As the cloud application platform for Microsoft, Azure is essential for small and mid-sized businesses with data storage needs that overcome on-premises server capabilities. With support with many different programming languages and frameworks, Windows Azure is one of the most powerful cloud development platforms available. There are nine different services available through Windows Azure, including:
- Virtual Machines
- Cloud Services
- Data Management
- Business Analytics
- Media Services
- Mobile Services
But there are ten individual benefits and features of Windows Azure that stand out and make it one of the best tools for cloud computing in the small business world.
Benefits and Features of Windows Azure
Leverage Windows Azure Virtual Machines: Windows Azure allows users to launch a Windows Server or a Linux OS while using the cloud. Virtual Machines can also store images in a gallery from which you can choose to publish.
On-Demand Resources: With Windows Azure, you can scale on-demand resources to grow along with your business. You can even move virtual hard disks between on-premises and cloud servers with Azure’s System Center.
Launch Websites Quickly: The Windows Azure Management Portal gives you the power to produce a web application within minutes. Management Portal accepts scripts from PowerShell or CLI tools on any operating system. You can even deploy a site that already exists from DropBox, Git, GitHub, CodePlex, and Bitbucket.
Visual Studio Development: Developers have the ability to right-click on any ASP.net website to launch. Any site managed within Windows Azure can be managed directly in Visual Studio, while providing live data streams and site logs.
Other Development Options: Developers aren’t limited to Visual Studio Development. Azure also allows developers to produce applications using a variety of other languages like ASP, ASP.net, PHP, Python, or Node.js. Of course, the Web Application Gallery also includes Drupal, WordPress, DotNetNike, Django, CakePHP, and Express.
Use Service Bus Relay to Manage Mobile Services: Azure empowers users to leverage data options to make global changes quickly. Mobile Services allow users to store sensitive data on-premises rather than storing it on the cloud.
Keep Data Storage Simple: Blobs (Binary Large Objects) are one of the easiest ways to store unstructured text and binary data like images, video, and audio. You can use the Import/Export feature on Windows Azure to move this data in and out of Blob storage as necessary.
Keep Performance Predictable With SQL Database: Windows Azure comes equipped with SQL database functionality, which supports massive scale-out, built-in availability, and flexible management. Tiered services keep costs down for basic needs.
Use Familiar Microsoft Tools: Azure integrates deeply with Microsoft BI tools like HDInsight, PowerPivot, and Power View. Analyze Hadoop data for insights, or combine data from multiple sources.
Take Confidence in Azure Caching: Windows Azure Cache comes in three tiers depending on your needs. The Microsoft-managed dedicated cache tiers are Basic (128MB to 1GB – shared), Standard (1GB to 10GB – dedicated), and Premium (5GB to 150GB – dedicated).