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.

Author: James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times. Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I’ve been working with a small Danish product called Navision that’s now become Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV and I’ve also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I’ve been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It’s my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction. So colleagues & clients have asked me to start this blog to share some of the insight that both this knowledge (obviously where not restricted by NDA’s or client confidentiality) and experience can help. Specifically I want to concentrate not on the specifics of how (there are some great blogs already for that) but why. If any user helps their business make better decisions or consultant can give better advice then that will be objective achieved. I founded Technology Management in 1992 and have led from the front ever since. Helping clients use technology to grow their business is my passion through explaining technology in terms that everyone can understand. My interest in computing began at the age of eight, long before my school had the equipment to cope. Throughout school and university I developed software commercially. I hold many IT certifications, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (for over 17 years), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for over 10 years), as well as Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and SQL. In October 2015, I was awarded the title of Most Valuable Professional (MVP), a title given to a select few individuals (31 currently) across the world specifically for Dynamics NAV. After years of working with a range of distribution and manufacturing software for hundreds of organisations, I focus on understanding the business requirements of an organisation, what it will take to deliver the systems required to maximise their potential. Follow me online via my other social channels: - Twitter: @jamescrowter - LinkedIn: Or email me directly at james[.]crowter[@]

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