Microsoft Azure is #2 in Top 17 Public Cloud Platforms

Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any alternative language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.

Microsoft Azure video

Positions in ratings


#2 in Top 17 Public Cloud Platforms

#2 in Top 10 AI Platforms

Alternatives


The best alternatives to Microsoft Azure are: Amazon Web Services, Salesforce Lightning Platform, Google Cloud Platform



Latest news about Microsoft Azure


2019. Microsoft launched cloud APIs for form and handwriting recognition



Microsoft introduced several new cognitive services on its Azure Machine Learning cloud platform. First, these are gifts for companies dealing with documents, forms and office notes with handwritten text. The Ink Recognizer and Form Recognizer services allow to transform all these paper documents into digital text and data. Conversation Transcription service - transforms phone dialogs into text with each phrase author recognition. Another new service Personalizer allows you to provide personalized recommendations for website or online store visitors basing on behavioral factors. In addition, Microsoft introduced a new visual interface to create machine learning models. Now even marketers can play with ML. You just need to load the database and specify which parameter you want to predict.




2019. Microsoft launched own Windows Virtual Desktop service


Virtual desktop services have been long provided by Microsoft's numerous cloud partners, and now the company has realized that it can do it alone. The new Windows Virtual Desktop service (which is now available for companies on Microsoft Azure cloud platform) allows to install Windows, Office and other software licenses on the cloud, but not on employees' computers. And employees will be able to work with their software via a virtual desktop. What is the sense of this? First, it allows even an old Win7 computer to work fast, and provide Windows 10. Second, it is more convenient for the administrator to create new workplaces, maintain them and ensure security. The service itself is free. You only pay for the additional Azure resources (memory, CPU time) that you consume.


2018. Microsoft Azure gets new high-performance storage options



Microsoft Azure is getting a number of new storage options that mostly focus on use cases where disk performance matters. The first of these is Azure Ultra SSD Managed Disks, which are now in public preview. Microsoft says that these drives will offer “sub-millisecond latency,” which unsurprisingly makes them ideal for workloads where latency matters. Standard SSD Managed Disks are now generally available after only three months in preview. To top things off, all of Azure’s storage tiers (Premium and Standard SSD, as well as Standard HDD) now offer 8, 16 and 32 TB storage capacity. Also new today is Azure Premium files, which is now in preview. This, too, is an SSD-based service. Azure Files itself isn’t new, though. It offers users access to cloud storage using the standard SMB protocol. This new premium offering promises higher throughput and lower latency for these kind of SMB operations.


2017. Microsoft launched new archival storage option for Azure



Microsoft introduced a new storage option for its Azure cloud computing platform - Azure Archive Blob Storage. This will give developers a cheaper alternative for the long-term storage of large amounts of archival data like logs, raw camera footage, audio recordings, transcripts and medical documents and images. The main difference between the cool and archive tiers is that while archival storage is cheaper, the data retrieval costs are higher. Data that’s stored in the archive tier is also not immediately available for retrieval. The blobs first have to be “rehydrated” and that can take up to 15 hours for blobs that hold less than 50GB of data. It’s worth noting, though, that alternative cold strorage services Amazon Glacier and Google Near have been around for years now.


2017. Microsoft launches new tools to help enterprises move to its Azure cloud



Microsoft says that 80 percent of the companies it talks to want to use a hybrid cloud approach and to help them move to its cloud platform Azure, the company is launching a number of new tools. The most important of these is the new Cloud Migration Assessment service. With this, companies can scan their existing IT infrastructure and get an estimate for what it would cost to move these services to Azure (and how much they could save in the process). Azure users can now also get a discount for moving their Windows Server licenses (with Software Assurance) to Azure. This new Azure Hybrid Use Benefit can save them up to 40 percent and is obviously meant to make it more attractive for existing Windows Server users to move their workloads to the cloud. For those who want to make that move, the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) tool is also getting a minor update. This service is mostly meant to help enterprises orchestrate their disaster recovery plans, however, it can also be used to migrate existing virtual machines to Azure.


2014. Following SAP and Oracle, IBM jumps to Microsoft Azure



Microsoft already partnered with SAP and Oracle on its cloud-computing platform. And now IBM becomes the latest partner in Microsoft's enterprise software layer. According to the deal, companies will make IBM middleware such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ, and DB2 available on Microsoft Azure. Windows Server and SQL Server will be offered on IBM Cloud. Microsoft .NET runtime will become available for IBM’s Bluemix cloud development platform. So, now Microsoft can boast about having the Big Four on its cloud platform for enterprises.


2014. Microsoft Azure appliance makes comeback



Microsoft is launching a new Azure appliance that companies or service providers can deploy in their own data centers. Called the Cloud Platform System, the new appliance will run the same Azure APIs, services, hypervisor, and everything as the Azure public cloud and will be able to connect easily to the Azure public cloud. The appliance is especially interesting considering Microsoft’s previous dabbling into the idea of Azure appliances. It has previously floated the idea of selling appliances to a few large service provider partners such as HP, and even launched a program to help web hosts to launch their own versions of Azure. Both of them appear to have fallen along the wayside for various business and technological reasons, but now the appliance is back.


