Microsoft offers a wide range of cloud-based software, applications, and computing infrastructure.

Microsoft Cloud Services include the following:

  • Microsoft Azure – a public Cloud Computing platform with more than 100 cloud products spread across categories such as AI & Machine Learning, Analytics, Compute, Containers, Databases, Developer, Tools, DevOps, Identity, Integration, Internet of Things, Management and Governance, Media, Migration, Mobile Networking, Security, Storage, and Web

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 – a cloud-based Enterprise Relationship Management (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application. 

  • Microsoft 365 – a set of office productivity apps such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access and services such as Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, offered by Microsoft for monthly and yearly subscription.

  • Microsoft OneDrive – a cloud storage service 

  • Microsoft Outlook – cloud-powered email service. 

Growth of Microsoft Cloud

Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft steadily added several cloud services to its product portfolio over the years, helping the company become the largest cloud computing provider in terms of revenue in 2018, beating Amazon Web Services to the number one spot.

In the last twelve months, Microsoft’s cloud division brought in revenues of $26.7 billion, edging past longtime leader Amazon Web Services’ revenues of $23.4 billion.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft’s commercial infrastructure service unit was launched in 2008 as Windows Azure.

In April 2014, Microsoft announced that “Windows Azure will be renamed as Microsoft Azure” to better reflect Microsoft’s strategy to focus on Azure as the public cloud platform for all its customers, not just for Windows customers.

What does Azure mean? Azure means “Sky Blue”.

Azure products can be broadly grouped under two different cloud deployment models – Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Group of Azure services
Microsoft Azure Stack

Microsoft Azure: Availability

As the world’s leading cloud computing service provider, Microsoft has built data centers all over the world. As of January 2019, Microsoft Azure services are available in 54 regions covering 140 countries.

Microsoft Azure Data Center Locations around the world
Microsoft Data centers are spread around the world

Microsoft Azure: Pricing

Azure follows the industry standard of usage-based pricing, similar to other CSPs (cloud service providers) like AWS and GCP.

 

Multi-Year Reservation: Microsoft offers steep discounts for Azure customers who reserve products for years in advance. The company says long term reservations helps increase visibility and in return, they pass savings to the customer as discounts of upto 80%.

Example: A customer running M32ts Azure VM for Windows OS in US Gov Virginia region will pay approximately $3,660.81 every month. If a customer reserves the same instance for three years he will only pay $663.45 every month.

AWS Price Match: The fight between Amazon Web Services and Microsoft has turned into a huge bonanza for cloud customers. Both companies keep reducing the price of their products and often drop their price to keep parity with each other.

Microsoft guarantees that it will match AWS price on comparable services. According to Microsoft, “pricing adjustments in response to price drop by AWS can take up to 90 days to process”.

Migrating workloads from your own infrastructure: Customers who are planning to migrate their workloads to Azure can use Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator to estimate their cost savings.

Users can input the details of their infrastructure, such as servers, database, storage capacity, required network bandwidth. The TCO calculator analyzes your input and give you detailed assessment of how much it will cost you to run the same workloads on Azure.

Free limits: Similar to other cloud service providers, Microsoft offers free credits and free trail on several products for new signups.  

Eligible customers get $200 Azure credit that must be used within 30 days of signup. For some products the credit can be used over 12 months.

“With the Azure Free Account, eligible customers receive $200 of credits which can be used within the first 30 days on most Azure services. Any unused credits cannot be carried over to subsequent months and cannot be transferred to other Azure subscriptions.

Within 30 days of sign-up or upon exhaustion of the Credits (whichever occurs first), you must upgrade to a Pay-As-You-Go subscription by removing the Spending Limit. This allows continued use of the Azure Free Account and select free services for the term.”

Microsoft Azure: Training and Certification

Microsoft offers several Azure certification programs. Participants can take online courses or join instructor-led programs for training.

As of January 2019, Microsoft offers the following certifications. Please visit Microsoft for more details on Azure training and certification programs.

  • Microsoft Azure Infrastructure and Deployment

  • Microsoft Azure Integration and Security

  • Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification Transition

  • Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure

  • Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

  • Microsoft Azure Architect Design

  • Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification Transition

  • Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions

  • Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

  • Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions

  • Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions

  • Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services

  • Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack

  • Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning

  • Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft HDInsight

  • Engineering Data with Microsoft Cloud Service

Apart from the certification exams, Microsoft also offers role-based guided learning courses to help users train themselves on Azure. Trainees must select a specific role such as Azure Developer, Azure Administrator, Azure Solution Architect, Business User, and Business Analyst. Once the user selects his role, Microsoft then lists the courses he or she needs to take to achieve the required level of proficiency.

