So what is Microsoft Azure?


So we will talk in this blog about how Microsoft Azure is a platform on which to run your Dynamics system but what actually is it?

Well Microsoft have invested billions of dollars in a network of state of the art data centres across the world packed with millions of servers and thousands of terabytes of storage. Here in the UK we have the choice of using either Northern Europe, based in Dublin, or Western Europe, near Amsterdam. Before you say it I know that illogical, but don’t you just love America’s geographical knowledge!

The size of several football pitches they are packed with containers that have hundreds of pre-installed servers. They just plug in water (for efficient cooling), power and network connectivity. If a component fails they just turn it off; they have so many it’s just not worth repairing the odd one.

These are however just a stockpile of ready to use servers, available for us when we want them.  Similar to when we buy, when you fire up certain virtual servers on Azure, you still have to decide what and how many processors you want, how much memory the machine needs and what storage it has available, just like you do when you buy a server.

The major difference is though, that you can change your mind! Not fast enough, just migrate it to the next level up and try that. Too fast (if there is such a thing, more like too expensive) and you can migrate down as well. Try that with on premise server suppliers!

You also have choices about having your system replicate between data centres; so your data can be in (for instance) Dublin as well as Amsterdam. The fault tolerance this gives is amazing and much more cost effective than doing it yourself. It does cost though so if you need that level of protection (how much will it cost you if your Dynamics system is down for half a day?) you need to specify and pay the extra costs.

Microsoft with Azure offer lots of pre-configured services so that you don’t have to start a new virtual machine (VM) and install that particular software. Examples of this are web servers and SQL servers where because your need is limited you might gain a cost advantage by sharing with other users or get easier scalability when it’s managed by Microsoft.

Is Azure reliable? Yes, although there have been outages. All systems have them sooner or later though and despite how careful they are Azure is no different. I believe it’s the best compromise though and have put my belief to the test by having my companies internal systems based on it for over a year now.