The advantages of cloud computing are hard to resist. The cloud allows organisations to become more agile, increases their ability to scale up or down easily, reduces or removes the costs of expensive onsite equipment and opens up secure access to data and applications – enhancing remote work and flexibility. For organisations running Microsoft information systems, Azure is your key to the cloud.
What is Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that allows not-for-profits to easily build, deploy and manage applications and services in the cloud. It offers organisations all the flexibility that comes with operating in the cloud without the cost of expensive onsite equipment (such as servers), upgrades or maintenance.
Microsoft delivers Azure in a variety of ways:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): With IaaS, users can run operating systems and applications on the systems with little maintenance and low operating costs.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): a total development and deployment environment with resources to help you build and deploy anything from simple cloud-based applications to sophisticated programs. Pick and choose which resources you need from the cloud provider and only pay for what you need.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): This is a complete software service that allows users to connect to use and cloud-based apps on the internet. Microsoft 365 is an example of SaaS.
Azure is a well-established, open and flexible platform that helps with development, data storage, service hosting and service management.
Azure is a cloud storage solution for modern applications designed to meet the needs of user demand for scalability. It allows you to:
- store and process hundreds of terabytes of data
- access application data from anywhere, and backup
- manage file shares for cloud or on-premises deployments, supplementing or replacing on-premises file servers or NAS devices
- enable reliable messaging between application components
- store flexible datasets like user data for web applications.
Azure offers computing operations such as app hosting, development and deployment in Azure Platform. It has the following components:
- server hosting e.g. domain controller/file archives/RDP Server
- scale sets, enabling users to create thousands of similar virtual machines in minutes
- container images storage and management across all types of Azure deployments.
Azure offers a comprehensive set of intelligent solutions for data warehousing, advanced analytics on big data and real-time streaming:
- Azure data lake analytics for on-demand analytics to simplify big data
- real-time data stream processing from millions of IoT devices.
These are the first services many organisations start to use in Azure, but the platform offers more than 500 services, including:
- connectivity and scale without requiring you to build or manage down to the fibre
- Traffic management for applications using Azure App Gateway
- AI development spanning the cloud and the edge.
Benefits at a glance
Among the benefits of Azure are:
- insights to enhance decision making
- support for a broad selection of operating systems
- industry-leading security
- integration with your existing IT infrastructure
- ability to scale up with the growth of your organisation.
The benefits of Azure extend beyond cost control. The task of administering certain technologies such as Windows Server, Active Directory, and SharePoint can be greatly eased with the combination of Azure and Office 365.
Ease of use
With Azure it's easier than ever to create and globally deploy applications that are compatible on all popular web and portable platforms.
Azure supports almost any OS, language, tool or framework.
As Azure is subscription based, you only pay for what you use.
Reliability and security
Azure boasts 99.5% availability SLA – meaning almost no downtime – and 24/7 technical support.
Designed on the leading security process system Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), Azure is the first solution to use ISO 27018, the new standard for cloud security. With this platform, data is safeguarded, secure, and protected.
Scalability and performance
Move compute resources up and down as needed (scalable in peak times)
If you’re still using some of the services on your on-premises server, Azure creates a reliable platform between both servers. Few solutions provide Azure’s range of hybrid capabilities, which includes content delivery networks, VPNs and ExpressRoute connections.
Getting started with Azure
If you’re using Office 365, have Surface laptops for many of your employees, or are otherwise heavily Microsoft-focused, it could make better business sense to go with a Microsoft platform for your cloud operations.
To determine how easy it’ll be to adopt a new cloud system, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Which system vendor is going to give you more support?
- Are there training resources available?
- Do you have partners that support you? If so, what are they using?
- Are the account teams aligned in providing resources to your team to get you going?
- Are or will you be tapped into any programs to jumpstart your journey?
Access your ConnectingUp Azure Cloud Credits
Qualified not-for-profit customers receive a $3,500 USD Azure credit per year directly from Microsoft which can be leveraged for the complete portfolio of Azure cloud solutions and services for your database management, website hosting, data backup and more.
Learn more about Microsoft’s Azure for Nonprofits program, including case studies that show how other organisations have used the power of the cloud to drive their mission. Or talk to us at the Hub for more details.
Microsoft-selected Azure partners are ready to deliver solutions from infrastructure and data management to AI and chatbots to help make your not-for-profit more efficient and innovative. Find a region specific partner here.
- Microsoft Azure for non-profits - webinar
- Servers to services - how Azure can modernise your IT infrastructure - webinar
- Azure non-profit partners - list
- Microsoft Ignite Introducing Microsoft Cloud for non-profits - webinar
- Microsoft pricing calculator
- Migrating to Azure: Non-profit resource guide for database migration