Feb 28, 2022, Infrastructure

How to start your journey? Microsoft Azure for startups

Tatiana Cieślar Cloud & Security specialist
You may not have much money, but what you DO have is a big dream. You’ve found out what AWS has to offer when it comes to helping out with becoming a billionaire. However, the world is a big place, and as big as it is, it offers many cloud providers to choose from. After doing your own research, you may be very confused about which one suits you the most. I will try my best to show you what Microsoft Azure offers.

Azure for Startups

Open Source

Azure is very flexible and open source friendly. You can use the tools you already know, varying from Node.js to Ubuntu. Bring your favorite technologies and tools to Azure and explore all of the possibilities. Azure Marketplace supports many Linux distributions.

Global scale

Even though you might start small, pretty fast you’ll be able to grow and reach a global scale in 34 local regions. Azure has strict practices to secure the platform, and to protect your mission-critical data and applications.

Accelerating innovation

Great ideas are the reason you have a startup, right? Accelerate your innovation with the Azure application platform. Build projects from simple to complex using an intuitive and easy-to-use portal environment that offers the cloud services you need most.

Help from Azure

- Free account: get $200 in Azure credits and 12 months of popular services. - Visual Studio: get up to $1,800 per year of Azure services. - Microsoft for Startups: get personalized help and up to $1,800 per year of Azure services.

Free subscriptions

You’ve already found out that a good way to start is to release an MVP with the help of free products provided by some of the biggest cloud providers. The free resources offered by Azure are divided into 2 categories: those that are always free and those that are free for 12 months (depending on the subscription). After your free period is over, you need to switch to the pay-as-you-go plan. 

Azure offers two types of free accounts (subscriptions): 

  • Free subscription: when you choose this subscription, you get a $200 monetary credit to spend on any Azure service for the first 30 days, and the most popular Azure products are free for 12 months.

  • Student subscription: you get a $100 monetary credit to spend in the first 12 months and free developer tools. You also don’t have to provide your credit card info while signing up, you just need to prove your identity by using your student email account.

What you get for free, always

Azure App Service (10 web, mobile or API apps with 10GB storage)

You can use it to deploy web or mobile apps. To do so you can connect your app service with a code repository, e.g. GitHub or use one of the Azure services, like Azure Repos or Azure DevOps.

Azure DevOps (max. 5 users with unlimited Git repositories)

A tool used to create CI/CD pipelines, get private Git repos, plan your work with your team, etc.

Azure Kubernetes Service

Useful for deploying and managing containerized applications.

Azure Functions (1 million requests)

Can be used to run small pieces of code. This service supports the most popular programming languages and is designed mainly for event-based applications.

Azure Cosmos DB (25 GB storage with 1000 requests per second)

A fast NoSQL database.

What you get for free for 12 months

Azure SQL database (250GB instance with 10 database transaction units)

A service for building a relational SQL database.

Azure Virtual Machines

Windows and Linux (750 hours B1s burstable virtual machines) - you can create multiple virtual machines with the Linux OS (for free) or Windows (you need to purchase licenses).

Disk, blob and file storage (5GB of locally redundant storage)

It provides storage for your cloud-native and mobile apps.

Microsoft for Startups

Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a platform for startups to hit their next milestone with the help of free access to technology, resources, coaching and support. It is highly encouraged to apply even when the only thing you have is an idea. The application lasts about 10 minutes and the requirement is a LinkedIn account. After that, Microsoft checks whether the acceptance criteria have been met and reaches out to the applicants. New users are being accepted on a rolling basis.

What do you get as a member of the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub?

  • Visual Studio Code and GitHub for developer collaboration,

  • Experienced mentors who are experts in the industry and technology of your choice who help validate your idea,

  • Microsoft 365 tools including Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, Word,

  • Up to $150,000 in credits on Microsoft Azure that grow as your needs increase.

The requirements to apply for the program include many things. Your startup:

  • Must be a software-based product whose development you are engaged in. This software has to be owned, not licensed,

  • Hasn’t received more than $10,000 in free Azure,

  • Is privately held,

  • Resides in the countries covered by Azure global infrastructure,

  • Is a for-profit business etc.

All of the requirements are described here.

And here you can apply.

Customer success: InfoTiles

InfoTiles is a company from Norway which is one of the greatest success stories of Microsoft for Startups. It’s a cloud streaming service used for collecting, processing, analyzing and visualizing data in real time. Their main target industries are public services and utilities, e.g. water, sewage and recycling. 

InfoTiles joined the Microsoft for Startups program in 2019. They received $120,000 in free credit to use on the Azure platform for 2 years. Due to their commitment to a proactive approach and working with Microsoft, they’ve become one of the largest IP co-sell deals in fiscal year 20 in Western Europe (among other startups). Recently, they partnered with Norwegian VC ProVenture and invested 15 million NOK. One of the main reasons for the company’s success, according to InfoTiles, was a strong partnership with Microsoft.

Is this enough?

Now you’ve learned about what Microsoft Azure has to offer. As mentioned in the article about AWS, using only the free services isn’t enough to become a billionaire. To grow your company, it’s not a sufficient solution; as time passes, you will probably have to invest in a pay-as-you-go subscription. There’s also the option to apply for the Microsoft for Startups program. It’s a great solution, but unfortunately, the chance you will get selected isn’t very high. Planning your startup’s future is the most important, including choosing the cloud provider and the available solutions. Hopefully, this series of articles gave you some inspiration to start your journey.