Azure-What Exactly is Azure and what is it Used For

Azure-What Exactly is Azure and what is it Used For

Azure is a cloud computing platform that consists of over 200 cloud services. The suite will bring your business into the next century. Modern technology relies on clouds more and more. Microsoft Azure is the real heavy-weight in the field.

More than two-thirds of companies in the US use at least one cloud web application. However, It comes as no surprise many choose Azure Services over the competition. Still, cloud services are a new phenomenon. If you have any doubts about the technology, call Dexivo. Our experts will give you all the info you need.

What is Azure?

Azure is a platform that consists of hundreds of different parts. It as well as allows developers to build, test, and deploy web applications. Microsoft Azure is a powerful tool that shares three core functions:

  • Virtual machines
  • Cloud services
  • App services

Think of it as an umbrella term. It also covers a range of products your company uses. The categories it encompasses include:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The foundation of these technologies is cloud computing.  In layman’s terms, it’s a method of storing data over the internet. The cloud also allows remote access. It doesn’t require on-site hardware, which is why it’s cheaper for companies. Access to the cloud comes with a subscription so that means you don’t have to pay a lot to use the applications you need. You only need to shell out fees for every month or every year. Once you no longer need a particular app, you can just stop paying. The service provider deals with hardware and software updates. It’s another way cloud computing saves you money in the long run. Microsoft Azure is a reliable cloud computing platform. The suite makes use of the latest Hi-Tech advances. Even better – its fees are reasonable.

What Can You Use Microsoft Azure For?

Azure provides access to numerous services. They’re broader in range than one can imagine. The solutions cover the daily necessities of nearly any business. You can count on the platform if you’re looking for solutions for:

  • Networking – Content delivery network, DNS, VPN Gateway
  • Compute – Linux and Microsoft Virtual Machines, SQL server, cloud services
  • Web – Web Apps, API Management, API Apps
  • Storage – Blob storage, File Storage, Storage Explorer
  • Mobile – App Service for Mobile Apps, Azure Maps
  • Databases – SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, SQL Data Warehouse
  • Analytics – Log Analytics, Azure Analysis Services
  • Containers – Azure Kubernetes Services, Dev. Spaces, Container Registry
  • Internet of Things – IoT Fundamentals, Studio, Notification Hubs
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It includes Cognitive Services and Azure Machine Learning Services
  • Integration – Logic Apps, Event Grid, Biztalk Services, Service Bus
  • Developer Tools – CLI, SDKs, Visual Studio Codes, Blockchain Workbench
  • DevOps – Visual Studio App Center, Azure DevOps Project
  • Identity – Azure Active Directory, Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Security – Key Vault, Security Center, VPN Gateway
  • Management – Backup, Automation, Azure Mobile App, MS Azure Portal
  • Stack – Azure Stack Operators, Stack User
  • Migration – Database Migration Service, Site Recovery, Cost Management
  • Media – Video Indexer, Encoding, Content Protection

And That’s Not All it Does

Microsoft Azure offers many more applications and services. They fall into every imaginable category. On top of these, the corporation maintains the so-called Sovereign Clouds. These are data warehouses and servers exclusive to sovereign nations. At present, there are three Microsoft Azure sovereign clouds:

  • US Government
  • Germany
  • China

Governments throughout the world adopt the cloud with great frequency. The method enables better exchange between institutions. Azure benefits both the agencies and citizens. Lower costs are just one of the benefits agencies enjoy. Citizens can get quicker access to government services. The cloud eliminates the need for on-premises servers and technicians. In that way, technical problems happen less frequently than before. It won’t be surprising if MS launches more nation-specific services.

What Are Azure Virtual Machines?