Microsoft Azure: Competition

Microsoft Azure has direct, hyper-scale competitors like AWS, GCP, and IBM Cloud. Because of the stiff competition at the top, you’ll see identical pricing structures, products, and similar services offered by the top five.

This has also given rise to a multi-cloud model where workloads are run on the clouds of different service providers. The emergence of managed cloud services from the likes of Rackspace help deal with the challenges of deploying a multi-cloud strategy.

2018: Microsoft Azure vs Competition
2018: Microsoft Azure closely trails market leader Amazon Web Services; Chart by Rightscale

Microsoft Azure products and services

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning – a wide portfolio of AI productivity tools that companies can use to add machine learning and AI capabilities into their applications and build AI solutions. The Azure AI platform features enterprise-grade AI infrastructure.

Azure Batch AIEasily experiment and train your deep learning and AI models in parallel at scale
Azure Bot ServiceIntelligent, serverless bot service that scales on demand
Azure DatabricksFast, easy and collaborative Apache Spark-based analytics platform
Azure SearchFully-managed search-as-a-service
Bing AutosuggestGive your app intelligent autosuggest options for searches
Bing Custom SearchAn easy-to-use, ad-free, commercial-grade search tool that lets you deliver the results you want
Bing Entity SearchEnrich your experiences by identifying and augmenting entity information from the web
Bing Image SearchSearch for images and get comprehensive results
Bing News SearchSearch for news and get comprehensive results
Bing Spell CheckDetect and correct spelling mistakes in your app
Bing Video SearchSearch for videos and get comprehensive results
Bing Visual SearchGet rich insights to help build compelling image applications on the device of your choice.
Bing Web SearchGet enhanced search details from billions of web documents
Cognitive ServicesAdd smart API capabilities to enable contextual interactions
Computer VisionDistill actionable information from images
Content ModeratorAutomated image, text and video moderation
Custom SpeechOvercome speech recognition barriers like speaking style, background noise and vocabulary
Custom VisionEasily customise your own state-of-the-art computer vision models for your unique use case
Data Science Virtual MachinesRich pre-configured environment for AI development
EmotionPersonalise user experiences with emotion recognition
FaceDetect, identify, analyse, organise, and tag faces in photos
Azure Machine Learning serviceBring AI to everyone with an end-to-end, scalable, trusted platform with experimentation and model management
Machine Learning StudioEasily build, deploy and manage predictive analytics solutions
Microsoft GenomicsPower genome sequencing and research insights
Translator SpeechEasily conduct real-time speech translation with a simple REST API call
Language UnderstandingTeach your apps to understand commands from your users
Linguistic AnalysisSimplify complex language concepts and parse text with the Linguistic Analysis API
QnA MakerDistill information into conversational, easy-to-navigate answers
Speaker RecognitionUse speech to identify and verify individual speakers
Speech TranslationEasily integrate real-time speech translation to your app
Speech to TextThe Speech to Text API is part of Azure Cognitive Services Speech Services
Text AnalyticsEasily evaluate sentiment and topics to understand what users want
Text to SpeechConvert text to speech to create more natural, accessible interfaces
Translator TextEasily conduct machine translation with a simple REST API call
Video IndexerUnlock video insights

Analytics – set of big-data solutions which help you gather, store, process, analyze and visualize data of any variety, volume or velocity, to discover new opportunities and take quick action

Azure DatabricksFast, easy and collaborative Apache Spark-based analytics platform
Stream AnalyticsReal-time data stream processing from millions of IoT devices
SQL Data WarehouseElastic data warehouse as a service with enterprise-class features
HDInsightProvision cloud Hadoop, Spark, R Server, HBase, and Storm clusters
Data FactoryHybrid data integration at enterprise scale, made easy
Data Lake AnalyticsDistributed analytics service which makes big data easy
Event HubsReceive telemetry from millions of devices
Power BI EmbeddedEmbed fully interactive, stunning data visualisations in your applications
Azure Analysis ServicesEnterprise-grade analytics engine as a service
Apache Spark for Azure HDInsightApache Spark in the cloud for mission critical deployments
Apache Storm for HDInsightReal-time stream processing made easy for big data
R Server for HDInsightPredictive analytics, machine learning and statistical modeling for big data
Data CatalogGet more value from your enterprise data assets
Azure Data Lake StorageMassively scalable data lake storage
Azure Data ExplorerFast and highly scalable data exploration service

Compute – Azure compute provides the infrastructure to run your application. Services include Windows and Linux virtual machines, support for hybrid environments, containers, identity solution, and active directory support.

