Everybody is familiar with the equation Microsoft = Windows + Office. However, the traditional notion will soon be overhauled, what with the addition of a whole new and exciting slew of services from the global tech giant: Microsoft Azure.
Previously the operational landscape of every establishment, most notably among highly regulated institutions such as banks, is largely on-premises. This translates to physical documents filed away in large metal cabinets, duly sorted from A to Z, and local servers within the vicinity. While arguably secure because of limited access as determined through authorizations, the setup is threatened by file quality degradation, loss, and shortage of space.
The advent of the “cloud” signaled a shift in the standing business models. This buzzword challenges the local setup with its virtually limitless space and powerful computing capabilities. Despite being peppered with doubt during its first few years, various industries have largely moved towards its utilization.
“Now, [business managers] divide the whiteboard into two parts: what [they] can put in Cloud and what [they] can’t put in Cloud and you will see that wasn’t even part of the conversation three years ago,” explains Cloud and Enterprise Business Manager Herms Hermida during the Microsoft Azure Master Class in their Ayala office.
“It’s really about them seeing the digital transformation,” adds Developer Experience and Evangelism Director Joel Garcia.
Here enters Azure, a collection of integrated cloud services that provides the end user things such as analytics, computing, storage, and database management while also giving a lot more workspace for developers to produce, test, and deploy apps both in the mobile and desktop environments. Billed as the “cloud on your terms,” Azure touts its ability to hybridize the experience by mixing cloud-based and on-premises setups with its massively scalable features based on the user’s preferences.
Once connected to Azure, the user can then access a one-stop site for all the necessary management, the Azure Portal.
Azure also has a wide range of developer tools under its belt. Additionally, Microsoft has acquired Xamarin, a creator of software development tools in San Francisco, to help developers create applications for mobile environments—Windows, Android, or iOS—without having to recode should the developer wish to reproduce the app in another operating system.
However, Garcia notes, “your job is not finished when you release the code, it’s just the beginning.” With Azure, feedback comes immediately, prompting the developer to respond and fix just as fast.
Azure also has some nifty data gathering and analysis features, much like an SPSS on steroids. Analytics are presented in visually stunning graphs and trends, while the integration of cognitive services via algorithms provide predictions based on data, whether about consumer satisfaction or sales performance. Additionally, Azure can detect and analyze faces, emotions, content, and keywords. Using the platform’s powerful analytics, the dashboard also gives recommendations and suggestions on how to improve data.
So, Azure is a closed system, you ask? No. “What not a lot of people know is that we are the biggest open-source contributor in the world,” Garcia beams. “30% of Azure is open source.”
This enables the platform to run in various ecosystems without a hitch. “The cloud is the great equalizer,” notes Hermida.
Finally, both men dispel any notions of fear on privacy and security on using the cloud either as a supplement to the local setup or as the major platform. In fact, they claim that in Microsoft, they use their own programs, applications, tools, and services to power their daily drivers. Any hint of a bug will also appear on their very own work areas, and company developers could easily address that. Plus, Microsoft makes sure that they comply to the highest standards of security certification.
“We don’t launch in a country where we don’t pass all their certifications,” prides Hermida.
Microsoft Azure’s offers on various cloud-computing services runs on a “scale as you need, pay as you go” system that makes it easy for businesses to match usage to demand and thus fetch reasonable prices.