The Microsoft Corporation has bought out countless software over the years. From the Microsoft Office selection of programs to Azure, they really have shaped the way we’ve used computers. 

To make the most of what they have on offer, you need to know what each program is and how you can use it. When it comes to Microsoft Azure, a lot of people don’t even know what it is! Make sure you do so that you can get ahead of the game.

Take a look at our guide with everything from what Azure is used for, to how it differs from competitor platforms. 

What is Cloud Computing?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform, so to understand it you first need to know what that is. 

Cloud computing essentially gives users access to a variety of computing resources that aren’t installed on their devices. Users access the cloud platform, connect to it, and have hundreds of different tools ready to use. From storage to application creation tools, pretty much anything you can do on a computer can be done on the cloud.

The cloud itself is a huge data center owned by the provider. Inside the data center are hundreds of servers and storage systems, hosting your activity from this epicenter. The data is always held in secure locations, keeping your information safe.

Why Should Businesses Be Interested in Cloud Computing?

Technology evolves at rapid speeds, so is the cloud just a passing fad? Absolutely not. Cloud computing has shifted the way computers are used as well as how businesses are run. 

There are plenty of reasons why your business should be interested in the cloud. For example, it allows for flexible, remote working. No matter where your staff is or what time, they can jump on a computer and access all of the files they need to work, making your workforce far more efficient. 

It also saves you a whole lot of money on an in-house computer system and IT team. By running your data through the cloud, you hand that job over to someone else. You can collaborate in-house and outside of your business easily, allow for endless scalability of your business, and stay in control of all of your data at the click of a button. 

From SMEs to huge corporations, every business can benefit from what cloud computing has to offer. But you need to pick the right cloud software. This is where Microsoft Azure comes in. 

What Is Microsoft Azure?

If you’re wondering What’s Microsoft Azure? it’s a cloud computing platform just like those described above. It combines different solutions, such as software as a service (Saas), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (Paas) to give users access to a wide variety of tools. 

It’s designed for business use, though there isn’t anything to stop personal use either. The idea of Azure is to provide businesses with a solution to either reduce the number of on-site servers they need or to completely remove them, and allow for remote work from anywhere in the world. 

It’s simple to use, easy to personalize, and very affordable, making it one of the most popular and fast-growing cloud platforms right now. 

Facts About Azure

To get more of an idea about what Azure is and why you should be paying attention to it, let’s take a look at some facts:

  • Azure was first announced in 2008 and was launched on 1st February 2010
  • 95% of fortune 500 businesses use Azure in the running of their companies
  • The platform is run across over 160 data centers that are located in over 60 regions across the world, which is more than any other provider and creates a vast global network
  • Microsoft invests $1 billion every year into the security of their platform to protect it from cyberthreats
  • Businesses using Azure include ASOS, eBay, Samsung, Boeing, and BMW
  • The fiber used to connect the Microsoft Azure cloud is enough to travel to the moon and back 3 times
  • 60% of the energy used to power the data centers comes from wind, hydropower, and solar, and the company hope to increase this percentage over the coming years
  • They are said to be growing at a rate of an incredible 120,000 new clients every month

It’s not hard to see that Microsoft Azure is an impressive platform. It has a global reach, is used by huge companies, and the Microsoft Corporation pump billions into the running of it. 

What is Azure Used For?

Now we’ve looked into the question “how does Microsoft Azure work?” it’s time to look closer at what you can actually use the platform for. Microsoft themselves outline some of the industries that could take advantage of the services, including healthcare, finance, retail, and government. Here are some of the features that these industries could use:

Azure Portal

The portal created for Microsoft Azure is an easy to use control center, letting you manage all of your usage from one place. From here, you can create computing service and servers, and keep an eye on the services you’re already using. It simplifies using the system and lets you customize your use with ease. 

Backup and Disaster Recovery

When it comes to data backup and recovery, Azure is an amazing tool. It can backup your information in pretty much any language, from wherever you are, and on any operating system (OS). You can even set your own preferences for how often your data is backed up and how much of it is, making it incredibly flexible.

The data can be kept for up to 99 years with minimal operational costs, making it an ideal solution for both small and large scale businesses. They also store three separate copies of all of your data across three different locations in one data center and repeat that process in another data center. In short, you never have to worry about Microsoft losing any of your information!