Virtual MachinesProvision Windows and Linux virtual machines in seconds
Virtual Machine Scale SetsManage and scale up to thousands of Linux and Windows virtual machines
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)Simplify the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes
FunctionsProcess events with serverless code
Service FabricDevelop microservices and orchestrate containers on Windows or Linux
App ServiceQuickly create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile
Container InstancesEasily run containers on Azure without managing servers
BatchCloud-scale job scheduling and compute management
Azure Batch AIEasily experiment and train your deep learning and AI models in parallel at scale
SQL Server on Virtual MachinesHost enterprise SQL Server apps in the cloud
Cloud ServicesCreate highly-available, infinitely-scalable cloud applications and APIs
SAP HANA on Azure Large InstancesRun the largest SAP HANA workloads of any hyperscale cloud provider
Web AppsQuickly create and deploy mission critical web apps at scale
Mobile AppsBuild and host the backend for any mobile app
API AppsEasily build and consume Cloud APIs
Linux Virtual MachinesProvision virtual machines for Ubuntu, Red Hat and more
Azure CycleCloudCreate, manage, operate and optimise HPC and big compute clusters of any scale

Containers: Service to build and manage containerized applications. Containers can be deployed using a widely adopted orchestrator or by using a fully managed container platform.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)Simplify the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes
Service FabricDevelop microservices and orchestrate containers on Windows or Linux
App ServiceQuickly create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile
Container InstancesEasily run containers on Azure without managing servers
BatchCloud-scale job scheduling and compute management
Container RegistryStore and manage container images across all types of Azure deployments
Web AppsQuickly create and deploy mission critical web apps at scale
Mobile AppsBuild and host the backend for any mobile app
API AppsEasily build and consume Cloud APIs
Web App for ContainersEasily deploy and run containerised web apps that scale with your business

Databases 

Azure database services are fully managed. Features include built-in security with automatic monitoring and threat detection, automatic tuning for improved performance and turnkey global distribution.

SQL Server on Virtual MachinesHost enterprise SQL Server apps in the cloud
Azure SQL DatabaseManaged relational SQL Database as a service
Azure Cosmos DBGlobally distributed, multi-model database for any scale
SQL Data WarehouseElastic data warehouse as a service with enterprise-class features
Data FactoryHybrid data integration at enterprise scale, made easy
Azure Cache for RedisPower applications with high-throughput, low-latency data access
SQL Server Stretch DatabaseDynamically stretch on-premises SQL Server databases to Azure
Table StorageNoSQL key-value store using semi-structured datasets
Azure Database for PostgreSQLManaged PostgreSQL database service for app developers
Azure Database for MariaDBManaged MariaDB database service for app developers
Azure Database for MySQLManaged MySQL database service for app developers
Azure Database Migration ServiceSimplify on-premises database migration to the cloud

Developer Tools:

Set of development tools designed for developers. Services include a wide range of SDKs, integrated development environments (IDEs) and editors with advanced debugging capabilities and built-in Azure support.

Visual StudioThe powerful and flexible environment for developing applications in the cloud
Visual Studio CodeA powerful, lightweight code editor for cloud development
SDKsGet the SDKs and command-line tools you need
Azure DevOpsServices for teams to share code, track work and ship software
CLIsBuild, deploy, diagnose, and manage multi-platform, scalable apps and services
Azure PipelinesContinuously build, test and deploy to any platform and cloud
Azure Lab ServicesSet up labs for classrooms, trials, development and testing and other scenarios
Azure DevTest LabsQuickly create environments using reusable templates and artifacts
Developer tool integrationsUse the development tools you know—including Eclipse, IntelliJ and Maven—with Azure

DevOps

Services to build, release, test and monitor cloud, and mobile applications.

