Editor’s note: Choosing a cloud vendor from a variety of offers is the step conditioning your entire cloud strategy. Below, Andy reviews the strengths of Azure as a cloud in general and benchmarks it against competitors to help you choose the right cloud. And if you are already convinced in Azure’s benefits for your IT environment, consider exploiting them to the full extent with ScienceSoft’s managed Azure services.
Aren’t you encumbered with endless disputes and biased opinions, giving no help to your final choice of a cloud platform? If so – you have come to the right place. In this article, I disclose the benefits of Microsoft Azure backed with ScienceSoft’s 8+ years of experience with this platform. Below, I depict Azure benefits in a sequence of comparative steps leading to your clear understanding of its advantages.
At ScienceSoft, we define three major aspects inducing companies to migrate to the cloud:
- High maintenance costs.
- Risks arising from hardware failures.
- Growing bandwidth demands.
And Azure successfully meets those challenges by providing:
- On-the-go scalability of your IT environment with no need to run a data center with dedicated IT staff.
- Timely backups for your virtual machines and data.
- Fast data transfer and low latencies thanks to a globally spread Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN).
However good the benefits of an entire-cloud environment are, some companies opt for a hybrid cloud strategy to get additional scalability and functionality from a cloud but to retain the lowest latencies for the most critical internal processes. And Microsoft Azure specifically supports such infrastructures with related services:
- Azure Active Directory. An identity and access management service synchronizing your cloud and on-premises assets.
- Azure ExpressRoute. The service for broadband private on-premises – cloud communication.
- Azure Stack. It allows running Azure services locally in your own data center.
- Azure DevOps. Services facilitating the implementation of CI/CD pipelines in a hybrid environment.
If computing and storage resources are all you require from a cloud to scale your application on the fly, you can consider choosing an IaaS-only cloud vendor. However, I recommend you to give a thought to off-the-shelf PaaS services when planning cloud migration. Thus, Azure provides numerous PaaS services, which enable you to build, test, deploy, manage, and update cloud apps. You are likely to opt for them if the following statements pertain to you:
- You want to save time and money on developing and deploying your cloud app.
- You want to transform your monolithic app into a flexible failsafe mesh of interrelated services to cut down on modernization and maintenance costs.
Now it’s time to benchmark Azure against its major competitor – AWS. At ScienceSoft, I work with both providers and know the pros and cons of each to remain unbiased while comparing them. Here are the advantages of Azure over AWS obvious in my daily practice:
- Per-minute pricing (if the time billing for services takes place) as opposed to a rounded-up hourly pricing model of AWS.
- An array of free useful services included in the Azure subscription. Some are unconditionally free (Azure Kubernetes Service, Security Center, Machine Learning Server, etc.), others have limitations for free usage (Azure DevOps (up to 5 users), App Service (up to 10 apps), etc.)
- Cost savings if you already use Microsoft products locally. You can lift and shift your Microsoft SQL Server and Windows Server instances in Azure as is without the need to renew licenses. Also, you get free security updates and native maintenance of back-end firmware.
- Hybrid cloud support. You can run Azure services locally for latency and data security matters and augment them with cloud resources to scale up.
Considering the above, I would recommend Microsoft Azure to:
- A small business or a startup to get vast capabilities at a low price once it gets an Azure subscription.
- Companies running own data centers where Azure may constitute a kernel for their hybrid infrastructure and aid their complete migration once such a need occurs.
For a non-IT business lacking cloud-related knowledge and dedicated IT staff, Azure’s out-of-the-box PaaS and SaaS components will be a tangible benefit as they help:
- Reduce migration and maintenance costs. You can leverage the Azure components to reproduce your on-premises apps of any complexity with little development efforts and get the architecture open for improvements. Check out the actual example, where we migrated a data analytics solution to Azure to reduce its maintenance costs.
- Achieve high scalability and performance of your Azure-deployed apps. Azure features autoscaling and high-performance computing (Azure HPC) technologies to easily scale, increase the performance, and reduce resource consumption of your apps.
Azure’s capabilities can completely satisfy the needs of SaaS and XaaS companies pursuing fast market entry and efficient content delivery by:
- Global coverage and high availability. You gain access not only to Azure CDN but to the CDNs of Microsoft’s partners like Akamai and Verizon, which ensures low network and web latency for your users.
- Minimized development costs and time. You can quickly set up a robust DevOps environment and CI/CD pipeline streamlining your development process and use ready-to-go services to compose your product instead of writing code.
- High integration capabilities. Azure services seamlessly integrate with other Microsoft services (e.g., ones included in Microsoft 365 and Power Platform) and open-source data processing techs (for example, Apache Spark and Apache Hadoop data analytics engines).
- Highly secured data. Azure provides for immense compliance with industry standards for secure data storage and processing, including HIPAA.
Azure offers a vast array of services assisting in lift-and-shift migration. Still, sometimes a complete reimplementation of your app in the cloud will be preferable to gain increased stability and advanced functionality. See how we re-implemented our customer’s accounting business SaaS solution in Azure to step up its capabilities.
I hope you got a well-ordered understanding of the benefits you may get from Microsoft Azure as the list of its pros is really immense. Let’s sum up the essentials:
- Variety of services and technologies to leverage.
- Good support of hybrid infrastructures.
- Global content delivery network.
- High integration capabilities.
However, you should have enough competence in Azure to make your cloud migration efficient and cost-effective. Otherwise, I recommend you to entrust the entire process to a competent cloud migration service provider, who will ensure your fast migration with reduced cloud consumption costs. Being such, ScienceSoft’s team is always ready to help, just give us a call.
Want to stay technologically advanced and still focused on your core business activities? We are ready to help you manage your complex IT environment.