What is the goal of every enterprise?

In the conditions of market economy, the goal of every enterprise is the possibility to generate profits.

Company development is driven by its competitiveness. It is affected, among others, by the innovativeness, uniqueness and availability of the offer on the Internet. On the other hand, in order to provide customers and employees with easy access to the relevant part of the enterprise infrastructure, considerable capital expenditures are required, such as:

  • purchase of servers
  • provision of company data security on a continuous basis
  • regular updates of systems and applications
  • labour costs, i.e. server administration, network administration, helpdesk

A high entry threshold, i.e. the necessity to incur high financial expenses, was often unacceptable for smaller enterprises. This is why corporations with considerable money resources used to win on the market.

However, since the time when services in the form of subscription, in particular cloud solutions, appeared, even smaller enterprises have been able to compete with the earlier tycoons.

One of the platforms that offer end-to-end cloud services for business is Microsoft Azure. Every company that uses Microsoft 365 (also known as Office 365) has also a piece of free Azure in its subscription (M365 user accounts are located in the catalogue of AzureAD (AAD), one of Azure services)

Microsoft Azure cloud acts as an IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service – platform. This means that Microsoft shares resources on its servers, takes care of security of these resources, and ensures their high availability. The enterprise (Azure client) installs its servers and applications in this environment and handles only the support of this layer. If an organisation already has its own servers, they can be migrated to Azure or both models can be combined: local and cloud together.

List of Azure services

What basic services are ensured by Azure?

The list of all services offered by the Microsoft Azure cloud is very long. The following are the most often chosen ones:

  • Windows, Linux virtual machines – they can substitute physical servers at the company
  • Data warehouse (often called cloud file server) – place for files, applications and drives of virtual machines
  • Backup copies of virtual machines and files, also from local environment
  • Catalogue of identities – user and computer accounts Azure Active Directory – possibility to synchronise accounts and passwords from the local Active Directory environment
  • Applications – possibility to migrate local applications or to create a hybrid environment. Azure has also a catalogue of supported applications, which can be managed from the platform level, e.g. enable synchronisation of users of AzureAD, add access authorisations
  • Functions – automation of company processes
  • Virtual network – all that is necessary for connecting and dividing the traffic between physical and virtual locations, servers and applications
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – possibility to use Azure’s computing power as a terminal environment – Your employees don’t need to have a fast company computer – they can log in a virtual computer from any place, additionally securing the connection with the second authentication layer (MFA)
  • Mobile device management (MDM) or mobile application management (MAM) – you can manage company devices with Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS, as well as applications installed on company and private devices
  • SQL databases – database for applications
  • Internet of Things (IoT Hub) – monitoring the controllers found in company and home devices, e.g. production controllers or ARM-based computers

Is Azure secure? Platform’s security features

What distinguishes the Azure cloud from a company server room, on-premise servers, local computer network, is a holistic and consistent approach to the topic of cloud data security.

Microsoft applies a ZeroTrust policy[1]. This means that Microsoft assumes a possibility of a hacker attack in every place within its and the customer’s infrastructure. For this reason, a multi-level security system has been introduced. Thanks to it, the company’s IT security is at the highest level:

  • The built-in Azure security features are in conformity with the majority of international standards and confirmed by periodic audits and certification (ISO, PCI, SOC, CSA, etc.)[2]
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – possibility to force additional security for access to data in Azure in the form of a notification in an application, a temporary code, a text message, a USB token, a phone call
  • Conditional access (Premium service) – granting access to Azure resources based on selected criteria, e.g. location, device type
  • Encryption of virtual machines
  • The use of artificial intelligence in the process of user behaviour examination – registering suspicious login attempts and enabling an automatic reaction to detected threats, e.g. blocking the account or forcing the use of the second authentication layer (MFA)
  • High availability of resources – depending on the cloud service level, there are various possibilities of ensuring redundancy, e.g. every file resource is replicated internally three times within one data centre. If you can manage to incur higher costs, you can select an additional option being server replication to other data centres or even other geographic regions, thanks to which there are more locations that have copies of your data. In this case, if there are problems with access to one data centre, you and your customers can still connect with other locations.
  • Scaling – this is a unique feature of Azure, which enables allocating an appropriate amount of resources necessary for serving a higher quantity of queries. When you are launching a special offer at your company or if your industry is characterised by seasonality, you can benefit from dynamic adjustment of the amount of resources, e.g. virtual machines necessary for supporting an application placed in Azure. If necessary, Azure will enable additional instances of virtual machines in order to serve the incoming traffic, and your customers will not notice downtimes or slowdown of the website.
  • Server administration, service administration, network administration in Azure require specific knowledge from engineers so that they can ensure company IT security.

