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The adoption of cloud computing turned out to be the key driving force for businesses today. Cloud technologies help innovate applications, cut development and deployment costs, and increase agility across business operations.

Being on the cloud computing market for over a decade, Microsoft Azure remains one of the strongest players among top cloud companies alongside AWS and Google Cloud. This article will take a closer look at Azure cloud services and their applications in business.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud hosting and computing service for developing, testing, and deploying applications via Microsoft data centers. Azure provides end-to-end cloud solutions with over 200 products and services that support developers throughout the software development lifecycle. Beyond cloud storage, Azure offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and even Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. Not sure what this all means? Here we explain how cloud computing works and describe the types of cloud services and their use for business, so check it out!

As one of the top cloud providers in the world, Microsoft Azure covers more than 60 regions and 140 countries worldwide. Microsoft claims that 95% of Fortune 500 companies choose their cloud computing services, and statistics back this up: Azure accounts for 19% of the global cloud market share. On top of that, the fact that Azure cloud easily integrates with other Microsoft products and continuously upgrades its functionality with new cutting-edge features makes it a strong competitor to Amazon that holds 32% of the cloud market share.

We will compare the three largest cloud providers later, but for now, let’s dig deeper into Azure’s features and real-world applications.

What is Microsoft Azure used for?

Microsoft Azure is widely adopted across industries, including healthcare, finance, retail, energy, and manufacturing. It has been on the market for a long time and has picked up a bunch of cool features since its initial release in 2010. Keep reading and you’ll find out what makes Microsoft Azure a second-leading cloud computing company. After that, we will glimpse through examples of cloud computing and the most prominent use cases of Azure services.

  1. Key features of Microsoft cloud services

    Speaking of features, Azure offers a lot of tools for developers to play with and a wide spectrum of cloud solutions for enterprises. Here are some of the most popular Azure products:

    • Virtual Machines allow migrating vital computing workloads to Azure infrastructure on Linux or Windows and save costs with the pay-as-you-go billing model.
    • Azure Virtual Desktop enables a secure remote collaboration through remote Windows 10 desktop access.
    • Azure Kubernetes Service is a toolset for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) for a secure DevOps experience.
    • Azure SQL solution helps to optimize and scale customers’ applications with SQL databases.
    • Azure Cosmos DB provides open-API NoSQL databases for top-notch app development.
    • App Service offers out-of-the-box functionality for creating web and mobile apps and deploying them on a reliable cloud infrastructure.
    • Azure Arc enables to connect hybrid, multicloud, and on-premise cloud environments into a centralized hub and control them using Azure cloud services.

    These and other cloud solutions reveal limitless opportunities for optimizing and automating business processes and, as a result, expanding your business operations. Want to see how it works on real-world examples? Then read on!

  2. Microsoft Azure use cases and applications

    Microsoft lists more than 1900 customer success stories on their website, from industry-leading global companies to non-profits and startups. To get an idea of how Azure services can be used in business, let’s take a peek at the two use cases: Stack Hub for Volkswagen and Cognitive Services for Airbus.

    What is Azure Stack Hub? Stack Hub is an innovative cloud solution for on-premise environments. It provides an autonomous cloud that can be run completely or partially disconnected from the internet. On-premises, or private clouds, is an excellent choice for companies that need to comply with strict privacy regulations but still want to benefit from modern cloud architecture.

    The Volkswagen Group, a world-class company in the automotive sector, has adopted this cloud computing model for its VW Financial Services. Azure Stack Hub allowed them to reduce infrastructure spending, streamline development processes, and add more capacity and flexibility to their own .NET applications. With Stack Hub, they didn’t have to rework their solutions to fit a public cloud and could still take the edge with cloud-based technologies.

    The second use case is empowered by Azure Cognitive Services. Cognitive Services come as an add-on to the Microsoft Azure cloud and make AI accessible to every developer without machine learning expertise. Developers can enhance their apps with state-of-the-art AI features simply by integrating an API, including language and speech analytics, computer vision, intelligent content moderation, and data-driven personalization.

    While we can find countless examples of Cognitive Services cloud applications across various business sectors, one of the most impressive is the Airbus use case. Airbus is the pioneer in the European aerospace industry and a top-tier producer of aircraft, helicopters, and satellites for both military and commercial use.

    Since companies in the aerospace industry follow strict privacy protocols and regulations, all processes should run on a restricted cloud. Microsoft was the only cloud computing company that supplied AI technology on a private cloud. From AI-powered chatbots for pilot training to Anomaly Detector for gathering and analyzing the telemetry data, Azure Cognitive Services answered the needs of modern aircraft with connected and secure solutions.

