6 Minute Read

Your Essential Guide to Microsoft Azure for Data Platforms

When you read that 94% of businesses worldwide use cloud computing, you wonder what the other 6% are doing. Something must be stopping them. After all, the benefits of the cloud are indisputable.

The cloud market is dominated by the big three: AWS, GCP and Microsoft Azure. We compared them in a previous blog, but now it’s time to say why we believe Azure might be a better business option.

In this blog, we’ll provide a recap of Azure and an update on its performance in the cloud market. We’ll explain why Azure is a great choice for Modern Data Platforms, whose development has become a priority for many organisations. Once that’s done, we’ll touch on key Azure services, its AI developments, including Copilot, and how Azure generally prices services.


Let’s begin.


What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, providing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) offerings. Azure comprises over 200 products and cloud services, including computing, storage, and networking. It also allows customers to build, run and manage applications across multiple clouds, on-premises, and at the edge, using their preferred tools and frameworks.


Who is using Azure?

Azure has customers in the healthcare, financial services, government, retail, and manufacturing industries. Its services carry over 100 compliance certifications, giving customers peace of mind in a world with growing data regulations. Plus, Azure’s security continues to evolve, with Microsoft investing $1 billion a year to maintain its cyber defences.

Of the Fortune 500 companies, 95% use Azure for cloud services. With revenues increasing by 30% in the fourth quarter of 2023, Azure has been growing faster than AWS. Moreover, it could be the cloud industry leader by 2026 based on current trends.


Why Companies Opt For Azure

Businesses choose Azure because it allows them to adopt cloud computing confidently and at their own pace to align with their budgets. Azure provides:

  • Trust – In addition to comprehensive compliance coverage, customers gain multi-layered defences for their cloud data. Azure clarifies that customers own their data and can be confident about where it’s stored.
  • Hybrid compatibility – Companies can easily connect their on-premises infrastructures to Azure. Moreover, they can integrate Azure workloads with other cloud and edge solutions and manage these multicloud environments with their Azure tools.
  • Your cloud terms – Azure allows customers to develop cloud infrastructures using all languages, including open source and frameworks. They also gain unlimited scale for their application to support business developments over time, and offer a no-code solution which makes it easily accessible for non-technical users.
  • Future-ready – Microsoft is developing Azure fast, aligning with rapid developments in AI. The company has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI, which created ChatGPT, to make use of OpenAI’s expertise to strengthen Azure’s own AI services.


Is Azure a good choice for data platforms?

Data platforms are increasingly at the heart of business strategies for driving expansion. A growing number of organisations recognise that being data-driven is vital to success. As Forbes describes, data-driven companies are 23 times more likely to top their competitors in customer acquisition and are about 19 times more likely to stay profitable.

However, developing modern data platforms requires experience and expertise. Often, companies lack the skillsets to create these sophisticated platforms, or IT doesn’t have the resources and time to complete such mission-critical projects.


The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platforms

Microsoft is simplifying things by offering an Azure-based modern data platform solution to meet the needs of all companies. Called the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, this one-stop solution provides the databases, analytics, AI, and data governance companies require to build a cutting-edge modern data platform infrastructure.

Businesses like NETZSCH Group in Germany, which manufactures grinders and thermal analysis instruments, have adopted the data platform solution. The company gained a single source of truth out-of-the-box to open new growth revenues by adopting the platform, which is underpinned by Azure cloud services, including Azure AI and Machine Learning, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI.

Other examples include Portuguese energy provider EDP, which is using the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform to identify the best places to install aerial power lines and electric chargers on public roads. Its Azure-based data platform is fed by a data lake with more than one petabyte of data connected to 60 apps.


An Azure-powered Intelligent Data Platform

The Azure services that support the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform fall under four main categories: databases, analytics, AI and ML and data governance:


  • Azure SQL – A fully managed SQL database to power even the most resource-intensive apps and to support mission-critical workloads in the cloud. It scales rapidly and offers intelligent query processing to improve performance.
  • Azure Synapse Link for SQL – This enables near real-time analytics over operational data in an Azure SQL database. It’s an automated system for replicating data from transactional databases into a dedicated SQL pool for analytics.
  • Azure Arc-enabled data services – It extends Azure capabilities across multicloud, on-premises and edge environments. Users can unify, govern and secure their databases to optimise resiliency, performance and costs.



  • Azure Synapse Analytics – An enterprise analytics service, it accelerates time to insight across data warehouses and big data systems. The Synapse Studio gives data engineers, administrators and scientists a unified experience, making it quicker and easier to complete tasks.
  • Microsoft Fabric – This all-in-one AI-powered analytics solution simplifies analytics for enterprises. A software-as-a-service offering, it seamlessly integrates data and analytics services to reduce costs for business insights.
  • Azure Databricks – Like Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Databricks unlocks business insights and is set up for open-source Apache Spark environments. It excels in diverse data processing needs when openness and flexibility are crucial.


