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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My blue heaven: Why Azure is the perfect cloud platform

The cloud is now an essential part of business, and most organizations have several cloud environments deployed and are experimenting with additional cloud-based tools. RightScale's State of the Cloud report discovered that cloud users leverage six platforms on average, including public and private solutions.

As companies of all sizes continue to leverage the cloud more heavily, the market for this type of technology continues to grow. One solution that is making its way to the head of the pack is Azure, Microsoft's cloud infrastructure system. In fact, according to a report from Synergy Research Group, Azure is now the second most-used cloud platform, and is quickly catching up to market leader Amazon.

But what makes Azure the perfect solution for today's cloud-centered business? Let's take a look at a few reasons why Azure represents a blue heaven for today's IT leaders:

A familiar face

One of the biggest drivers of Azure's market share is the fact that it is backed by one of the most well-known names in the technology sector: Microsoft. For many businesses, Microsoft represents the gold standard in enterprise solutions, with the company's Office 365 and other solution suites in place in every industry. In this way, Azure represents a natural extension to the Microsoft tools already deployed within the company. And because Azure integrates so well with Microsoft solutions, it is an ideal solution for the vast majority of businesses.

"For organizations that are reliant on Microsoft tools like SharePoint (which was recently ranked the No.1 platform for enterprise collaboration), Office 365 and Outlook, investing in a cloud platform that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products makes sense," AAJ Technology's Ed Kirchmier wrote. "Many industry experts expect Azure to slowly but surely gain adoption due to this ability to offer users a completely seamless and integrated service package."

Microsoft Azure provides ideal support for all types of workloads. Microsoft Azure provides ideal support for all types of workloads.

Rising market competition creates added cost savings

While Microsoft has already made a name for itself within the cloud marketplace, the company isn't backing down anytime soon. In fact, SaaSPlaza contributor Harnish Haldane predicted that current industry conditions will only compound the benefits of Azure, especially when it comes to its cost.

Microsoft has always been a leader in IT expenditure savings, and Azure will be no different.

"With Microsoft's huge customer base, they have been able to pass volume discounts on to their customers," Haldane noted. "And it's a good bet that Azure costs will go down as the competition heats up with AWS and Google."

What's more, Microsoft offers a number of different pricing options, including a pay-as-you-go model, helping to nearly eliminate initial investments and keep monthly pricing predictably low.

Built with scalability in mind

A main advantage of any cloud platform is its scalability. Microsoft's Azure takes this flexible growth to new heights, as the technology was created specifically to expand alongside business users' needs.

This means that should your organization require support for additional users, or need more space for databases, documents and other assets, Azure can quickly and easily account for these demands. And thanks to Azure's flexible customizability, new environments can be spun up in a cost-effective and streamlined manner.

Reliably secure data storage

"Azure is one of the most secure storage options available."

In addition, Azure is particularly well-suited for data storage needs. Haldane pointed out that thanks to their configuration, Azure environments can support any type of data or asset, from unstructured data sets to all kinds of files. This ensures that all varieties of workloads are provided the cloud resources needed. What's more, migrating these to the Azure cloud is considerably simple thanks to Microsoft's import/export feature. This capability also makes sure that any concerns about lock-in become things of the past.

Microsoft leveraged the expertise of its Security Development Lifecycle during Azure development, making its cloud one of the most secure storage options available. And because Azure utilizes a six-fold backup strategy - where multiple copies of data are stored across at least two Azure data center locations - Microsoft is able to provide a 99.9 percent backup availability guarantee. In this way, even if initial versions of data are compromised or misplaced, information is never inaccessible.

Support for business intelligence and analytics

Speaking of data, Microsoft has also baked data services into its Azure platform in the form of managed SQL and NoSQL support. This provides considerable BI and analytics capabilities for users, enabling them to glean the best insights from data migrated to the Azure environment.

"Specifically, organizations can leverage their SQL Server in the cloud and can use HDInsight, Microsoft Azure's Apache Hadoop-based cloud service, to build Hadoop clusters to more deeply analyze data," Kirchmier pointed out.

Become an Azure expert 

This only scratches the surface when it comes to the advantages Microsoft's Azure cloud solution can provide. If your organization is investigating or experimenting with Azure - or already has an Azure environment in place - having an Azure trained professional on staff will only expand these benefits.

That's where New Horizons Computer Learning Centers come into the equation, with our Azure-centered certification courses. We offer a range of Microsoft Azure-focused courses, including Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Cloud 101 Jump Start, Microsoft Azure for IT Professionals, and more. Check out our available courses here, and contact New Horizons today. 

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