Is Azure free? – Free services in Microsoft cloud

Azure cloud offers a bundle of permanently available free services as part of the account. This means that you’ll get an environment automation and security bundle already as part of the free account. In addition, it is possible to test premium services for 30 days and some of them even for 12 months.

Azure configuration – Integration

Azure cloud is integrated with Microsoft 365. If your company uses Microsoft 365 now, you can add Azure’s offer to your Office 365 applications in a simple manner. 

Examples of integration:

  • Management of company and private devices.
  • For Azure virtual machines, devices connected through Intune and virtual desktops you can use AzureAD user accounts.
  • AzureMFA services (also known as Microsoft MFA) – you can use multi-factor authentication for securing the applications connected to Azure and Microsoft 365.
  • Policies regarding security and conditional access to Azure can be used also for the connected devices and applications.

Cloud for business in the form of Azure will ultimately help you do without a physical server room.

Microsoft Azure Implementation – Costs and licencing

A great advantage of Azure is the possibility to use the licences assigned to the purchased service. When installing a computer or a virtual server, you receive an operating system licence and can use its latest versions. If you have your own licences purchased in a group licencing programme, you can use them and Microsoft will deduct the licence cost from the virtual machines.

If you no longer need the resources, it’s sufficient to remove them to pay a lower bill.

Payments for the services can be made in two main forms:

  • for actual consumption,
  • for planned consumption of virtual machines (reservation of resources).

Reservation of resources enables large savings – even up to 72% or 80%[3] compared to payment for actual consumption. It’s enough to reserve an appropriate quantity of selected virtual machines for one, two or three years to enjoy lower bills.

microsoft azure oszczędzanie
You can save much on an Azure reservation [4]

When selecting the form of payment for actual consumption, in order to reduce costs you can use automatic disabling of virtual machines when they are not used. If you want to check the prices and plan the expenses, visit the Azure price calculator. It’s also possible to check how Azure works for 30 days with a test account with the value of $200[5]. If you have any questions about the costs or choice of a licence, specialists from Support Online’s sales department will help you answer them.

Your company in Azure – Who should use Azure cloud?

The offer of the Microsoft Azure cloud service platform is addressed to every enterprise. Small enterprises can benefit from a high security level and from testing of solutions, which they simply could not afford in an environment of physical servers. Large enterprises can dispose of server rooms from even a few locations and implement hybrid solutions, as a result increasing the availability of their own services. Cloud for business by Microsoft Azure is a good solution for your enterprise.

If you are wondering if you should move your enterprise to the cloud and use Azure, do not hesitate to contact Support Online. You can write an email or simply call us. We will be happy to talk about such topics as Azure implementation, migration of data to Azure, configuration of Azure environment or Azure management.

Support Online has been operating in the market since 2002 and our flagship service is end-to-end IT support for business (IT outsourcing). Under an agreement on regular IT support, we perform the following duties: helpdesk 24/7, server administration and IT environment monitoring, computer network management, Office 365 (Microsoft 365) deployment, or cybersecurity training.

You are also welcome to become familiar with opinions about Support Online Sp. z o.o. in the References section.

[1] ZeroTrust Model — modern architecture of security features | Security solutions of Microsoft

[2] Azure compliance documentation | Microsoft Docs

[3] Reserved instances of virtual machines on Azure platform | Microsoft Azure

[4] Reserved instances of virtual machines on Azure platform | Microsoft Azure

[5] Create a free account on Azure today | Microsoft Azure

Maciej Ochal
Administrator i Trener Microsoft w Support Online