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What’s the deal with Microsoft Azure?

What’s the deal with Microsoft Azure?

The world is rapidly moving itself into the cloud, and Microsoft aren’t leaving themselves behind.  In fact, they’re betting heavily on cloud services for their future. During a keynote in October 2016, Microsoft revealed an increased cloud investment of $3 billion to date in Europe alone.

So with Microsoft Azure, their cloud computing platform, becoming more and more popular – and with it not being the most straightforward topic – we though we’d cover the basics on our blog.

What is Microsoft Azure?

In basic terms, Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform.

What does this really mean?

For most ‘average’ internet users it’s very easy to forget that the websites and applications we use on a daily basis aren’t just sitting somewhere in an abyss ready to use.

Of course, in reality all of this is transmitted to our devices from some physical location – and for applications to actually work, data needs to be processed by an actual machine somewhere.  Effectively (these days more and more), we are using other, more powerful machines to do our computing for us, and just using our own devices to connect to them.

Modern businesses now rely very strongly on access to large amounts data – and often need access to this data on physically smaller, mobile devices.  So the idea of outsourcing digital storage and computational power to external machines, owned by third-parties, is extremely appealing.  This concept is what we now call ‘the cloud’.

Azure is just Microsoft’s own platform for cloud-based data and applications.

What are the benefits of Azure?

It can be easier and cheaper to invest in and maintain an on-premise infrastructure.

However, it is extremely difficult to build your own infrastructure in a way that it can adapt to rapid growth without problems.

You get three basic advantages from using cloud platforms and infrastructure as opposed to on-site machines

  1. First and foremost, it allows you to store data externally in their datacentres (like with Dropbox, for example).
  2. Secondly, the speed. Purchasing new servers, configuring them, and integrating them into your existing environment tends to be both costly and time-consuming. With Azure, you can set up an application and start building it out in minutes.
  3. Thirdly, the simplicity of building and deploying applications. Azure allows you to build and connect solutions from within the cloud, without needing to build up your own on-premise infrastructure.

Is Microsoft Azure Secure?

The most common concern cited about the cloud these days is security.

In a lot of ways, the concerns are unfounded. Cloud computing is more secure than using your own servers – for the same reason that keeping money in a bank account is safer than having it all in cash under your pillow.

Microsoft datacentres are pretty robust and secure.  Data is encrypted at all times – not just when it’s being transmitted. And, with brute force becoming a real threat, the multifactor authentication for signing in is an added safeguard.