Azure DevOpsServices for teams to share code, track work and ship software
Azure PipelinesContinuously build, test and deploy to any platform and cloud
Azure BoardsPlan, track and discuss work across your teams
Azure ReposGet unlimited, cloud-hosted private Git repos for your project
Azure ArtifactsCreate, host and share packages with your team
Azure Test PlansTest and ship with confidence with a manual and exploratory testing toolkit
Azure DevTest LabsQuickly create environments using reusable templates and artifacts
DevOps tool integrationsUse your favourite DevOps tools with Azure

Identity and Access Management

Services to protect applications and data. Features include risk based access controls, identity protection tools and authentication options.

Azure Active DirectorySynchronise on-premises directories and enable single sign-on
Azure Information ProtectionBetter protect your sensitive information—anytime, anywhere
Azure Active Directory Domain ServicesJoin Azure virtual machines to a domain without domain controllers
Azure Active Directory B2CConsumer identity and access management in the cloud

Integration

Services to build new, integrated solutions that connect applications and services on-premises and in the cloud

Event GridGet reliable event delivery at massive scale
Logic AppsAutomate the access and use of data across clouds without writing code
API ManagementPublish APIs to developers, partners, and employees securely and at scale
Service BusConnect across private and public cloud environments

Internet of Things

Services that can connect your devices to the cloud using IoT solutions. Helps bring IoT to any device irrespective of its platform and without changing the underlying infrastructure.

FunctionsProcess events with serverless code
Azure IoT HubConnect, monitor and manage billions of IoT assets
Azure IoT EdgeExtend cloud intelligence and analytics to edge devices
Azure IoT CentralExperience the simplicity of SaaS for IoT, with no cloud expertise required
Azure IoT solution acceleratorsCreate fully customisable solutions with templates for common IoT scenarios
Azure SphereSecurely connect MCU-powered devices from the silicon to the cloud
Azure Time Series InsightsExplore and analyse time-series data from IoT devices
Azure MapsSimple and secure location APIs provide geospatial context to data
Event GridGet reliable event delivery at massive scale
Windows 10 IoT Core ServicesLong-term OS support and services to manage device updates and assess device health
Azure Machine Learning serviceBring AI to everyone with an end-to-end, scalable, trusted platform with experimentation and model management
Machine Learning StudioEasily build, deploy and manage predictive analytics solutions
Stream AnalyticsReal-time data stream processing from millions of IoT devices
Logic AppsAutomate the access and use of data across clouds without writing code
Notification HubsSend push notifications to any platform from any back end
Azure Cosmos DBGlobally distributed, multi-model database for any scale
API ManagementPublish APIs to developers, partners, and employees securely and at scale
Azure Digital TwinsBuild next-generation IoT spatial intelligence solutions

Management and Governance

Built-in Azure management and governance tools for system admins and developers to keep resources secure and compliant, both on-premises and in the cloud. Includes infrastructure and application monitoring, provision and configure resources, update apps, analyze threats, backup resources, build disaster recovery, apply policies, automate processes and even manage costs

Azure BackupSimplify data protection and protect against ransomware
Azure Site RecoveryKeep your business running with built-in disaster recovery service
Azure AdvisorYour personalised Azure best practices recommendation engine
SchedulerRun your jobs on simple or complex recurring schedules
AutomationSimplify cloud management with process automation
Traffic ManagerRoute incoming traffic for high performance and availability
Azure MonitorFull observability into your applications, infrastructure and network
Network WatcherNetwork performance monitoring and diagnostics solution
Azure Service HealthPersonalized guidance and support for when issues in Azure services affect you
Microsoft Azure portalBuild, manage, and monitor all Azure products in a single, unified console
Azure Resource ManagerSimplify how you manage your app resources
Cloud ShellStreamline Azure administration with a browser-based shell
Azure Mobile AppStay connected to your Azure resources—anytime, anywhere
Azure PolicyImplement corporate governance and standards at scale for Azure resources
Cost ManagementOptimise what you spend on the cloud, while maximising cloud potential
Azure Managed ApplicationsSimplify management of cloud offerings
Azure MigrateEasily discover, assess, right-size and migrate your on-premises VMs to Azure
Azure BlueprintsEnabling quick, repeatable creation of governed environments

Media

Services to deliver video content.

Media ServicesEncode, store, and stream video and audio at scale
EncodingStudio grade encoding at cloud scale
Live and On-Demand StreamingDeliver content to virtually all devices with scale to meet business needs
Azure Media PlayerA single layer for all your playback needs
Content ProtectionSecurely deliver content using AES, PlayReady, Widevine and Fairplay
Media AnalyticsUncover insights from video files with speech and vision services
Video IndexerUnlock video insights

Migration

Set of tools and resources to migrate apps, data, and infrastructure.

