Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that offers a huge range of services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). The platform can be used for everything from analytics and virtual computing to storage and networking and, with a solution for almost every common business problem, is one of the most powerful platforms on the market. Products include everything from virtual machines to next-generation quantum computing services and can be used to supplement or replace on-premise capabilities. In fact, one of the key selling points of Azure is its flexibility with the ability to move compute resources up and down based on business requirements. However, with so many products available, it can be hard to know which ones your business should leverage. If you want to put Azure to work for your business and leverage the cost savings, security and flexibility of working in the cloud, here are some of the top services that you should consider in 2023.
Azure Virtual Machines
Virtual Machines (VMs) are a fundamental service for modern businesses, enabling them to extend existing infrastructure, run multiple operating systems concurrently, test new software and backup systems to improve security. Azure VMs are one of several types of scalable computing resources offered by Azure and one of the most popular Azure offerings. Your businesses can use Azure VMs in several ways:
- Application Development – with Azure VMs, you can quickly and easily create a computer with a defined configuration to enable applications to be coded and tested.
- Application Hosting – you can run your applications on a virtual machine in Azure and pay for extra machines when you need them, helping you to manage fluctuating demand in a cost-effective way.
- Datacenter Extension – Azure virtual machines on a virtual network can easily be connected to an on-premises network to help extend the capabilities of your datacenter.
Whether hosted on a workstation or physical server, virtual machines remain isolated from everything else, making the ideal testing environment. However, it’s scalability that’s the key selling point when it comes to Azure Virtual Machines; you can scale up and down to meet your business needs and only ever pay for what you need. What’s more, you can avoid the cost and labour involved with maintaining physical hardware.
Azure Blob Storage
Azure Blob Storage is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution optimised for storing huge amounts of unstructured data that doesn’t adhere to any data model or definition. Some of the key ways that Azure Blob Storage can benefit your business include:
- Data Storage – multiple storage tiers and automated lifecycle management enable you to leverage storage for massive amounts of infrequently accessed data as well as billions of data points flowing in from IoT devices in a cost-efficient way.
- Data Lake Creation – a high-performance file system combined with massive scale and economy enable you to build powerful data lakes for big data analytics, speed up your time to insight and optimise analytic workloads.
- Application Development – Blob storage can be used to support serverless architectures along with all the most popular development frameworks, enabling you to build powerful cloud-native applications.
The service helps you to optimise costs with tiered storage for long-term data and the flexibility to scale up for high-performing workloads.
Azure Cosmos DB
Azure Cosmos DB is a globally-distributed, fully managed NoSQL database designed to ensure single-digit millisecond response times, delivering speed at any scale. Thanks to it being fully managed, administration is taken care of by automatic management, updates and patching. The service can be used for a wide range of applications and use cases thanks to some key benefits:
- Availability – Azure Cosmos DB natively partitions data to deliver high availability and scalability; the service delivers 99.99% availability on all multi-region accounts.
- Consistency – Azure offers more flexibility than any other service in terms of consistency levels like eventual, consistent prefix and session.
- Speed – the database service delivers solid state drive backed storage with low-latency order-of-millisecond response times.
- Scalability – the design of Azure Cosmos DB enables you to scale massive request volumes in the order of trillions of requests per day.
As Azure Cosmos DB delivers comprehensive service level agreements for throughput, latency, availability and consistency, you can have confidence that you can scale your storage needs wherever you are. Ultimately, if you have high-performance applications with global ambition, Azure Cosmos DB can seriously deliver.
Azure Data Factory
If your business operates in the cloud, you will need to move data across different networks and services. A data factory is a tool that enables you to move data between one service and another instantaneously and to gain invaluable insights in the process. Azure Data Factory is Azure’s data integration service that enables you to create large-scale data-driven workflows in the cloud and orchestrate and automate data movement and transformation. Some of the key business benefits of Azure Data Factory include:
- Data consolidation – compile and connect data, whether structured or unstructured, from different sources and consolidate it.
- Data centralisation – move and store data from on-premises storage systems to a centralised cloud-based location.
- Data processing – transform your data using additional services, such as Azure HDInsight, Azure ML and Azure Data Lake Analytics.
- Data analytics – visualise the output data using third-party apps to facilitate in-depth analysis, unveiling powerful insights and new opportunities.
As your business operates increasingly in the cloud, data integration and migration are paramount. Azure Data Factory enables you to address this by scheduling, monitoring and managing your ETL (extract, transform and load) pipelines from a single view. Ultimately, with Azure Data Factory, you can drive value, facilitate better decision making and improve business outcomes.
What Azure Service Will Your Business Use?
As a fast, flexible and affordable platform, there’s no end to what your business can achieve with Azure:
- Compute services, such as Azure Virtual Machines, give your business the on-demand computing power it needs to develop, test and run applications and extend your network capabilities.
- Networking services, such as VNet and Virtual WAN, are crucial for cloud deployment and improving functionality, connecting cloud and on-premises resources together and enhancing the performance of IT infrastructure.
- Storage services, such as Azure Blob Storage, give your business scalable on-demand access to data objects, disk storage, NoSQL and more. As a durable, secure and accessible solution, your data is in safe hands.
- Database services, such as Azure Cosmos DB, enable you to connect devices, analyse data, and automate processes in a secure and scalable way, protecting physical work environments and promoting rapid deployment.
Whatever services your business uses, with Azure, you have the power in your hands to achieve more. However, with so much choice for your business, it pays to speak with a dedicated Azure consultant to make sure you make the right investments and see business value from day one.