Cloud computing offers companies unparalleled ability to rapidly scale up on virtual services, such as storage and compute power, on demand. Cloud computing, initially conceived as a software as a service (SaaS) model, has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Leading cloud service providers have added new technologies and features to increase the value of the cloud model. Today, one of the top leaders for cloud computing is Microsoft with its Microsoft Azure cloud services). Almost every company has implemented some level of cloud strategy. 

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The focus of this article is to dive into the value Microsoft Azure offers companies as a leading cloud provider. Cloud services such as Microsoft Azure offer tools enabling organizations to implement solutions that will, in turn, serve their own customers efficiently.

What Is Microsoft Azure Cloud Service?

Microsoft launched Windows Azure on February 1, 2010 (renamed Microsoft Azure in 2014) to offer developers tools for simpler management of data and file storage. Over the next nine years, Microsoft Azure grew and expanded dramatically to compete with solutions offered by Amazon (AWS), IBM (Watson and Bluemix), and Google (Google Cloud). Today, you can go directly to the Microsoft Azure site and access a list of the latest services and comprehensive support.

Microsoft Azure is a collection of 600+ services that offers teams the ability to implement data storage, email, and many other IT solutions at a flexible scale. The architectural design of Microsoft Azure ensures reliability and security. Azure offers immediate access to the latest services and technologies needed in the enterprise, allowing Azure cloud engineers to implement complex solutions quickly.

It should also be noted that Microsoft Azure quickly brings on leading-edge technologies, such as its fast adoption of Blockchain tools and services. It would take weeks to implement a private Blockchain network with a simple solution in 2018, but today Azure offers a suite of tools that enable small teams to have private Blockchain solutions up and running in one day.

Simplilearn covers Microsoft Azure frequently due to its rising popularity; in fact, it's on its way to becoming the leading cloud provider in 2019.

Benefits of Azure Cloud Services

The goal of Microsoft Azure is to offer any organization or individual access to tools that were once complicated and expensive to implement. For example, building a database solution such as Mongo used to require having intricate knowledge, such as the ability to create a scalable Linux environment. Having the skills was one important part of the equation, while it took time to implement complex services. 

The benefits of Microsoft Azure can be broken down into the following:

  • Lower Cost

    Azure is a bespoke suite of solutions where you only pay for what you use
  • Higher Security

    Microsoft provides leading security and compliance for data privacy laws
  • Increased Productivity

    Azure comes with many accelerators to enable rapid implementation of solutions
  • Global Scale

    Azure is built so that solutions can seamlessly flex from small to a global scale 
  • Intelligent

    Microsoft is bringing their investment in AI into Azure to help you manage your network

Today, any one individual can leverage Microsoft Azure to install a Mongo database on a scalable Linux cluster in one morning. The complexity of installing and managing servers on a network has been dramatically reduced, clearing more time for developers to build solutions.

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Azure Cloud Services List

Microsoft offers more than 600 Azure cloud services and the list is growing all the time. Their cloud services can be split into the following major categories:

  • AI and Machine Learning

    Develop solutions with the latest artificial intelligence capabilities
  • Analytics

    Gather, process, analyze, and visualize a wide variety of data
  • Blockchain

    Build and manage Blockchain-based applications with a suite of integrated tools
  • Compute

    Access cloud compute capacity and scale on demand
  • Containers

    Develop and manage your containerized applications faster with built-in tools
  • Databases

    Support rapid growth and innovate faster with secure, enterprise-grade, and fully managed database services
  • Developer Tools

    Build, manage, and continuously deliver cloud applications written in any developer language
  • DevOps

    Deliver innovation faster with simple, reliable tools for continuous delivery
  • Identity

    Manage user identities and access to protect against advanced threats across devices, data, apps, and infrastructure
  • Integration

    Seamlessly integrate on-premises and cloud-based applications, data, and processes across your enterprise
  • Internet of Things

    Easily add and manage IoT 
  • Management and Governance

    Simplify, automate, and optimize the management and compliance of your cloud resources
  • Media

    Deliver high-quality video content 
  • Mixed Reality

    Blend augmented and virtual reality solutions
  • Mobile

    Manage and deliver sophisticated and scalable mobile apps and device management
  • Networking

    Connect cloud and on-premises infrastructure
  • Storage

    Massively scalable cloud storage for your data, apps, and workloads
  • Web

    Build, deploy, and scale powerful web applications quickly and efficiently

Microsoft provides a complete breakdown of the latest services; you’ll see that for each major section there are many sub-services.

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Cost of Azure Cloud Services

It can sometimes be hard to calculate the cost of using Azure services; there are three ways to license them:

  • Directly set up a Microsoft Azure account
  • Purchase an Office 365 account (the services in Office 365 sit on top of Microsoft Azure)
  • License a product that uses Azure (Apple’s iCloud service, for example)

There are many cost breakdowns pertaining to the direct use of Microsoft Azure. For instance, compute services will only charge what you use, which is reasonable when you have brief and usual spikes in usage.  example, your eCommerce site might spike in usage following a successful advertising campaign. Other services, such as mobile, can be negotiated directly with Microsoft, which can often help reduce costs. Learn more about pricing at Microsoft’s Azure website (the pricing calculator is especially useful). 

Why It’s Important to be Certified as an Azure Cloud Service Engineer

Certification is a way to demonstrate your competency level. We’ve covered the most popular Azure Skills. Microsoft has three key levels of certification. Certification offers you the opportunity to command a higher salary and, as you can imagine, Simplilearn offers the following classes for each of these levels:

  1. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Lowest level solutions expert
  2. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Recognized as the global standard for IT professionals
  3. Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): Recognized as the global standard for developers

In addition to SimpliLearn, there are other ways to keep up to date on the latest Azure information:

  • Azure Blog: The Azure Blog has many contributors providing the latest updates to Microsoft Azure 
  • Azure Forum: Read and post questions on Azure directly to Microsoft
  • StackOverFlow: Access one of the largest collections of developer knowledge exchange

Bringing Azure Cloud Services Into Your Organization

Microsoft Azure is expanding rapidly beyond its original core offerings and if you’re not using Azure, then you will likely be using their services soon. You can start and stop a solution without a significant investment, so don’t be afraid to use Azure. Sometimes you only need to demonstrate a proof of concept, while other times you need a database to run your whole company. Whatever your needs, Azure has the tools to scale from the small to the global.