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Microsoft Azure for your business: What do you need to know?

Picture of Jordi Esteve Rojas Alcayaga
Jordi Esteve Rojas Alcayaga
| 13 June, 2024

Microsoft Azure is a cloud services platform with over 200 products, designed to create, run, and manage applications in multiple environments, both on-premises and in the cloud, using your preferred tools and frameworks.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud services platform with over 200 products, designed to create, run, and manage applications in multiple environments, both on-premises and in the cloud, using your preferred tools and frameworks.

How Azure Works

In the Microsoft Azure portal, you can easily configure the services you need with just a few clicks. Using the [New +] button, you choose the datacenter region and the type of service. For example, when creating a virtual machine, you select the type of machine (such as Windows Server 2016 Datacenter) and configure its features (disk space, RAM, etc.), as well as define a username and password for access.Azure offers infrastructure services (IaaS: storage, networks, virtual machines) and platform services (PaaS: high-availability SQL databases, CMS for web development, backend for mobile applications). It is compatible with various technologies such as Oracle databases, Linux, PHP, iOS, MySQL, Android, among others.These services guarantee 99.99% availability, with compensations in case of higher failures, and have security and data protection certifications. Additionally, it is the first cloud platform to comply with the high-category certification of the National Security Scheme.

What is Microsoft Azure Used For?

It allows companies to create, deploy, and manage applications through a global network of data centers. It offers a wide range of services, including storage, databases, analytics, networks, and virtual machines, facilitating the scalability and flexibility needed for various workloads and business needs.

Advantages of Azure

Among the main advantages of using Microsoft Azure, we find:

  • Virtualization of Machines: Allows you to create and manage virtual machines more quickly and with lower latency.
  • Data Backup: Offers secure storage and backup, ensuring the privacy and integrity of information.
  • Analytics and Databases: Facilitates advanced analytics and efficient database management.
  • Network and Storage Management: Provides tools to manage networks and storage with 99% high availability.
  • Cost Reduction: Pay-as-you-go model, pay only for what you actually use.
  • Integration with Other Platforms: Easily integrates with Microsoft 365, Teams, SharePoint, and other open-source technologies.
  • Scalability and Accessibility: Allows you to increase or decrease contracted services easily.
  • Hybrid Work: Combines on-premises and cloud environments, achieving greater effectiveness and security.

Disadvantages of Azure

Despite its many advantages, Microsoft Azure also presents some disadvantages that companies should consider before implementation. Below are some of the main disadvantages of using Microsoft Azure:

  • Management Complexity: The wide variety of services and configurations can be complex, especially for companies without prior experience in managing cloud environments.
  • Unexpected Costs: Although the pay-as-you-go model can be advantageous, there is a risk of incurring unexpected costs due to uncontrolled or underestimated resource usage.
  • Dependence on Internet Connectivity: Azure requires a reliable and high-speed internet connection, which can be a limitation in areas with poor network infrastructure.
  • Learning Curve: Adopting Azure may require a considerable investment of time and resources in training staff to properly manage and optimize services.
  • Compatibility Issues: Although Azure is compatible with many technologies, some legacy or specific applications may present integration difficulties.
  • Security and Compliance Risks: Despite security certifications, there is always an inherent risk in storing sensitive data in the cloud, and companies must ensure compliance with all applicable data protection regulations.
  • Latency in Critical Services: For applications that require extremely low response times, cloud latency can be an issue, affecting the performance of critical services.

Best Practices with Microsoft Azure

Azure, as a leading cloud services provider, offers a wide range of tools and recommended practices to keep your infrastructure secure.

  • Identity and Access Management: Use Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) to control access to your resources. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security. Protect data access through conditional access and use PIM (Privileged Identity Management) to elevate your administrators’ privileges only when needed (Just-In-Time).
  • Network Security: Configure network security groups (NSG) to filter traffic to and from your Azure resources. Use Azure Firewall to protect your virtual networks. A hub-and-spoke network design will allow you to control routes and access to different networks in your infrastructure. Review the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for a proper approach. Consider if your data can travel over the internet (encryption), if you should implement VPN networks, or even an Express Route to prevent your data from going over the internet.
  • Data Protection: Ensure your data is encrypted at rest and in transit. Azure offers Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and Azure Disk Encryption to protect your databases and disks. Your information should always be encrypted. Store your keys and passwords securely in Azure Key Vault.
  • Monitoring and Incident Response: Implement Azure Security Center to get a centralized view of the security posture of your resources and to quickly detect and respond to threats. With Secure Score, you will have recommendations and actions to raise the security level in your organization. From Security Center, you can implement hardening solutions like Defender and Sentinel for defense and early alert detection.
  • Principle of Least Privilege: Assign permissions based on the minimum role necessary to perform specific tasks. This reduces the attack surface and limits potential damage in case of a security breach. Implement what is known as a Zero Trust policy starting by using RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) permissions in all accesses.
  • Updates and Patches: Keep your systems updated with the latest versions and security patches. Azure Automation can help you manage updates for your virtual machines. Keep your device fleet updated with Intune, Windows Update for Business, and Autopatch, and manage your server patches with Azure ARC, Azure Update Manager, and Azure Monitor.
  • Backup and Recovery: Establish backup policies and quickly recover your data with Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery in case of disasters or data loss. Do not forget to maintain your business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan. Streamline contingency testing with these technologies.
  • Training and Awareness: Last but not least: Train your team on security best practices and foster a security culture within your organization.

Contact Us to Get Started!

At Raona, we have over two decades of experience collaborating with large entities. We have completed more than 100 projects and assisted 200 companies, making us the most awarded company in intranet projects in Spain. Contact us, and we will offer you advice without any commitment.

 



    Jordi Esteve Rojas Alcayaga

    With over a decade of experience in the IT field, I have specialized in architecting cloud solutions, establishing myself as an expert in Microsoft 365 and Azure Services. As a Senior Cloud IT Architect, I have led the digital transformation of numerous organizations, implementing cloud security solutions and optimizing IT infrastructure to adapt to modern work environments.

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