What is Azure? Microsoft’s Cloud Platform Explained

If you’ve been following the tech industry for a while, you’re probably extremely aware of the term “cloud computing.” A phrase that wasn’t even around fifty years ago has grown into the standard lingo of the tech world. And one of the biggest providers of cloud computing services is Microsoft, with its public cloud service- Azure. 

But, what is Azure, and what sets it apart from other cloud providers? Well, in this article, we are going to discuss the basics of cloud computing and Microsoft Azure, along with what you need to know about the service.

What is Azure?

First things first, let’s talk about what Microsoft Azure even is. Microsoft Azure is a cloud services platform. And, for those of us who aren’t as tech-savvy, you may be wondering, “What is a cloud services platform exactly?” Great question. A cloud services platform essentially gives individuals and businesses the ability to access off-site servers and data centers.

And, with Microsoft Azure, you have access to their robust data centers- that’s data centers across 54 regions worldwide and available in 140 countries– which allow you to build, deploy, and manage services and platforms from anywhere. So how does this all work?

How Do Cloud Services Work?

At this point, many of us have grasped the general concept of cloud technology. In fact, since the tech became mainstream, we often use the cloud in everyday life. From storing your photos and documents in the cloud to using cloud computing services, you’re probably familiar with cloud services like Google Docs and Dropbox. 

I mean, all the cloud really is, is the ability to save and store files somewhere other than your personal computer or network. Large companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple all have massive data centers that allow users, like us, to save our files there. These centers help free up space on our computers and eliminate the need for individual companies to house their own data centers. But, what many of us don’t know is how it all works- especially cloud computing.

Think of cloud computing like this- as a business, you need computing power to run processes and functions for your business. This computing power requires a lot of equipment, space, money, and time. A cloud services provider functions just like a cloud file storage provider. But in addition to letting you store files on their hardware, they also allow you access to off-site computing power. 

With Microsoft Azure, you gain access to enormous data centers, applications, and programs all over the globe. And this infrastructure that is owned by Microsoft is much more expansive than what an individual business could house (or afford for that matter). And the best part is, Microsoft is in charge of the upkeep. When companies use a cloud provider, they don’t have to worry about maintaining or updating hardware at all. 

Why Should Business Move to the Cloud?

There are numerous benefits of moving to the cloud in general. First, cloud technology is scalable- meaning organizations only use the capacity they need. Before, organizations might have had to buy brand new hardware to handle seasonality changes or unexpected traffic increases. The cloud takes care of all of that, and you only pay for what you use.

The cloud is also extremely cost-effective. Instead of having to make substantial capital investments every few years in the form of new servers or other hardware, you pay a monthly rate based on the services you use. And you don’t have to pay for the maintenance, repairs, or power needed for on-premise hardware. You can sit back, relax, and spend your money on what really matters- improving your business.

Another significant benefit is the ability to drive innovative solutions quickly and efficiently. Organizations can deploy new products and applications in the cloud faster than old-school hardware would allow. With the ability to rapidly introduce new products means businesses can respond to competing products and make improvements based on customer feedback. 

And that’s not all. A few other notable benefits of cloud technology are:

  • Ability for disaster recovery
  • Increased collaboration
  • Flexibility to work from anywhere

It’s no wonder so many companies are choosing to move to the cloud with these benefits. But there is one thing that holds many businesses back from cloud migration. One common misconception is that the cloud isn’t as secure as on-site infrastructure. But, this simply isn’t true. 

Are Cloud Services Secure?

Cloud services are secure. Maybe even more so than on-premise hardware. Improved security is actually often thought of as an advantage of cloud technology over on-premise data centers.

The fact of the matter is that it isn’t where your data is located that makes it safe or not- it’s how your systems are built. And cloud providers have the experience of cybersecurity experts on their side. Reliable cloud providers (like Azure) invest heavily in digital and physical security measures- much more than most individual businesses could.

So, if you weren’t sold on the cloud before, take a moment to mull over those benefits. But, even if an organization has decided that moving to the cloud is the right move for them, they still have to answer the question of what provider to choose. There are many cloud providers available that will offer businesses significant advantages, so what sets Microsoft Azure apart?

Why Choose Azure?

There are several benefits Microsoft Azure’s cloud services network can offer individuals and businesses. The most significant advantage is that you gain access to seemingly limitless resources. Microsoft’s collection of data centers have capabilities, space, and programs that would be unavailable for an individual company to house on their own. Using Azure gives your business the power that you need to grow and expand. 

Secondarily, using Azure will save your company significant amounts of money. To create, manage, and house a personal data center is incredibly expensive. Even after dumping ridiculous amounts of money into your own data center, you’d still likely end up with sub-par capabilities.

By investing in Microsoft Azure, you’re able to eliminate the headache and financial worry of maintaining a data center. With Azure, you can free up your organization and staff to work on more critical projects and tasks than managing a data center.

Another area where Azure separates itself from other cloud service platforms is security. We’ve already discussed how cloud services are often no less secure than on-premise networks, but Azure takes it one step further. With Microsoft Azure, you’re able to move as many or as few services to the cloud as you like, allowing for a hybrid option. Creating a hybrid cloud is more difficult with other cloud providers when compared to Azure. And with a hybrid model, you can maintain complete control over the assets you choose. 

Azure For the Win

So, now you can answer the question, “What is Azure?” Cloud computing is the future of business. And Microsoft Azure is a powerful provider that offers numerous features, storage, and capabilities. You can read more about how Azure can transform organizations by reading this case study. In it, you’ll learn how a software company was able to overcome security issues, server locks, and data loss with Azure to regain their growth trajectory.

To learn more about cloud computing & backup, check out our Ultimate Guide To Cloud Computing!

The Ultimate Guide To Cloud Computing

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