Microsoft Azure is one of the most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud service providers in the industry, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. A wide spectrum of organizations across all verticals use Azure – to lower costs, become more agile and innovate faster. Tight integrations with the Microsoft ecosystem and product portfolio make Azure highly attractive to many. Integrations with Visual Studio, the Windows OS platform and Office 365 applications make Azure the natural choice for many enterprises.

Source: eG Innovations

While Azure provides a vast spectrum of services, it can be challenging to determine the right services for your needs. This article provides details of the top 10 most popular service offerings from Azure and how they map to different business needs.
For similar information on AWS Services, please see: Explore the Top AWS Services with Use Cases | eG Innovations.

1. Azure Active Directory

Azure AD logo in an article about top Azure servicesAzure Active Directory (Azure AD, in the process of being renamed Microsoft Entra ID) is a cloud-based identity and access management service. This service helps your employees access external resources, such as Microsoft 365, the Azure portal, and thousands of other SaaS applications. Azure Active Directory also helps them access internal resources like apps on your corporate intranet network, along with any cloud apps developed for your own organization.

Azure AD is not simply a cloud version of AD (Active Directory), they do quite different things. AD is great at managing traditional on-premises infrastructure and applications. Azure AD is great at managing user access to cloud applications and is particularly widely used for accessing Office 365 apps. You can use both together (via Azure AD Connect), or if you want to have a purely cloud based environment you can just use Azure AD.

Key Azure AD features include single sign-on support, user provisioning, federated authentication, device registration, cloud authentication and so on.

Azure Active Directory – Use Cases

IT admins use Azure AD to control access to apps and app resources. E.g., you can use Azure AD to support multi-factor authentication when accessing important organizational resources. You could also use Azure AD to automate user provisioning between existing Windows AD and cloud apps, including Microsoft 365.

App developers use Azure AD as a standards-based authentication provider. Single sign-on (SSO) can be supported for the apps and users can sign in with their existing credentials. Developers can also use Azure AD APIs to build personalized experiences using organizational data.

Azure Active Directory – Learn more

2. Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

To support remote workers and enable organizations to have virtual desktops in the cloud, Microsoft provides Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), a fully managed, desktop virtualization service that enables your users to access the data, applications, and resources they need, anywhere, anytime, from any supported device. Windows desktops can be provisioned in a few minutes. No user data is stored on the local device.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Use Cases

AVD digital workspaces in the cloud can be used for onboarding new remote employees, contract workers, and partners. You may not want partners to be in your network, but at the same time, you want to collaborate with them remotely. You could set up temporary workspaces where both sets of staff (yours and partners’) can collaborate.

Some organizations run their entire business on SaaS applications and may have no physical offices. So, there is no on-premises infrastructure at all. In such cases, desktops in the cloud using services like Microsoft AVD makes a lot of sense.

PAYG desktops make a lot of sense for organizations that have finite length projects or cyclic use, e.g., universities with courses, terms and vacations. Organizations with traditional on-premises VDI deployments of Citrix or VMware are increasingly using AVD as a bolt-on to increase and grow capacity. Managing AVD desktops and apps alongside those on Citrix or VMware is becoming common practice.

For small, simple deployments Microsoft’s alternative Windows 365 DaaS service (Cloud PC) may be an alternative option to AVD.

Azure Virtual Desktop – Learn more

3. Azure Virtual Machines

Azure Virtual Machines is a cloud service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Azure’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity quickly and with minimum effort.

Azure Virtual Machines provides a set of predefined instance profiles, or virtual server definitions, to create virtual machines. You can choose your VM configurations from any of the predefined instance types. VM instances can be memory-optimized, compute-optimized, or storage-optimized.

Instances are usually grouped into “families” with pricing varying by region. Some instances will include specialist resources according to their intended use case, e.g., GPUs may be included for instances targeted for HPC or for the delivery of 3D/CAD/Graphical apps via DaaS.

Not all families or instance options are available in all Azure Regions.

Azure Virtual Machines – Use Cases

Azure VMs provides you with the ability to spin up virtual machines on the fly with no major infrastructure investment and minimal startup costs. Quickly provision new servers, using the Azure admin web portal or automation scripts for production and testing environments and shut them down when no longer needed.

Typical use cases of Azure VMs include:

  • Host a variety of software from simple web sites to enterprise-grade web applications on on-demand infrastructure. Easy to lift-and-shift from on-premises since you have full control of the operating system. Spot pricing can help save up to 80-90% on hosting costs.
  • Create fault tolerant architecture with auto-scaling and load balancing options.
  • If you need heavy computation and GPU power for deep learning/ machine learning or to support graphically intensive CAD/VFX apps, choose Azure accelerated computing or NVv instances.
  • Used to provide IaaS to support the lift-and-shift of on-premises applications such as Microsoft SQL Server, whereby SQL Server is transferred to run on an Azure VM (alternative PaaS Azure options such as Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure SQL Database exist).


Check the full list here