#Microsoft365 – Seeing as we’re going alphabetical – Azure is up first. Which is also the most difficult for me. But that’s how we learn right? So let’s do this. What is Azure and what is it used for?

Just as there are different variations of the colour azure, there would be definitions or explanations as to what it is, and how to use it.

I hit up a Skype call with a good buddy of mine Johan Myburgh to see if his explanation lined up with my (non-technical) idea around what Azure is. It was, and he showed me a lot of cool stuff as well, thanks for the time Johan 🙂

So Azure is a bit scary to me. Not often that I take my rose tinted sunglasses off to peak into the dark world of the Matrix, but here we go.

Before diving into Azure (haha – that’s funny – as in the ocean), we need to talk about Cloud Computing, PaaS, SaaS and IaaS. I will be referencing or quoting information as is from the Microsoft Azure site, then try to make sense of it in my way.

Cloud Computing:

Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”).  Read more

Here are a few of the things you can do with the cloud:

  • Create new apps and services
  • Store, back up and recover data
  • Host websites and blogs
  • Stream audio and video
  • Deliver software on demand
  • Analyse data for patterns and make predictions


That’s right. It’s still a computer (server) – it’s just not yours.

Top benefits of cloud computing:

  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Global Scale
  • Productivity
  • Performance
  • Reliability

Types of cloud services:

Most cloud computing services fall into three broad categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (Saas).

What is cloud computing? – A beginner’s guide

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)

The most basic category of cloud computing services. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure—servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems—from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. To learn more, see What is IaaS?

Platform as a service (PaaS)

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications. PaaS is designed to make it easier for developers to quickly create web or mobile apps, without worrying about setting up or managing the underlying infrastructure of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development. To learn more, see What is PaaS?

Software as a service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually with a web browser on their phone, tablet or PC. To learn more, see What is SaaS?

How do I understand this? I draw pictures to make sense of things – so this is how I see it:

Imagine you need to throw a party. Once-off, big bash. And you don’t need to buy or build the entire house. You ‘design’ what you need – area, size, decor – spin it up and VOILA. After the party – you shut it down. Spin it up again in future when you need it and only pay for it when you use it. Pretty awesome right?

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services which developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy and manage applications through our global network of datacentres. With Azure, you get the freedom to build and deploy wherever you want, using the tools, applications and frameworks of your choice. Read more.

Getting Started:

If you have a paid subscription to Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite, or other Microsoft services, you have a free subscription to Azure AD, simply go to https://portal.azure.com and log in with your Office 365 account.

If not:

Create your free Azure account today

  • Start free with $200 in credit, and keep going with free options.
  • Explore our cloud by trying out any combination of Azure services for 30 days.

Calculator for cost estimates:

Microsoft Azure Pricing calculator

  • Price and configure Azure features for your scenarios

Portal Overview

Please don’t be mad if I don’t go through each menu item or component. I’m sure that’ll be an Azure 365 Days challenge on its own 🙂

Here’s a great overview to get you started.

Business Case:

Now let’s imagine deploying SharePoint 2013. I’ve never done that – but I’ve been on enough projects to know it’s hard work and involves a lot of swearing. I came across this blog on the Collab365 Community Site which gave me some great insights as to HOW MUCH WORK that really is. Each of those steps being a blog on its own. Apart from all this effort you need to also add in the costs around physical or virtual servers.

SharePoint 2013 Installation Series:

  • Part 1 – Step by step Installation of Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Part 2 – Step by step installation of Active Directory Domain Services in Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Part 3 – Step by step installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 R2 on Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Part 4 – Install and troubleshoot Online/Offline prerequisites issues for SharePoint 2013
  • Part 5 – Step by step installation of SharePoint 2013 with Sql Server 2012 on Windows Server 2012 R2

I’m really glad I stuck around long enough to NOT need to learn how to install or configure servers / products / services. I can setup a SharePoint environment in literally minutes using Azure. Me?! True story. AND I’ll only pay for it when I use it.

I’ve only looked at SharePoint, now consider the thousands of items from Microsoft and other vendors that can be purchased and/or provisioned. Mind Blown.

That’s as far as I’m prepared to go on Azure. I’m pretty close to putting my foot in my mouth. For those (like me) who don’t play in these environments each day – I hope this helped in getting you to a point where you understand what it’s all about. I have to admit I’m pretty excited about getting to know Azure better. Particularly as I need a SharePoint 2016 environment and I would like to create a BOT or two.

Purpose of this blog challenge:

I will write 365 blogs over the next 365 days around Microsoft 365. I did a similar challenge with Office 365, blogs can be found here. I won’t just be talking about the new Microsoft 365 subscription model. I will be sharing any news, tips and tricks around Office / Office 365 / Windows / Mobility and Security. And let’s not forget all the great new Apps & services available.  A lot of what I’ll share on Office and SharePoint will also be applicable to none “Office 365” versions.

Feel free to #AskBraam if you have questions or would like me to write about a specific topic. I’ve created a Flow to monitor Twitter for the #AskBraam hashtag and will try my best to incorporate any questions into the blogs, or answer them directly on Twitter. This is a “Learning through Sharing” approach to teach my pet sheep about Microsoft – read more on this here.