Microsoft’s Windows Azure continues to provide an excellent platform for more and more businesses. Whether it’s a start-up with little to no capital, or an established corporation with an existing infrastructure, Windows presents a new environment for deploying and distributing information and applications. Companies are recognizing the ever-increasing benefits of a cloud-based architecture and the costs savings it can mean or their business.
The cloud-based platform is not a new concept. Several companies have established a presence in this space with a variety of offers for businesses to leverage within their organization. Leaders like Amazon S3 and Google Apps provide many companies an excellent solution for their cloud-based products and offerings. While Windows Azure is similar to these platforms, there are significant differences which offer business leaders new and exciting capabilities not found in any other system.
One of the greatest aspects of Windows Azure is the flexibility of the platform. Consisting of several different services, Windows Azure provide companies the option to consume any level of functionality they require. Windows Azure compute is an extremely scalable and capable platform to deploy applications. Microsoft provides built in monitoring and performance counters to ensure applications are always available and robust reporting of resources. Applications can be scaled up on more servers quickly and easily by way of a simple configuration file change. This capability ensures applications will be responsive under demand, and optimized for minimal costs under low-demand times.
Another great feature only on Windows Azure is their unique storage and CDN capabilities. While other cloud platforms offer content delivery networks and storage, Windows Azure has more data centers and delivery points than Amazon and Google. This dispersion of information allows Windows Azure to deliver content faster and smarter to users around the globe. This is essential to providing an optimal user experience in any location. Microsoft allows companies to quickly replicate content around the globe and effectively accommodate their customer needs.
The Windows Azure AppFabric facilitates a hybrid or private cloud for businesses. This platform can provide a great extension of a company’s network by leveraging cloud-powered applications and servers that are closely integrated with their existing infrastructure. Established business can use AppFabric to migrate specifics parts of their existing infrastructure to Windows Azure on a scheduled and systematic basis.
SQL Azure continues to be enhanced as a robust and adept relational database. Microsoft, recognizing customer needs and functionality, is constantly improving the platform to provide larger database sizes and more functionality. Recently, the SQL Azure on-line management tool received a complete overhaul, empowering companies with even more tools to manage and review data within their databases. Additionally, Microsoft added the ability to perform snapshot backups of databases. This ability allows companies to develop a dependable data recovery plan for their cloud-based systems and ensure their data is protected.
Windows Azure’s unique product offering and services empower companies with the option to deploy how they want, when they want. A company with a hosted solution and database can leverage the CDN and world-wide distribution capabilities of Windows Azure storage for their content while continuing to use their existing application and database servers. Companies with existing virtual machines can deploy them to Windows Azure and through federation and the AppFabric connect them to on-site networks. Startup businesses with little to no capital can quickly deploy their entire network to Windows Azure to get off the ground with minimal costs. This flexible architecture enables companies to leverage Windows Azure resources in a way that other cloud platforms cannot and increase the productivity of their business while minimizing costs.
The commoditization of IT resources is drastically changing the landscape of the technology community. The days of big data centers with racks of private servers are quickly waning as companies are unable and unwilling to spend on the capital on expensive on-site servers and maintenance. Windows Azure provides an easy and logical way for companies to transition to a cloud-based platform and reduce costs. Microsoft’s platform also has unique capabilities that are only found within Windows Azure. These capabilities and the vast flexibility of the architecture are why it makes sense for so many businesses.