About 120 years ago, punch cards were used as the earliest form of storage use on a computer. Since then, the development of storage has advanced dramatically. “Cloud computing”, i.e. software, processing power and storage provided via the Internet, is now on everyone’s lips. Special software is usually not required to use the cloud. The access and use occurs solely through the browser. The term ‘cloud‘ was created a few years after the turn of the millennium and was first defined in 2009 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Different Forms of the Cloud

Microsoft provides several forms of the cloud in over 38 regions of the world, more than any other cloud provider. Cloud services are normally divided according to a layered model into Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service.

With Infrastructure as a Service, for short IaaS of the lowest layer, Microsoft offers customers extensive opportunities to use and manage computer instances, so-called virtual servers. Usually, the computer infrastructure can be used immediately and the resources can be scaled up or down as necessary. Acquisition costs and the complexity of the administration, which go hand-in-hand with the acquisition and maintenance of your own server and components, such as server rooms and air conditioning, thus are now a thing of the past. With Microsoft IaaS, you reduce the ongoing IT costs in your company, which would be necessary to set up and operate a local data center.

With Platform as a Service (PaaS), Microsoft provides a complete deployment and development environment in the cloud. Resources such as memory, network and CPU are provided and managed by Microsoft. IaaS is already included in PaaS at Microsoft, so you benefit from all of the features of Infrastructure as a Service and can also benefit from powerful developer tools. Take advantage of the scalability of the Microsoft Cloud today. With Azure Cosmos DB, a globally available database service, you benefit from horizontal scalability and guaranteed availability.

You can access and use cloud-based software with Software as a Service (SaaS). Microsoft Office 365 with the included tools Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook is the most well-known app. Microsoft offers a comprehensive software solution. You do not have to purchase the software, because you only pay a rental fee. Microsoft manages the necessary hardware and software and upon concluding an additional service contract ensures the availability and security of the app and data as well. You will find the right app for your business needs with the App Source from Microsoft. Get solutions that were specifically developed for your environment and can be used with products that you already use.

In the so-called Enterprise version, Microsoft offers their flagship operations (previously AX7) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) with the areas of sales, customer service, field service and project service in a homogeneous landscape. Starting in the middle of this year, another version will be available: the so-called Business Edition. In addition to the finance (previously Microsoft NAV) area, this includes a module for sales management and a module for marketing. Microsoft thus dissolving the previous concept of independent solutions and is arranging ERP and CRM on one platform.

How would you like it?

Microsoft offers its customers different forms of data security depending on the sensitivity of the company processes. The first version is the pure cloud-based solution in which the entire ERP is in the Microsoft Azure Cloud and thus experiences the full range of synergies (Office 365, Power BI, life cycle services, IoT and others). Furthermore, the customer receives full support in the scaling of the infrastructure as required by the business processes and scope of the company.

In addition, a so-called hybrid solution is a way to locally manage parts of the company and localize data maintenance. As an example, Microsoft lists a retail company in which the individual retail stores locally (local servers) and thus also “offline” ensure permanent access to the ERP and synchronize the online operations with the ERP. The actual ERP is still operated in the cloud.

For companies that prefer holistic local data management and the associated server management, Microsoft also offers a pure “on-premise” solution. In this form, the synchronization with the cloud is switched off and the business processes as well as the data maintenance are both implemented in the local infrastructure. The data and infrastructure are in the customer’s hands in this form, but the advantages of the cloud are also limited or omitted.

Microsoft thus is responding to the requirements for independence compared to slow and unstable Internet connections and increased data protection with a combination of locally operated IT infrastructure and the advantages of the Microsoft Cloud.

Seamless Integration

With Azure, Microsoft provides users with a comprehensive and intuitive platform that can be used to provide ERP solutions to your company, such as Microsoft Operations, quickly and with little effort. Using the number of users and the scope of functions, Microsoft thus takes care of the server sizing completely automatically in the background. Sound IT knowledge of required local IT hardware is no longer required. Additional services, such as authentication via active directory or group ware, can also be configured for your company through Azure.

One Less Worry

Remember the SEPA conversion in Germany in 2014? The conversion to IBAN at the time and the replacement of the DTI files was associated with considerable effort for almost every service provider in the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) sector. Every service provider implemented an individual solution for the payment transactions of their customers. By using the Microsoft Cloud, they have one less worry. Because by using the cloud, the responsibility lies with Microsoft, which automatically issues legal updates through the cloud. In this way, there is no effort for service providers and end customers. The provider is responsible for the legally secure and correct processing.

Business Consultant at AlfaPeople | + posts

Martin Hermes is a CRM expert with many years of experience in the areas of Sales, Field Service and Customer Service. In addition, he has in-depth knowledge in the areas of IT service management and ITIL processes.

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