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Microsoft Azure: 101

For those who want to know what it is, but don’t like to ask

Chances are, if you’re at the point where you’re considering a digital transformation, you’ll have heard the term “Azure” being tossed around in conversations about the tech that’ll be involved.


Not sure what it is though?

Don’t worry, there’s no reason you should have till now, but you’re in the right place to find out!


What Is Microsoft Azure?

At its most simple, Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive cloud computing platform offered by… Microsoft (obviously).

What does that actually mean though?


It helps if you think of Azure as a vast collection of integrated cloud services that enable you to build, deploy, and manage a wide range of apps and services through Microsoft’s global network of data centres. It gives users a diverse set of tools and resources, including computing power, storage solutions, databases, networking capabilities, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) services, and much more.

All of these are available on-demand, meaning you only pay for what you use, making it highly scalable and cost-effective for businesses of all sizes.

What’s Cloud Computing?

However, it might be helpful, before we dive too deep into Microsoft Azure, to quickly talk about what we mean by cloud computing.

Traditional computing structures will require companies to invest heavily in physical hardware and infrastructure to host their applications and store data.

That’s known as on premise or on-prem and is not only expensive but also incredibly limited in terms of flexibility and scalability.


Cloud computing on the other hand, revolutionised the IT landscape, by offering a more flexible and scalable solution. Instead of hosting everything on-prem, in your own offices, cloud computing allows you to access resources and services over the internet, meaning you can run applications, store data, and access various tools without having to maintain the hardware.



Microsoft Azure is one of the leading cloud service providers (and obviously my favourite), and its global reach ensures that applications and data are available and secure from anywhere in the world.

Benefits Of Microsoft Azure

Azure offers a ridiculous number of benefits.

Benefits that have propelled it to become one of (if not the) most popular and widely adopted cloud computing platforms in the world. Whether you’re an individual developer, a startup, SME or enterprise-level organisation, Azure has something unique to offer you:


  • Scalability and Flexibility: One of the most significant advantages of Azure is its ability to scale resources up or down based on demand. If an application experiences sudden traffic spikes or requires additional computing power, Azure’s flexible nature allows you to easily adjust resources to meet current needs. This scalability means you can handle any level of workload efficiently without worrying about capacity constraints.
  • Global Reach and Reliability: Azure operates in data centres distributed across the globe. This extensive network ensures that applications and services can be deployed close to their users, resulting in reduced latency and improved performance. Moreover, Microsoft has invested heavily in building a highly reliable infrastructure, guaranteeing a high level of availability for critical workloads.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Traditional on-prem infrastructures can be expensive to set up and maintain. With Azure’s pay-as-you-go pricing model, you only ever pay for the resources you consume, eliminating the need for substantial upfront investments. This cost-effective approach is especially beneficial for startups and small businesses, as it lets them access enterprise-grade infrastructure without breaking the bank.
  • Security And Compliance: Microsoft have massively prioritised the security of their customers’ data. Azure employs robust security measures, including data encryption, threat detection and identity management, to safeguard applications and information from cyber threats. As well as that though, it also adheres to a wide range of compliance standards, ensuring that applications meet industry-specific regulatory requirements.
  • Integrated Ecosystem: Azure’s vast ecosystem of services covers almost every aspect of modern computing. From web hosting and databases to machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, Azure offers a comprehensive suite of tools that can cater to diverse business needs. This integration streamlines the development process and fosters innovation by enabling developers to leverage various services seamlessly.
  • Hybrid Capabilities: If an organisation still relies on on-prem infrastructure, then Azure also offers hybrid solutions to extend a current environment into the cloud. This hybrid approach enables you to maintain certain applications or data on-prem, whilst leveraging the cloud for scalability, backup, disaster recovery and other services.
  • Easy Integration With Microsoft Products: If you’re already using Microsoft products and services such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, or a Windows Server, Azure will seamlessly integrate with these offerings. This integration simplifies the migration process and ensures a consistent end-user experience across the Microsoft ecosystem.


Basically, Microsoft Azure empowers businesses with unparalleled scalability, global accessibility, cost-effectiveness and a secure infrastructure, all whilst providing a wide array of integrated services.

And that’s without mentioning the benefits and cost savings of getting rid of your big servers in the office, the space they take up and the resources required to keep them running!

How Azure Transforms Business Operations

Microsoft Azure isn’t just another cloud platform though; you should also think of it more as a transformative tool to revolutionise the way businesses operate, driving them towards greater efficiency, innovation, and success.


Part of that is how much Azure increases the time to market for new products.

