Could Microsoft Azure be the cloud computing solution that helps your SMB take your IT infrastructure to the next level? Moving to the cloud is the next step for many organizations seeking secure cloud storage for certain data or planning a full-scale digital transformation. CNBC recently reported that Microsoft Azure is the most popular public cloud services provider in the market today, powering 90% of the Fortune 500. However, they also offer services that are tailored for small businesses and can give you access to world-class cloud computing capabilities at a price you can afford. Here’s a closer look at six of the key differentiators that are driving more small-to-midsize businesses to partner with Microsoft Azure over other cloud providers.
Azure Is Cost Effective and Scales on Demand
Many leaders are choosing Azure to help lower their capital expenditures, and estimates show that Azure is a cost-effective choice. As Microsoft notes, “AWS is 5 times more expensive than Azure for Windows Server and SQL Server. Azure matches AWS pricing for comparable services.” Microsoft Azure offers a cloud environment that allows you to store data, deploy applications, and power virtual machines on a global network of servers run by Microsoft. Often, a small to midsize business runs into one of a few scenarios that push them toward cloud computing:
- There’s a demand for more data storage than what can be provided by on-premises solutions, or you want to augment existing capacity with a hybrid solution
- There’s a desire to embrace the mobility and flexibility offered by cloud solutions
- The company’s IT roadmap requires robust cloud-based solutions to power applications or store data as new technologies are implemented
Cost is always a consideration as organizations move forward with IT improvements, and Microsoft Azure is a cost-effective platform that allows companies to add capacity. It eliminates expensive upfront investments in purchasing, configuring, and maintaining hardware. Microsoft Azure runs as a monthly subscription service that keeps costs predictable, and offers special pricing when purchasing annual plans. Microsoft Azure Cost Management helps users take advantage of tools included in the Azure Subscription to get more value from the cloud and helps you implement financial governance across your organization’s cloud portfolio. In addition, Azure offers the ability to scale up on demand, so you pay for what you’re using and have the ability to change your IT consumption as your business evolves.
Microsoft Azure Builds on Familiar Tools—and Extends to the Cloud
One of the reasons businesses choose Microsoft Azure over and over again is that it integrates seamlessly with tools that are already integral to their businesses. Businesses are already relying on Windows 10 operating systems, Windows Servers, Microsoft SQL Service, and Microsoft 365 to power other aspects of their business. Consider the move that many growing companies have made in recent weeks to support remote workers: Microsoft 365 has become an essential platform. Organizations can keep the knowledge and familiar tools they rely on, while accessing extended capabilities. Azure Active Directory lets you integrate on-premises and cloud computing to offer a consistent, familiar experience across platforms.
Flexible Migrations—On-Premises, In the Cloud, At the Edge
Moving to the cloud requires taking your business’s unique—and sometimes complex—infrastructure and workflows into account. Azure provides organizations with the flexibility to tailor their cloud migration to their needs. It’s not all-or-nothing. Organizations can run a pilot project with selected applications, such as HR or accounting, being moved to the cloud.
Azure also provides the tools to support a full-scale digital migration or a hybrid solution that lets you choose the best of cloud computing and on-premise capabilities. And Azure’s extensive portfolio of solutions makes it easier to develop and deploy apps, data services, DevOps tools, open source technology support, simplified device management, and AI solutions across your infrastructure. Small business leaders can get access to the technologies they need today to streamline IT operations, while future-proofing their business and tapping into innovative new offerings to continue evolving the employee and customer experience they’re developing.
Security and Compliant Storage
Security is a top concern in the cloud computing space, and Azure’s proactive approach to security, compliance, and privacy is unique. Microsoft leads the industry in establishing and consistently meeting clear security and privacy requirements that support businesses in even the most highly regulated industries. Adopting a cloud solution should open your business up to new opportunities—not new security risks.
All too often, small businesses worry that security upgrades are beyond their budget or IT team’s capabilities. Small businesses can improve their security posture with Azure’s multi-layered security solutions, which combine automated 24/7/365 threat intelligence monitoring with other tools. The Azure security system provides solutions to help teams manage identity validation, access and user controls, network security, data security, certificate management, and central threat visibility and automation. Recently, Azure Sentinel has been helping organizations adjusting to remote work implement Zoom monitoring to address software security concerns. With more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts, Microsoft Azure’s team is there for you.
Build Business Resiliency with Microsoft Azure
Moving key workloads and applications to Microsoft Azure offers a key benefit: they have increased resiliency and can be an important piece of your business’s data backup and disaster recovery plans. In fact, Microsoft notes that some of the most common reasons organizations adopt cloud computing solutions is to mitigate downtime, increase IT stability, and access the remote work capabilities of Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure.
Microsoft Azure is built to keep your critical applications online, even in the face of a disaster. Azure’s Site Recovery service makes it simple to replicate applications and workloads to a second location; if a hurricane takes one region offline, the secondary location will continue operations. Manage replication, failover, and failback from a single location. Azure’s backup capabilities allow you to offload on-premise back-up to the cloud and simplify the process to back up virtual machines, and they offer secure storage to redundant locations so there are always multiple copies of your data available in case of an issue.
Cloud Solutions Providers Ease Migrations
Finally, business leaders need to know that the partners they select have the right tools available to support migrations. Migrating workloads, applications, and data storage to the cloud can be complex—and with Microsoft Azure, you don’t have to go it alone. In addition to extensive resources that help small businesses reach their cloud computing objectives with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft has also introduced more flexible partner-centered licensing programs that give SMB customers additional benefits such as monthly billing and faster customer support.
When choosing solutions, a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) such as Connection can help you through the process. Connection’s Microsoft Solutions Specialists can work with you to conduct a full assessment of your needs, understand your current environment, and develop a migration roadmap that prioritizes your key business outcomes. Azure partners can deploy and manage your existing solutions, as well as offer ready-made or custom solutions designed for your business. And with Azure, it’s possible to create a custom management strategy that fits your needs.
For small to midsize businesses looking to make the move to the cloud, Microsoft Azure offers a flexible, cost-effective, and integrated solution to support your most urgent business outcomes. Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to be painful. Azure’s solutions can help you custom create an affordable cloud computing solution that meets your needs today and scales as your business evolves and changes over time. Contact Connection today to learn more about Microsoft Azure, or schedule a cloud computing assessment for your business.