Data Governance

  • Microsoft Purview – This enables you to secure and govern your complete data estate. It comprises a family of solutions that cover tasks such as auditing, compliance management, data lifecycle management and data loss prevention across your Azure environments.


AI and ML

  • Azure AI – It encompasses a range of services for developers and data scientists to build, deploy and manage AI applications and solutions. The services help accelerate AI innovation, simplify model operations and ensure responsible AI.
  • Azure Machine Learning – With Azure Machine Learning, data scientists and developers can build machine learning models quickly and develop confidently using streamlined Machine Learning Operations (MLOps).


Azure: it’s AI future

Microsoft is betting big on AI driving growth for Azure. Currently, Microsoft has 53,000 Azure AI customers – one-third of whom took up the service just in the last 12 months. The company has been adding graphics processing units to its data centres as more customers look to run their AI workloads in Azure.

In 2023, Microsoft unveiled AI innovations such as Microsoft Azure AI Studio, offering a one-stop shop to seamlessly explore, build, test and deploy AI solutions using the latest AI tools and machine learning models. It also included generative AI companion Microsoft Copilot, powered by Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. Microsoft has rolled out Copilot in Windows and Copilot for Microsoft 365; Copilot for Azure is currently in preview. 

With Copilot for Azure, customers can use the AI companion to design, operate, optimise and troubleshoot apps and infrastructure from cloud to edge, helping streamline cloud operations and management. Its purpose is to unify knowledge and data across hundreds of services to increase productivity, reduce costs, and provide deep insights.


How much does Azure cost?

Microsoft offers Azure in different service modes to meet every organisation’s needs and budget. It provides substantial savings compared to other clouds, transparent, competitive pricing, and tools to keep costs firmly under control. Its offering can be summarised as follows:

  • Free Tier – This gives new customers access to popular services for the first 12 months. Plus, customers who try free must move to pay-as-you-go within 30 days to continue receiving 12 months of free services.
  • Pay-as-You-Go – No upfront commitment is required, and customers pay only for what they use beyond their free amounts.
  • Reservations – Make a one- or three-year commitment to select Azure services, and Microsoft will pass on savings of up to 72%. Customers can pay for their Azure reservations either upfront or every month.
  • Spot Virtual Machines – With Spot Virtual Machines, customers buy unused compute capacity at significant cost savings. These machines are ideal for workloads that can handle interruptions and don’t need to be completed within a specific period.


How to gain Azure Skills

As highlighted in a previous blog comparing Azure, AWS, and GCP, existing Microsoft experience can help adopt Azure. However, to take full advantage of the cloud platform, training to develop some solid Azure skillsets wouldn’t go amiss.

Microsoft offers a robust training programme to help customers get started on Azure and develop their cloud environments. Microsoft Learning is free and includes role—and product-focused documentation, hands-on training, and certifications. You can find out more about it and start learning by visiting Microsoft Learn.


Find expert support for Azure

As a Microsoft Solutions Partner, we have experienced Microsoft certified Azure consultants here at Ipsos Jarmany. Our excellent team of data engineers, analysts and scientists have extensive experience with Azure, especially in deploying modern data platforms using Azure services.

Our flexible approach to Azure consultancy ensures customers gain the right service to meet their business needs. As a Microsoft partner, we’ve worked with several large customers, helping them accelerate their Azure journeys and maximise their ROI.

Start the conversation by getting in touch with us today.

Data-driven decision-making, made easy with Jarmany


Read more blogs like this:

Building a data-driven culture in 10 simple steps

The term “data-driven” is everywhere. Many people seem to be making a lot of fuss about it nowadays. But rightly so, in our opinion—because if the successful businesses of tomorrow share one thing, they’ll all be data-driven.
Time icon
6 Minute Read

A Beginner’s Guide To Web Scraping

Web scraping wins hands down for the ugliest name in data analytics. Oddly enough, it’s also known as web harvesting, which, to our mind, sounds much less aggressive and is a better indicator of what it actually does. But no mind, web scraping seems to be the preferred term, and it’s a vital tool for digital professionals worldwide.
Time icon
5 Minute Read

A Day In The Life Of A Junior Analyst

Meet Louise, a Mathematics student at the University of Bath, who is currently midway through her internship at Ipsos Jarmany. Louise supports one of our flagship accounts as a Junior Analyst (JA), working across EMEA. In our latest blog, she delves in to what it’s like to be a JA at Ipsos Jarmany, what a typical day looks like, and her highlights so far.
Time icon
5 Minute Read