If you are a dedicated follower of Microsoft, then there is no doubt you will of heard of Microsoft Azure. This is a cloud computing service which is a huge part of Microsoft’s business, which competes with similar services from Amazon and Google. What really is Microsoft Azure?
Cloud Computing Explained
By using the word “Cloud Computing” we don’t mean the vague term that is often applied to consumer services that store your data on a remote server somewhere. What it actually means is computing as a service for companies, organisations, and even individuals who want to take advantage of it.
In tradition a business or organisation would host their own infrastructure with its own web server on its own hardware. If more power was needed the business would need to pay for more server hardware. Cloud computing however works differently rather than running your own hardware or pay for the use of specific hardware in someone else’s data centre, instead you pay for access to a massive pool of computing resources provided by Microsoft, etc. This allows you to host web servers, email servers, databases, file storage servers, virtual machines, and anything else you may want. If you are in need of more computing resources, you don’t need to purchase physical hardware, instead the ‘cloud’ shares the hard work automatically assigns the work, as necessary.
What’s the Point?
There is a much smaller up-front cost when using cloud computing, meaning there is no need in investing a serious amount of money into creating you own data centre, purchasing hardware and paying for staff. There is no risk of making unnecessary costs or buying too little and not having what you need.
Instead, you host whatever you need through the ‘cloud’ provided by a server such as Microsoft Azure. Therefore you only pay for the computing resource you need, if you need more you can easily upscale and if you need less, you aren’t paying for more than you need.
What Can Microsoft Azure Do?
Microsoft Azure’s website hosts a directory of hundreds of different services you can use including;
- Full virtual machines
- File storage
- Back Ups
- Services for Mobile and Web apps
Originally named ‘Windows Azure’ but changed to ‘Microsoft Azure’ as it can handle much more than just Windows. Allowing you to run either Windows or Linux – which ever you prefer.
Digging through hundreds of services, you’ll see that you can do practically anything, and for anything Azure doesn’t offer in an easy service, you can set up a Windows or Linux virtual machine that will host whichever software you prefer to use.
How Anyone Can Use Azure
Anyone can use Azure, simply just head to the Azure website and you can sign up for an account. Each account is preloaded with a set amount of money which you can use within the first 30 days, so you’ll be able to get started and see how Azure works for you.
It goes without saying all of this is useful to people and organisations who want to host service or develop applications. If you are just a window user or a user on any other platform you don’t need Microsoft Azure and if you own a company, you might be able to save some money by letting Azure handle your infrastructure.