Published Date: 09 August 2023
Microsoft has been creating technology since 1975, enabling people to work, play and communicate with the breadth of software, services and hardware devices they develop. Their products include operating systems (Windows) for computing devices, productivity applications (Microsoft Teams), software development tools, video games and more. In 2008 they released the Azure platform, to provide an open and flexible cloud platform. They did this to provide a quicker way to build, deploy and manage software applications across a global network of Microsoft managed data centres.
In simple terms it is Microsoft’s operating system for cloud computing. Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of technical resources and services over the internet where you don’t need to buy, own or maintain physical data centres and servers. It enables you to access things like computing power, data storage, databases, on an on-demand basis. You are most likely already using cloud computing services like Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive to store photos and files. Where you can access photos and files anywhere, at any time on any device when you are connected to the internet.
Key milestones in the history of Azure:
- Azure platform released as Windows Azure: October 2008
- Azure platform becomes available on the market: February 2010
- Multiple updates released including better development tools: October 2010
- New features available such as Websites, Virtual Machines and a new monitoring portal for traffic, reporting: June 2012
- Microsoft observed Azure was not limited to windows only therefore renamed from Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure: April 2014
- Azure machine learning made available as public preview: 2014
- Microsoft delved into Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) early with Cognitive APIs for language understanding, speech, translation, search and vision: 2018 - 2020
- Today, Microsoft Azure has an extremely large portfolio of cloud services and is trusted globally by cyber experts
Microsoft’s aim was to provide a flexible cloud platform for developers to use multiple languages, frameworks and tools to create customised applications that can scale easily with unlimited servers and storage.
What is Microsoft Azure used for?
Microsoft Azure offers accessibility and scalability to businesses of all sizes across a range of industries. With over 200 Microsoft Azure services on offer such as storage, networking, analytics, virtual machines, databases and more. It is a web-based platform on which applications and services can be built, tested, managed and deployed. You can pick and choose the services to develop and you can scale new applications or manage existing applications on.
Azure Subscription and Pay-as-you Model:
Azure uses a pay-as-you go pricing model where you are charged based on usage, in the case of a single application utilising multiple services, each service may have a multiple pricing tier. You only pay for the resources that you use and there are built-in tools available to optimise Azure resources to achieve cost efficiencies. For example, you can optimise and save by eliminating idle resources.
With its flexible use of Azure services use cases are extremely diverse.
At a high-level Microsoft Azure is used for:
- Hosting databases
- Backup and disaster recovery
- Developing cloud applications for mobile devices
- Development and deployment of web applications including API management
- Analytics with use of features such as real time analytics, machine learning, business intelligence and big data analytics
Who uses Microsoft Azure:
- 95% of Fortune 500 companies trust their business on Azure
- Highly regulated industries such as government, healthcare, financial services as it offers 90+ compliance offerings
- Used across every industry to achieve specific things, for example within retail it enables delivery of personal, seamless, and differentiated experiences, within manufacturing it enables faster response time to customer feedback and market trends
It is used across the globe, and it is for every size of business from micro, small to large enterprises. You can search customer success stories by industry, size and more to see all the different brands that are using Azure.
Azure cloud platform provides over 200 products and cloud services to enable software solutions to be built, run and managed with the right set of tools and frameworks. The commonly used services and products are listed below where each category listed comes with its own extensive list of Azure Cloud services:
Provides on demand scale and capacity, only pay for resources you use. Commonly used services include App Service to create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile, Static Web Apps, Azure Functions.
Services that support the development and deployment of web applications, providing key features such as API management, App Service, Cognitive Search.
Scalable, secure cloud storage for all your data, apps and workloads. Essential services being provided such as Azure Backup, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Files and more. Azure provides a comprehensive way to deliver data backup and disaster recovery for businesses.
Implement fully managed database services with a range of services such as Azure SQL Database to build apps that are easily scaled and managed. Services available within this category provide secure enterprise-grade capability.
