Microsoft Azure currently holds 13% of the market for cloud infrastructure services. At first glance, this may not seem like much. But when compared to IBM’s 8% share and Google’s 6%, it becomes clear that Microsoft Azure is indeed a giant in the world of cloud computing. In fact, Azure comes in second place only behind the behemoth of Amazon Web Services (33%).
The success of Azure lies in its ability to provide a wide range of services and an affordable path to cloud integration. Users are able to avoid cost-prohibitive investments in infrastructure needed to process big data jobs by renting hardware, storage, services, and applications from Microsoft.
In this article, we’ll explore Microsoft Azure in depth to uncover why this massive cloud provider continues to grow, and why so many companies are turning to Microsoft to meet their cloud integration needs.
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What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud-based data warehouse that provides over 600 services including PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) options. Azure is compatible with a broad range of third-party applications and programming languages, and this versatility has led it to become one of the most popular cloud platforms in the world. While it’s sometimes thought of primarily as a cloud storage service, the platform supports a full spectrum of data processing and data management applications.
Platform as a service (PaaS)
Azure Search, Azure CDN, and App Services are a few examples of PaaS options offered by Microsoft. PaaS solutions are a cloud-based environments for developing and using data resources. PaaS includes infrastructure, database management mechanisms, middleware, operating systems, tools for developers, and analytics applications. Accessing these resources via Microsoft Azure for Business Intelligence or DevOps allows for global accessibility, decreased coding time courtesy of pre-coded application elements, and greater productivity with fewer personnel.
Software as a service (SaaS)
In addition to PaaS, Microsoft also provides a number of SaaS options. SaaS enables organizations to manage data through pre-built applications rather than having to create their own. Like other cloud services, these applications are rented so that companies only pay for the capacity and compute resources they actually use. The most well-known example of a SaaS is Microsoft Office 365, which is arguably the most used SaaS in the market today.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Finally, Azure provides a variety of IaaS options for its users. IaaS allows companies to remotely leverage infrastructure hosted by Microsoft. This includes all the hardware, servers, and data storage facilities that have traditionally been located on-premises. The advantage of an IaaS is that users avoid the huge investments in building and maintaining these services for themselves. Azure IaaS options include storage, compute, backup and recovery, and security features, among others.
Microsoft Azure cloud capabilities
Another reason that so many companies are integrating with Azure is that it provides more than PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS solutions. Azure offers a wide variety of data management capabilities, cloud computing solutions, and cutting edge technology. These include familiar services such as messaging and mobile applications, but also emerging technologies including machine learning, and the IoT.
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Machine Learning Service and Machine Learning Studio allow users to create and deploy machine learning algorithms on-premises or in the cloud. Azure simplifies this process through a codeless drag-and-drop environment for building predictive models, while also providing advanced capabilities for monitoring the algorithms at scale.
Several MS Azure options assist with data management. Data Catalog enables users to quickly classify and find their data, while Search enables rapid search capabilities. Cache for Redis is a solution to read and write to databases at scale, while HDInsight delivers analytics for platforms like Hadoop, Kafka, and Spark. Cloud data warehousing is possible with Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
Azure Service Bus facilitates messaging between various applications and services. Bolstered by detailed publish/subscribe semantics, this communication service is ideal for horizontally scaling in the cloud. Equally applicable to on-premise settings and cloud environments, Azure Service Bus allows organizations to decouple services and applications while supporting asynchronous data transfer.
Microsoft reinforces mobile technologies through the Azure App Service, Mobile Apps, which is designed to help developers rapidly build and deploy mobile applications. Mobile Apps also enables applications and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to sync. App Services helps monitor the engagement of each app and lets mobile users make changes to app data when they’re offline as well.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Azure IoT Suite and IoT Hub offer an array of services that provide real-time insight—and action—from the Internet of Things. There are several options for analytics and endpoint devices, including connections and monitoring capabilities. These tools are designed to capture telemetry data and ingest it into a host of business applications. IoT Hub is particularly effective as a means of connecting various IoT devices for aggregation or integration purposes.
Data integration with Microsoft Azure
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