Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is Microsoft's public cloud computing platform. It provides a range of cloud services, including those for compute, analytics, storage and networking. Users can pick and choose from these services to develop and scale new applications, or run existing applications, in the public cloud
Azure for DR and backup
Just as they can with other public cloud platforms, some organizations use Azure for data backup and disaster recovery (DR). In addition, some organizations use Azure as an alternative to their own data center. Rather than invest in local servers and storage, these organizations choose to run some, or all, of their business applications in Azure.
To ensure availability, Microsoft has Azure data centers located around the world. As of July 2018, Microsoft Azure services are available in 54 regions, spread across 140 countries. As not all services are available in all regions, Azure users must ensure that workload and data storage locations comply with all prevailing compliance requirements or other legislation.
Azure pricing and costs
As with other public cloud providers, Azure primarily uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model that charges based on usage. However, if a single application uses multiple Azure services, each service might involve multiple pricing tiers. In addition, if a user makes a long-term commitment to certain services, such as compute instances, Microsoft offers a discounted rate.
Given the many factors involved in cloud service pricing, an organization should review and manage its cloud usage to minimize costs. Azure-native tools, such as Azure Cost Management, can help to monitor, visualize and optimize cloud spend. It's also possible to use third-party tools, such as Cloudability or RightScale, to manage Azure resource usage and associated costs.
Microsoft Azure is one of several major public cloud service providers operating on a large global scale. Other major providers include Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM.
Currently, there is a lack of standardization among cloud services or capabilities -- meaning no two cloud providers offer the same service in the exact same way, using the same APIs or integrations. This makes it difficult for a business to use more than one public cloud provider to pursue a multi-cloud strategy, although, third-party cloud management tools can reduce some of these challenges.