As Microsoft certified Azure partners, we want to provide the answers to your Azure questions before you need to ask them. Here we’ve listed the questions we are often asked by our own customers in the hope that they can help you better acquaint yourself with the platform.

Though if you happen to not see your specific Azure question listed here, please feel free to reach out! We would be happy to provide you with the answer you need.

FAQ

What is Azure?

Azure is a public cloud offering from Microsoft, which can be used to host and build your business’ datacenter.

For more info on what Azure is and how it works, visit our Azure Uses pages.

How does Azure help small businesses?

Utilizing Azure allows small businesses to remove server maintenance as a capital expense from their budgets, and move towards a favorable operational expense model. Overall, the monthly subscription of  Azure hosting costs far less than managing and upgrading physical hardware, allowing you to grow your business.

For more information on how your particular business can utilize Azure to meet it’s goals, take a look at our page on Azure’s many uses.

What do my end users have to gain from using Azure?

Since Azure hosts your data in the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere on any device, so long as an internet connection is present. This availability offers your users a great deal of flexibility when interacting with your servers, facilitating easy access from users at remote locations.

Is there a way to demo Azure?

Unfortunately, because interfacing with Azure is nearly the same as on a physical server, Microsoft does not offer a true try-before-you-buy option for the platform. However, signing up for Azure grants $200 worth of credits which can be used to set up a sample cloud server environment.

Can I host email in Azure?

While possible, hosting email in Azure is a more challenging solution than those available. For cloud based email, we recommend integrating Microsoft Office 365 into your operations.

To learn more about Office 365 and Exchange Online, click here.

What is Azure ExpressRoute?

Azure ExpressRoute is an Azure add-on service designed to add an extra layer of reliability and security to your cloud server. ExpressRoute connects your on-premises infrastructure to the Azure cloud over a private connection that bypasses public internet, resulting in faster connections to their data without the risk of third party access.

This service allows you to extend your existing data center to the cloud while keeping your hosting within your own network. Connection through Azure ExpressRoute is ideal for hybrid cloud services, such as data backup and disaster recovery.

What is a hybrid-cloud?

A hybrid-cloud is an environment which incorporates both physical and cloud servers into itself. The implementation of a hybrid-cloud plan configures a connection between the two so that they can communicate with one another and share information.

Many businesses choose to implement hybrid plans because it grants the benefits of both on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

What are the limitations of Azure?

Azure does come with a set of built-in caps to the amount of resources you can use within your Azure cloud. These limitations are far outside the reach of even the largest of companies however, and would not be much of a concern for a smaller company looking to integrate Azure infrastructure into their operations.

Microsoft limits the amount of processing cores your cloud server may have to 10,000. For reference, the typical on-premises server of an SMB has around 16 cores.

Where is my data, really?

The Microsoft Azure cloud is hosted across a global network of datacenters, each servicing particular regions. These facilities are climate controlled and guarded by a 24/7 security staff.

To maximize server performance, your data is hosted within your closest Azure datacenter. For example, if you are a New Jersey based company using Azure, your data is hosted at a datacenter in Virginia.

For added redundancy, you can also choose to have a replication of your data hosted +250 miles away. In the case of the example above, this second datacenter would be located in Illinois.

PaaS, IaaS, DRaaS, etc, what do all these acronyms mean?

Each of these acronyms stands for a particular use of Microsoft Azure.

  • PaaS – Platform as a Service – PaaS can be thought of as a space for your business to build its resources. This can refer to applications and databases.
  • IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS can be thought of as a place for your business to host its resources. A file server, for example, can be hosted within Azure without having to be built from the ground up.
  • DRaaS – Disaster Recovery as a Service – Azure offers site recovery services which allow your resources to be brought up and running in the cloud should they be disrupted on-premises.
  • SaaS – Software as a Service – any particular service that adds a specific function or utility to an organization can be thought of as a Software Service. SaaS does not full under Azure’s uses, however, Microsoft Office 365 can provide added business utility in the cloud.

Who can access my data?

You and only you. Microsoft has a strong commitment to protecting the privacy of those who use their data centers. When you host data in the cloud it is encrypted, so access to it remains with you. Even Microsoft themselves and a partner company such as Metro CSG cannot see the information you host.

A warrant must be issued by the government in order for this information to be given up. In all other circumstances your data privacy is protected.

Is Azure compliant with my industry's standards?

While Azure has been independently verified for compliance with a number of different privacy standards, it ultimately falls to you to ensure that your Azure cloud is compliant with your own specific regulations. As your partner, Metro CSG can help determine whether or not Azure provides the level of data privacy you need.

Notable regulatory standards which have been verified include:

  • HIPAA
  • FERPA
  • FISMA
  • FedRAMP
  • Level 1 PCI DSS v. 3

What is this site?

Super Azure was created by Metro CSG as a means to help small businesses learn how Microsoft Azure can help them to grow. We found that educational material on the cloud platform was somewhat scarce, so we wanted to get it all into one place that was easy for anyone to understand.

