What is Microsoft Azure in 2021?

January 1, 2021,

Created July 16th 2017, Revised Feb 2021.

Our Microsoft Azure journey started on July 16th 2017

Why Azure?

From 2001 to 2017 we hosted our own storage servers in UK data centres, with the bulk being in Bristol, Maidenhead and Reading. Every data centre we collocated with had catastrophic failures and all at one time suffered a total power down disaster. This was despite them all claiming to have N+1 power back up and instant failover generators. 

Obviously, this was an unacceptable situation and we needed to do something about it. We even bought our own 5000 sqft Royal Mail Sorting Office which they were selling off.

We were in the process of converting it into a data centre when we noticed this message on Microsoft’s website on 7th Sept 2016

Microsoft's first UK data centre had landed!

For the first time in years, we were able to guarantee persistence-of-service, and data durability to our resellers. Shortly afterwards, and as expected in December 2016, Amazon too launched their first UK data centre.

We provide enterprise-level online backups exclusively to IT support companies and resellers, and Azure was in 2016 the perfect place for our resellers’ data. What followed was 12 months of server migrations of our own servers and storage to Azure.

What is Microsoft Azure?

That’s why we use Microsoft’s cloud offering (branded Microsoft Azure) – for us, it’s the best enterprise-grade cloud computing platform there is. If you’re in any doubt about Microsoft’s cloud capabilities, we’re sure our reasons will persuade you.

1. Data needs are growing and becoming more complex. As your clients’ data grows, have they made provision for how they’ll store it? With Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, you don’t need to worry about predicting data growth: it’s scalable, so as the data needs grow, the storage capacity grows with it.

2. What’s more, you get charged for what you use, with no upfront costs, so it’s a cost-efficient way to store data.

3. Last year, Microsoft opened two data centres here in the UK, which means data is now stored locally. The Ministry of Defence, the Metropolitan Police and various NHS departments are some of those who now use the UK sites.

4. In fact, Microsoft is the first global cloud provider to offer a complete cloud solution from data centres located in this country – which are part of one of the world’s largest online storage infrastructures. There are 42 locations and over 100 centres worldwide, more than any other cloud provider. So, wherever you are based, you can select the closest data centre to you, and add your data to the 30 trillion pieces of data held.

5. Microsoft’s cloud is very secure. When backing-up, it automatically makes numerous copies, giving you peace-of-mind your data is safely stored. Plus, in the event of a disaster, lost data can be recovered.

6. It’s highly respected: just look at its client list. From Asos to Uber, from Daimler to GE Healthcare, big-name clients trust this enterprise software company with their data needs.

7. Microsoft has the best compliance coverage of any cloud service provider, with more than 60 compliance offerings. In the US, it’s the most trusted cloud for government institutions. Here in the UK, third-party audits are undertaken, such as those by the British Standards Institute, to ensure Azure complies with UK standards.

8. There’s a lot of flexibility in the service with its hybrid offering, combining both private and public data storage if you prefer.

9. Part of our respect for Microsoft is down to its longevity in the field. The company has been around for a long time, and it never stays still. It is constantly innovating and developing its offerings and is always making service enhancements. 

Azure aren’t without their problems though, however, they have never lost any of our data. 

2016 | Along came a stranger - Wasabi

Wasabi had been offering object storage in Holland and the US for some time before they came across our radar and we started to use them. The object storage uses the S3 framework, which was developed by Amazon, but sadly not Azure. This meant we had to redesign our software to use S3 as well as Azure’s blob storage and was worthwhile because in 2021 there are more than 50 object storage providers we know about who use S3.

Wasabi’s main selling point is that they don’t charge for outbound data transfers (egress), and these aren’t negligible.

2021 | Our relationship with Azure

At the beginning of this article, we asked, “What is Azure”?

Nearly 4 years into our relationship with Azure, their service is solid as it has ever been, and we don’t have any complaints. It is true that more than 80% of new backups created by us and our Resellers are done so using Wasabi’s storage, but that is because Wasabi’s service is priced lower. It still has the same speed and data durability levels as Azure.

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