2014. Microsoft and Docker team up to make containers play nice on Windows Server and Azure



Microsoft and Docker are partnering up to ensure that Docker’s container technology will be fully compatible with the next release of Windows Server. Through this partnership, developers will have a native version of the Docker engine running inside Windows. While Microsoft has previously enabled the use of Docker on its Azure cloud, developers had to do a series of tasks to get containers up and running. Now, it will be much easier for developers to spin up Docker containers on Azure without having to do any modifications as they’ll will be able to access the Docker Hub within the Azure management portal.


2014. Microsoft Azure now also supports Google's Kubernetes



Few days ago we reported that VMWares's vCloud added support for Google's open-source container technology Kubernetes, and now Microsoft is also supporting it on the company’s Azure cloud platform. For two companies, Google and Microsoft, not historically known for their open source work, that’s quite surprising. But thus they’re trying to steal market share from Amazon Web Services, by allowing cloud developers move relatively easily among cloud platforms and retain the same general experience of launching and managing applications. Besides Google, Microsoft and VMWare this technology was also recently supported by Red Hat and IBM, so it's likely to become the de facto standard for cloud platforms.


2014. Microsoft unveils Azure DocumentDB, a NoSQL database as a service



Microsoft is expanding its Azure platform again, this time rolling out a NoSQL database service Azure DocumentDB. As far as other cloud-provider-developed services go, DocumentDB sounds a lot more like Google’s similarly understated Cloud Datastore service than it does Amazon Web Services’ DynamoDB, which is actually more like a key-value store than a document database. Additional new products as part of the new Microsoft Data Platform include Azure Search and fully managed HBase as part of Microsoft’s HDInsight Hadoop service. It’s the kind of innovation Microsoft needs to focus on if it’s going to lure new developers and really compete in the cloud.


2014. Microsoft improves Windows Azure security with enhanced encryption



Microsoft is enhancing the encryption of data transfers between users and the Azure cloud guest operating systems.  The encryption improvements, which apply to Microsoft Azure cipher solution for hosted guest virtual machines, gives users better and more secure connections during the transmission of data. The new enhancements apply to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which makes it harder to decrypt connections and information going across such connections. This follows  recent moves by Google to secure and encrypt emails and encryption upgrades for Outlook.com and OneDrive. Besides, last year, Google also announced that users’ data that is placed in its Cloud Storage system will be encrypted by default.


2014. Microsoft unveiled Artificial Intelligence platform on top of Windows Azure


Remember how in the book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" people were constantly giving super-smart robot Marvin very simple instructions, and because of this he was always in depression. The same problem is with Cloud Computing. The main function of Cloud Computing today is simple data storage. We put data to the Cloud, and then access it. That's all. But soon the situation will change and the Cloud will start thinking. IT giants are becoming serious about intelligent data processing technologies. IBM created Watson. Google acquired DeepMind. And now Microsoft introducing Azure Machine Learning - the cloud platform which developers can use to quickly create applications for predicting the future. For example, these apps can help traders to buy only those products that will be demanded, or help manufacturers fix the equipment before it breaks.


2014. Satya Nadella - new Microsoft CEO


So, from now instead of the showman Steve Ballmer, techie-guy Satya Nadella will rule Microsoft. This video - his first interview as CEO. Nandelle is 46 years old, from which 22 years he worked at Microsoft. Before this appointment, Satya Nadella led the Cloud and Enterprise department. His time at MS oversaw a period of huge growth for Microsoft Business Services, too, growing that segment of the business from a $1.5 billion slice of pie to a $5 billion segment in just five years’ time. He was involved in the development of Windows Azure, Office 365 , Bing, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Skype and Dynamics. In his first email to employees Nandella noted that Microsoft, primarily, should reimagine its mobile and cloud strategy. By the way, Bill Gates now leaves the Microsoft chairman position and (in his free time) will advise Nadella on the future technologies.


2013. Microsoft pushing Cloud OS


As you know, Microsoft's Windows Azure is the leader in cloud platform market. It's just one of several options along with Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, OpenStack, VMWare vCloud. This situation is very frustrating for Microsoft, which used to be the exclusive platform (OS) vendor. Therefore, Microsoft is coming up with a new thing - Cloud OS. This is not a specific product, but rather a marketing term incorporating several systems: first of all Windows Azure, Windows Server and System Center. The idea is that the Cloud (the legendary thing that stores and processes data) is usually located not in the farm of specific provider (Amazon, Google or Microsoft). It also lives in a rented or own Internet servers and in the office (on local servers). Depending on task, budget and security requirements, each company may choose on where to host data and applications.


2012. Microsoft to push Windows Azure via service-providers



So where is the truth? As you know, Microsoft recently blowed off its longtime PC manufacturing partners by producing own Surface-tablet. But in the cloud platform market, Microsoft decided to abandon this tactic "Do it yourself" and is inviting partners to play together. From now hosting providers will be able to offer white-labeled Windows Azure cloud platform. This tactic has been already successfully used by VMWare (vCloud) and OpenStack. And Microsoft, as you know, has a huge network of partners - service providers, hosting the Windows Server. Now they can offer customers Azure as well, or some Azure services based on Windows Server platform. Recall, Windows Azure is also sold in boxes to build private clouds for large corporations.


