What Is Microsoft Azure and How Can It Benefit Your Business?

Microsoft Azure provides a flexible cloud platform for quickly building and deploying applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. Users pay only for what they use, with a variety of subscription options and pricing models available.

Azure is used in a wide range of industries for developing and testing applications, hosting them, integrating and syncing data, providing backup and disaster recovery and more.
What is Azure?

Microsoft’s cloud computing platform was launched in February 2010. It offers a comprehensive set of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) products, and a robust PaaS (Platform as a Service).

Azure customers can scale their infrastructure up or down, paying for only what they use. It’s also flexible enough to accommodate businesses that want to keep some of their IT on premise, a popular choice called “hybrid cloud”. Microsoft provides security features that include multi-factor authentication and stringent application password requirements.

Azure provides a vast array of hardware and infrastructure resources in data centers for individuals and organizations. These are accessed over the Internet on a pay-per-use basis.

For example, using Azure’s managed relational SQL database as a service costs $0.013 per hour, while serverless functionality in the form of Azure Functions is charged by execution and consumption.

To offset these costs, businesses often take advantage of Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (RIs). These reduce upfront costs and can be exchanged or canceled as business needs change.

Microsoft Azure offers a wide variety of cloud storage types. Its scalable, fast, secure data storage makes it an attractive choice for mid-sized to large businesses looking to make the most of their IT investments.

Blob storage stores files (photos, videos, training documents etc). They are stored in containers which function similar to directories. They have a unique address which links to a storage account and location.
Virtual Machines

VMs allow developers to use a variety of software, improving productivity and eliminating the need for expensive hardware purchases. They also save IT teams time and energy that would have been spent maintaining the hardware.

Select the type of os disk you want like Standard (backed by traditional magnetic HDD) or Premium (backed by SSD). And select a virtual network in which to place the VM.

Microsoft Azure offers a robust networking solution that supports many protocols and tools. Whether you need to scale your infrastructure, manage identity, or set up secure and reliable backup and disaster recovery, Azure has the network capabilities you need.

With Azure, your applications can connect to on-premise networks and other services privately through a virtual network. This is important for businesses who need to meet privacy standards like HIPAA or ISO 27018. Also, Microsoft’s global network of regions and availability zones helps to keep data closer to users.

The analytics cloud platform provides the tools that businesses need for self-service data preparation and to automatically populate a secure, sharable data repository. The platform also supports real-time data processing with shallow latency results.

Log Analytics is a component of Azure Monitor that lets you write queries against telemetry data stored in the Azure Monitor Logs store. You can use its query language, known as Kusto Query Language (KQL), to filter, sort, and analyze the data.

The service can integrate with Business Intelligence tools like Power BI. It’s a powerful tool for IT teams to identify trends and issues in their organization.

Internet of Things (IoT) offerings help capture, monitor and analyze data from sensors and other devices. These include IoT Hub to manage IoT devices and telemetry, and Azure Cosmos DB for data storage.

IoT Hub supports a range of messaging patterns including device-to-cloud telemetry and direct methods for command and control. It also enables querying for information about devices and their desired states and facilitates deploying updates to devices remotely. It can scale to millions of concurrently connected devices.

Azure provides a number of built-in capabilities that can help improve your security posture for solutions deployed in the cloud. These capabilities are focused on six functional areas: operations, applications, storage, networks, and identity.

Secure your data with best practices such as encrypting your data at rest and in transit. Implement a robust backup and disaster recovery plan. Ensure that only hardened management workstations can access your data. And use identity protection features like multi-factor authentication and complex passwords.

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