Well past the early adopter phase, the cloud is now enabling organizations of all sizes and in a variety of industries to pursue a more efficient form of technology management, as well as the ability to rapidly create business channels. It’s reported that by August 2018, 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions.¹ By delivering continuous innovation, rapid application integration, and data security, enterprise cloud platforms are the foundation on which today’s businesses are growing and effectively adapting to innovation.
There are different versions and vendors who promote different ways of “doing” cloud, and Microsoft Azure is regularly recognized for its flexibility and ability to adapt to an organization’s changing needs. This is helping to make it a favorite for IT organizations that migrate from legacy systems, as well as those that want to be able to manage different applications and services in different ways. Among cloud platform providers, Microsoft Azure offers the most flexibility for an enterprise’s unique needs and is best equipped to evolve as organizational needs change and grow. Especially for organizations that either want to apply workloads and security to the different layers of their cloud stack, Azure provides the most effective model for innovative platform management.
It’s important to look at the state of the typical enterprise today, irrespective of size or vertical industry. Microsoft products are well represented, either as productivity tools and applications, or as critical pieces of the IT infrastructure. Pairing Azure with those environments is a logical move for organizations that already have a relationship with Microsoft solutions, such as Office 365 or Dynamics 365 crm, and want to optimize their investment.
Azure is known for the completeness of its overall enterprise cloud offering: a comprehensive set of development tools, integration paths, application templates, and web services provide organizations with the entire spectrum of IT management needs. This is no small thing, as IT teams are staffed with highly skilled talent and have usually already made investments in technology resources. A platform like Azure can effectively be paired with these existing environments to maximize output and capabilities.
Perhaps Azure’s flexibility is best understood in the context of how services and computing workloads can be used and managed. Most cloud platforms provide a single path, but Azure can operate as both a cloud infrastructure and platform. The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach allows an organization to use Azure as a structural framework for their IT footprint, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) model as a way to rapidly create and scale apps and accompanying tools.
Improved application development and delivery with IaaS
IaaS gives enterprises the ability to quickly bring application functionality to internal and external users, by emphasizing development, testing, and delivery of applications and data. The onerous tasks of managing servers, storage, and other legacy IT functions are handled by the cloud infrastructure, but in the case of Azure, customers are able to manage and apply custom maintenance requirements which they dictate and supervise. Additionally, performance is delivered according to contractually obligated standards which ensures that customers are able to maintain availability for their digital business at almost all times.
The basic premise of IaaS is that the computing elements of an application and processing environment operate in the cloud. All provisioning, integrations, and management is done through web services; the cloud provides all of this through an economic model where you pay for the amount and capacity you use. This is an important distinction among cloud platforms because IaaS gives developers a path to use principles like DevOps to map to inherent cloud capabilities by enabling them to use infrastructure resources such as workload, storage, and network.
To deliver a powerful IaaS, Microsoft provides virtual machines that are capable of running applications of any size. This isn’t just a selling point for Microsoft. These virtual machines are not beholden to the managed services model that many cloud providers offer, which means they can scale in either direction based on business needs. Putting an application and middleware framework to work on a stable and high-performance physical infrastructure enables organizations to innovate and get to market quickly.
Extending the application footprint in the cloud with PaaS
In addition to being an optimal environment for application development and delivery, Azure PaaS lets organizations apply middleware tools, business intelligence, database services, and other functionality to deliver the entire web application lifecycle.
PaaS really demonstrates how powerful the right cloud platform can be. In the case of Azure, it means that an enterprise can essentially offload the resource management and maintenance of an operating system, database tools, storage, networking, and data centers to the cloud while robust applications can be created and deployed through digital channels.
In a PaaS environment, a customer truly is offloading all server, storage, and middleware management to the Azure platform. Valuable resources can then be deployed towards creating and tracking business outcomes from digital channels. Essentially, there are unlimited resources available to support an organization’s needs when using PaaS. When building an application or service, the impact of that solution can be extended, integrated, and pushed to customers, all within the PaaS framework.
A service strategy as your roadmap
There are advantages to both IaaS and PaaS models, and they are largely dependent on your organization’s’ needs, comfort with extending operational control, and desire to integrate with existing environments. An IaaS choice will provide for the basic needs of organizations that want an environment for creating and managing applications, and those organizations will retain the flexibility to be able to still maintain some of their infrastructure resources. PaaS users will be able to rely on complete computing, storage, and management capabilities which should enable it to grow quickly.
Brief: Leveraging Azure IaaS
Brief: Optimize Data and Apps
Microsoft has a legacy of supporting organizations that move fast and seek new, innovative ways to generate effective results through digital activity. All in all, Azure provides the comprehensive framework for organizations at different points in their evolution and according to their most important needs.
Interested in learning more about the variations of the cloud and how best to apply them to your organization?