Everyone knows that a building is only as strong as its foundation. That's true for businesses as well — and sometimes the platform you choose to build on is the single most important choice you can make.
Case in point: As businesses increasingly pursue digital transformation and migration to the cloud, one crucial factor that can set them up for success or failure is whether their cloud platform has the flexibility, reliability and capacity to support their needs.
For a lot of reasons, Microsoft's Azure sets the standard to beat, because it excels in all the areas mentioned above and more. And the benefits Azure delivers don't just come in terms of convenience and peace of mind — they directly affect the bottom line.
A 2022 IDC study assessing the impact for Microsoft customers of migrating, modernizing and running SQL Server and Windows Server workloads found that customers not only reduce costs through migration and modernization, they also generate more value through running these workloads on Azure — with IDC projecting that the study's participants will achieve benefits worth an annual average of $15.85 million per organization.
With that in mind, here are eight ways that Azure delivers value.
1. Azure Delivers Unbeatable Services and Compatibility
Let's start with the diversity and versatility of the services that Azure makes possible.
Microsoft's cloud computing platform offers you a head-spinning array of more than 600 useful and in some cases transformational services — a list that includes virtual machines, web services, storage, data management, messaging, media services, content delivery networks, task automation, machine learning and AI, blockchain integration, IoT services, and even ground station service for satellite data with Azure Orbital.
Azure's optimal compatibility with Microsoft products is worth factoring in, as well.
For example, if you're planning on deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365, Azure is the ideal host because D365 was built on Azure — which means that D365 has a kind of home playing-field advantage when it's running on Azure. The Azure-D365 combination allows for quicker and easier implementation, too.
2. Azure Delivers Operational Cost Savings
In addition to the cost savings from not having to purchase and maintain hardware, there are lower staff dependencies, as well — with fewer highly skilled IT team members than are needed to run on-premise systems. This benefit can be doubly valuable during times when there are shortages of talented candidates for IT roles.
IDC's study participants reported that their Microsoft Azure environments generally required less staff time to maintain and manage. Customers saw efficiencies resulting from automated patching, updates and configuration, as well as having a more consolidated cloud environment.
When IDC assessed the impact for Microsoft customers of migrating, modernizing and running SQL Server and Windows Server workloads in the Microsoft Azure cloud, it found that:
- On average, Microsoft customers will achieve a three-year ROI of 406%, with an average payback period of 12 months.
- Three-year operational costs are likely to be 40% lower with Azure over three years to deploy and run equivalent SQL Server and Windows Server workloads — equivalent to saving $106,100 per 100 users over that time period.
- Annualized infrastructure costs can drop by 27% with Azure, as businesses using Azure can run equivalent workloads at a lower cost, thereby saving almost $815,000 per organization per year.
It's not just the cost savings — it's the increased business results, including revenue and productivity to boot. IDC's study also found that having a modern, high-performing infrastructure gave businesses enhanced flexibility in terms of delivering innovative functionality and services to their customers. That allowed them to do a better job of responding in a timely manner to customer needs.
- The upshot: IDC found that study participants running Azure were likely to see projected revenue gains of $65.63 million per year on average, reflecting a substantial positive impact on their businesses.
- That includes an increased net revenue of $9.84 million, annually — alongside the benefits of greater scalability, performance, timeliness and innovation.
Improved performance and reliability is another of Azure's highest virtues. Azure customers interviewed by IDC reported:
- 67% fewer unplanned outages per year
- 73% percent fewer hours of productive time lost per year
- Reduced loss of productivity time with a value of $198,600 saved per year thanks to Azure
5. Azure Delivers Serious Security Benefits
Cybersecurity is rightfully top of mind for enterprises these days, and one of the great benefits of opting for Azure is the peace of mind it delivers on the security front. Azure brings you multilayered, built-in security controls along with unique intelligence to help identify and protect against rapidly evolving threats.
Additionally, Microsoft's commitment to security includes a team of more than 3,500 global cybersecurity experts who work together to help safeguard your business assets and data in Azure.
Azure users told IDC that they felt Azure had improved their security overall, citing Azure's automatic patches as a huge help in keeping their systems secure and praising Azure's firewall VPN as superior to what they'd have access to on their own.
Participants also told IDC:
- Their security teams were 43% more efficient with Azure.
- Time to identify potential security threats was reduced by 30% with Azure.
- Security breaches were resolved 29% faster with Azure.
- Overall risk related to security breaches was reduced by 16% with Azure.
6. Azure Delivers Greater Agility and Faster Development Life Cycles
Many organizations report that Azure has helped them become more agile and flexible, with the ability to increase capacity to improve performance as needed. They can avoid planning and procurement cycles, with additional resources and capacity available on demand.
Study participants told IDC that:
- On average, the time frame for obtaining new capacity was reduced by 87%, going from almost three days to just over three hours.
- The amount of staff time required to deliver new capacity was reduced by 83% on average, going from almost one full day’s staff time to just over one hour.
This increased agility empowers development teams to innovate more rapidly, because they can easily access the resources they need to test and deploy new applications and features. That in turn helps to streamline development processes.
- Study participants reported that they can deliver new SQL- and Windows Server–related applications an average of 45% faster and new features 31% faster.
- The impact on development team productivity is substantial, with an average productivity gain of 28% for businesses using Azure.
One of the most important trends for enterprises is the adoption of low-code software, because of the way it empowers employees with minimal tech skills to perform previously out-of-reach tasks like building apps, automating workflows and even creating intelligent chatbots. The payoffs of low-code software include boosted productivity and morale, as these new capabilities allow team members to expand their skills and accomplish more of their goals.
Azure puts some of the most powerful and popular low-code solutions within your reach: namely, Microsoft's Power Platform tools, which are built to run on Azure. With Azure you'll be able to tap into the capabilities of:
- Power BI, which allows you to capture and analyze realtime data and visualize it in customized dashboards that deliver valuable insights
- Power Apps, which make it possible to quickly build professional-grade apps, and create automated workflows
- Power Automate, which enable you to automate tasks using robotic process automation (RPA) and digital process automation (DPA)
- Power Virtual Agents, which make it easy to build intelligent chatbots that engage conversationally with your customers and employees. No coding or AI expertise necessary!
8. Azure Delivers Dependable Support for Hybrid Cloud and Mixed-Workload Environments
Azure's adaptability to a wide range of setups is one of its strongest selling points. Here are two examples.
With Azure, the cloud isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. For a variety of reasons, many enterprises find themselves running a hybrid mix of both cloud and on-premise systems — and Azure excels at supporting the needs of those customers.
For customers who run their workloads on mixed environments that include non-Microsoft applications, including Linux and open-source workloads, Microsoft Azure doesn't miss a beat. In fact, a 2020 survey by IDC found that more than 9 out of 10 customers running their workloads in mixed environments said that Azure supported both their Microsoft and non-Microsoft workloads very well.
Want to learn more about how Columbus can help your organization identify and implement the right systems for your organization? Get in touch with us today.