Microsoft Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables its customers to quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of highly secure and reliable Microsoft-managed datacenters. Organizations can build applications using any language, tool, or framework. And they can integrate their existing IT environment with their public cloud Azure applications.
The following seven key attributes of Microsoft Azure are among those that helped it earn Gartner’s market-leader rankings:
1. Extensive Enterprise Experience
As the world leader in enterprise applications, Microsoft has enterprise in its DNA. It’s now focusing its $10+ billion in annual R&D expenditures on making all future enterprise applications “cloud-ready,” while continuing its enduring commitment to on-premises applications. These include upcoming versions of Microsoft Dynamics, Windows Server, and SQL Server.
(Notably, most users of Microsoft Office 365 are already accessing Azure without knowing it, because the latter hosts the former. Azure also hosts Microsoft’s Outlook.com with 400 million active users and Xbox Live with 48 million active users.)
In short, as a cloud platform, Azure is already proven. That’s why almost 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies have already deployed business-critical applications on Azure.
2. Hybrid Clouds, a Unique Specialty
By combining its roots in enterprise datacenters worldwide with its experience operating its own vast global network of highly available and secure datacenters, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help its customers take advantage of the best of both public and cloud deployment models. This includes seamless and transparent application and data portability as well as load balancing.
With an Azure hybrid cloud deployment, organizations can:
- Use their existing Microsoft System Center tools for cloud-based management.
- Leverage Azure’s cloud scale and flexibility, while keeping any assets they choose on premises (e.g., hosting web applications in Azure for rapid scale and cost efficiency, but keep the application data on premises).
- Enable on-premises and cloud-based tools to work together in a “managed everything” model.
- Extend identity management to every device supported by their IT infrastructures.
- Move virtual machines from their own private clouds (i.e., datacenters) to Azure and back again, without disrupting operating applications.
3. Consistent Cloud Experience
Because Azure enables the use of such a large part of Microsoft’s broad portfolio of applications and tools, users and IT administrators alike will find common user interfaces across both private and public clouds. And, given Microsoft’s drive to make all future upgrades and applications cloud-ready, this commonality will only increase.
Consistency across applications’ interfaces helps reduce or even eliminate training and user confusion. It also helps provide the “single pane of glass” IT seeks to ease its administrative burden that much more – even after reducing or eliminating the need to manage on-premises equipment, virtual machines, and enterprise applications. With a consistent cloud experience, companies can decide where to host their applications and services based on business needs, not technology limitations.
4. Greater Data Security and Privacy
Today’s enterprise networks are under constant attack by hackers targeting them specifically as well as by automated malware “bots” that troll for ever-changing vulnerabilities. While it’s hard for IT staffs to stay up with all the threats, the Microsoft Azure Trust Center provides 24x7 security protection that’s independently verified by respected third parties. This also helps ensure data privacy. Together, these safeguards help Azure customers meet a wide range of international, national, and industry-specific regulatory requirements, such as PCI compliance for the financial services industry and HIPAA compliance required by the US healthcare privacy law.
5. Open and Flexible
Azure supports just about any operating system, programming language, tool, and framework at work in the world of IT today. These include Windows and Linux; SQL Server and Oracle; and C#, Java, and PHP. It also offers tools to easily and transparently convert virtual machines (VMs) from the most popular hypervisors, including VMware, so those VMs can be moved to Azure and run via Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor. If desired, they can be returned to a private cloud just as easily and transparently.
6. High Availability, Including Turn-Key Disaster Recovery
Azure provides standard 99.95 percent availability. This translates to less than five hours of downtime a year – more than most private clouds can offer. Azure customers can boost this availability up to 99.999 percent to meet even more rigorous requirements. In addition, because all applications and data within Azure are constantly being backed up, Azure effectively assumes the expense and effort of setting up and maintaining disaster recovery facilities and protocols, saving its customers the cost and time of doing it themselves.
7. Precise Billing and Seamless Enterprise Licensing
Azure consumption can be billed by the minute, then invoiced quarterly or yearly. Its usage can be added to customers’ Enterprise Agreements (EAs) in units as small as $100. This can help enterprises of all sizes better analyze past use and forecast consumption, to ensure more optimal spending on their IT cloud infrastructure, platforms, and applications.
To learn more about Azure, visit our other blogs or join us on the next edition of Tech Talk presented by the SoftwareONE Radio Network as we discuss viable solutions that can help you today in a secure and controllable way. We will interview experts, discuss how Azure acts like our secondary datacenters more than any other cloud solution, and take your questions on the air. May 20th at 12:00 EDT we will be on the air!