The Pros and Cons of Microsoft Azure: Cloud Services for Businesses
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness
Gartner named Microsoft Azure a leader in the 2017 Cloud Infrastructure as a Service space. In the video below, iCorps' VP of Technology Jeff Lauria explains the business benefits of Azure, as well as the potential disadvantages for businesses.
As an increasing number of businesses continue to migrate to the cloud, providers vie for the top spot. Microsoft Azure continues to gain a lot of traction in the cloud storage and business worlds. Recently, Microsoft was recognized by Gartner as a leader in Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Cloud Storage Services and Application Platform as a Service (PaaS). Not convinced Microsoft Azure Cloud Services are the right fit for your business? Here are the Pros and Cons of Azure:
PRO - High Availability
Unlike other vendors, the Microsoft Azure cloud offers high availability and redundancy in data centers on a global scale. Because of this, Azure can offer a service level agreement, or SLA, of 99.95% (approximately 4.38 hours of downtime per year), something that most businesses cannot achieve.
PRO - Data Security
Microsoft Azure has a strong focus on security, following the standard security model of Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize and Close. Paired with strong cybersecurity controls, this model has allowed Azure to achieve multiple compliance certifications, all of which establish Azure as a leader in IaaS security. Not only is the platform protected, the end user is also covered with Azure. This multi-level of protection is essential as security threats continue to multiply daily across the globe, targeting end users and putting your business’ data at risk. Azure provides simple, user-friendly services for increased protection, such as multi-factor authentication and application password requirements.
PRO - Scalability
Scalability is the backbone of any good cloud provider, and Azure is no different. For example, consider the following: a firm runs SQL reports daily for 28 out of 30 days of the month, using minimal compute power. On the last two days of the month, there is an increase in report activity, requiring more compute power. Microsoft Azure makes it easy to scale compute power up or down with nothing more than the click of a button. With this scalable structure, businesses have the flexibility to pay only for what they use.
PRO - Cost Effective
It’s imperative to keep IT budgets in mind when choosing a cloud provider, which is why the Microsoft Azure platform is so attractive to many organizations. Azure’s pay-as-you-go pricing allows SMBs to better manage their IT budgets, purchasing only as much as they need. Additionally, the cloud environment allows businesses to launch both customer applications and internal apps in the cloud, which saves on IT infrastructure costs while reducing the hardware and maintenance burdens on in-house IT management.
CON - Requires Management
As with anything, there are a couple of potential cons with Microsoft Azure. Unlike SaaS platforms where the end-user is consuming information (for example, Office 365), IaaS (Azure) moves your business’ compute power from your data center or office to the cloud. As with most cloud service providers, Azure needs to be expertly managed and maintained, which includes patching and server monitoring.
CON - Requires Platform Expertise
Unlike local servers, Azure requires expertise to ensure all moving parts work together efficiently. A common mistake by business administrators that are not fully engaged in how well (or poorly) their cloud servers are operating is to over-provision cloud services. While a common mistake, on premise servers’ compute power does not translate equivocally in the cloud, potentially costing businesses thousands of dollars per year.
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Azure Cloud Computing
As more businesses move their data to the cloud, it can be difficult to track which provider is best. As an IT consulting company serving small and mid-size businesses, iCorps had to conduct its own proof of concept, migrating core business applications to Azure to ensure maximum efficiency. With a seamless migration and continued usage, iCorps hasn’t looked back, saving nearly $4,000 per month on licensing, hardware, and support.