How to get started with Microsoft Azure

Not sure how to get started with Microsoft Azure? Well good news, it can be easier than you think. By thinking about things like goals, security and budgets before you start using Azure, you can ensure you’ll get the most out of it. Here are several tips for getting started with this cloud platform.

Make room for failure

Like anything new, getting set up on Azure takes some getting used to. So don’t just throw any old workload into the cloud. If it fails, the results could be counter-productive and costly. Instead, think about the workloads that have room for trial and error and use these as you get used to the platform.

Consider corporate policies

Your company rulebook may have something to say about moving data and apps to the cloud. Before you move anything here, make sure you know the rules and if there’s anything you need to do before you begin setting up Azure. 

Set your goals

What do you want to get out of Azure, exactly? Whether it’s reducing running costs or improving IT infrastructure, knowing what you want will help guide your actions in the cloud.

Explore our Azure Migrate packaged services to start your Azure journey >

Work out your budget

Along with knowing what your goals are, you should get an idea of the budget you have to achieve them with. Take a look at your current IT budgets and spending patterns. Then think about what it would cost, and what you could save, by moving certain aspects of this to the cloud.

Develop your identity strategy

What access you do you want to give, to who, and when do you want to give it? Think about your users. Among them you may have:

  • On-premises users
  • Mobile users
  • IT admins
  • B2B partners
  • B2C customers

Active Directory (AD) used to be the way for authentication. But this was for a time before the cloud. Azure Active Directory (ADD) offers an updated approach. Here are some differences between the two you should know about:


  • Made for on-premises devices and software
  • Works best with single-platform Windows
  • Used mainly for directory services via DNS
  • Hierarchal structure: forests, trees, OUs and GPOs
  • Authentication mainly via Kerberos


  • Made for the cloud
  • Works cross-platform on any browser
  • Used mainly for identity services via HTTP and HTTPS
  • Flat structure: no forests, trees, OUs or GPOs. Has domains, users and groups
  • Authentication via multiple protocols

When you’re starting your cloud journey, you may want to enable users to access your platform with their existing AD or Office 365 credentials. Later on, you may need to put some controls in. With ADD, you get flexibility in setting out which users get access to your applications, and how much access they get.

Think about security

If an unwanted or malicious guest gets into your cloud, how do you get rid of them?

No industry is entirely bulletproof from cyber-attacks, whether they’re using the cloud or not. Although Azure employs a lot of best practices for dealing with intrusion, it’s up to you to come up with a security strategy.

Do you send an alert to the intruder and shut them out as soon as you spot them, or do you wait until they start doing something suspicious? Do you run your data centre within your organisation, or ask a Microsoft partner to do this for you?

Be aware it’s not easy

Remember: the cloud doesn’t run itself. It needs:

  • Architecture design
  • Database administration
  • Network management
  • Backup monitoring
  • Operating system patching

Can you handle all of this in-house, or would it be better to let a third part supplier handle this? There’s never any shame in asking for help.

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