Virtualization has had a monumental impact on IT infrastructure in the past decade, and one could argue that virtualization is the catalyst which created the explosive growth we see in cloud services today.
Microsoft Azure, born during the era of disruption brought about by virtualization, is now a leading cloud provider because it seamlessly blends multiple cloud-based service offerings into an integrated solutions platform. Its cutting-edge Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering is not only great technology built on the back of virtualization; it also comes with a host of benefits your business can use to increase efficiency and decrease cost.
The Benefits of Virtual Machines and Azure IaaS
Virtualization transforms a piece of functioning hardware into software and gives us flexibility by unshackling the chains of the physical realm. Software has no limitations in a physical world. We can clone it, copy it, back it up and even send it across the globe in a matter of seconds. This freedom creates multiple business benefits.
Microsoft Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service offering gives you the ability to build, configure and host your virtual infrastructure in the cloud. However, this offering is not only limited to spinning up virtual machines. With Azure, you can create complex virtual networks which span the globe, store data anywhere and take advantage of the innovative, world-leading cloud services and the global footprint Azure offers.
If we combine the power of virtualization with the reach and scope of Microsoft Azure, the business benefits of both are amplified giving us speed, agility, performance, global presence, security and disaster recovery at scale.
Agility and scale
The fact that we can manipulate a server as we would data is where the true power of virtualization lies. A physical resource which needs to be procured, assembled and installed is now a piece of software you can configure and run in the cloud in just minutes. This rapid deployment ability gives us the agility we need when called on by business to respond and execute on IT infrastructure requirements.
Take for example the business requirement to deploy a new application. In the pre-virtualization era, we would have needed to first order hardware and wait for delivery. When delivered, we needed to assemble the hardware, configure the necessary components and finally install the operating system. Now we simply select the operating system we need, configure the necessary resources and spin up the server in any Azure data center anywhere in the world. What could have taken weeks in the past can now be completed in a matter of minutes.
The ability to clone and spin up multiple instances of the same virtual machine allows us to scale services and applications rapidly, efficiently and very cost-effectively.
In today’s online world where uptime and performance are critical business requirements, we need to ensure our applications and services are available and perform above expectation. Scalability in a physical world is an expensive option as it requires the procurement, configuration, and installation of additional hardware. In a virtual world, this cost is minimized. If your hosting platform has sufficient resources, commissioning another instance is a few mouse clicks away.
If you choose to host your services on Microsoft Azure, you gain the benefit of virtually unlimited hardware resources due to the scale of Azure’s global data center footprint. Azure spins up virtual machines with hardware resources as high as 128 CPU cores and 3.8TiB of RAM in any Microsoft data centers located across the world. Also, hosting your infrastructure on Azure means you do not need to procure, configure, manage and eventually dispose of hardware. All of that is taken care of by Microsoft. You can just concentrate on managing your virtual infrastructure and developing new innovative solutions to grow your business.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Virtualization also has business benefits when it comes to disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity. In the past, having a true business continuity solution which ensured continued operations quickly after a downtime incident partially or entirely crippled your primary infrastructure, and was a very expensive option which few organizations could afford. It meant having redundant hardware, networking and communications infrastructure sitting idle waiting for an incident to happen. That’s a very expensive insurance policy with a very low return on investment few organizations could truly afford.
With Microsoft Azure, true business continuity and resilient offsite disaster recovery are now within reach of any organization. Setting up your redundant infrastructure on Azure provides a full disaster recovery site at a fraction of the cost. Your redundant virtual machines are only started when you need them, and because you are not billed when the machines are not in use, the result is significant cost savings when compared to traditional DR solutions. When disaster strikes you simply spin up the environment and because it is cloud-based, you can access your Azure DR environment from anywhere.
Azure is not only Microsoft virtual machines
Even though Azure’s cloud services are built and operated by Microsoft, Azure is a truly open platform which supports anything from Linux-based virtual machines to Apache Hadoop and Python. Offering the standard cloud computing offerings of compute , networking, and storage in addition to new technologies like artificial intelligence and Internet-of-Things, makes Azure a platform where you can build, host or configure any solution you can conceive.
Hybrid Cloud with Azure Stack
In addition, Microsoft has a unique offering in Azure Stack which gives you the added ability to create a hybrid cloud environment by seamlessly running a private cloud on your on-premise network and integrating this with the Azure public platform. It gives you the flexibility to build and deploy applications and services on your on-premise private cloud and seamlessly migrate these to the Azure public cloud as the workload requirements of your services change.
The business benefits of virtualization and hosting services on Microsoft Azure are clear. That is why over 80% of Fortune 500 companies are on the Microsoft cloud. By virtualizing and migrating your IT infrastructure environment to Azure, you gain the benefits of virtualization while taking advantage of the scale, agility, global presence, and integration services Microsoft Azure offers. Also, Azure does not only provide Infrastructure as a Service, their Platform as a Service offerings lets you integrate services like Machine Learning or IoT into your infrastructure, so you can build innovative, integrated cloud-based solutions to meet market needs and grow your business.