Microsoft Azure: Cloud Portfolio Review – Datamation

By providing businesses with access to on-demand computer system resources and scalable, high-availability data storage, cloud computing by Microsoft Azure offers increased business continuity with reduced operating costs.

Though Microsoft’s work with cloud computing began officially in 2006, Azure was released in 2010. With initial intentions of extending Microsoft Windows OS on the internet, Azure has grown into a full-featured, enterprise-ready portfolio of cloud services and solutions:

Microsoft Azure and the cloud market

In 2021, the cloud market was valued at $445.3 billion, with expectations for growth that will reach $947.3 billion by 2026.

Three vendors control the majority of the cloud market share, with a combined total of 64% of the current total spend. While the most popular vendor is Amazon Web Services (AWS) with 33% of the market, Microsoft Azure is in second place with 22%, and Google Cloud trails in third place with 9%.

Key features

  • Secure cloud services backed by a trusted team of IT experts.
  • Microsoft product development and innovation.
  • Employ free resources and tools with expert assistance to migrate existing servers, apps, and databases.
  • Accelerate developer activities with a comprehensive toolkit and platform used to collaborate and build solutions.
  • Safeguard data with over 90 compliance offerings.
  • Take advantage of support for all languages and frameworks.
  • Confidently store data knowing that it will never be used for marketing or advertising.

Key benefits

The benefits of Azure are best summarized by looking at what various industries can gain from an Azure cloud implementation.

Financial services

  • Deliver personalized financial services experiences to customers.
  • Improve customer insights and relationships with consumer data and predictive analytics.
  • Protect sensitive data with consideration for regulatory mandates with integrated risk-management.

Government

  • Facilitate cross-agency collaboration.
  • Empower employees by providing the access they need regardless of remote work locations.
  • Secure services and critical infrastructure.

Health care

  • Protect sensitive health data.
  • Improve health outcomes by ensuring data flows through all points of care.
  • Drive health team collaboration and workflow management.

Manufacturing

  • Maximize the safety and health of workers
  • Create strong relationships with customers, including all aspects of marketing, sales, and service
  • Manage and improve supply chain planning and execution

Retail

  • Manage customer experiences by better understanding their expectations and needs.
  • Optimize the operations of physical and virtual operations.

Energy

  • Modernize operations to expand opportunities and reduce costs.
  • Improve productivity and safety.
  • Conduct predictive forecasting.

Media and entertainment

  • Create content more quickly and efficiently.
  • Optimize storage costs and performance.
  • Package, protect, and deliver media and entertainment content.

Space

  • Gain insights with data analytics.
  • Use products and services such as Azure Orbital Preview to communicate and control satellites.

Game development

  • Accelerate game development.
  • Deliver low-latency, high-availability game play.
  • Scale multiplayer services as needed.

Use case

Daimler AG

Microsoft Azure is being used by some of the best-known organizations worldwide, not the least of which being Daimler AG. Known to be one of the largest automotive manufacturers, Daimler AG is responsible for prestigious brands like Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner.

Understanding the important role that software plays in modern vehicles, Daimler turned to Microsoft Azure DevTest Labs to provide standardized templates for the creation of development and test environments with access to a suite of software creation tools.

Whether a developer is creating a quick proof of concept or deploying a new application, Microsoft Azure delivers faster time to market with the flexibility to use and integrate with existing technologies, including open-source applications.

“Since using Azure DevTest Labs, we’ve seen our developer onboarding process drop from weeks to hours,” says Peter Rothlaender, manager of cloud solutions, Daimler AG.

Differentiators

One of the most notable advantages of choosing a solution from a mature company like Microsoft is the maturity and strength of the community using their technology. Further, the annual Microsoft Build event delivers a wealth of curated topics, including:

  • Rapidly code, test, and ship from secure cloud developer environments.
  • Scale cloud-native apps, and accelerate app modernization.
  • Accelerate innovation, and achieve agility using a trusted, integrated data platform with hybrid and multicloud capabilities.
  • Create next-gen experiences at scale with Windows, an open platform and open store that is home to over 1 billion devices.

User reviews

Reviews and ratings for Microsoft Azure are consistently high, with many comments regarding it as an end-to-end solution with considerable access to resources.

Pricing

For those interested in getting started with Azure, Microsoft is currently offering free accounts with 12 months of free services and a $200 credit.

Beyond the free trial period, pricing for Microsoft Azure is sophisticated and difficult to estimate, especially because organizations with Enterprise Agreements and Online Services Agreements may be eligible for discounts.

Microsoft does offer a pricing calculator tool that allows for estimates based on a selection of chosen products or example scenarios.

As a significant value-add, several products are always available to all Azure customers free of charge:

  • Databases: Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Database Migration Service
  • Compute: Azure App Service, Azure Functions, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Batch, and Static Web Apps
  • Integration: Azure Event Grid and Logic Apps
  • AI and Machine Learning: Azure Bot Service, Cognitive Search, Face API, Speech to Text, Text to Speech, Speech Translation, Immersive Reader, Azure Open Datasets, and Machine Learning
  • Developer Tools: DevTest Labs, Azure DevOps, Azure App Configuration, Visual Studio Code, and SQL Server 2019 Developer Edition
  • Containers: Service Fabric
  • Security: Security Center
  • Management and Governance: Advisor, Automation, Azure Monitor, Azure Lighthouse, and Azure Policy
  • Analytics: Data Factory and Data Catalog
  • Mobile: Notification Hubs
  • Mixed Reality: Azure Spatial Anchors
  • Networking: Azure Network Watcher, Azure Private Link, Virtual Network, and Bandwidth (Data Transfer)
  • Migration: Azure Migrate
  • Hybrid and Multicloud: Azure Arc
  • Internet of Things: Azure IoT Edge and Azure IoT Hub
  • Identity: Azure Active Directory
  • Web: Azure SignalR Service
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