As businesses are able to rapidly deploy applications and services, it massively reduces the time it takes to bring new ideas to market. With that ability to provision resources instantly, developers can focus on building and testing applications instead, without being limited by infrastructure constraints. This increased agility helps companies respond quickly to market demands and stay ahead of competitors.

That agility also extends to internal collaboration, seamlessly integrating with Microsoft’s productivity tools, such as Office 365 and Teams, promoting teamwork and enhancing productivity. Employees can work together in real-time, share information securely and access apps and data from anywhere, fostering a more connected and efficient workforce.

You’d be amazed where that collaboration can lead to!

Due to Azure’s vast array of services, including AI, IoT and blockchain, developers are empowered to innovate and explore new revenue streams, well beyond what they’d previously be capable of. Whether it’s creating intelligent applications, developing IoT-enabled products or implementing blockchain-based solutions, Azure provides the tools and resources to fuel innovation and drive growth.



It’s also just a lot cheaper.

As I’ve already touched upon, traditional IT infrastructure (on-prem) often requires significant upfront capital investments and ongoing maintenance costs. Azure’s pay-as-you-go model allows businesses to better optimise their costs by only paying for the resources they use.

Plus, the scalability of Azure ensures that organisations can efficiently scale resources up or down as needed, further optimising their expenses.



It’s not all about costs and collaboration though.

As it’s a Microsoft offering, Azure comes with comprehensive disaster recovery and backup solutions as standard, ensuring that critical data and applications remain protected even in the face of unexpected events.

Businesses can implement robust disaster recovery plans without the need for complex and costly on-prem setups, enhancing resilience and reducing downtime.

Key Features Of Microsoft Azure

That’s the benefits covered, let’s now take a look at some specific features that really make Azure stand out (although given the nature of Azure it may get a little more technical here so feel free to skip to the next bit if you’re a non-techy):


  • Virtual Machines (VMs): Azure provides something known as a virtual machine that allows you to run applications and services within the cloud. These VMs offer flexibility in choosing operating systems, configuring networking and managing storage, making them ideal for various workloads, including development, testing and production environments.
  • App Services: Azure App Services enable you to build, host, and scale web applications and RESTful APIs with ease. Whether you’re deploying a .NET application, a Node.js app, or a PHP website, Azure’s managed platform takes care of the infrastructure, allowing developers to focus on building great applications.
  • Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): AKS is a managed Kubernetes container orchestration service that simplifies the deployment, management, and scaling of containerised applications. With AKS, you can efficiently run applications in containers, making it easier to build, deploy, and manage modern, microservices-based architectures.
  • Azure Functions: Azure Functions provide a serverless computing environment, allowing you to run code without managing the underlying infrastructure. You can write functions that trigger in response to events from various sources, making it an excellent choice for building event-driven applications.
  • Azure SQL Database: This fully managed relational database service offers high-performance, scalability and security for your mission-critical applications. Azure SQL Database handles routine database management tasks, so you can focus on developing and optimising your applications.
  • Azure Cosmos DB: Cosmos DB is a globally distributed NoSQL database service designed to deliver low-latency and high-availability access to data. It supports various data models, including document, key-value, graph and column-family, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.
  • Azure Cognitive Services: Azure Cognitive Services enable developers to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into their applications without requiring expertise in AI. Services like computer vision, natural language processing and speech recognition empower businesses to build intelligent and innovative applications.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Hub: Azure IoT Hub allows you to connect, monitor, and manage IoT devices securely at scale. With IoT Hub, you can collect, analyse and act on data from your IoT devices, enabling you to unlock the full potential of the Internet of Things.
  • Microsoft Entra ID): Entra ID, formerly known as Azure Active Directory, provides cloud-based identity and access management, allowing you to secure and manage user identities and permissions across your applications and services. It seamlessly integrates with on-prem Active Directory and provides single sign-on (SSO) capabilities.
  • Azure DevOps: Azure DevOps is a set of services for developers to plan, build, test, and deploy applications efficiently. It includes features like version control, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and project management, fostering collaboration among development teams.
  • Offers support for multiple programming languages: Azure provides support for a wide array of programming languages, making it a welcoming platform for developers with diverse skill sets. Whether you prefer working with .NET, Java, Python, JavaScript, Go, or any other popular language, Azure offers the tools and frameworks to accommodate your coding preferences.
  • Seamless Integration with Existing Technologies: For businesses already invested in Microsoft technologies, Azure offers seamless integration with a variety of Microsoft products and services. From Azure Active Directory for identity management to integration with Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, Azure ensures a smooth and cohesive experience for users and IT administrators alike.
  • Hybrid Cloud Solutions: Recognising that not all businesses are ready for a full cloud migration, Azure offers hybrid cloud solutions. This means you can integrate on-prem infrastructure with the cloud, allowing for a gradual transition, maximising the value of existing investments whilst leveraging the power of the cloud.
  • Wide Array of Data Storage Options: Azure offers a range of data storage services to meet diverse needs. From Azure SQL Database for relational data to Cosmos DB for NoSQL, Blob Storage for unstructured data and Data Lake Storage for big data analytics, Azure provides the right tools for effectively managing and utilizing data.
  • Robust Analytics and AI Services: Azure’s suite of analytics and artificial intelligence services empowers businesses to gain insights from data and build intelligent applications. From cognitive services for vision and language understanding to Azure Machine Learning for predictive modelling, Azure democratises AI for developers.


