6 Key Advantages of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services
How Cloud Computing With Azure Can Benefit Your Business
The technological revolutions just keep coming, and modern organizations need to adapt to new ways of doing business to remain competitive.
One of the primary changes to the operational models a company needs to consider when it comes to managing information is whether to move to a cloud service provider.
Microsoft Azure Cloud Services delivers a comprehensive suite of solutions for companies to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, and leverage new technologies for the business’ benefit.
Since the turn of the decade that cloud technologies became a cost-effective option for smaller companies, giving them access to the same capabilities as large, multinational enterprises. This has led to significant investment by SMBs in cloud tech—an estimated $115 billion is spent by small- and medium-sized businesses on public cloud tech.
Specifically, the Microsoft Azure stack of technologies only arrived in 2014 but has since started outpacing competitors like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Oracle, and IBM.
In fact, since 2018 Microsoft Azure’s reported revenue overtook all other public cloud service providers. While Microsoft also includes other cloud-based software services (Dynamics 365 Business Central) as part of their reported revenue, it’s only slightly behind AWS in providing hosted infrastructure for enterprise applications.
Azure Cloud Services and Data Security
Microsoft leverages decades of being a primary enterprise operating system and productivity solution provider to secure all information hosted in their Azure cloud products and services.
An enormous amount of resources and effort go into securing an organization’s on-site data centers, where the slightest erroneous configuration can expose the company to advanced threats and exploits.
With Microsoft Azure, all elements related to information security come included with the service, and customers gain access to the latest in threat prevention and detection technologies.
Microsoft Azure Cloud Security Center
As part of the Microsoft Azure Cloud Security Center, a range of security solutions and architecture implementations ensure all business data remains protected.
These include Advanced Threat Protection and Threat Intelligence reports using Windows Defender analytics, and Information Protection that classifies and protects specific information from unauthorized disclosure by applying labels to documents and emails.
Similarly, with network segmentation and encryption, every transmitted byte of data remains secure from any outside threat. Microsoft Azure Cloud Services uses threat monitoring agents that generate real-time security alerts and threat intelligence reports. These threat intelligence reports provide insights into attackers, their objectives, and the tactics employed.
Improved Scalability and Business Sustainability
One of the best advantages of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services comes from the scalability that the platform provides businesses.
Traditionally, as companies expanded and grew, provisioning new infrastructure for them would be both a lengthy and a costly process for the organization.
With a strategically deployed set of cloud-centers that span the globe, the Microsoft Azure Stack guarantees availability for services 24/7/365.
In the last year, Azure averaged an uptime 99.995% across its cloud infrastructure—meaning a total downtime of 26 minutes per year, worldwide. Microsoft plans to improve this number by adding more servers to its regions by 2021.
Currently, Azure Cloud Services utilize physical infrastructure distributed over every continent. This improves access times while also allowing for replication in cases where companies want to expand their business operations to outside the US.
For data management systems, Microsoft Azure Cloud Services use elastic pools to ensure the same database performance levels that companies expect from their locally hosted systems. With elastic SQL database pools, organizations gain the best price-per-performance benefits while staying within their prescribed budgets.
Simple and Effective Disaster Recovery
Data loss presents a serious risk to any organization. The impact of both lost revenue during the downtime, as well as the effort required to reconstitute the information can cost a company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, if a suitable, business continuity procedure isn’t already in place.
A disaster recovery plan requires multiple built-in redundancies while achieving an acceptable time-to-recovery objective.
With Microsoft Azure, companies can enforce specific recovery criteria for different BUs (Business Units) and types of data. Businesses can test their plans for efficacy as frequently as required, and find the perfect balance between the cost and control of their data recovery processes.
Running backups and advanced replication of applications in a cloud environment will reduce the time required to recover from any type of outage, while also limiting the risk of becoming a victim of a ransomware attack.
The Azure Site Recovery tool allows companies to create recovery plans that include replication, failover, and failback procedures from a single location. Azure Site Recovery also enables companies to reserve IP addresses for applications, establish and configure load-balancers, and integrate Azure Traffic Manager for seamless network switchovers.
Advanced-Data Analytics and Business Insights
The Microsoft Azure stack of technologies comes with built-in analytical solutions to shape and visualize data for improved decision making.
Real-time dashboards that cover both customer response times, data and information flow and processing, and the ability to analyze big data, companies can improve business workflows more frequently and accurately.
Advanced analytics can assist companies with segmenting customers based on behavior and ensure a personalized experience, further improving their satisfaction.
Microsoft Azure Cloud Services include Machine Learning utilities with adaptable models to proof new approaches and analyze initiatives before releasing them to the market.
For streaming data analytics, Stream Analytics enables organizations to set up a complete, end-to-end pipeline within a few minutes. By implementing the Cortana Intelligence Suite, companies can find ways to streamline their processes and transform data into intelligent actions.
Integration Capabilities and Mobile Workforce Management
Apart from the Azure Active Directory (AD) as an access management system, the platform also provides advanced integrations with third-party solutions via an API (Application Programming Interface) and direct integration with Office365.
Additional solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central delivers a complete Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to improve business workflows and increase oversight. As the Microsoft Azure platform is available from connected mobile devices, meaning SMBs are able to utilize IoT technology and improve productivity.
As most companies already rely on Windows-based software to execute the majority of their daily tasks, using the Microsoft Azure Cloud Services platform makes sense when moving to a digital-first business model.
Compared to other cloud solutions such as AWS, an Azure implementation is easier and causes less disruption for most businesses. Making the transition to Microsoft cloud services is an easy and natural fit for businesses which have been familiar with their technology for decades.
Regulatory and Legislative Compliance Frameworks
A cloud implementation does require considerations relating to regulatory and legislative requirements.
One of the advantages of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services is a shared responsibility relating to the information security policies and compliance frameworks. As Microsoft provides the data security tools and systems, the only responsibility that resides with the company is to classify and control specific types of data.
Moving to a cloud-based digital technology stack will require companies to evaluate the solutions against their in-house information security policies.
Azure maintains a compliance portfolio to ease the burden of regulatory requirements for their customers. With the Microsoft Trust Center, companies can access compliance guides and setup audit reports for their data and information, ensuring they remain within the frameworks regulating their daily business activities.
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