Adopting a cloud platform is the crucial step for small businesses that are seeking to accelerate their growth, cut down costs and increase the security and availability of their digital assets. Microsoft Azure is rapidly becoming the most popular choice as a public cloud services provider among both the big and small businesses of today. Microsoft Azure provides services that are customized for small businesses and through it they can make use of industry-grade cloud computing capabilities at an affordable price.
Transitioning your existing IT environment to a cloud platform involves a series of decisive steps that need to be taken for keeping the infrastructure scalable and secure. After the migration is over, you can benefit from the decreased IT expenditures because you don’t have to maintain infrastructure on your premises. Since presently there are many competing cloud vendors to choose from small businesses face a challenge to choose the one which offers the best value for their money. So, to help you make the right decision, we will explain what Microsoft Azure is and what are the advantages of Microsoft Azure for small businesses.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a popular cloud computing platform from Microsoft. It provides a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings for developing and deploying applications and services on Microsoft-managed data center infrastructure. It has over two hundred services to help you quickly solve your biggest business challenges. These services are related to computing, storage, IoT, AI/ML, analytics, DevOps, security, databases, and many more. Microsoft Azure supports three different types of deployment models – public, private, and hybrid. Its pay as per usage policy ensures that costs remain low. To manage all the tasks and services, Microsoft provides an online management portal called the Azure Enterprise Portal.
What are the advantages of Microsoft Azure for small businesses?
Microsoft Azure is a flexible, scalable, and agile platform. Small businesses or startups have to pay only for the resources and services they use, while being able to easily scale up or down, as per their changing needs. Following are the major benefits of Microsoft Azure for startups and small to medium businesses:
- Scalability and cost-effectiveness: Cost is always a consideration for small businesses. Microsoft Azure is a cost-effective platform that allows organizations to increase capacity on the go. It eliminates upfront investments in procuring, customizing, and maintaining hardware. Microsoft Azure is availed as a monthly subscription service by businesses. This keeps costs predictable and manageable. Together with this, Azure offers the ability to scale up or down on demand. Hence you always pay for what you use and retain the ability to modify your IT infrastructure, as your business evolves.
- Seamless integration with open-source and Microsoft products: Microsoft Azure is open source and supports many open-source software and utilities. Many small businesses rely on open-source products. Azure provides an ecosystem in which they can integrate and run their open-source utilities, with ease. Many businesses are using Microsoft tools like Windows 10, Windows Servers, Office 365, SharePoint, Outlook, etc. Thus, opting for a comprehensive cloud platform like Azure helps you to seamlessly integrate all your Microsoft tools and software into a single, robust integrated environment.
- Comprehensive and effective disaster recovery: Azure’s capabilities to protect and recover your data are unprecedented. It offers single-click backup and recovery for SQL databases and virtual machines. Azure makes snapshots backups to restore the data and configurations of your cloud services. You can schedule your backups and further secure them with encryption and multifactor authentication. The Azure Site Recovery tool provides companies with options to create recovery plans, configure load balancers, and manage IP addresses for apps from a single location.
- Better analytics with artificial intelligence : Azure facilitates data services for SQL and NoSQL databases. It provides utilities for processing data to deliver key insights. These insights help in optimizing business processes and improving decision making. With real-time dashboards covering response times, data flow, and traffic data organizations can improve their business workflows. Azure Advanced analytics can assist small businesses with grouping customers based on their buying behaviour and can offer a personalized experience which leads to customer satisfaction. Azure also offers Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) and Machine Learning capabilities.
- Secure Identity & Access Management: Azure Active Directory and its Identity & Access Management (IAM) capabilities are great at keeping your organization hacking proof and free from data theft. Identity and Access Management solutions enhance security for your applications and data by implementing extra features like multifactor authentication, conditional access policies, and application proxy. IAM also helps your IT staff minimize their efforts by letting them set up accounts and passwords in SaaS applications. Users can use the same organizational credentials for logging into apps and accessing the data.
- Improved cloud and data security Small businesses can drastically improve their security status with Azure’s multi-layered security solutions, with automated 24/7 threat intelligence monitoring. The Azure security system helps IT teams manage user and access control, network and data security, identity keeping, certificate management, and much more. Azure uses network segmentation and encryption to securely transmit data. Azure Cloud Services raise real-time security alerts and generate threat intelligence reports. These threat intelligence reports provide insights into attackers, their objectives, and the tactics employed.
- Low latency and improved performance: With a globe-spanning set of data centers, the Microsoft Azure Stack guarantees 24/7/365 availability for services. It delivers 99.995% uptime. Azure Cloud infrastructure is distributed over every continent. This minimizes network latency and improves access times. Microsoft Azure uses elastic pools for data management systems to provide the same data access speed that companies get from their locally hosted databases. The Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) caches data around the world for ready availability and to lower latency. Similarly, the Azure SQL Database maintains multiple copies of databases for faster retrieval.
How can small businesses get started with Microsoft Azure?
For a small business adopting or transitioning to Microsoft Azure can be a complex process. This is where Managed Service Providers (MSP) can help you. MSPs can audit your existing infrastructure, find out your needs, create a plan, and finally transfer your infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. Not only that, but an MSP will also be able to help you to keep your Azure costs low. They can help you to choose the best billing model and examine your costs every month to ensure that you are spending just the right amount of money for the services you are using. MSPs will also provide continued support and frees up the time of your in-house IT team so that they can concentrate on work that matters.
Though one can find many MSPs that can help you with Microsoft Azure; it is important to work with a certified and experienced Microsoft Azure expert. Such MSPs will not only help you to transition to Microsoft Azure successfully, but they will also help you with continuous support and keeping your costs under budget.
Cloud computing has become essential for the success of startups and small businesses today. And there is no better option other than Microsoft Azure. If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft Azure for small business and want to start your cloud adoption journey, feel free to contact us. We have helped all kinds of businesses – from small to big, from all types of domains, in transitioning them to the cloud and making their digital transformation journey a success.