Is Microsoft Azure right for startups?

Choosing the right technology for your tech startup or SMME can be a daunting task. There are a range of platforms and services out there and if you’re not tech-orientated, it’s going to be a difficult process. Software and hardware company Microsoft thinks it may have the solution with the Azure platform.

Ventureburn had a chance to sit down with DPE Lead at Microsoft, Clifford de Wit, at the recent Microsoft Tech Summit event in Johannesburg, to talk about the company’s Azure platform for startups and SMMEs.

A shift in mentality

De Wit started off by saying the company is seeing a shift in the way companies want software.

“We’re starting to see a lot of [SMMEs and big enterprises] buying off the shelf software, sometimes written by startups who come up with an innovative, potentially disruptive business model[…]”

This comes down to the need for software to have a material impact on businesses. It’s something that business owners want to see and not just hear about.

Other solutions still matter

Microsoft’s Azure isn’t the be all and end all to services. When asked about companies purchasing a hosting package with the likes of CPanel, de Wit said there’s still value in those services.

“We’re not in competition with our on-site hosts. We still believe, as a company, there is a massive value in having partner-hosted solutions.” He went on to say that this is due to issues such as latency, hardware configurations, and other factors, which on-site hosts can solve.

Azure holds a lot of power

“We can do things that you can’t do in an intermediary cloud provider.” Some of the Azure features include geo-redundancy, high availability, and elastic computing as well.

“We believe, that depending on the requirement of your solution, you need to think about the type of cloud access that you need.”

De Wit says that if a company has an idea of where its product is going, and if it needs high scalability, or ‘platform level features’, then Azure would be the right solution for them.

“We’re moving off just hosting a virtual machine and we’re starting to add building blocks of functionality not at the VM layer but at the platform layer. And I think we fundamentally believe that apps in the future are going to be built by composing building blocks of functionality at the platform layer[…]”.

So who is using the serivce?

Examples of startups using the Azure system includes management software Payment24, and NGO system, ForGood, which are both using Azure. He couldn’t comment on any other companies without permission from them.

De Wit says Microsoft speaks to startups not about Azure as another VM host, but rather about using platform level services works, such as image recognition functionality or a media suite.

He says that with lot of startups in the data and social spaces, many of them are using Business Intelligence and cognitive Cortana services.

“What resonates with startups is that we’re open[…] We really believe in this hybrid solution whether hybrid is part open source, part our platform , or even on-site, off-site.”

“When we speak to most startups, we tend to find they’re not obsessed about the technology platform. Really what they want is to be able to get their idea into a product and get it out there in an MVP fashion so they can get it in-front of people when they’re pitching.”

He did say that there are “very few startups in South Africa that are using platform level services.”



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