Microsoft Azure

If you’re already utilizing on-premises Microsoft Dynamics solutions for your business, then you know how powerful Dynamics applications are. By migrating your Dynamics applications to Microsoft Azure, you can free up precious information technology (IT) resources to focus on your business instead of on your infrastructure (server rooms, hardware and software upgrades, and administration).

What Is Microsoft Azure?

A simple overview of Microsoft Azure is that it’s a cloud-based platform that allows users to implement and manage a wide range of Microsoft services, including computing (virtual machines and application-related services), networking (virtual networks, content delivery, etc.), storage, and more.

How Does Microsoft Azure Work?

To use Azure services, you simply log in to the Azure cloud over the internet. There are no up-front costs; you just create an account and pay as you go for the services and resources you use. 

Various incentives are available—for example, a $200 credit for new accounts and notable programs for startups, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. In addition, Azure cloud services are endlessly scalable, so they can grow with your business and save you money in the process.

Azure Cloud Services

Stoneridge Software can help you migrate to Microsoft Azure to optimize the platform. Available Azure services are extensive and can be customized based on your business needs, such as computing, networking, and storage. 

Compute Services

With Azure compute services, you can set up virtual machines running Windows Server or various Linux distributions within seconds. There are multiple options for system configuration, including the type and number of processors, storage capacity, and connection speed. 

To meet your database needs, you can run Microsoft SQL Server on your Azure virtual machines. This on-demand Azure server infrastructure allows you to quickly scale your computing capacity to meet your business needs.

Azure App Service enables you to build and launch applications without having to develop and maintain the infrastructure to support your apps—all you need to provide is the code. 

Azure Functions provides a serverless environment for you to develop apps in whatever coding language you want, coupled with a range of hosting options.

Networking

Azure’s networking services enable you to create public or private networks in fully cloud-based or hybrid—cloud and on-premises—configurations. Security options include a firewall and DDoS protection.

You can set up private access to your hosted Azure services. You can also create a virtual wide area network (WAN) that links your offices and retail locations in one cloud portal. Azure has tools for managing network traffic, such as Traffic Manager to achieve peak performance in routing network traffic and Load Balancer to balance traffic to your virtual machines.

Azure’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) provides solutions for streaming media or accessing applications, enabling you to keep your customers happy with shorter load times. If you have a big product launch coming up or a seasonal spike in traffic, you can scale up your Azure services immediately.

This is just a sampling of some of the key services available through Azure networking.

Storage

There is a wide range of Azure storage services:

  • Azure Disk Storage offers block storage on disk sizes (from 4 GB to 64 TB) with a variety of speeds and other performance characteristics for your Azure virtual servers.
  • Azure Blob Storage lets you create data lakes as data repositories for analytics purposes.
  • Azure Storage Explorer is a tool for uploading to and downloading from your Azure storage and for managing access to it.
  • Azure Files allows you to share files using industry-standard protocols on cloud-based or on-premises Windows, macOS, and Linux machines.
  • Azure Archive Storage is the lowest-cost tier of storage available; you can use it to securely store data that’s rarely accessed.
  •  Azure Backup provides centralized tools for you to manage your backup needs.

Other Azure Features

There are a host of other Azure features, including:

  • Azure IoT Central provides tools for connecting IoT (Internet-of-Things) devices to the cloud and for configuring and updating IoT devices.
  • Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) offers a suite of services for creating and managing application containers.
  • Azure Stack Hub allows you to run Azure apps in your own on-premises data center, helping you to work around technological and regulatory obstacles as you transition to the cloud.

“Few other players offer a common platform and data model for CRM and ERP – and none bring in the Office productivity capabilities as Microsoft can.”

Nucleus Research

Benefits of Using Microsoft Azure

The primary benefits of using Microsoft Azure can be summed up in three words: cost, scalability, and speed.

