Your Guide to Azure Cloud: Key Features and Benefits to Consider

Jered Rassier, Senior Director of InnovationCloud Computing, Partners

When it comes to the cloud, the facts are as clear as day: More businesses of all sizes are flocking to it, with plenty of choices to select from. By the millions, businesses of all types and sizes have moved their applications to the cloud. Whether it’s a private cloud from a local managed service provider, or a public cloud such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, there are literally dozens of providers to choose from.

The choice is ultimately yours as to where to go; the options are almost limitless. But as organizations of all types, including accounting firms, law practices, and healthcare clinics, are discovering for themselves, there is one choice that stands out from the rest: Microsoft Azure cloud services.

What is the Microsoft Azure platform? When did it begin? How does it work? What makes it such a great cloud-based operating system? You’ve come to the right place for understanding what all the fuss is about and how to make the cloud work for your organization. 

What is Microsoft Azure cloud?

Launched originally in 2010, Microsoft Azure is one of the world’s most successful, expansive and comprehensive public cloud data centers on the market today. With well over 800 fully optimized services to select from — including Azure storage, data management, messaging, machine learning and Windows Virtual Desktop just to name a few — the capabilities are as far and wide as the clouds in the sky. Take Windows Virtual Desktop as just one example. As its description would suggest, this program uses the same format and user interface as Microsoft Windows 10, only delivered via the internet and the public cloud. With unified management in the Azure portal, Windows Virtual Desktop allows you to deploy and scale your Windows applications for remote use so your staff can connect from anywhere, whether it’s on their smartphone, laptop or tablet. At Netgain, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is one of our signature offerings, and we customize a solution to fit your specific needs.

How does Azure cloud work?

If you find it hard to explain how, exactly, the cloud works, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Several polls indicate that while most people have used the cloud at some point, they are unclear on the mechanics of it in terms of how the cloud itself works.

Perhaps a better question to answer is how does Microsoft Azure work for you and your business in particular. 

At the heart of the Azure cloud is virtualization. This technology is what makes the wide range of on-demand cloud based services possible. Once it is fully integrated with your network and computing system, you can use these services however you please and in accordance with your business’ demands, capabilities and practices.

For example, one of the more practical core services found within Microsoft Azure is called Azure Compute. Here, users can create microservices, cloud applications that are fully scalable as well as application programs, or API. Since it’s cloud-based, Azure Compute allows you to seamlessly run all types of applications at once without having to deal with the logistics and setup that a hardwired server entails.

From Azure Backup, Azure Storage and Azure Stack, this cloud platform allows you to work smarter, not harder. And since it’s scalable, you can decide how much or how little of the cloud you can leverage and how it’s integrated such as through a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Netgain clients particularly appreciate Azure Backup because it makes it easy to keep offsite, versioned, long-term backups in the cloud with little effort.

Azure’s robust cloud platform provides many services useful for our clients. For example, with Azure Application Gateway, clients that need to publish data or make applications available to the internet get protected external protection of their workloads, adding security, performance, and protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Even “smaller” capabilities that Microsoft Azure offers provide tremendous value, such as Azure Traffic Manager, which allows dynamic and quick response to changes and availability needs, allowing us to redirect a client’s traffic at will; and Express Route, which provides clients private connectivity to the cloud if they need it.

Will your data be secure with Azure?
Data security is a major issue that many Americans have encountered. An estimated 25% of people nationwide have been affected by cybercrime at some point, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

More recently, as the Identity Theft Resource Center discovered, around 540 data breaches were reported in the U.S. alone between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year. While this total is down substantially from 2019, it nonetheless amounts to well over 165 million people that were adversely affected by a cyberattack in the first half of 2020.

Part of the reason why so many people nowadays go to the cloud is the security for which it’s known. According to polling performed by Deloitte Insights, 58% of respondents said data protection was a leading rationale for migrating their data to the cloud, with 37% saying it was the single-biggest motivator.

So, will your data be secure with Azure? Nothing is more important than trust, and as organizations like Audi, Carlsberg Group, Rackspace and Orica can attest, more businesses place their trust in Microsoft Azure and are all the better for it. That’s because Microsoft has more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts stationed around the globe that are committed to 100% data protection, leveraging the most reliable strategies and practices in the industry, including multifactor authentication, data encryption and adherence to external privacy standards established by organizations like Cloud Security Alliance, Content Delivery & Security Association and HITRUST. Spending roughly $1 billion on security research alone every year, Microsoft is fully invested in a security-first mentality—in more ways than one.

At Netgain, we have an unyielding commitment to security and privacy and make it our mission to keep your data fully protected and defended at all times and in all facets.

Where is data actually stored when using Microsoft Azure?

Again, you have many options to select from but should you pick Microsoft Azure or a Microsoft partnering business like Netgain, you can rest assured that your data is in good hands. That’s because the Azure cloud keeps at least three copies of your data to ensure that your data is protected no matter what happens – from planned events like updates to unplanned ones like outages or failures. Netgain also takes advantage of Microsoft Azure’s global redundancy for backups and with our disaster recovery offering to keep you protected even against more widespread issues like a natural disaster. Just as virtualization is a key ingredient to cloud computing, redundancy is what allows your data to be immediately recoverable. Geo-redundancy guarantees that data is triple-replicated in not just one data center, it’s actually triple-replicated in two different data centers (six copies!) so if there is an outage in one region, it can still be recovered from another. 

Learn more about business continuity and disaster recovery services in Azure from our webinar.

Why choose Netgain?

For more than 20 years, Netgain has been at the crossroads of all things IT, providing IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) to CPA firms, law practices, and healthcare clinics. With Netgain’s Managed Services on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, you get the highest levels of security, performance, flexibility, reliability, and scalability.

Whether you work in healthcare, accounting, financial services, legal, or virtually any other field, our goal at Netgain is to help you build a better, more capable, and connected business by leveraging our capabilities. From cloud migration to business continuity, managed services to deploying, and managing your Office 365 based DaaS, Netgain is here for you, however, and wherever you need us. Request a consultation today to learn more about how we can support your business.