Microsoft Azure is one of the most powerful platforms on the market, being used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies. As Azure includes over 200 products, there is an Azure solution for most common business problems. These products include everything from Virtual Machines to next-generation quantum computing services.
Understanding some of the most commonly used Azure services can help your business understand what services you can move to Azure to take advantage of the cost savings, security and flexibility of the cloud.
In this article, we will delve into the top 9 Azure services for businesses in 2022.
Top 9 Azure Services
Azure Active Directory
Azure Active Directory, or AAD, is an identity service that enables single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA) and Conditional Access. Azure Active Directory is part of Microsoft’s newest product family, Entra, which also includes Permissions Management and Verified ID.
With AAD, businesses can improve their security posture with MFA, which can stop 99.9% of account compromise attacks, as well as implement risk-based policies with Conditional Access. What makes AAD even more valuable is the fact that it increases employee productivity with single sign-on, which can integrate with hundreds of common SaaS applications.
Azure Active Directory can add value to any size business in any industry, with a free edition included with any subscription to Azure commercial services.
Azure DevOps is a family of services designed to support teams of developers to work and collaborate on code development. Some of the features within DevOps include:
- Azure Repos enables the provision of Git repositories for code source control
- Azure Boards, which are Agile tools to support planning and project management, including Kanban boards
- Azure Pipelines provide build and release services to assist with the delivery of applications
- Azure Test Plans help developers with their application testing
- Azure Artifacts allows teams to share packages and integrate package sharing into pipelines
Azure DevOps can provide immense value to businesses and developers as it enables faster delivery of applications with better collaboration.
Azure Virtual Machines
Azure Virtual Machines, or VMs, are one of the many types of on-demand cloud computing resources offered through Azure. These virtual machines can be Windows or Linux VMs that can be used for any workload a traditional hardware server would be used for. For example, Azure VMs can be used for the development and testing of applications, running applications in the cloud, or extended datacentres.
There are many different configurations for virtual machines for any range of workload requirements. Right-sizing the VM can ensure that your business receives the best value from your cloud investment. Similarly, to reduce costs, businesses can reserve an instance of VM for a saving of up to 80%.
Azure Cosmos DB
Azure Cosmos DB is a fully-managed NoSQL database service for app development. For applications that are accessed in multiple locations, businesses can distribute data with the click of a button to ensure low latency and high availability. As Cosmos DB is a fully-managed solution, it also means that businesses no longer need to worry about database administration with automatic management, updates and patches.
Businesses that are looking to develop or deploy any web, mobile, gaming or IoT applications that need to handle a massive amount of data should consider Azure Cosmos DB as it is one of the most comprehensive and cost-effective NoSQL database services.
Azure Backup is one of the most important and valuable Azure solutions. This product allows for secure, cost-effective data backup and recovery services. There’s a multitude of data that can be backed up on Azure, including on-prem files, folder and system states, entire Azure VMS, Azure Managed Disks, SQL Servers, Databases and Azure Blobs.
Some of the key reasons why businesses trust Azure with their backups is the fact that it is a secure solution, with centralised monitoring and management, and it has options for locally redundant storage, geo-redundant storage and zone-redundant storage. With the range of options available there is no doubt that there is a solution that will work for your business.
Azure Content Delivery Network
The Azure Content Delivery Network is a service to rapidly deliver content across websites, mobile applications and streaming media. It works by using a distributed network of servers that stores cached content that is close to end users. This not only minimises latency but also improves the user experience, especially in periods of intense load, such as a product launch.
This product is particularly valuable for businesses that host or stream large files and businesses that go through periods of heavy load. However, it can also be used by smaller businesses that are looking to stand apart from the competition and improve the customer experience.
Azure Logic Apps
Azure Logic Apps is a platform that helps businesses create automated workflows with little or no code. This simplifies the connection across legacy and modern systems using the cloud. What makes Azure Logic Apps so powerful are the connectors to other cloud services, such as Google Cloud, Microsoft 365, Twitter and Hubspot.
For businesses that are looking to integrate data, apps and devices, Azure Logic Apps is incredibly useful. With sufficient expertise, it can also be used with Azure Functions to further increase flexibility.
Azure API Management
In 2022, Postman reported that 51% of businesses spend more than half of their development effort on APIs. This time spent working with APIs can accelerate business growth, build apps faster and deliver immediate value to customers. Microsoft aims to make this simpler with Azure API Management, a service that helps streamline work across hybrid and multi-cloud environments with a single place to manage all APIs.
Many businesses are using Azure API Management due to the improved security with all APIs being kept behind a single static IP with keys, tokens and IT filtering to further increase protection. Azure API Management can even transform existing legacy web services to REST-based APIs through façades on your backend services.
Azure Cognitive Services
One of the defining technology trends over the past 5 years is the widespread adoption of AI features within applications. Azure Cognitive Services bring this AI functionality into the hands of every developer. Through a single API call, applications can use AI to see, hear, speak, search, understand and make decisions in a wide variety of applications.
Developers love Azure Cognitive Services as the models used are pre-trained with high-quality Microsoft AI research. It is also significantly cheaper than competitors or training a model from scratch. If your business is looking to take its first steps in implementing AI functionality, Azure Cognitive Services is a great place to start.
How We Can Help
Microsoft Azure is an enormously powerful suite of products, which has benefits and drawbacks for most businesses. A common drawback of Azure is that businesses lack the in-house expertise to make the most of the products, or effectively manage an Azure solution to remain secure and cost-optimised. That’s where we come in. Working with our team ensures that you have the right solution for your business, and you derive the maximum value from the cloud solution. If you want to discuss how we can help you with your move to Azure, or maximising the value of your Azure investment, contact us today.