The key to unlocking Azure for your business

​​​​Launched in 2014 as Microsoft Azure, this cloud computing platform has and is still influencing businesses to an increasingly greater extent, but why exactly is it so popular, and could your business benefit?

While Microsoft Azure has officially been around since 2008 (then called Azure Windows) and was subsequently relaunched in 2014, it's still a relatively new opportunity for South African businesses. As a powerful tool, this platform adeptly supports various operating systems, tools, databases, programming languages, and devices, among other significant benefits.

With this in mind, it's worth examining how Azure can influence businesses for the better, look at the benefits and solutions available through this platform, and focus on how your business can ride this wave of opportunity into future success, says Dave Martin, Strategy and Innovation Director, Britehouse. ​

Azure impacts innovation and technology​

​​​Azure has played a significant role in supporting Microsoft's strong position in the market and its stable reputation, as well as consistently contributing to its revenue growth. There are myriad reasons for why this is the case, but perhaps the most significant is its suitability for both smaller and established enterprises together with its impact on business-oriented technology, which provides easy access to customisable potential across numerous business purposes.​​​​​​

One particular impact on technology is the platform's rich feature set, which enables innovation across multiple levels in business. For example, the implications of the cognitive capabilities have meant that through facial and emotional recognition, businesses can analyse the faces of customers exiting their premises, or even specific departments, and gauge the average emotion.​

From an internal perspective, there are also opportunities to facilitate vastly streamlined internal processes and tasks. Take, for instance, a high-level meeting between two parties, where one speaks English while the other communicates in Mandarin. Using a translator speech plugin on Azure allows for real-time translation with maximum ease and minimal planning. While these two examples are minor, they serve to highlight how business operations can be disrupted and altered to suit the ever-changing development of the entrepreneurial space.

What is the true potential and value of Azure?

From a high-level point of view, Azure offers improved computing, storage, network, and backup capabilities. But it's so much more. Azure is a fully managed platform as a service, delivering and developing solutions and applications to customers for both in-cloud and mobile. Moreover, businesses have the freedom to move away from capital expenditure towards operational expenditure, eliminating the need to pay upfront. It's a pay-as-you-go approach that speaks to an easier grasp on the financial aspects.​

This is just the start. To get a better idea of the suitability of Azure for your organisation, we've identified som​​e key business-oriented benefits.

1. The hybrid (on-premises and in-cloud) factor​

Being both on-premises and in-cloud means data and applications can be shared between the two sites on Azure. This increases your options and the advantages that you can leverage. For instance, you're able to develop and deploy where you want.​

2. The flexible and agile advantage

​Owing to the fact that Azure offers more flexibility to accommodate your required functionality and business fluctuations, you'll be faced with less overarching concern about the infrastructure. Azure is quick to deploy, operate and scale.​

3. Safety and security you can trust

Microsoft currently has one billion workstations around the world. Each workstation is able to collect all the data, assess security risks and threats, and pull data to enhance its security. Ultimately, it's far safer, prohibits hacking, and reduces the need for parallel security products.

4. Efficient support and delivery

This platform provides an end-to-end solution, including hundreds of services to help drive your business objectives. Azure provides built-in, comprehensive support across all services and tools. This reduces issues related to integration and continuity and provides you with holistic analysis and insights to better inform your business decisions.

5. Always updating

The software updates on Azure are automated and completed in real-time so that the infrastructure and applications are always suitable for each point in time.

Resolving the concerns of Azure

A number of South African businesses have already adopted Azure and it looks as though this rate is only going to climb higher now that Azure data centres have been launched as of March 2019. The presence of local data centres puts to rest previous concerns regarding issues like data latency and data sovereignty.

Specifically, because businesses no longer need to rely on data centres in the rest of the world, they won't encounter difficulties in dealing with different time zones or the various laws governing data that might conflict with our own national rulings. There is now, more than ever, total peace of mind when it comes to adopting Azure and benefiting from its value offering.

How you can unlock this value

To unlock the full potential of Azure and leverage a hybrid IT approach best suited for your business, you need a partner that can create a strategic roadmap, undertake the implementation journey, tackle the complex challenges and innovations Azure offers, and accelerate your business objectives.

This generally requires finding a partner who is not only highly Azure-competent, but also software agnostic, capable of working across a range of software offerings and allowing for custom development solutions in order to do what's best for your business from a price and functionality perspective.

Microsoft currently has over 250 partners in South Africa, of which Dimension Data and Britehouse are one of five globally certified Gold Microsoft Partners, and have remained top partners of choice with this industry giant for several years.

Given that Azure has gained such a significant foothold in the cloud computing niche, and much of the industry is extending cloud computing divisions to stay ahead in the emerging market of the cloud, it's safe to say it isn't a trend. It's more important than ever to partner with the right company that knows how to help you take advantage of what Azure has to offer.​