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The benefits of Azure cloud for enterprise

If you’re an enterprise customer, Azure speaks your language – few companies have the enterprise background (and Windows support) as Microsoft. Therefore, Microsoft cloud can deliver unique cloud computing benefits and business value to your company.

  1. Hybrid cloud capabilities

    Hybrid cloud is a type of cloud deployment that combines a private cloud data center with a public cloud so that users can share applications and data across different cloud environments. When a company uses more than one public cloud provider, we call it a multicloud.

    Hybrid and multi-clouds gained tremendous popularity among customers, offering much-needed flexibility in times of fast-paced market shifts. Since most enterprises are not ready to jump all-in on public clouds due to privacy regulations and other reasons, hybrid clouds became the middle ground between the accessibility of public cloud deployment and the security of on-premises.

    So, when your computing demand exceeds on-premises, you can use hybrid cloud solutions to increase your processing capacity. Microsoft provides a well-established cloud as a service that allows you to deploy Azure cloud services from a local data center with a centralized management hub, code, and APIs.

  2. Serverless computing

    With serverless computing, developers can easily build applications without the need to manage infrastructure. The cloud provider takes care of the infrastructure updates, management, and scaling. You just put your code, and Microsoft Azure will manage all your backend activities. This approach helps to increase productivity and get your product to market faster at a lower cost.

  3. On-demand scalability

    Many businesses rely on user traffic and find it hard to predict how much storage space is enough and how much is excessive. Azure hosting eliminates the need for planning and associated costs with the pay-as-you-go billing model. You only pay for the space and services you use. And if you need to scale up or scale down, you don’t need to change the data plan.

    Microsoft Azure cloud services distribute your applications and data so that you never run out of storage space. Moreover, since your resources are clustered on multiple servers, you can always access your software and restore data from backup.

  4. Seamless integration with Microsoft products

    On average, each small business operates using 102 different SaaS products, while mid-market businesses employ 137 apps. Large enterprises utilize 288 unique applications across their departments. What does it mean? The more apps you use, the more data you accumulate. As a result, you spend a great load of time integrating this data between apps. With Microsoft Azure, you can leverage seamless work experience across ERP, CRM, and other Microsoft products.

    The natural question arises: what if I don’t use Microsoft products? Worry not, because Azure integrates with third-party software as well.

  5. Advanced security & built-in compliance

    Cloud computing security is one of the cornerstones of cloud based services. Microsoft takes customer data protection seriously and invests $1 billion per year in the cybersecurity of its cloud environments and networks. With Azure Confidential Computing, you can encrypt the entire virtual machines and fully isolate your computation.

    But wait, that’s not all. Suppose you have more sensitive and regulated data. In that case, you can isolate computations in a hardware-based trusted execution environment (TEE) and control access on many levels, such as user, administrator, or service provider.

  6. Anti-corruption solutions

    Microsoft Azure is considered one of the most secure cloud computing solutions for a good reason. In addition to its flawless security system, Microsoft uses cloud computing, AI, data visualization, and other leading-edge technologies to detect corruption and enhance transparency in government and financial institutions.

    For example, Microsoft ACTS (Anti-Corruption Technology and Solutions) focuses on gathering and analyzing data patterns to see through human activities behind the data. How does Microsoft ACTS work? Simply put, researchers visualize customer-supplier relationships and pinpoint fake one-shot suppliers. In this way, they find out which government contracts are corrupted and who’s stays behind them.

    Blackthorn Vision is proud to be a part of the socially conscious initiative against corruption and tax fraud. Our partner, SmartCloud, took an unorthodox approach to fraud detection with its Tax Intelligence System (TIS). During our collaboration with SmartCloud on the Workbench project, we leveraged the power of AI and Big Data for building cognitive maps, prediction analytics, and situation modeling.

    TIS takes a similar approach: grounded on Microsoft Azure cloud services, the AI finds non-compliant vendors and supports its findings with tangible proof for authorities. The result? TIS recovered $20 million during the first year of deployment in Brazil.

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Our expertise in cloud development

Cloud computing is still evolving, and it’s hard to predict where it will be in the next 10 years. As your business moves to the cloud, you may face challenges in migrating and restructuring your databases and applications to meet the cloud computing requirements. At this stage, partnering with a qualified cloud development team is vital for a successful migration to the cloud.

Blackthorn Vision has broad experience in cloud-based development and integration. Our dedicated development team builds SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions across all cloud computing platforms. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have deep expertise in Azure cloud development and know the most efficient solutions to your special business needs. So, if you’re ready to entrust cloud development to our team and get tangible results, leave a message! Our business development manager will reach out to you ASAP.

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Since 2009, we've been assisting technology companies to build and improve their software products. We help to scale tech teams, deliver projects on time and within budget, develop ideas from initial concepts to a final product.

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