Azure has a diverse set of useful, powerful services. The virtual machines consistently rank among the top in terms of fame. What’s so special about them? A virtual machine is an app acting in place of a physical computer. It may sound a little confusing at first if you aren’t acquainted with it. In reality, VM machines have a lot of real benefits. The virtual computer operates freely from the hardware it’s installed on. No information transfers from the virtual to the physical machine. Developers use VMs to:

  • Test software in-development
  • Access virus-infected data
  • Run software not compatible with the current operating system

The sandbox environment of VM offers safety and resilience. What’s more, multiple virtual machines can run on the same system. Testing and development take less time thanks to them. Cloud virtual machines allow companies to use third-party hardware. They don’t need to invest in computers and servers. The service provider’s ones do the job so maintenance costs disappear in that way as well. In the case of Azure, you’ll have access to top-notch hardware from Microsoft. Its power would be enough to cover all working needs. What’s even better is it’ll cost a fraction of the price.

Who Can Use Azure Cloud?

Azure offers a wealth of features and a solid user experience. Many companies of various scope use it. 90% of Fortune 500 companies today rely on Azure. It should be a testament to its qualities. However, you don’t need to be a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Even a small business will benefit from its features, though. The public cloud would be just as good for smaller, tech-oriented operations. Azure is the go-to cloud service for companies that look for:

  • A range of products and services other cloud providers can’t compete with
  • Flexible service. Users can also add and remove services. Increase storage. Create new apps in real-time. You won’t have concerns about hardware and compatibility
  • Reasonable pricing. Your subscription fee depends on the nature of the cloud services you use. In any case, you won’t pay as much as if you bought hardware. Hiring technicians, maintenance, and upgrades are other expenses you save
  • Safety. Going serverless on the cloud eliminates a lot of security concerns. Azure has excellent disaster recovery protocols as well

Microsoft created Azure ten years ago. Since then, it holds a 99% up-time record. That means your operation can count on its services at any moment. If you wonder whether the Azure Cloud is suitable for your business, call us. Dexivo’s experts will be glad to share their insight.

Where Are Azure’s Data Warehouses?

Microsoft maintains data centers throughout the globe. That allows Azure to service customers in multiple regions. There are 54 regions in which Azure has a strong presence today. The services are available in 140 countries. When you subscribe to Azure, you choose the region. The data center you use will be in it. That gives you quicker, more reliable access to the cloud. There’s an additional benefit, though. The choice of data center ensures the preservation of data residence. That can be important if local legislation requires such a thing. It offers more resilience against hacker attacks as well. Microsoft opened its first data center in 1989. Since then, they’ve invested over $15 billion in the technology. There’s no wonder they manage to stay ahead of the competition. Take giants such as Amazon and their Amazon Web Services (AWS). Even they fail to outperform them in the majority of cases. 

How Does Azure Benefit Analytics?

Big data plays a vital role in the way companies do business. Data analytics help with making predictions about the market. It also enables companies to learn more about their target audience. Azure has excellent analysis and database capacity. They help companies process impressive amounts of actionable data. The results let parties take their decision-making process to the next level. 

Microsoft Azure can also help you improve your marketing strategy. Bring your data analytics needs to the cloud and see what happens. You likely want credible analysis and error-free results. The suite’s testing tools are the thing for you. The licensed data experts at Dexivo are ready to help you. Call us when you need an expert. 

Does Azure Require Coding?

The ease you can learn Azure is among the platform’s most appealing traits. You can use most functions without writing a single line of code. Also, you and your employees can carry out management and other tasks and you won’t need to have knowledge of programming languages. Knowing Python won’t hurt. It comes in handy when you deploy and test software in Microsoft Azure.  Don’t worry about it if you don’t intend to use it for such purposes. The platform’s official website offers a tutorial. You can get started with learning when you want. Want more concrete directions to using Azure in your work? You can always turn to Dexivo.

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Azure’s Technical Design


Azure’s “fabric layer” runs on a special operating system. It’s called MS Azure. Microsoft hosts a cluster at its data center. It also enhances the system’s work. Computing power and storage come from data centers and data warehouses. Azure resources are greater than the competition. You could say Microsoft Azure is a “cloud layer.” It runs on top of other Microsoft Server systems. The visualization happens through Microsoft Azure Hypervisor. It’s a customized version of Hyper-V, another MS invention.  

