7 Ways to Get More Value From Your Data with Azure

Today every business, regardless of size, relies on technology to carry out operations, optimise workflows and achieve business goals. And, as time moves forward, there will be increasing opportunities to leverage advanced systems such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT). What underpins the vast majority of these systems is data:  sales data, customer information, business logs, reports and more. Data is being created faster than ever. In fact, the IDC has predicted that global data will grow to more than 175 zettabytes by 2025.

Traditionally data was stored in database systems, on-premises in private data servers. However, if data just sits there, value can’t be derived. Businesses are under pressure to turn that data into something valuable. But at the same time as trying to gain timely insights, they need to ensure they maintain regulatory compliance. Data science has paved the way for using large amounts of raw business data to create actionable insights and business intelligence. To do this, data needs to be carefully manipulated, queried and analysed. Only then can businesses have the ability to make informed real-time decisions that are both holistic and strategic. This is where Microsoft’s Azure platform can help. 

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure is, in essence, a public cloud computing platform. It includes solutions that can be used for analytics, virtual computing, storage, networking and more. Azure is one of the most powerful, robust and flexible systems associated with data storage and analytics. It provides a data warehouse where big data can be stored but also the cloud computing systems needed for data analysis, data transformation and the production of business intelligence. 

Azure encompasses two key pieces of tech Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Data Factory. The managed service provides complex data integration, transformation, and migration which enables businesses to automate complex data integration workflows. When it comes to big data workflow migration, transformation, integration and automation, Azure Data Factory can greatly enhance the way companies handle data science.

How to Get More Value From Your Data

Azure is a robust and powerful cloud solution that businesses can use to offset their on-premises computing resources. However, while it offers incredible capabilities and unrivaled pricing, it’s vital to know how to put it to work for your business. Without further ado, here are seven ways Azure can help you derive more value from your data:

1. Limitless Scalability and Flexibility

As many businesses have large amounts of private data in public cloud systems as well as private data centres, they need to have the freedom to choose. One of the core functions of Azure Data Factory is the ability to integrate between both types of data centres, on-premise and cloud. Data can be securely accessed from any location without the need for on-premises maintenance. Wherever data resides, it can be managed, analysed, reported and parsed. This enables organisations to carry out complex data integration operations. Data can also be automatically captured and migrated onto on-premises data services. Microsoft has also recently announced the preview of SQL Server 2022, which has more memory per vCore and increased storage to 16TB, which provides much more room for growth.  

2. Unrivaled Analytics and Insights

Azure is fast in terms of deployment, operation and scalability. Users can access data within seconds of receiving it, which means there is no need to rely on historical data; businesses can use real-time data. Azure Synapse Analytics has removed the barrier between data warehousing and data analytics to enable businesses to build and manage their analytics solutions with ease. Data can be aggregated from multiple data sources in a user-friendly way, creating efficiency, empowering better business decisions, improving customer experiences, reducing complexity and lowering costs, all in real-time. 

3. Unified Data Governance

Today, governing data is more critical than ever. However, trying to keep track of data, where it is and how to govern it is a huge business challenge. Microsoft has always invested in developing information protection solutions. Its new solution, Microsoft Purview, builds on the same idea of sensitivity labels and data classification taxonomy used by Microsoft Information Protection. However, users can now automatically discover, classify and gain insights into sensitivity across a broader range of data sources, minimising compliance risk. Azure Purview helps businesses manage and govern their data, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud. It includes deep integrations with data services in Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Power Platform and more, creating a unified governance solution. Azure Purview enables users to search for data across the organisation, determine its sensitivity and analyse how it is being used. 

4. Enhanced Backup and Disaster Recovery

Flexibility, advanced site recovery and built-n integration come as standard with Azure. What’s more, these abilities are extremely flexible, the platform can  back up data in virtually any language or operating system and from any location. With the ability to schedule the backup process, there is minimal onsite maintenance, minimal investment and minimal operation costs. Meanwhile, three copies of data are stored in three different locations in the data centre and also in a remote data centre, ensuring data continuity no matter what happens. 

5. Integrated IoT Solutions

IoT solutions bring many business benefits, but they also create vast amounts of data. For organisations moving towards IoT solutions, Azure is the perfect resource. Devices can be connected to the cloud using solutions that integrate with existing infrastructure so data can immediately be collected. The Azure IoT Hub allows users to monitor and manage billions of devices and gain insights. And the enhanced security of Azure adds further value, plugging up security gaps in IoT solutions. 

6. Streamlined Data Pipelines

Azure allows users to automate complex data workflows and operations without requiring complex code and development work. Azure DF empowers enterprises to build and manage data pipelines and can greatly boost productivity. And, yet again, Azure DF comes with enterprise-level security. This means that businesses can automate data manipulation operations while still complying with pertinent data security legislation. 

7. Improved Business Intelligence

Business intelligence can be fully integrated with both Azure Data factory and the tools that link with it. This means that analysts can transform and migrate data between data centres and analyse that data to produce actionable insights and business intelligence reports. With the ability to connect to many other data frameworks and platforms, Azure enables data analysts to expand the functionalities of Azure, producing actionable insights from rich data. Core systems such as Azure Storage, Azure HDInsights and Azure Machine Learning deliver the ability to store and analyse more data within the cloud and to use complex algorithms and data frameworks to produce the best possible insights. 

Can You Derive More Value from Your Data?

Data has become one of the most strategic business assets that we own. What you do with it makes all the difference. The more you do with your data, the  more mature you are and the closer you will be to achieving your organisational goals and making informed business decisions. 

Azure can help you gain an edge when it comes to data integration, transformation, migration and analysis. More than this but it can help you with automation workflows and works seamlessly in conjunction with on and off-premises cloud solutions. By leveraging a variety of Azure services, you can integrate and automate complex data operations, gain new real-time insights and greatly boost productivity and profits. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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