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10 Things You Didn't Know About Microsoft Azure

Peter Niebler
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Surprising Secrets of This Public Cloud Service

As Microsoft’s public cloud, Azure provides unlimited, on-demand compute, storage, networking, and software-as-a-service from anywhere in the world. You probably knew that already. But there’s a lot more to Azure that you might not know.

1. Many services are available for free

For example, Azure Security Metrics is included with your Azure subscription.

Azure Sentinel is a security information and event management system. Sentinel’s advanced AI and security analytics help you quickly detect, prevent, and respond to threats across your entire enterprise. The system is currently in beta testing – and that’s good news for you. Why? Sentinel is FREE while it’s in beta.

Want to play around with Azure a bit? See what it can do? Enter your credit card number and you’ll receive $100 of Azure credits for free to test out Azure.

Finally, if you bring us at Elevity an interesting cloud project, we can typically get your first 2 months or up to $3K free to do a proof-of-concept for your project. That lets you see what it’d be like to run a given workload or system in Azure.

2. Azure datacenters are some of the most advanced in the world

The technology and design are so state-of-the-art that Microsoft keeps its Azure datacenters very secure. You won’t find their physical addresses listed anywhere. You have to sign a bunch of non-disclosure agreements to even get a facility tour.

The datacenters are massive facilities built for incredible scale. And here’s an interesting factoid: many of the products that go into big public cloud systems like Azure are made right here in Wisconsin.

3. Microsoft is testing Azure datacenters in the ocean

Yes, in the actual ocean. Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has been running a datacenter in a capsule on the ocean floor. Doing so has a number of benefits.

The datacenter’s temperature is regulated by seawater – which is more efficient and less expensive than air cooling. The motion of ocean waves powers the data center to make it even more energy efficient.

The idea is to have a main datacenter deep on the ocean floor and then smaller datacenter pods right off the coasts so more datacenters are closer to where the data is actually needed. Also, datacenter capsules could be placed in international waters where there are fewer regulations and challenges to deal with.

4. There are different Azure data centers for government customers

Federal, state, and local governments have the option to be in the normal commercial Azure cloud OR in the Azure Government Cloud. The Government Cloud provides different levels of protection and covers different regulations vs. the commercial cloud.

Elevity can get you set up in either cloud. If you are a state/local government thinking about using Office 365 or Azure – or you’re a service provider to the federal government – we can help you make sure you’re getting your data in the right part of Azure and Office 365.

5. You can run Azure Migrate for free

Before moving to Azure, it’s important to know how your on-premise workloads will run in the cloud. That’s where Azure Migrate comes in. It’s a tool Elevity runs on your VMware servers for a day, a week, a month, or several months. When complete, it gives the exact size of what it’ll take to run your on-premise workloads in the Azure cloud. Very handy information to have when planning a migration.

6. Azure is the name for hundreds of services available within Microsoft’s public cloud

The name “Azure” covers all of the offerings within the Microsoft cloud: Kubernetes, containers, Active Directory, virtual machines, storage, backup, and more. These offerings can all be purchased on-demand.

7. Reserved instances save you big money

A reserved instance is a commitment to run a given virtual machine in Azure for 1 year or 3 years. By choosing a reserved instance and pre-paying for it, you can get 20-30% off what you would otherwise pay.

8. Most of what runs in Azure isn’t Windows … but Linux!

The most popular operating system in the Microsoft public cloud actually isn’t Windows, but Linux.

When Satya Nadella came on as the new Microsoft CEO, he fundamentally changed the company’s position on open source. Microsoft is investing in the Linux community, showing up at Linux events, and reaching out to Linux developers to show that Azure is a great platform no matter what operating system you run.

For our part, Elevity has helped people move Linux operating systems like CentOS and Red Hat OS onto Azure. Linux runs very efficiently and there’s a real license savings to using an open source OS over a Windows OS, even in the cloud.

9. Get extended support on your old servers by moving them to Azure

Are you still running old Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2? These versions went end-of-life in January 2020. If you've left those servers on-premise after that date, they are no longer supported or receive vital security patches.

However, if you move those virtual machines (with Elevity’s help) to the Azure public cloud, you’ll receive extended support. This is a key advantage to migrating to Azure vs. other cloud providers – your VMs can get more security updates, patches, and support for a longer period of time.

10. You don’t have to purchase Windows licensing again when you move to Azure …

… if you have software assurance. If you own Microsoft Windows Server and you have software assurance on your Windows licensing, you don’t need to buy that licensing again when you move a VM to Azure. Your purchase of Windows Server with software assurance will transfer. That can substantially reduce the cost of your VM in Azure.

Elevity can sell you the license that gives you software assurance and then you buy the Azure compute. Doing it this way costs you less money than if you just went to Azure and purchased the VM based on the Windows OS.

Both options have the same net effect (a Windows Server running in Azure). But how you go about buying everything can save you a bundle. Buying licensing with software assurance plus using reserved instances (see #7) could save you 70% over just running a VM in Azure.


It’s insider tips and tricks like this that make Elevity a smart cloud partner for your business. We know the secrets of optimizing how you purchase cloud. At the end of the day, we’re here to help you feel connected to your technology by demystifying and translating it for you.

Let us help you make the move to the cloud – visit our Cloud Services page or contact us.

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