Who is Metro CSG?

Metro CSG is a cloud-focused Microsoft Partner located in the New York metro area. We’ve been around just as long as the Microsoft cloud has been publicly available; it’s our bread and butter! Our silver Cloud Platform competency recognizes us for outstanding Azure services and support.

As a company of cloud experts, we pride ourselves in the level of comfort we provide businesses when facing a cloud migration. Metro CSG can act as your Azure partner of record, and provide consultation and assistance for your migration to Azure. We even provide Azure support service to remove the technical burden of cloud management from your business.

How much does Azure cost?

Pricing for Azure takes many different factors into account, and varies from company to company. Azure pricing calculators available online can generate a rough estimate of what you may be paying, but these tools may not be accurate unless you know every detail of your infrastructure needs.

For businesses looking for Azure pricing estimates and general Azure pricing information, Metro CSG can provide accurate cost analysis for the solution you have in mind.

How does Azure's pricing system work?

Microsoft offers two methods of paying for Azure services:

  • “Pay-as-You-Go” – You sign up for Azure with your credit card and you are billed for your overall cloud use for the month.
  • “Azure on Open” – As an Azure partner, Metro CSG can pre-purchase Azure credits for your organization’s use, and then send you a monthly invoice to better help you keep track of your expenses.

What does an Azure Partner do?

Azure partners are specialized IT companies that help businesses get set up with the Azure cloud.

Partners can provide a number of different cloud solutions related to the platform, such as Azure migration services (server replacement) and configuring on-premises servers for hybrid connection with the cloud (data backup & disaster recovery).

Metro CSG is just such an Azure partner, and can help you find the cloud solution that is right for your business. As a Silver certified Azure experts our company is among the ranks of just 0.02% of all Microsoft partners, recognized by Microsoft for exceptional services with the platform.

In addition to Azure deployment services, we can also provide Azure support services to help you manage your cloud.

Does Azure come with support?

Microsoft only provides support for enterprise users at this time. Responses typically have a turnaround of about 4 hours.

As an add-on service, Metro CSG can provide Azure support services to small and midsize business users at $50 per user per month. Under one of our Azure support plans, requests have a turnaround within 15 minutes.

How do I move my __________ into Azure?

So you may have decided that Azure is where you want to host your website, file server or database. But how do you get it there? First, your current infrastructure must be tested for Azure readiness and configured with a cloud connection. Once a connection is established, your resources are synchronized and copied over into the cloud. If done correctly, this data is seamlessly transferred without impacting your overall operations.

As a service, Metro CSG provides cloud migration services for businesses looking to implement an Azure plan. Visit our Services page for more information on our services or contact us today for pricing details.

What is a Virtual Machine?

A Virtual Machine (VM) is an instance of a particular computer system running within a larger computer environment, such as a server. In any given server system with VMs, you may have multiple operating systems running alongside one another.

An easy way to think of this would be to picture the ways different programs run alongside each other on a desktop without interacting (Web Browser, Music Player, Computer Game, etc.), then imagine that each of these individual programs are entire operating systems operating independent of one another on the same hardware.

For example, in an Azure cloud server with several VMs, you may have some Windows desktops computers, a file server, and a database all running as if they were on their own physical drive.

What is the benefit of a Virtual Machine?

When dividing up your server into separate virtual machines, you can allot a set amount of resources that each is allowed to use (CPU, RAM, storage space, etc.) This prevents any one process on your server from hogging too many resources at once and decreasing your overall performance. Overall, virtual machines optimize your server and help you make best use of the resources you have available.

When is on-premises infrastructure a more desirable option?

Despite the numerous benefits Microsoft Azure, there are still a select set of circumstances where in-house hosting is preferable:

  • You are an organization that requires complete control over your data and its handling by your own staff.
  • You are required to host your data within your own country and their is no Azure data center located in your region (non-US users only).

Can move my legacy application into the cloud?

The migration of legacy applications into the cloud is somewhat of a grey area, as there is no outright yes or no answer. Whether or not any given app can function properly is something that must be determined on a case by case basis. Metro CSG provides services to help determine whether or not a particular application can be migrated.

Despite this, there are a few traits that can clue you in as to whether or not you can migrate. If your app is bound to your IP address by a license, for example, you will not be able to move it into the cloud because an IP address cannot be transferred to Azure. Furthermore, an older or more complex app will likely have functionality issues in the cloud as well.

In such cases there are several workarounds. One way to go is to have your legacy applications system rewritten with simpler coding to optimize it for the cloud. This can prove to be fairly time consuming and expensive, however, and can derail a plan to migrate.

Metro CSG recommends finding an alternative application to use that is cloud ready or developing a hybrid cloud solution that will allow you to keep your application in-house while migrating other resources into the cloud.

How do I access my data in Azure?

Similar to modern on-premises servers, your Azure data is accessed by “remoting in” via a downloadable desktop viewer which acts as the console an older server may come attached with. Azure Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) allow you to see your server’s inner workings from any computer from anywhere in the world.