Azure is a cloud platform that gives your organisation the freedom to build, manage and deploy applications and services through Microsoft’s massive global network.

Azure is available in 54 regions worldwide and in 140 countries. Currently, there are over 100 individual services which can be applied to a great variety of organisations, use cases and business challenges. Organisations big and small are benefiting from Azure to enable them to solve challenges and provide services.

The service enables you to host existing applications, develop new applications or enhance and integrate within on-premise solutions. Integrations are not limited to Microsoft products – Azure is compatible with a wide range of other development tools, frameworks, and technologies.

The 5 pillars of Azure

There are five architectural pillars that underpin every Azure service.

1. Scalability – the ability to handle increases and decreases in load. Azure can scale vertically (increasing the capacity of a single resource) or horizontally (adding additional resources). Scaling is elastic and therefore responds to user demands, providing additional resources at busier times, whilst reducing cost at quieter times.

2. Availability – the proportion of time a system spends working normally, typically measured as a percentage of uptime. Azure offers financially backed SLAs for most services starting at 99.9% uptime, most commonly at 99.95%, all the way up to 99.999%. By means of putting this into perspective – a service with a 99.999% uptime, will have less than 6 seconds of down time per week.

3. Resiliency – the ability to recover when things go wrong and closely linked to availability. Many services have resiliency built into the platform by default, for example databases with built in replication to alternative data centres.

4. Management & DevOps – cloud operations run in remote locations, where access and control is typically more limited when compared with classic on-premise services. Azure provides a sophisticated set of monitoring and diagnostics services. This is coupled with DevOps integrations that enable automated, accurate and reliable deployment and configuration of services.

5. Security – Microsoft invests over a billion dollars annually into cybersecurity, enabling all users of their services to benefit from this significant investment. Azure has built in protection against a range of current and evolving threats, such as network intrusion and DDoS attacks.

The 4 service types of Azure

Azure offers 4 basic types of services to suit a range of needs and requirements. The best service type for your organisation will depend on what you are trying to achieve.

1. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – provides instant cloud computing infrastructure. Rent services such as virtual machines, databases and networks on a pay-as-you-go basis. Microsoft manage and maintain the infrastructure and hardware, while you are free to install and manage your own software from the ground up.

2. Platform as a service (PaaS) – enables you to avoid the expense and complexity of managing an underlying application infrastructure, simply providing an environment for you to deploy your applications, for example, hosting a website.

3. Software as a Service (SaaS) – provides a complete software solution to purchase as single package. The underlying management and maintenance are provided by Microsoft. Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations are examples of SaaS apps running in Azure.

4. Serverless – it is possible to place a few lines of code into Azure and run your solution as a fully functioning, highly scalable application. Serverless is like PaaS however the amount you manage is reduced further, making it serverless from the consumers point of view.

To find out more about how you could harness the power of Azure, discover Incremental’s Azure services today.