5 things you don't know about Microsoft Azure

Changes to Microsoft cloud platform are continuous--and easy to miss

Karen Forster

by Karen Forster on 5/5/2014

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You may have noticed improvements to Microsoft Azure in just the past year, with significant new functionality appearing continuously. Because of this fast pace and the innovative nature of the advances in this cloud platform, you can easily miss some changes and why they’re important. With that in mind, here are a 5 things that you may not know.

  1. Azure was originally designed as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, and Microsoft has added Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) within the past 2 years. Because of this evolution, Azure lets you choose to deploy your cloud solution using either IaaS or PaaS, but the big differentiator is that you can also combine both IaaS and PaaS.

    This new way of thinking about the cloud is more important than you might think at first glance: It unites cloud development and management to let developers and IT pros build and then manage apps in one seamless environment and changes how you architect your cloud deployment.

    The blended IaaS and PaaS approach starts with the new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal. It has been designed to provide a fully integrated experience that lets you ideate, develop, manage, and monetize a cloud app all in one place. Because Azure is an open platform, you can use the tools of your choice, and never need to leave the portal environment.

    The portal’s new provisioning model lets you use one UI to make all the components of your cloud app work together.

    The company believes that Azure will set the tone for other cloud providers by continuing to blur the lines between IaaS and PaaS. The belief is that this approach will evolve until the cloud becomes one truly scalable, open, and easy experience.

  2. Azure uses the open VHD standard, which lets you easily move your on-premises workloads to Azure or a hosting service provider and—here’s the kicker—back to your datacenter. That ability to seamlessly return you cloud deployment to your on-premises infrastructure is key. It contrasts with competitors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which locks AWS customers into a proprietary AMI format that does not allow them to move an AWS implementation back on premises.

    Azure’s new ExpressRoute technology, adds flexibility to hybrid scenarios by building a bridge between on-premises and the cloud for scenarios such as data migration, replication for business continuity, and disaster recovery.

  3. Continuing Microsoft’s commitment to enforcing its Trustworthy Computing standards the company is the first, and so far the only, cloud provider to receive joint approval from EU authorities for strong contractual commitments to comply with EU privacy laws, no matter where data is physically located. This approval addresses potential blocking issues for cloud adoption such as data sovereignty. It also provides availability assurances for cloud services deployed worldwide.

  4. Azure now holds 20 trillion storage objects. So what? Storage has become the gateway for many companies stepping into the cloud, and capacity is decidedly not an issue. Most important, Microsoft is planning announcements in the TechEd timeframe related to storage. These announcements will revolve around new technologies for moving data from on-premises datacenters to the cloud and back.

  5. Azure has more datacenters worldwide than any other cloud provider and was the first cloud provider to enter the market in China through 21Vianet. Why do you care about that? Think about data and where it resides. Azure assures customers of in-country data residency (which again relates to concerns such as data sovereignty). Georedundancy for disaster recovery protection is another important factor that a worldwide cloud infrastructure provides and a differentiator for Microsoft.

Boiling down the updates to Microsoft Azure is no easy task, and more announcements are coming continuously. Watch for updates to these 5 things you don’t know about Azure!

Topic: Cloud

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