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What is Azure?

And how can I get my hands on it?

Cloud Computing is all the rage today, and rightfully so. Businesses are readily adopting this innovative way to compute over the Internet. But before you get ahead of yourself, there are hundreds of questions you should ask before journeying into the Cloud. For starters, what is driving this initiative? How are you preparing? How are you going to control it? And most important, what is it?

There is considerably more excitement about the Cloud than understanding. Tangible, like its namesake, the Cloud can actually be whatever you need it to be. It’s simply another way to access your system, and really no different than traditional hosting. Picture your desktop. There is a typically a tower, monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Now put that tower in another building and place a wireless send/receive waypoint at either end of the cables. That’s cloud computing. And this brings me to Azure—Microsoft’s strategy for cloud computing. Azure helps you move faster, do more, and save money. And that’s just beginning to scratch the surface.

Microsoft Azure delivers an open and flexible cloud platform so you can quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. This wasn’t always the case. Previously, you had to buy directly from Microsoft (where you were on your own for support) or use their Enterprise program (where you had to pay a hefty amount for lifecycle services with a partner). The minimum cost for a Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) Enterprise add-on agreement is $2,100 per month. For a mid-market IT department looking to host a few servers and services, this is a huge price tag. We pleaded with Microsoft to release an Azure pricing structure through the Open program. And guess what? Microsoft listened.

In August, the Open program included Azure pricing. Finally, small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of both the low entry cost of a direct purchase and the lifecycle services with a partner. Sold as a $100 consumable credit—good for any consumable service via Azure—pricing starts as low as you want and can scale to the size you need. And because of the way these services are now priced through Open, the licensing just became incredibly easy. Your PC Connection, Inc. team can help you calculate only those services you want. No more unwanted headaches from fishing through sku’s, because there is only one. I’m looking at you Office 365! Put Azure services into your cart and simply press submit. This new Azure sales structure is a model I hope all online subscription services soon follow. Now, if only the next cloud to float by was spelled DaaS…in the meantime, be sure to check out Azure!

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