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A Quick Guide to Microsoft Azure

More than 57% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Azure and benefit from its open and flexible platform, its industry-leading security and its easy integration with existing IT environments. But how exactly does Microsoft Azure deliver its services? Eric Berg, Senior IT Consultant at COMPAREX and Microsoft-awarded MVP, details the three areas of Microsoft Azure: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

What does Microsoft Azure actually offer?

To better understand the services behind Microsoft’s cloud service Azure, let’s divide cloud services into three fundamental areas:

Azure

Microsoft cloud services

Microsoft Azure: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS means that companies use servers, storage, network and the other elements of the data center infrastructure as abstract, virtualized services via the Internet. The IaaS services provided are charged dependent on use. However, users continue to control the operating system and applications. The IaaS model permits scalable adjustments in the scope of infrastructural use – via the Azure Portal – to meet current requirements.

IaaS products generally provide computing, storage and network infrastructure, such as firewalls and load balancers. The services are typically delivered as virtual machines whose contents are controlled by the user. Therefore, IaaS displays similarities to traditional hosting: Enterprises use the host environment as a logical expansion of the in-house data center, but are required to maintain the corresponding servers in the same way as the ones installed in the company.

Microsoft Azure: Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides more sophisticated cloud services in addition to hardware and operating systems. Here, Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers the application infrastructure in the form of technical frameworks such as databases and middleware, or even the entire development platform.

PaaS allows companies to create and implement customized applications as services. The underlying infrastructure (computer, VMs, storage and network) is hidden behind the services and interfaces for developers to allow them to concentrate fully on developing applications.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS providers deliver ready-made applications via the Internet. The SaaS applications can be used immediately or are modified individually to suit the installed systems. The Microsoft cloud services are on-demand applications based on a subscription model and hosted services, in which end users receive a uniform user experience across a variety of devices. Here, the company operates merely as an application user. Microsoft offers other products and services in this respect, for instance CRM Online, Office 365 or Microsoft Intune.

How do companies benefit with Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure offers an open and flexible platform for companies, allowing them to respond faster and to complete their tasks more effectively. To manage this demand, Microsoft operates huge cloud data centers on almost all continents. Companies can use infrastructures, platforms or software in these data centers. The services are charged dependent on use: so they only pay for what they actually consume, which is where we find the value in cloud technologies. As opposed to maintaining hardware and software in their own data centers to deliver the necessary performance in peak load periods, in Azure companies simply have access to the capacity they need on demand and only pay for what they actually use. What’s more, the services are entirely streamlined. They can be handled exactly like a managed SQL instance if it is necessary to maintain control over the entire infrastructure.

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