2012. Windows Azure provides Linux as a Service



Once Linux was the main threat to the bright future of Windows and now Microsoft provides Linux as a component of its cloud platform Windows Azure. And that's because the purely Microsoft-oriented cloud - was not very competitive in the fight against Amazon, RackSpace, VMWare, Oracle, Google and other providers. So, Windows Azure becomes not just PaaS, but also IaaS platform. Users can create Linux or Windows virtual servers and pay for them on per-hour basis, just like at Amazon Web Services. Available Linux distributives include Ubuntu, SUSE and CentOS. Perhaps Microsoft will soon also partner with Red Hat. But Linux as a Service - is not the only interesting update at Azure.


2012. OpenStack launches. CloudStack departs. Amazon adapts SAP. Azure rebrands



Here is the news digest from the leading cloud platforms. First of all, the open-source platform OpenStack (aka Linux for the clouds) which had been developed for two years by the alliance of IT giants (Rackspace, NASA, Citrix, Intel, AMD, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM ...) - finally comes to production. Since May 1, it was adapted by RackSpace for its service Rackspace Cloud Files and last week HP launched the public beta of its HP Cloud platform, based on OpenStack. However, a week before the launch the trouble (common for open-source projects) occurred with OpenStack. Citrix, which has been one of the first participants in OpenStack, suddenly decided to grant its own cloud platform - CloudStack - to Apache Software Foundation. Thus, CloudStack not flowed into OpenStack but became a rival project. Citrix explained this decision by the slow OpenStack development and unwillingness of other parties to integrate with Amazon Web Services APIs.


2011. SAP embracing Amazon and Microsoft clouds



SAP is the most slow IT giant in terms of transition to the cloud technologies. Nevertheless, it's the world's largest software company and any of its steps to the Cloud serves as an indicator for all large corporations: "if even SAP released a SaaS-solution, then SaaS-solutions can indeed be trusted" or "if even SAP offers a version for Amazon Web Services, than this platform is really enterprise-ready". This week at the SAPPhire conference, the company reported on its cloud transition steps. First of all, the SaaS ERP-service SAP Business ByDesign is already used by 500 with a target of having 1000 signed up by the end of the year. Second, SAP has announced that it's "launching" the SaaS CRM-service SAP Sales OnDemand, which will be followed by a travel management cloud service and an on-demand suite for talent management. And third, SAP has started to adapt its existing systems for the Amazon and Microsoft cloud platforms.


2010. Windows Azure is already sold in boxes



Though there is a big deal of debates around the "private cloud" term (if it's correct to call own data center, optimized with virtualization technology, a "cloud") - no one can deny that these things called "private cloud" are already selling well. The fact is that many companies are still not ready to move their IT infrastructures to public cloud platforms like Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure. But when they are told that "you can take the advantage of Cloud Computing (cost-efficiency, scalability) without any risk for data security, because the cloud will be locked in your office" - they like this. Obviously, private clouds are the necessary intermediate stage of transition companies to "real clouds" and cloud providers have to take a step back so that the process started. So it was with Microsoft.


2010. Zuora to become a billing provider for Windows Azure



Zuora, the service that provides SaaS companies a convenient way of collecting monthly payments, will join the Microsoft Windows Azure  Technology Adoption Program (TAP) as the first on-demand billing and subscription management provider to be chosen by Microsoft. So the SaaS services on Azure platform will be able to easily integrate their products with the billing system to offer customers a range of flexible payment plans (for example, depending on the disk space, number of users, number of projects, etc.) to its customers, send invoices, accept payments through different payment systems and create various sales reports. Interestingly, that Zuora is backed by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, the company that Microsoft is fighting with.


2010. Windows Azure - available. Google Apps Store - soon.



Today Microsoft has officially opened its cloud platform Windows Azure. It's a cloud for deploying SaaS services and hosting enterprise applications, that provides Microsoft-focused infrastructure and development tools. However, Azure also supports PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, Python, Java, Eclipse and Zend. The main Azure advantage over Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud is the high level of automation, allowing developers to focuse on their applications, rather than on the infrastructure. In addition, this platform enables to integrate hosted apps with the local IT infrastructure with the help of SOAP, REST and XML (thus supporting Microsoft's S+S strategy). The cost of using Windows Azure - is lower than the cost of Windows-infrastructure, built on Amazon.


2010. Microsoft and HP to sell Clouds together



Cloud Computing can be deployed not only in platforms like Amazon, Google App Engine or Windows Azure. The Cloud becomes a popular solution, needed by large enterprises, service providers and large SaaS companies. And the competition on this market is so high that even such giants as Microsoft and HP prefer not to play alone. Today the companies announced the alliance for creation and sale of cloud-solutions. The partnership is valued at $250 million. Microsoft and HP already have an experience of creating the Windows Azure cloud, that runs on HP gear. Microsoft-HP cloud solutions will obviously provide a high level of integration between hardware and Windows-based software environment.