And that’s just a small sample of the things you can easily achieve with Microsoft Azure!


It doesn’t matter if you’re a developer looking to build modern applications, an IT administrator looking to optimise infrastructure or a CTO  aiming to drive innovation, Azure has the tools and resources to empower you on your cloud journey. With continuous updates and expansions, Azure continues to evolve, ensuring it remains at the forefront of cloud computing and enables businesses to thrive in the digital age.

How To Get Started With Azure

Now you know what Microsoft Azure is and what it can do, if you’re curious to explore its capabilities then getting started is easier than you might think.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual developer, a startup, SME or enterprise level, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you embark on your Azure journey:


  • Sign Up for an Azure Account: The first step is to create an Azure account. Head to the Azure website ( and click on the “Start Free” or “Create Free Account” button. Follow the prompts to set up your account. You’ll need a Microsoft account (or you can create one during the sign-up process) and a valid credit card for verification, although you won’t be charged during the initial free trial period.
  • Explore the Azure Portal: Once your account is set up, you’ll access the Azure portal. This web-based management interface is where you’ll manage and deploy Azure services. Take some time to explore the portal’s layout and navigation. Familiarise yourself with the different menus, resource groups, and services available.
  • Start with Azure Tutorials: Azure offers a wealth of tutorials, guides, and documentation to help you understand its features and services better. Microsoft Learn ( is an excellent resource for beginners, providing step-by-step tutorials and interactive learning paths. Start with the “Azure Fundamentals” learning path to gain a solid foundation.
  • Create Your First Virtual Machine: A virtual machine (VM) is often a good starting point for understanding Azure’s capabilities. Create a simple Windows or Linux VM using the Azure portal. This hands-on experience will give you a glimpse into how easy it is to provision resources in the cloud.
  • Explore Azure Services: Azure offers a vast array of services. While you might not explore them all at once, take some time to investigate the services that align with your interests or business needs. From databases and storage to AI and IoT, Azure provides a comprehensive suite of services to cater to various requirements.
  • Get Hands-On with Coding: As a developer, you can leverage Azure services to build applications and solutions. For example, use Azure Functions to create serverless functions that trigger in response to events, or explore App Services to deploy web applications. Experimenting with code and services will help you understand how Azure can support your development projects.
  • Join the Azure Community: Azure has a thriving community of developers, experts, and enthusiasts. Engage with the Azure community through forums, social media, and events. Participate in discussions, ask questions, and learn from others’ experiences. The community is a valuable resource for gaining insights and solving challenges.
  • Implement Security Best Practices: As you experiment with Azure, it’s crucial to follow security best practices. Secure your resources, implement proper access controls, and use encryption where appropriate. Azure offers various security features to protect your data and applications, so take the time to understand and implement them.
  • Monitor Your Resources: Monitoring your Azure resources is essential for optimising performance and managing costs. Utilize Azure’s monitoring and analytics tools to gain insights into resource usage, performance, and potential bottlenecks. Monitoring helps you make informed decisions and ensure your applications are running smoothly.
  • Start Small, Scale Gradually: As you become more comfortable with Azure, start small and gradually scale your usage based on your needs.

In conclusion, Microsoft Azure isn’t just a cloud platform; it’s a transformative force that empowers individuals, startups, SME’s and enterprises to embrace the future of technology.

From driving innovation through AI and data analytics to enabling global reach and scalability, Azure plays a pivotal role in the cloud-first world. Its versatility is evident in real-world applications across industries, from e-commerce and IoT to healthcare and media streaming.

However, if you’re still feeling a little confused as to how best to harness the full potential of cloud computing, look no further than FormusPro.

Our team of experts is dedicated to guiding you through the process of embracing Azure, from getting started with the fundamentals to implementing advanced solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Contact us below to begin your exciting cloud computing adventure with Microsoft Azure!

Let’s shape the future together through innovation and transformation on the cloud.


Written By:

Simon Bridgewater
Senior Software Consultant, FormusPro

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