’ll damage the wider system.
You can run multiple virtual machines at the same time on the same computer. And each virtual machine comes with its own virtual hardware, including memory, network interfaces, CPUs, hard drives, and other devices.
The virtual hardware is able to connect to the physical hardware, which will save the user money because it reduces their reliance on new hardware systems as well as maintenance expenses.
Who Should Use Microsoft Azure ?
Because Microsoft Azure is so so scalable and accessible, it can be used by businesses of any size and type. This includes one-person startups to Fortune 500 companies.
There are many benefits to Microsoft Azure other than just the innovative and business-critical services. First off, Microsoft Azure is flexible.
It’s easy for people to make new apps as they go, increase their storage capabilities, and add new services, without being concerned about whether they have the necessary infrastructure to support such changes.
Microsoft Azure also greatly reduces the need for expensive hardware like load balancers, routers, and servers — as well as in-house IT to maintain them. This means that Azure can save a business a lot of money without sacrificing capabilities.
Many of the services provided by Microsoft Azure work on a pay-as-you-go, on-demand system. And users are about to get a real-time view of much they are paying by using their admin portal. This makes it budgeting for IT much more accurate and easy.
The cloud services from Microsoft are also extremely reliable. They have a wide variety of disaster recovery plans as well as extensive backup systems. This means that all of your data is in safe hands.
What Are the Benefits of Microsoft Azure?
Businesses stand to benefit greatly from the many services that are available through Microsoft Azure. It would be extremely expensive and difficult to replicate this kind of computing power in-house. Azure makes it easy for companies to gain access to the latest Microsoft technology thanks to Azure’s on-demand licensing model.
Associated third parties, as well as intelligent tools that are provided by Microsoft Azure, offer companies the ability to transform their processes and operations so that they can be more efficient and productive.
Because Azure is so scalable, companies can quickly respond to changes in circumstances or demand. And they can do this without having to worry about changes in infrastructure to handle the extra workload.
And because a secure and dependable service backs Azure, it can give credibility to businesses. Plus, when dealing with customer and client information, using data can increase trust between the company and the customer.
How Can You Get Access to Microsoft Azure?
If your company is ready to start using Microsoft Azure, then all you have to do is sign up for the platform’s Pay-As-You-Go service. You just have to input a payment method and some necessary information about your business. You can also sign up for a free trial for thirty days.
With that said, it’s much easier to gain access to Microsoft Azure then to actually switch to it. By utilizing the services of a Microsoft Azure consulting firm, you can seamlessly and simply migrate your current systems to the cloud.
The History of Microsoft Azure
Microsoft first announced the development of Azure in October of 2008. The system became commercially available in 2010. Although it was originally known as Windows Azure, Microsoft renamed it to Microsoft Azure in July 2014.
Since the service was announced, additional service regions have continuously been added. In May 2015, Azure Stack was first announced. This is a hybrid cloud solution that’s offered by Microsoft as well as by several hardware companies.
After its original technical preview in January 2016, companies were able to use their own hardware with the Azure Stack release. Later, Microsoft walked back the plan and required users to purchase a prequalified Azure Stack system. This was meant to make the platform perform better.
Associated hardware companies have continued to deploy new prequalified systems to be used with Azure Stack.
Microsoft Azure has continued to expand. It now provides support for multiple virtual machines on the Azure platform of Linux distributions. Currently, the Azure platform supports:
- Oracle Linux
- SUSE Linux Enterprise
- Clear Linux
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Docker images are also supported by Azure.
Also, SAP and Microsoft have collaborated to create the business services and software from SAP run on Microsoft Azure. In 2018, the general availability of SAP HANA was announced by Microsoft. This was extended further in 2018, and global strategic service partners (GSSPs), Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) were added for cloud-based delivery of S/4HANA.
What Services Compete with Microsoft Azure?
One of the biggest benefits of Microsoft Azure is that it makes it easy for companies to transition when they are looking to migrate from other products as well as for companies who want to integrate with current Windows deployment tightly.
For those companies, Azure is probably the most attractive choice for a stress-free migration to the cloud. Also, Microsoft heavily promotes the compliance certifications for users who work for the government. They tend to point out that Azure was actually the first public cloud system to have a FedRAMP P-ATO.
When talking about scale, IBM, Amazon, and Google are all capable of handling any computer tasks or amount of data that you can throw at them. Like Amazon itself, Amazon Web Services work to be everything to everyone.
By this, we mean that Amazon Web Services has the most extensive and diverse portfolio of cloud services out of any of the public cloud providers. The core strengths of Google Cloud’s platform are in extensive client support, big data resources, and machine learning.
For IoT, the market for cloud providers is still wide open. And there are tailored solutions made available from ThingWorx, Samsung’s ARTIK Cloud, and GE Predix.
The Main Differences Between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services
Although there are a variety of competitors all jostling for more control of cloud computing market share, the two main platforms are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
The core components of Azure can also be found in AWS: networking, storage, and cloud computing.
AWS is a little older than Azure, as it was launched two years before. However, Microsoft Azure covers more geographic regions than AWS, which could be an important factor depending on where your company does business.
Also, Amazon doesn’t have its own operating system as Microsoft does. So Azure comes with the benefit of being natively integrated with many popular applications used by businesses, such as Dynamics 365 and Office 365.
What Is the Azure Portal?
The Azure Portal is an interface where users are able to manage and view all of their apps in a single space. This includes:
- Visual Studio team projects
- virtual machines
- web applications
- virtual networks
From the Azure Portal, users are able to administer and make computing services and servers. Plus, you can monitor your current cloud infrastructure, and you can integrate with Visual Studio Online as a way to help your company bring DevOps processes into your operations.
The Importance of Knowing About Microsoft Azure
As we enter a new decade, it’s clear that cloud computing will be the next great step in business operations. And when you understand Microsoft Azure defined, you can better prepare yourself for the future and get a leg up on the competition. Not only will switching to the cloud save your business money, but it will also make your team lighter and more adaptable to change.
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