What is Microsoft Cloud and Azure?

What is Cloud?

The term Cloud is very common place now, but what does it actually mean?  Are you already using ‘Cloud’?  Where is the Cloud?
In a nutshell a cloud is a set of computing services that are accessed over a wide area network connection and where the management of the underlying hardware is separated from the usage of the hardware.  So you subscribe to a certain level of performance and storage but you don’t really care what the hardware is that it runs on, nor in some cases exactly where ‘your’ part of the cloud is hosted.
There are two main types of cloud, private cloud and public cloud

What is a Private Cloud?

A Private Cloud is a Cloud that is dedicated to you, it is not accessed by other people over the Internet.

What is a Public Cloud?

A Public Cloud is a Cloud that is accessible over the Internet and people can subscribe the using this Cloud for their computing requirements.

Am I already using the Cloud?

Chances are you may well be already using a Cloud somewhere.  If you use Office 365, SalesForce, DropBox for Business, Google for Business or any of thousands of other business focused services on the Internet, then yes you’re already using a form of Cloud.  It isn’t something mystical or magical really.  It is a pretty a common occurence hyped up by tech wording. :o)

Who are the main Cloud Providers?

There are many companies who provide cloud services, but the main ones are Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace (in alphabetical order)  At Nero Blanco we focus our efforts on the Microsoft Cloud.  This is because:
  • We work mainly on Windows Operating Systems, although Microsoft Cloud does also support non-Windows
  • We heavily integrate with Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility and Security suite
  • Managing multiple clouds and understanding how they all work, relate to each other in details is a massive undertaking
  • Microsoft Cloud is the fastest growing cloud service
  • We believe Microsoft has the best story and roadmap going forward (Gartner Magic Quadrants)

What is Microsoft Azure?

In its simplest form Microsoft Azure is the part of Microsoft Cloud that provides you with computing resources (i.e. servers).  Now that is a very simplistic view, since Azure has three variants:
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
 The following diagram from Microsoft shows how the three variants relate
Relating IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

IaaS is pretty much virtual machines, load balancers, networks and storage that you can plug and play together to create your own data center.  You are paying Microsoft to provide and manage the underlying physical hardware and network, as well as environmentals such as power, cooling, etc. This virtual data center is secure (depending on how insecure you make it yourself by opening up access) and resilient and can provide pretty much unlimited computing power.  You can migrate existing servers from On Premise into Azure using Azure Site Recovery, or choose to leave both running and use Azure as a Disaster Recovery failover for your application.  You can access your portion of the cloud via the Internet on a per server/service basis, or you can choose to create a VPN connection from your own private network and then have wider access.

What is Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

PaaS is one level higher up from IaaS.  Here you don’t just pay Microsoft for the physical aspects, but you also get them to manage the Operating System and Core Application patching.  Some examples of PaaS are Azure SQL, Azure Web Apps, Azure Active Directory

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

SaaS is where you literally subscribe to a service and use it.  You have no responsibility for patching, Disaster Recovery, and Availability.  Of course this comes at a cost generally a per user per month subscription cost.  Examples here are Operations Management Suite (OMS aka SCOM), InTune (part of SCCM) and Dynamics CRM Online

How do I get started with Azure?

Anyone can sign up for Microsoft Azure however in most cases it is best to work with a partner to ensure that you design it right from the start and avoid any rebuilds or messy reworks.  This is where Nero Blanco come in.  Nero Blanco will be your guide on YOUR journey to the cloud.  We always have your best interests at heart, and will advise you objectively.  This ensures you get the most appropriate solution rather than the fastests or most resilient (which we can do but may cost significantly more and it may not be what you need)
Why not contact us for your free Cloud Assessment today!?

Twan van Beers

Twan is a senior consultant with over 20 years of experience. He has a wide range of skills including Messaging, Active Directory, SQL, Networking and Firewalls. Twan loves to write scripts and get deep and dirty into debugging code, in order to understand and resolve the most complex of problems.

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