Azure Site RecoveryKeep your business running with built-in disaster recovery service
Cost ManagementOptimise what you spend on the cloud, while maximising cloud potential
Azure Database Migration ServiceSimplify on-premises database migration to the cloud
Azure MigrateEasily discover, assess, right-size and migrate your on-premises VMs to Azure
Data BoxSecure, ruggedised appliance for Azure data transfer

Mobile

Services to build mobile application and back-end services.

App ServiceQuickly create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile
Azure MapsSimple and secure location APIs provide geospatial context to data
Notification HubsSend push notifications to any platform from any back end
Web AppsQuickly create and deploy mission critical web apps at scale
Mobile AppsBuild and host the backend for any mobile app
API AppsEasily build and consume Cloud APIs
Azure Mobile AppStay connected to your Azure resources—anytime, anywhere
Visual Studio App CentreContinuously build, test, release and monitor your apps
XamarinCreate cloud-powered mobile apps faster
Web App for ContainersEasily deploy and run containerised web apps that scale with your business

Networking

Networking services to connect cloud and on-premises infrastructure and services.

Content Delivery NetworkEnsure secure, reliable content delivery with broad global reach
ExpressRouteDedicated private network fiber connections to Azure
Azure DNSHost your DNS domain in Azure
Virtual NetworkProvision private networks, optionally connect to on-premises datacenters
Traffic ManagerRoute incoming traffic for high performance and availability
Load BalancerDeliver high availability and network performance to your applications
VPN GatewayEstablish secure, cross-premises connectivity
Application GatewayBuild secure, scalable and highly available web front ends in Azure
Azure DDoS ProtectionProtect your applications from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
Network WatcherNetwork performance monitoring and diagnostics solution
Azure FirewallNative firewalling capabilities with built-in high availability, unrestricted cloud scalability and zero maintenance
Virtual WANOptimise and automate branch to branch connectivity through Azure
Azure Front Door ServiceScalable, security-enhanced delivery point for global, microservice-based web applications

Security

Built-in security services to protect data, apps, and infrastructure. Unified security management to enable advanced threat protection across hybrid cloud environments.

Azure Active DirectorySynchronise on-premises directories and enable single sign-on
Azure Information ProtectionBetter protect your sensitive information—anytime, anywhere
Azure Active Directory Domain ServicesJoin Azure virtual machines to a domain without domain controllers
Key VaultSafeguard and maintain control of keys and other secrets
Security CenterUnify security management and enable advanced threat protection across hybrid cloud workloads
Azure Dedicated HSMManage hardware security modules that you use in the cloud
VPN GatewayEstablish secure, cross-premises connectivity
Application GatewayBuild secure, scalable and highly available web front ends in Azure
Azure DDoS ProtectionProtect your applications from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

Storage

Scalable Azure cloud storage services

StorageDurable, highly available and massively scalable cloud storage
Azure BackupSimplify data protection and protect against ransomware
StorSimpleLower costs with an enterprise hybrid cloud storage solution
Azure Data Lake StorageMassively scalable data lake storage
Blob StorageREST-based object storage for unstructured data
Disk StoragePersistent, secured disk options supporting virtual machines
Managed DisksPersistent, secured disk storage for Azure virtual machines
Queue StorageEffectively scale apps according to traffic
File StorageFile shares that use the standard SMB 3.0 protocol
Data BoxSecure, ruggedised appliance for Azure data transfer
Avere vFXT for AzureRun high-performance, file-based workloads in the cloud
Storage ExplorerView and interact with Azure Storage resources
Archive StorageIndustry leading price point for storing rarely accessed data
Azure NetApp FilesPowerful, hybrid network file system (NFS) file shares

Web

Services to build, deploy, and scale web applications.

App ServiceQuickly create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile
Content Delivery NetworkEnsure secure, reliable content delivery with broad global reach
Azure SearchFully-managed search-as-a-service
Notification HubsSend push notifications to any platform from any back end
API ManagementPublish APIs to developers, partners, and employees securely and at scale
Web AppsQuickly create and deploy mission critical web apps at scale
Mobile AppsBuild and host the backend for any mobile app
API AppsEasily build and consume Cloud APIs
Web App for ContainersEasily deploy and run containerised web apps that scale with your business
Azure SignalR ServiceAdd real-time web functionalities easily

As of January 11, 2019, total number of unique services offered by Microsoft Azure is 161