Microsoft Azure is one of the most dynamically developing computing clouds in the world. It provides a comprehensive set of solutions that are an alternative to physical infrastructure and services. Azure Virtual Machines support all Microsoft, as well as third-party server products, including Linux distributions.
Azure enables quick implementation and management of IT solutions. It is also a broad and continually evolving set of cloud computing services that is available to companies, developers, government agencies, and anyone who wants to build an application or do business on the Internet without investing in server hardware or software.
Currently, it is the fastest growing business segment of Microsoft. There are many indications that within two or three years, it has a chance to overtake Windows in terms of generated revenue.
Some facts about Microsoft Azure:
- the premiere of Microsoft Azure took place in 2010 as Windows Azure, in 2014 the name was changed to the current one,
- users don’t pay for registering on the platform, but only for the resources used, such as transfer, memory or computing power that have been used,
- according to reports from Microsoft, over 1,000 new customers register every day, which gives about 365,000 companies a year that base their infrastructure on the Azure platform,
- according to data from October 2019 – 85% of Fortune 100 companies use Microsoft Azure,
- Microsoft Azure’s customers include companies such as eBay, Boeing, Samsung, BMW, Airbus, HP, Adobe and many other global giants,
- there are over 40 data centers on which Azure relies around the world, some of them are placed in Europe, there is also a construction of a data center planned in Poland.
The capabilities of Microsoft Azure’s are more than just Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) that was mentioned above.
It is a must-have to mention PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as Service). This gives the organization access to additional cloud services. As for example, it allows creating a WordPress-based website without setting up a Windows or Linux server.
Additionally, Azure enables app and web developers to use Azure data storage and services as building blocks, while ensuring the security and reliability of the underlying infrastructure.
Azure cloud services
Microsoft divides Azure cloud services into the following categories:
This service category is responsible for providing users with the ability to deploy and manage virtual machines, containers, and batch jobs, and support remote application access.
Provides cloud storage of structured and unstructured data. It also supports projects in the field of big data, persistent data storage and archiving.
These services provide real-time analytics, big data analytics, data lakes, machine learning, business intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) data streams, and data warehousing.
Services supporting the creation and implementation of web applications, which also provide content distribution, API management, notifications, and reporting.
A group of products and services that help developers creating applications for mobile devices, supporting notifications, back-end tasks, provide API building tools, and the ability to connect geospatial context with data.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
CDN services include on-demand streaming, copyright protection, multimedia encoding, playback and indexing.
This group includes virtual networks, dedicated connections and gateways, as well as services for traffic management and diagnostics, DNS hosting, and DDoS protection.
These are services that allow to backup servers, recover sites, connect private and public clouds, and integrate different systems.
A toolkit helping to migrate data from on-premise to the Azure cloud.
Services in this group provide the ability to identify and respond to threats and manage encryption keys and other critical resources.
This service category helps to protect data in the cloud and is responsible for ensuring that only authorized users can access Azure services. It includes support for Azure Active Directory and multi-factor authentication.
Internet of things
A category of solutions responsible for helping to receive, monitor, and analyze data from sensors and other similar devices.
Azure Blockchain Service allows to create, manage and extend a blockchain network. Thanks to the simplified version – Azure Blockchain Preview, it is possible to focus on business logic and application development.
Azure DevOps is a collection of tools designed to support team collaboration in order to simplify software development. They also provide application diagnostics, DevOps tool integration, and access to a test environment.
Services that enable companies to create and manage vast amounts of containers in the Azure cloud using platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes.
This group of services helps developers sharing code, test applications, and define problems. Tools in this category also support Azure DevOps, blockchain and SDK libraries.
This category includes such services as Database as Service, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Database for Postgre SQL, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. The last of these enables hybrid database integration and migration. Azure SQL also allows using the functionalities of SQL without the need for an SQL server.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
A category of services that enables the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning for applications and data sets.
Services that help developers creating content dedicated to a mixed reality environment.
It is a cloud service which supports managing and configuring mobile devices and applications at the level of the entire organization. It also allows the use of personal devices for business purposes and ensures the protection of corporate data while isolating personal data.
Management and governance
These are services which purpose is to ensure data compliance, recovery, backups and convenient management of Microsoft Azure.
Practical examples of Azure use
Below you can find a few practical possibilities of the Microsoft cloud use:
- software testing and hosting,
- software creation and development (especially for mobile devices),
- integrating many different systems and data flow between them,
- storing large amounts of data, creating database backups,
- processing and analyzing huge databases (big data).
The trend seems to be constant. Data processing is moving steadily towards the cloud. Everything indicates that Microsoft will be investing more and more money in this direction, and Microsoft Azure will be gradually gaining more and more importance.
Of course, we can never be sure of what the future will be alike. However, what we know for sure is that currently, Microsoft Azure is an environment that offers great opportunities, flexibility, high dynamics of development, as well as the highest level of data security.