Microsoft Azure is a cloud-based computing platform by Microsoft Corporation. It is one of the leading cloud platforms which provide two fundamental services associated with cloud computing, PaaS and IaaS. Before we get into detail, let’s see what cloud computing actually is and what is it used for.
Cloud Computing is simply accessing and maintaining data from a shared pool of resources by a provider over the internet. The reason cloud computing is so popular is because it is easy to set up the environment for app and websites development, networking and data management, a few of the services cloud providers offer. It removes the sizable expenditure for setting up the physical infrastructure such as data servers, networks and necessary development software.
To put it in layman terms, instead of setting up hardware, software and networking necessary for applications and services development, you can simply rent it over the internet from a company which already has these resources and start building.
Well, now that we know what Azure fundamentally does, here’s some of the features in detail it provides as a cloud computing provider:
Microsoft Azure provides users with the ability to create, manage, and run apps and websites directly within Azure.
There are three ways to do this:
Microsoft’s Azure platform is gaining traction, becoming only second to Amazon Web Services in cloud computing industry, but there is a problem. Nobody really sees Microsoft as a cloud computing company. Microsoft is mostly associated with its early enterprise solutions such as Windows Servers and Office 365. People don’t understand how much potential Azure has but those who do are finding many uses for it and are monetizing successfully.
“We’re finding a lot of folks are adopting Azure because it makes sense, and it’s already part of their skill set. If they want to migrate their Microsoft Windows server into the cloud, it’s much more seamless, there are more tools available, they can already use the Hyper V platform and they don’t have to do too much work. Whereas some of the other providers might have a different framework that they’re not as familiar with.” – Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks
For example, Microsoft offers the best integration with its popular development tools such as .NET, C# and Visual Studio. But in addition to that, Microsoft also supports Java development on Eclipse, PHP and Python coding. But the main issue is that Microsoft hasn’t been able to market Azure as to make people better understand its potential. Many people just don’t see themselves running Java bases apps on Microsoft’s cloud platform.
But this doesn’t mean that Azure is not capable and worthy for developer’s attention. Microsoft is trying its hardest to compete with Amazon. It’s reduced its pricing to the level of Amazon Web Services and is rapidly introducing new features to overthrow Amazon.
“Azure lets us focus on our product rather than focusing on how we need to scale the application, as is generally required with infrastructure as a service. With a platform cloud, you can spend more time working on future tools, “rather than keeping your head down on running things today.” – Tony McGinn, CEO, Movideo.
Their strategy is working to somewhat extent. Just two years back, after the AzureCon, Microsoft added over 90,000 brand new customers. It commands more than half (57%) of Fortune 500 companies on its cloud platform. In addition, being launched in 2010, the Azure platform has seen triple digit growth, with more than 300,000 websites taking advantage of its environment. Also it has more than 1 billion SQL databases running through it daily.
But it isn’t enough to just be as good as Amazon Web Services. It isn’t enough to be even better than AWS, which in some cases, Azure actually is. No, it’s biggest strength will be its ability to give people a good reason to switch to its platform. Microsoft is already doing this by being more open and accepting of other platforms. But they have to show the companies and the developers this in a much more expressive way.
Due to this and other factors, Amazon Web Services has captured nearly 75% of the cloud computing market. Introduced by Amazon in 2006, It is so much popular than it is estimated that 1% of the whole internet runs through it. Although it is definitely the much more matured platform, another reason for its success is that developers tend to follow trends. If the majority is using AWS to create and manage their apps and databases, and a new company or startup doesn’t run with them and instead uses Azure, they will be criticized and judged as being naïve and not knowing what they’re doing.
To put simply, Microsoft Azure is a great cloud computing platform, with many features which allow it to adopt to a company’s need instead of the opposite. In addition, it has more global data centers than AWS with the same competitive pricing. Many notable companies and organizations use Azure such as Real Madrid, Pearson and NBC News. Microsoft is determined in improving its cloud computing offerings and is making billions of dollars of investments to do so. But it still has a long way to go in its journey to become the best cloud provider in the industry.
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