AlexOakenman - Fotolia


Why Microsoft Azure is the backbone of the Office 365 subscription

With cloud-based services becoming more and more essential to collaboration and productivity for companies, the Office 365 subscription looks to Microsoft Azure to help round out its services.

For most companies that are trying to become more agile, mobile and user-friendly to enable worker collaboration and productivity, using cloud-based services is essential. The Office 365 subscription -- the business productivity suite from Microsoft -- can be made far more efficient and productive with Microsoft Azure and other data center services as the underlying foundation.

With Microsoft Azure underlying Office 365, companies can take advantage of a solid infrastructure that boosts the performance and security of Office 365. Additionally, with Azure, you can run applications on the same cloud infrastructure that supports the Office 365 subscription, Skype and other Microsoft applications; you'll have access to its built-in software, automated software patching, network loading balancing and other services.

There are several instances in which the need for Azure services could push the organization to adopt the additional cloud services indirectly. Some example use cases in which clients are likely to need Azure on top of their existing Office 365 subscription are the following:

Office 365 can exploit Azure's hosted domain services. Office 365 can be configured as a stand-alone technology. Companies are capable of rolling out the platform without other cloud services. But for companies with only a cloud-based presence and no on-premises services, user identity is a service, and Azure can provide those capabilities through its domain services offering.

Extending security beyond Office 365 for all other enterprise content. Email, SharePoint and Skype include various security features. But for organizations looking to extend beyond the out-of-the-box protection features, Azure does offer a bundle that can deliver even more security in the form of content restrictions and file-level encryption. With Azure Rights Management services, organizations seeking deeper content security can add those services to their Office 365 subscription and gain those enhanced benefits.

Power BI extendibility requires Azure subscription as well

As it stands today, Power BI can be used as a stand-alone subscription. But for the companies looking to incorporate the Power BI dashboards into their custom-developed application, an Azure subscription is required to enable the Power BI Embedded app feature and the hosting of the dashboards in a dedicated workspace that can be accessible to their custom app.

But despise the examples in which the cloud services can supplement other workloads, such as hosted email, SharePoint and OneDrive, there are certainly other areas in which many of the cloud providers target application developers. The idea is to be able to encourage the adoption of the vendor's platform to everyone that may have some needs, including the developers at the organization.

Microsoft, Amazon and Google are making strong cases of how open and flexible their platforms are through the APIs, which are attractive to developers. Microsoft, for example, is advertising its Office Graph software developer's kit, as well as Office 365 APIs that can provide app developers with access to the data and functionality within Office 365. Amazon and Google are taking a similar approach, offering accessibility to big data, artificial intelligence and application development platforms to attract developers.

Microsoft is making its case at the yearly Ignite event this year to appeal to developers, IT decision makers and engineers. With over 1,100 sessions and presentations being offered, and over 335 related to Office 365 and 279 related to Azure, Microsoft is sending a clear message that it plans to continue its push for its cloud services.

For more, check out the complete Ignite conference guide.

Next Steps

Getting the most out of Office 365 features

Will Office 365 excel in 2016?

Power BI is the collaborative underdog

Dig Deeper on Content collaboration

Business Analytics
Data Management