Today there are dozens upon dozens of services that make up Microsoft’s Azure and many others in public preview, private preview and still under development. I was once told by a close friend and program manager at Microsoft “Jess, if it can be automated or done with software then it will be offered as a service on Azure”. This seems to be the case but just exactly what services are there that a business like yours can leverage easily and why would you use them?
#1 Azure Virtual Machines or IaaS
This is probably the most popular of services today and in my opinion, helped drive the explosive growth of Azure. Azure Virtual Machines are simply virtual servers running in the Azure datacenters. These servers can run any of a number of workloads for your business including your website, your internal server workloads like your ERP solution, case management software, accounting software or you name it. You see, once you move a server out of your closet (I’m sorry, you probably call it the computer room) you’re able to access this server from anywhere. With proper firewalling and secure connectivity, this means your employees are no longer locked to their desks to get their job done and you can finally work from the lounge chair at the beach in the Carribean (no, really, you can).
#2 Azure Active Directory and Multifactor Authentication.
This is a personal favorite because it’s somewhat overlooked by many. Today your business uses a wide range of applications, some cloud-based or web-based like Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot, MailChimp, Office365 and some on your servers. When you have a workforce change you have to remember to create/delete accounts, access permissions, passwords etc. With so many different systems it can be a daunting task and we all hear stories of data loss because of a former employee or lax security controls. With a solution like Azure Active Directory and Multifactor authentication, you’re able to grant and restrict access to multiple services from a single interface, instantly!
#3 Azure Apps
Azure Apps used to be called Azure Web Apps but then Microsoft expanded upon it, changed the names and decided it wasn’t just for web applications anymore and could charge more! (Okay, I’m joking about the charge more .. maybe but you get the idea). Today to stand up a website you need a web server, a database server, you need to manage security on the server, ensure the server is updated, etc, etc, etc. It’s cumbersome and costly. For some applications, you really don’t need servers and can get away with just a shared environment. This is where Azure Apps shines.
#4 Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery
This one is a twofer! Azure Backup provides you the ability to backup your files or systems into the cloud and then restore there or anywhere if you so deem. Now granted a cloud-based backup restore is going to be a little longer to download restore locally if you don’t have a fast connection but it would be much faster to restore a server in the cloud on a virtual machine than it would be to purchase a server, install the base OS, connect it to the network, install the backup agent and then perform the restore. Azure Site Recovery is a personal favorite because it provides geographic redundancy. Let’s say your servers are taken out by a catastrophic event. The time to restore from backup is going to take a while. But what if you had a mirror copy of those servers in the cloud and simply had to just boot the servers up and connect to them to be back up and running? That’s the beauty of Azure Site Recovery.
#5 Azure File Storage
Today businesses are maintaining more and more data. All of that data needs to be stored somewhere, needs to be easily accessed, indexed and often safeguarded for 10 or more years. With Azure File Storage you have an unlimited amount of storage available to you. With a classic file server, you only have what you’ve purchased and you generally have to purchase much more than you need today because your usage will grow over time, it’s costly. But with Azure File Storage you only have to purchase what you need, you have control over your costs and keep less frequently accessed, or cold, data on less expensive storage. Best of all, you have anywhere access to this data.
These are just a few of the more commonly deployed services available to your business that you can leverage today. At Applied Innovations we work with businesses from all over the globe, in all different industries to successfully leverage technology to meet their goals and we’d love to have a conversation with you around your technology usage. Let’s talk about managing Azure services for your business today.