What Makes Azure A Top Cloud Choice?
Azure: the word comes to us from the Persian and Arabic East by way of medieval Latin—a mangled translation of lazhuward, used to name the intensely blue mineral lapis lazuli.
On the modern color wheel, Azure sits halfway between blue and cyan and before being adopted by Microsoft was probably best known as the color of the Italian national football team, the Azzurri ("the Azures"). It’s the color we typically think of as sky blue which was likely the association that made the marketers at Microsoft choose it as the name for their cloud offering. If so, the selection also seems providential: when it comes to Microsoft’s prospects in the cloud, right now it seems like the sky’s the limit.
When Microsoft launched Azure, it was one of an array of distant rivals to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Now it’s in a neck-and-neck race with AWS for cloud dominance. Azure is today’s fastest growing public cloud provider, expanding faster than the overall cloud and far faster than AWS.
When RightScale, published the results of its 2014 cloud usage survey, 54% of respondents reported using AWS while Azure’s presence was a distant 13%. Over the intervening years, according to RightScale’s 2019 report, AWS has inched up to 61% while Azure adoption has quadrupled to 52%.
What’s behind Azure’s rapid growth? Here are five key factors:
The cloud started out as a place to get things started fast—spin up a server and begin developing that new application. And also as a place to store stuff. But over time, particularly as worries over cloud security have diminished, it’s become more tightly integrated into evolving IT strategies. Today, as they look to become more agile and take advantage of advanced services such as AI, IT leaders are looking to transition more of their existing legacy infrastructure to the cloud. Microsoft jumped on that trend early with services specifically designed to streamline the migration of SQL, VMware and other legacy implementations to Azure.
Strength as PaaS
To appeal to the legions of Windows developers, Azure always emphasized tools and frameworks for streamlining application development. In effect, Azure was as Platform-as-a-Service right from the start. No, it wasn’t the very first to pioneer this concept, but today it is probably the largest. Azure remains a top choice for Windows developers who want to keep using the tools and frameworks that they are familiar with when developing applications for the cloud. Azure PaaS supports all leading development frameworks and there are numerous out-of-the-box applications in the Azure Marketplace. Gartner has designated the Azure PaaS a “leader” in its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration PaaS. (AWS was not included in this Magic Quadrant.)
Today, it’s not unusual for a company to use the public cloud to enable self-service access to computing resources, while it runs other business-critical applications in an onsite data center. Or an organization might choose to store sensitive data on-premises while leveraging the cloud for other application tiers. These and many other use cases are examples of hybrid cloud implementations, which are so common it’s becoming harder to discuss them as a distinct phenomenon—for all practical purposes they are the dominant way most organizations use the cloud.
Microsoft Azure recognized this from the start and focused on delivering consistency and reliability across application development, management, security, data, and identity tools and environments. Early and comprehensive support for hybrid cloud implementations may be the single biggest factor responsible for making Azure the fastest-growing public cloud platform.
Azure covers more regions than any other cloud service provider. More than 50 regions are currently available. In addition, Azure has a data center footprint in 140 countries. (You can get the latest stats here.) If your reach is global—or you have plans to be global—this extensive geographical reach makes Azure a top choice. The geographical reach of Azure is a critical factor behind the extensive disaster recovery it is able to offer through regional and global fail-over options.
Security and Compliance
Through the Azure Security Center Microsoft offers extensive security capabilities including the ability to conduct security assessments, automatically deploy standardized security measures when onboarding new applications and gain visibility across both on premise and cloud networks. Microsoft holds more certifications than any other cloud provider leading in the areas of security and privacy requirements including GDPR.
With these and other benefits, what’s not to like about Azure? Well, nothing except that the job of migrating a legacy infrastructure and applications to the cloud is not nearly as straightforward as all of these benefits might suggest. There are different ways to configure your applications in Azure, multiple migration tools, varying SLA options, a range of discount opportunities, and more. Failure to be clear on your objectives leaves you vulnerable to scope creep and cost over runs. Overlooking misconfigurations in your current on-premises environment will undermine potential savings and performance gains.
That’s why if taking advantage of Azure seems like a good idea, enlisting the support of Navisite to help streamline the transition can make a good idea even better.
Navisite is one of a very select group of some 40 Azure Expert MSPs and one of Microsoft’s four Azure Centers of Excellence.
To help organizations launch their Azure journey, Navisite has also developed an eBook: The Ultimate Azure Migration Guide, as part of our deep Azure Management Services. You can download it here.
If your organization is looking to navigate the journey to Azure, contact us today to see how Navisite’s Azure Management Services can help you fully map out and plan that process, or feel free to contact us, or give us a call at (888) 298-8222.