Microsoft Azure Overview
What is Azure in 2022?
Today, cloud computing applications and platforms are rapidly growing across all industries, serving as the IT infrastructure that drives new digital businesses. These platforms and applications have revolutionized the ways in which businesses function, and have made processes easier. In fact, more than 77 percent of businesses today have at least some portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud.
While there are many cloud computing platforms available, two platforms dominate the cloud computing industry. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are the two giants in the world of cloud computing.
While AWS is the largest cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure is the fastest-growing and second-largest. This article focuses on Microsoft Azure and what is Azure—its services and uses.
Before diving into what is Azure, you should first know what cloud computing is.
Azure is a cloud computing platform with an ever-expanding set of services to help you build solutions to meet your business goals. Azure services range from simple web services for hosting your business presence in the cloud to running fully virtualized computers for you to run your custom software solutions. Azure provides a wealth of cloud-based services like remote storage, database hosting, and centralized account management. Azure also offers new capabilities like AI and Intenet of Things (IoT).
In this module, you'll take an entry-level, end-to-end look at Azure and its capabilities. You'll gain a solid foundation for completing the available leaning paths for Azure fundamentals.
Things that you should know about Azure:
- It was launched on February 1, 2010, significantly later than its main competitor, AWS.
- It’s free to start and follows a pay-per-use model, which means you pay only for the services you opt for.
- Interestingly, 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies use Azure services for their cloud computing needs.
- Azure supports multiple programming languages, including Java, Node Js, and C#.
- Another benefit of Azure is the number of data centers it has around the world. There are 42 Azure data centers spread around the globe, which is the highest number of data centers for any cloud platform. Also, Azure is planning to get 12 more data centers, which will increase the number of data centers to 54, shortly.
What are the Various Azure Services and How does Azure Work?
Azure provides more than 200 services, are divided into 18 categories. These categories include computing, networking, storage, IoT, migration, mobile, analytics, containers, artificial intelligence, and other machine leaning, integration, management tools, developer tools, security, databases, DevOps, media identity, and web services. Let’s take a look at some of the major Azure services by category:
This service enables you to create a virtual machine in Windows, Linux or any other configuration in seconds.
This service lets you create scalable applications within the cloud. Once the application is deployed, everything, including provisioning, load balancing, and health monitoring, is taken care of by Azure.
With service fabric, the process of developing a microservice is immensely simplified. Microservice is an application that contains other bundled smaller applications.
With functions, you can create applications in any programming language. The best part about this service is that you need not worry about hardware requirements while developing applications because Azure takes care of that. All you need to do is provide the code.
Azure CDN (Content Delivery Network) is for delivering content to users. It uses a high bandwidth, and content can be transferred to any person around the globe. The CDN service uses a network of servers placed strategically around the globe so that the users can access the data as soon as possible.
This service lets you connect your on-premise network to the Microsoft cloud or any other services that you want, through a private connection. So, the only communications that will happen here will be between the enterprise network and the service that you want.
The virtual network allows you to have any of the Azure services communicate with one another privately and securely.
This service allows you to host your DNS domains or system domains on Azure.
This service allows you to choose from either HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive) as your storage option along with your virtual machine.
This service is optimized to store a massive amount of unstructured data, including text and even binary data.
This is a managed file storage service that can be accessed via industry SMB (server message block) protocol.
With queue storage, you can provide stable message queuing for a large workload. This service can be accessed from anywhere in this world.
Azure pros and strengths
We’ve got to talk about strengths and weaknesses, because how else can you know which cloud platform will work best for you? While cloud computing as a concept is a way to offer various levels of abstraction through IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, each cloud vendor is better at some things and less so at others.
- First, Azure has a lot of data centers, and they keep expanding. This means services and your applications will be closer to users. It also means specific legal requirements for certain countries when it comes to cloud computing are more likely to be met.
- Because Microsoft has been supporting on-premises customers for 40-plus years, they have an extensive hybrid cloud offering to get all of their existing customers into cloud. They also have a very good integration with existing tools and technologies such as Visual Studio, Active Directory, and File Storage.
If you have applications written in the .NET framework, Azure is almost a no-brainer as well. Azure has the most industry certifications of any cloud provider, and this can be useful for certain countries or industries when having to adhere to these.
Azure cons and weaknesses
While there aren’t many drawbacks or areas of improvement for Azure, there are a couple.
- Since Azure is trying to be all things to all cloud-computing crowds, at times some services just don’t get enough attention. This can mean that the new data analytics service you have made that uses a certain Azure feature might fall behind a bit as the feature disappears.
- Azure will try and keep up with every single trend in cloud computing, so the number of new services and renamed services (thank you, Microsoft) can be overwhelming. The key is to focus on just the ones you need for your project.
How expensive is Azure?
The cost of Microsoft Azure depends on what services you use, so there is no simple answer. There is the option of starting a 30-day free trial, which also includes some free services for the next twelve months. This may help an individual or small business to evaluate Azure in an extremely cost-effective manner.
Whilst Azure offers competitive pay-as-you-go pricing, for larger projects and businesses, there are fixed-cost options for periods of 12 to 36 months, which offer substantial discounts.
Microsoft Azure is beneficial for any business operating in 2022. It’s no surprise they are now a strong competitor in the cloud computing market, as their solutions are perfect for businesses looking to increase speed and storage without jeopardizing their data or privacy.
If you’re interested in how Microsoft Azure can work with your business, get in contact with us