Simplicity

Microsoft Azure makes things simple. Instead of having your own servers for email, data storage, backup and so on, you can simply rent server space with Azure.

Owning your own on-site servers would be complicated and expensive:

    Even with a professional team to build and configure it, a new server might take a couple of days to get up and running. It also requires power connections, network cables and physical space.

    Then it must be managed. Regular operating system patches, software upgrades, hardware repairs – it all takes time and money.

    Eventually your server will become obsolete and will have to be physically removed and replaced. So the cycle starts all over again.

By contrast, renting a virtual server with Azure means you can be up and running in minutes. All the configuration is taken care of by Microsoft's dedicated team of IT professionals. The server is patched and maintained at no cost to you. And it will never be obsolete, since Azure services always run on up-to- date hardware and software.

It really is that simple.

Scalability

Do you know where your business will be this time next year? Will it be bigger? Will it have the same number of customers or ten times as many? You probably have a business plan, but reality doesn't always follow plans.

What happens if the IT solution you have now is hopelessly inadequate in six month's time? Do you upgrade it? Rip it out and start again? Either way, there will be business disruption, downtime and significant expense.

With Microsoft Azure, growth isn't a problem. Azure services can be scaled to suit your business.

Let's say you start with an entry-level web server because you only have a few online users. Six months later you might have ten times as many users. Not a problem with Azure: the server can scale up to suit your needs, with no business disruption. Scaling is easy with Azure.

So if business suddenly goes through the roof, your IT solution won't be left behind. Azure services grow as you do.

Reliability

Do you have a dedicated team of qualified IT professionals looking after your data? Do you have instant access to the latest software patches and upgrades? Do you have multiple off-site backups, updated frequently? Is your critical data protected with encryption? Are your servers constantly checked and tested to ensure reliability?

If your office was destroyed by fire, earthquake or flooding, would you be able to recover your lost data? Would your business survive a malware or hacking attack?

With Azure, Microsoft's skilled and qualified IT professionals are constantly looking after your data. Automated patches; malware detection and prevention; regular backups; disaster recovery tools to get you back on your feet; the list goes on.

Using Azure is like having Microsoft's technicians working for you. There's no better guarantee of reliability.

Flexibility

One of the most useful features of Microsoft Azure is the flexibility it gives your business.

Scalability is important for the long term, but flexibility lets you adapt your IT solution to your day-to- day requirements.

For example, say your business needs to run a complex report once a week. Traditionally you'd have two choices:

1. Your IT solution would be highly specified, with enough resources to handle the reporting process without slowing everything else down. But this means that most of its processing power would be unused the rest of the time. That's expensive and wasteful.

2. You opt for a cheaper, low-performance IT solution. But this means the rest of your network would slow to a crawl during the reporting period.

Microsoft Azure gives you a third option: simply adjust the processing power as you need it. You can quickly – and even automatically – dial up the processing power during the reporting process, then dial it back down again.

This flexibility also applies to storage and other Azure services. And you only pay for what you use.

Cost savings

When it comes to cost-effective IT solutions, there are two important factors:

1. Economies of scale. The more customers share a service, the more cost-effective that service becomes. Microsoft Azure has millions of business users around the world. With such a large customer base, Microsoft can provide IT services at a fraction of what it would cost businesses to run their own, in-house equivalents.

2. Itemised billing. Instead of charging a flat rate for access to Azure services, Microsoft charges on a usage basis. This means that you only pay for what you use. For example, you might want an email server, web server and backup, but no extra computing power or database server. That's fine – you'll only pay for those services. And if you do later decide that you need some computing power for a while, you'll only pay for what you use.

Taken together, these factors mean that Microsoft Azure cloud services are very cost-effective. You have access to as little – or as much – of any service as you like. And if you don't use it, you don't pay for it. Azure really can transform your business and save you money.

Contact IT Engine at any time to find out more about how Microsoft Azure’s cloud services can benefit your business.

Or you can read more on the Microsoft Azure Cloud Services page.

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