If you’re using a Windows environment, the built-in integration from Azure will work seamlessly and without hassle.

Store Data Securely

One of the things that make Microsoft Azure stand out is its high-level storage security. Their core storage is scalable, letting you store what you need to when you need to. It’s also encrypted whenever it’s uploaded, giving you complete control over who can access your data and where from. 

By using HTTP or HTTPS, anything you’ve stored can be accessed from any location across the world. You can store in different languages, including Java, PHP, .NET, and Python, letting you upload existing files easily. 

Develop Web and Mobile Applications

You can use Microsoft Azure to develop, test, host, and manage your businesses’ apps, both for web and mobile use. It contains automatic patch management software, reducing the time you spend maintaining your infrastructure. Continuous deployment support also lets you streamline code updates after the app is released, making app management far simpler.

The autoscale feature works to adjust resources for traffic. When you have an increase in app traffic, the feature adjusts the resources available to allow everyone access to your app. When that traffic dips again, the resources are reduced, helping you save money. 

Access IoT Solutions

The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming part of our daily lives, both at home and at work. Microsoft Azure was built with this in mind. It’s the perfect companion to your IoT and can connect your devices easily to the cloud. 

This allows businesses to start accessing more data from millions, or even billions, of devices. You can monitor insights to improve your business. You can learn more about your customers, make more beneficial decisions for your business, and increase the speed you’re developing at, all with Azure and the IoT. 

Azure’s incredible security is a massive bonus when it comes to the IoT. Usually, these monitored devices can become susceptible to cyber-attacks and threaten the safety of your business data. But, with Microsoft on hand, you can keep your devices behind a thick wall of security. 

Rich Search Features

In a world where searching is pretty much expected across platforms, it’s important you can include intelligent search features in your applications. Azure lets you do this with ease.

You can embed intelligent search features, using REST endpoints to manage the API. You can create search boxes that incorporate autocomplete features, aiding users in their queries. You can also add filters for more accurate searches, and targeted highlighting to make pinpointing what your users need much easier. 

This may be a somewhat niche feature, but as the world moves forward and easier searching becomes even more in-demand, every business could utilize this tool.

Other Benefits of Microsoft Azure

With hundreds of services, there’s a lot you can do with Microsoft Azure. But the services available aren’t the only thing to shout about when it comes to this cloud computing platform. Take a look at some of the other benefits to see what you think.

Pay Per Use 

One of the best things about cloud platforms is that a lot of them are pay per use, with Microsoft Azure included. You only have to pay for the services you actually need, and when you stop needing them, you stop paying. Compared to buying heaps of real, solid computers and hardware, this is a very efficient method that is bound to benefit your business. 

Designed for Every Business

No matter what kind of business you are, Azure is designed for you. With such a range of services and incredible scalability, Azure can be used by local grocers and multi-national corporations alike. It’s built to meet your IT demands and you can tailor it so it does just that, nothing more and nothing less. 

It also allows access to services that might not have been available to small businesses before. An in-house IT department may have been out of budget, but Azure probably won’t be and it’ll give you everything you need. 

Caters to Unique Needs

Having said that Microsoft Azure is for every business, which certainly doesn’t mean it skimps on niche industries. In fact, this is an area that it really stands out in.

Azure has applications and services to suit every unique need, including individual security preferences, offline cloud capability, and simple compliance. This means that even industries where data is the most sensitive, such as in Government business or healthcare, Azure is an ideal fit. 

Migrating to the Cloud

It can be daunting moving your business to the cloud, but as Microsoft Azure’s many benefits have shown it is definitely worth it.

The best way to make the move is with a Microsoft Azure Consulting team. They’ll be able to handle your data securely and migrate your current IT department to the cloud, helping you set up an infrastructure that works for your business. They can set up the tools you need, run you through the new opportunities available to you, and keep your current data safe during the move.

Is Microsoft Azure Right For You?

So, what is Azure used for? When it comes down to it, that’s completely up to you and your business. Microsoft has created a cloud computing platform that can be tailored to your specific needs, scaled to suit your size, and adaptable over time so it can grow with your company. 

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