Just ten years ago, Microsoft made most of its revenue selling software in boxes, server licences, and traditional hardware. But over the past decade, the company has reoriented itself around the Cloud Stack, and today, sales of its public Cloud, Azure, and growing range of cloud-based subscription services are booming. 

The pandemic initially drove the major growth in uptake of Cloud services. But the trend shows no signs of slowing as professional services businesses permanently adopt new ways of working and seek to realise more of the benefits offered by this innovative technology. As a result, Microsoft has significantly accelerated its Cloud strategy over the past two years, upping the ante on releasing new and enhanced cloud-powered services. 

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Azure is the foundation of Microsoft’s Cloud Stack. Professional services businesses can use this public Cloud to run services such as analytics, virtual computing, storage, networking, and much more. The service can supplement or replace on-premises infrastructure.

As well as minimising capital expenditure on hardware and software, Azure lets professional services businesses operate in a far more agile way than is possible with traditional computing, making responding to change much simpler. Due to its flexibility and pay-as-you-go pricing model, businesses can quickly test and scale new services and applications without purchasing new infrastructure. As a result, Azure users experience fewer delays and less friction when adapting their services to stay aligned with changing customer expectations, giving them a sustainable advantage in today’s competitive landscape. Additionally, opting for Cloud-powered infrastructure helps to reduce risk and boost business continuity, as it can be disaster recovery and backup solutions that minimise the negative consequences of downtime.

Microsoft 365

Gone are the days when you had to purchase any physically installed boxed software. Microsoft has put all your favourite productivity and collaboration applications into the cloud with Microsoft 365. Rather than buying an annual licence with Microsoft 365, businesses pay a per-user fee each month. They can scale their application provision instantly according to their changing needs, so they only ever pay for what they use.

By allowing employees to access their applications and data from any location and device, Microsoft 365 helps organisations to streamline operations, work more productively, and offer secure remote working options. However, one of the most significant benefits of accessing applications in the cloud is that team members can collaborate frictionlessly. Even when they are apart, they can co-author documents in real-time, instant chat and video call at the click of a button, and securely share files in SharePoint. This facilitates creative teamwork, reduces bottlenecks, and empowers your business to achieve more, which is crucial when you’re working in professional services.

And, with Microsoft 365’s robust, multi-layered security measures, proactive data monitoring, and 99.9% uptime guarantee, data security is well taken care of.

Microsoft OneDrive

This Microsoft Cloud service connects your team to all your files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others from inside and outside your organisation, and access them from any location and device. OneDrive makes remote and mobile working much simpler and more secure. Plus, because all your files are stored in the Cloud, they can be easily restored if the worst should happen, enhancing your business continuity.

Windows 11’s total integration with Teams

Looking beyond its commercially-focused services, Microsoft is also leaning into the Cloud Stack with its personal computing offerings. The latest release of Windows 11 gives personal users the ability to use Microsoft Teams. Now, users can start a chat or video call straight from their PC taskbar, laptops, Xbox consoles, and even iOS phones running on Apple’s iOS. This latest upgrade takes personal users’ connectivity to new levels, letting them stay connected with friends and family across all their devices all of the time.

Windows 365 Cloud PCs

Last year, Microsoft grew its Cloud Stack by launching Windows 365, a new operating system that essentially puts PCs in the Cloud. 

With Windows 365, users can connect to their Windows 10 or 11 from any location and any device, including Linux, Mac, and Android, and interact with the same user interface, data, and applications that appear on their desktop. Hybrid work is common in professional services, so this is a game-changer as the new OS lets workers leave files open on their workplace PC, log in from home the following day on their virtual PC, and pick up right where they left off with the same files open. Users can also configure their PC’s technical specifications in the Cloud, making scaling processing and storage capacity a far quicker and more straightforward task and reducing hardware costs. 

Microsoft Power Platform

The Microsoft Power Platform is a set of cloud-based applications that enable you to automate processes, build solutions, and analyse data.

The platform’s Power BI application gives you unrivalled insights to enhance your business functions intelligently. With Power Apps, the no-code infrastructure, you can quickly and easily build new business applications to streamline your operations and boost your performance. Power Automate lets you leverage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and pre-built templates to create automated workflows between your services and apps. And finally, Microsoft Power Virtual Agent gives you the tools to build zero-code yet powerful AI-driven chatbots. Anyone can create one, and they integrate perfectly with the services and products you use daily.

This is another big advantage for professional services businesses. The powerful yet user-friendly element of Microsoft’s Cloud Stack gives you the tools to adapt quickly in today’s fast-changing world, so you can always stay one step ahead of changing trends, regulations, and, importantly, your competitors.

Preparing for a Cloud-centric future

The past two years’ events have restructured how we work, interact and consume goods and services. Today, business customers and consumers demand digital service options, convenience, and speed. To remain competitive, professional services businesses must provide flawless digital customer experiences and have the ability to respond to change and challenges with greater agility. While traditional computing is often guilty of chaining businesses to the past due to its rigidity, Cloud infrastructure and services give professional services companies the solid yet flexible foundation to achieve these outcomes with less risk and accelerated time to value. The benefits are reflected in how Microsoft is leaning into the Cloud Stack so aggressively.

Moving to Cloud can be a challenging journey with multiple deployment models, services, and migration methods to choose from. If you’re considering transforming your infrastructure, partnering with an expert IT provider can help you get it right first time. At Blue Saffron, we have a wealth of experience with Cloud technology and have been successfully serving professional services businesses for two decades. Our free eBook explores the advanced features of Azure and other Microsoft Cloud solutions to get you started.

Download our helpful guide to discover which Microsoft Cloud solutions might be right for your business.

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