Microsoft Azure platform: cloud computing service

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The rapid development of the Internet and centralized servers allowed cloud computing services to explode in the past decade. According to Microsoft, “cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence – over the Internet (the cloud).” Cloud services provide reliable and scalable solutions with the major benefit of being economically efficient. Since you only have to pay for what you use, you won’t have to pay for downtime or unused resources.

Nowadays, multiple companies provide cloud computing services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, and IBM Cloud. One of the most popular options on the market is Azure from Microsoft. It is a common choice for many industries, such as ecommerce, finance, health. It is used by several Fortune 500 companies.

What solutions does Azure offer?

Azure provides 4 main types of cloud computing services: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and serverless deployment for deploying apps within Microsoft’s infrastructure.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) provides access to cloud-based apps over the Internet. Examples of these apps are calendars, messaging applications, and tools such as Microsoft 365.

Platform as a service (PaaS) allows customers to provide services from cloud-based applications. Examples of PaaS are Azure Cognitive Search, which uses built-in AI capabilities to improve search capabilities, and Azure CDN, Microsoft’s content delivery network.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) helps organizations to create scalable and secure infrastructure for their needs, such as storage, networking, and virtualization. In many cases, it’s a preferred option as it allows to save money and time that would be otherwise spent on planning, creation, and maintenance of an organization’s own infrastructure. Azure virtual machines is a good example of IaaS offer.

When subscribing to Azure, customers get access to over 100 services, including AI-based ones, that can be used immediately. Possible uses include the creation of virtual machines, databases, and more. Customers can use a variety of third-party tools through Azure. These are billed separately, and the price usually involves a subscription and a usage fee for hosting the app.

Benefits of using Microsoft Azure

Azure services feature multiple benefits:

Flexibility. Computational resources can be scaled up and down based on the current requirements of the organization.

Flexibility. Azure supports a wide range of operating systems, frameworks, and languages.

Global availability. Cloud data is stored in over 200 data centers (and Microsoft plans to introduce 50-100 new data centers each year).

Resource efficiency. With cloud services, you only pay for what you use, so it can lower the expenses. It’s especially true for ad hoc operations that aren’t supposed to be performed frequently.

Reliability. Microsoft Azure features 99.95% availability SLA and offers round-the-clock technical support.

Products and services available in Azure

Azure is an extremely robust and versatile service that offers customers services in over 20 categories. Some of the most popular are:

Administrative services

Azure customers have access to valuable tools such as directory synchronization, Identity Access management, and access authentication.

Analytics

With Azure, it’s easy to gather, store, process, and analyze any kind of data. Users have access to advanced analytics solutions, including real-time analytics, machine learning, big data analytics, and business intelligence, among others.

Backup and disaster recovery

A lot of organizations rely on Azure as their primary tool for backups and disaster recovery. Azure offers unparalleled flexibility, as it can back up data regardless of location, OS, or programming language used. It is extremely reliable. Azure’s site recovery system can store your data with minimal onsite maintenance, and stores three copies of your data in different locations for ultimate risk diversification.

Blockchain solutions

The Blockchain Service provided by Azure allows users to create their blockchain consortiums or join an existing one.

Computing services

With computing services, users can deploy virtual machines and containers. They support remote app access, which can be configured to be available to both private and public addresses. It’s a convenient option if your company is privacy-conscious.

Database management

Azure offers Database as a Service (DBaaS) for both NoSQL and SQL databases. Another popular option is the flagship Azure SQL, a relational database that offers SQL without deploying a dedicated SQL server.

IoT (Internet of Things)

Azure helps customers to integrate IoT through capturing, monitoring, and analyzing data from sensors and devices without any significant changes to the infrastructure. Among the available services are analytics, support for execution, monitoring, and notifications. Azure IoT Hub allows to manage and collect data from millions of various devices. This makes it easier for the management to make business decisions, lowers costs, and improves customer experience. Azure features a high level of security, which is especially important as IoT solutions are known for being prone to vulnerabilities.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) has become a hot topic in the past couple of years, and Microsoft adapted to this by providing its own solution. With its help, data scientists and ML engineers can scale, distribute, and deploy their work to Azure’s cloud.

Migration services

These basic tools are used by organizations to estimate the time and money costs of migration from their own data centers to the cloud. Once the decision is made, the migration suite can be used to perform the migration itself.

Multimedia and content delivery network services

Companies that rely on heavy use of multimedia can use Azure for their media and content delivery network (CDN). Among the CDN services are media encoding, playback, indexing, and even on-demand streaming.

Networking

Azure allows users to fulfill most of their networking needs, such as virtual networks, load balancing, traffic management, gateways, and more. Security is a big concern these days, so the protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks is an important part of this suite.

Storage solutions

Storage is among the most obvious applications of the cloud. Microsoft’s data centers allow customers to store huge amounts of files and data. This data can be both structured and unstructured, depending on the needs of an organization.

Web and mobile apps

Companies working with web and mobile applications have a wide range of tools at their disposal. Patch management helps to build autonomous and adaptive applications, as developers will spend less time on the maintenance of their infrastructure.

Web App for Containers service allows to run containerized web apps on Windows and Linux. API Apps offers an easy way to build and deploy APIs via the cloud.

For mobile side of things, Mobile Apps service helps to build and host the backend side for mobile applications of any complexity.

AutoScale feature automatically allocates resources based on the current customer traffic. If the load is high, additional resources are allocated to ensure stable performance. This helps businesses to have a reliable app during peak times while saving money when the load isn’t that high.

Azure Load Balancer utilizes virtual machines to divert parts of the traffic from organization’s infrastructure, thus decreasing the load on their servers and improving the availability of the service.

Aside from that, developers can access advanced notification services, reporting and more.

As you can see, Azure is a powerful cloud solution that can support a wide range of tasks and meet the expectations of even the most demanding customers. Utilizing it to the fullest can be a challenging task for an organization, as internal IT departments rarely have enough expertise working with cloud solutions. At Lightpoint we have a decade of experience setting up complex Azure-based systems. If you have a challenging project that can benefit from cloud solutions, we’d be glad to help you to get the most out of it. Send us an email!

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