The Microsoft Azure Fabric Controller is in charge of scaling. It also keeps the system reliable. It does it by managing the data allocation. Load balancing of web applications is part of the package as well. Say, one segment of the data center fails. The controller activates emergency protocols right away. They’ll also keep the system running.

Developers interact with the services through three main API builds:

  • REST
  • HTTP
  • XML

Customers have access to MS Visual Studio. There’s Git and Eclipse integration as well. It’s possible API doesn’t do the trick for the client. In that case, they can use the platform through the web-based Azure Portal. It offers a range of potential, including:

  • Browsing active resources
  • Settings modifier
  • Launching new resources
  • Viewing basic monitoring data

The Azure Portal offers organic interaction with VM and services.

What You Can Do With Azure

Microsoft develops new Azure resources every day. The range of activities you can carry out with the platform is impressive. Your business will benefit from them regardless of your field of operation:

  • Media
  • Marketing and sales
  • Science and research
  • Trade
  • Production of goods

Are you performing data analytics? Need extra storage? Are you preparing web applications for the market? MS Azure can help you with all those things and countless more. Consider the platform’s most popular services. Several categories compete for the top place. 

Storage and Databases

The initial purpose of Azure was to provide storage capacity. It works for structured and unstructured data. How do you know you need it? Do you have more than a single hard-drive of information you need to preserve? Then Azure is for you. Opting for cloud services is financially superior. It’s better than investing in on-premises servers. Azure has several native storage services:

  • Blobs
  • Files (using SMB protocols)
  • Queues
  • Tables (noSQL)

Azure doesn’t disappoint on the front of heavy-duty big data processing. Microsoft designed Azure Cosmos DB to cover that niche. Although, the service is a multi-model service level agreement (SLAs) service. It’s globally-distributed and horizontally scalable. It won’t be inaccurate to say it’s better than most of the competition. 

App Development and Deployment

Azure offers powerful tools and services for developers. Here you’ll find everything you need to design and deploy an application. The Visual Studio environment works on virtual machines so it’s compatible with various Windows Servers as well. The best part is you can use third-party tools as well. No one is stopping you from using open-source tools. Are you used to some software that lets you manage workflows or share code? You can still use it. Developers especially cherish that feature. It makes monitoring usage and performance breezy. 

Containers and Container Services

Containers are crucial to app development. They allow you to run new apps in a secure environment. Azure also offers easily-available containers. These are capable of quick scaling. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is Microsoft’s offer in that field. It has become a standard tool for developers. The reason is it has everything one may need. Other providers don’t handle heavy work-loads of container requests well at all times. Although azure dominates the market because it offers reliable services, no one can match its capacity. Check out Azure Marketplace. There you’ll be able to choose from some 100 container images. You can get the tools to help you manage them as well.

How Much Does Azure Cost?

Pricing is important when it comes to picking up a service provider. Azure costs less than buying and maintaining hardware. That’s the whole appeal of cloud computing. But is it cheaper than the competitors in the field? Most services follow a pay-as-you-go model. You won’t have to put money upfront. You can also reserve cloud capacity for a year or three-years. Reserving capacity in advance will give you a substantial discount. Check the Azure Portal for cost estimates. Note, Visual Studio subscriptions come with Azure credit as a gift.

You can pay with that credit toward services on the Azure portal. However, the amount you get depends on the Visual Studio plan you choose. There’s more good news for people who want to try out Azure. You can make a free account and it gives you a $200 bonus in services so that should be enough to give you a feel of the platform. Don’t hesitate to contact Dexivo for more tips. We can help you get the most out of Azure for your budget.

Some Final Thoughts

Let’s say you don’t use cloud technology at your company now. The trend shows that you will start soon enough. Finding the best service provider can be tricky. However, it’s normal to want an optimal cost-to-benefit ratio. You won’t regret choosing Microsoft Azure in such a case. The complete set of services is more than you’ll probably need. That won’t be a problem, since you pay just for the features you need right now. MS is the biggest player in the market today. They’ve been in the game for decades, and they know what their clients want. What’s more important is that they know how to deliver, just like our own seasoned data wizards at Dexivo. You’ll make a wise move by placing your bets on both.

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