What is Microsoft Azure and how can it benefit my charity?

Microsoft Azure is a collection of various cloud computing services, including remotely hosted and managed versions of proprietary Microsoft and open source technologies.

Azure is an option for organisations transitioning from on-premises Windows servers to the cloud.

 

Why do charities use Azure?

Traditionally, businesses or charities would host their own infrastructure. An organisation would have its own web, email servers on its own hardware. If more power was needed, the organisation would have to purchase more server hardware.

The cloud allows you to host web servers, email servers, databases, file storage servers, virtual machines, user directories, or anything else you might want without the overhead of owning your own hardware or renting space in a data centre.

 

What can Microsoft Azure Do?

Microsoft maintains a growing directory of Azure services, with more being added all the time. All the elements necessary to build a virtual network and deliver services or applications to a global audience are available, including:

 

Virtual machines

With Azure, you can create Microsoft or Linux virtual machines from a wide selection of marketplace templates or from your own custom machine images.

 

SQL databases

Azure offers managed SQL relational databases, from one to an unlimited number, as a service. This saves you overhead and expenses on hardware, software, and the need for in-house expertise.

 

Azure Active Directory Domain services

Built on the same technology as Windows Active Directory, this service for Azure lets you remotely manage group policy, authentication, and everything else. This makes moving and existing security structure partially or totally to the cloud as easy as a few clicks.

 

Application services

With Azure it’s easy to create and globally deploy applications that are compatible on all popular web and portable platforms.

Azure WebApps and the Azure Marketplace makes it simple to manage production, testing and deployment of web applications. Prebuilt APIs for popular cloud services like Office 365, Salesforce and more greatly accelerate development.

 

Visual Studio team services

Visual Studio team services offer a complete application lifecycle management solution in the Microsoft cloud. Developers are able to share and track changes in code, perform testing and deliver apps from wherever they are located.

 

Storage

Microsoft’s global infrastructure provides safe, highly accessible data storage.

How can my charity get Azure?

Go here for more information on Microsoft Azure for Nonprofits, including how to obtain it.

Charities can benefit from donated Azure credits under the ‘Azure for Nonprofits’ programme, but the offer has been upgraded – our recent blog post explains some of the recent changes to this programme and what charities can now get.