Azure provides seamless ways to integrate applications, data and processes as required. It provides API Management for developers to securely publish APIs and manage them at scale. Along with Logic Apps that enable the automation of access and use of data.
Provides products and services to protect your organisation from advanced online threats including the management of encryption keys and ways to secure highly sensitive assets and data.
7 AI & Machine Learning
Helps developers build the next generation of applications with artificial intelligence capabilities. With the use of Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Search, Face API, Text to Speech and more.
Provides the capability to gather, store, process, analysis and visualise data of any size, type, volume or velocity. Azure services includes Azure Data Explorer, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Analysis Services and more.
Integrated tools to develop and manage containerised apps faster. One service within this category being Azure Container Apps which enables the build and deployment of modern apps and microservice using serverless containers. Another key product is Azure Functions that provides the capability to execute event-driven serverless code functions for an end-to-end development experience.
Manage access and user identities to ensure only authorised access to devices, data, apps and infrastructure. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) enables single-sign-on and directories synchronisation.
The services and products available with Azure is vast, our Azure specialists work across and have implemented a range of Azure Cloud Services. Explore further how Azure Cloud Hosting can support your website or software application.
How does Microsoft Azure work?
Azure operates a pay-as-you-go pricing model where you only pay for the resources you use, each Azure product comes with its own cost and costs can be calculated based on estimated usage. Azure also provides comprehensive cost management tools to help organisations keep costs in control. There are ways to achieve cost optimisation with the range of Azure consumption and subscription types that exist for the individual product or service that might be in use.
Microsoft Azure Delivers for all types of Businesses
Microsoft Azure delivers for businesses for all sizes across all sectors and industries. The comprehensive set of Azure services and products provides the perfect balance of security, scale, flexibility and affordability.
There are many reasons to run your business in Microsoft Azure, it provides a wealth of benefits to both individuals and businesses:
- Place your trust in a cloud platform that is backed by a team of over 3,500 security experts who continuously monitor to safeguard data
- Peace of mind that you will receive proactive compliance that is trusted by enterprises, governments and start-ups. Azure is leading in the industry with more than 90 compliance offerings.
- Own your data and be confident about where your data is stored and how it is securely protected
- Build your applications, systems and databases on a secure foundation to protect your business and customers with multi-layered security across datacentres, infrastructure, and operations.
- Build and scale without constraint and on-demand as needed to support your business demands
- Experience high availability and reliability with 99.95% availability SLA
- Enjoy economic benefits - you only pay for what you use where you can scale easily either up or down to only have in place what you need when you need it
Our all-encompassing Microsoft Azure Services
I‑Finity has over 10 years of in-depth Azure expertise with developing, managing and deploying software applications on Azure. Our Azure specialists are highly skilled across the range of Azure services and products on offer. As Azure specialists we expertly guide, consult and plan our customers Azure journey to deliver business agility. With our tailored technology strategies this enables our customers to achieve their specific objectives.
Over the years we have helped customers and businesses navigate the complexities of Microsoft Azure:
- Planned and managed moving data and applications to the cloud
- Removed the reliance on physical servers
- Consulted on existing Azure implementations to deliver continuous value
- Built many custom applications that are scalable supporting thousands of users
- Provie full management of Azure services from managing web apps, services, storage, databases, data backup and recovery
We help customers and businesses of all sizes and scope requirements to deliver benefit from using cloud technology. Azure presents many possibilities – our priority is to ensure we remove any complexities and help businesses navigate how they can benefit from Azure.
Scalable Azure Hosting Managing Peak Traffic for Annual Events Programme
Transitioning Scottish Civic Trust’s website Doors Open Days to Azure delivered much needed performance and scalability. In our implementation we defined peak months to increase website capacity, a peak month receives 70% of total yearly website traffic. Read more about how our scalable Azure Cloud Hosting service helped a business benefit from the use of cloud technology.