Microsoft Azure provides cost savings by eliminating or minimizing the need for on-premises IT infrastructure. This includes savings on:

  1. Real estate—maintaining a physical location for a data center
  2. Utilities—the expenditures necessary to power and cool a data center
  3. Hardware and software maintenance and upgrades
  4. IT resources needed to maintain and administer a data center

The benefits of Microsoft Azure in terms of scalability and speed are connected. When you migrate your IT infrastructure to Azure, you only pay for the services you use, but the resources available to you are virtually unlimited. 

Your Azure infrastructure can grow with your business. As the need for more resources and services becomes apparent, you can scale up your Azure usage to meet increased needs. In addition, you can also scale down during seasonal slow-downs in your business or for any other reason.

Finally, Microsoft Azure gives you all this flexibility of scale on demand—even within minutes. If you need another server, simply create and configure one within Azure, without purchasing, installing, and setting up a physical machine.

Partner With Stoneridge Services for Azure Implementation

Stoneridge can assist you with making a seamless transition to the Azure cloud. We also offer a number of services to keep your Azure system running at peak performance, including system health checks and alert monitoring, backup services and disaster recovery, and autoscaling for virtual machines to control resource usage. 

You can read more about our Azure support services here.

You can also read more about migrating services like Microsoft Dynamics AX to Azure here. Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services now includes a feature that provides Microsoft customers and partners—like Stoneridge Software—with a place to collaborate as they work out cloud implementations on Azure.

Microsoft Azure FAQ

How much does Microsoft Azure cost?

Azure operates on a pay-as-you-go basis; you only pay for the services and resources that you use. There are discounts available if you opt to pay for long-term usage of particular services in advance—for example, for a year or three years at a time.

Microsoft Azure pricing varies from service to service and sometimes within a particular area. For example, Azure storage includes seven different types of storage, each with its own options and pricing structure.

To get a better idea of what your costs might be, try using the Azure pricing calculator. When you’re set up with Azure services, you’ll also want to take advantage of the free Microsoft Cost Management application within your Azure account, which helps you to track and optimize your Azure spending.

How do I get Microsoft Azure?

To begin using Microsoft Azure, visit the Azure account creation page and open a free account. You can access 12 services free for a year; another 40+ services are always free. You have 30 days to use a $200 new-user credit. After the first month, you only pay for the services and resources that you use beyond the allotted free monthly amounts.

When was Microsoft Azure released?

Microsoft Azure was released in February 2010 and is now the largest or second-largest cloud computing service in the world, depending on various resources.

What is cloud computing and why is it important?

Cloud computing services like Microsoft Azure are the future of business information technology. And to a large extent, that future is already here.

Cloud computing services maintain large data centers in geographically dispersed locations worldwide. This allows them to offer the following services and advantages:

  • Instead of investing in and maintaining your own on-premises data centers, you can take advantage of instantly available and scalable IT infrastructure (servers, networking, and storage).
  • If your company develops apps, you can also use cloud computing services as a platform to host your applications—freeing you from the need to set up the hardware, server systems, networking, and software to host apps on your own.
  • If your company uses software like the applications in Microsoft Dynamics, cloud computing lets you deploy programs without installing and upgrading on tens or hundreds of local systems—everything is accessed through the cloud.
  • Many companies reap substantial cost savings by migrating IT services to the cloud—eliminating the real estate, utility, hardware investment, and administrative costs associated with running their own data centers. 
  • Cloud computing also offers the advantages of speed and scalability—the ability to add server or storage capacity in minutes when needed or to instantly deploy new cloud-accessed software to a distributed team.

Contact Stoneridge Software for Assistance With Microsoft Programs

If you want to optimize your use of Microsoft programs and services, Stoneridge can help. We’re a Microsoft Gold Partner—certified as having achieved the highest level of expertise in various Microsoft product areas, including Microsoft Dynamics. 

We’re ready to share our expertise with you to help your business grow! Contact us to find out more about how we can support you.

If you’re looking for more information on Microsoft Azure, visit our Azure blog.