What is Microsoft Azure and Why it is Used?

  • Ayush Singh Rawat
  • Feb 09, 2021
  • General Analytics
What is Microsoft Azure and Why it is Used? title banner

In today's world, it has become important to store the enormous amounts of data that we receive and unabashedly consume. Now imagine if all this would have been stored manually in large drives and computers, it would be an impossible task to keep this organised and to also retrieve any information whenever we want. 

 

Enter ‘Cloud Computing’, the easy way to store data and even form data. Cloud Computing is using a computer without using it actually. In addition the extra security, accessibility and easy to use features act as a cherry on the top.

 

Microsoft Azure is one of the fastest-growing forms of cloud computing and has the second-largest market in the industry. So let’s learn about cloud computing and why is Azure considered to be the golden standard in the Cloud computing business.


 

What is Cloud Computing?

 

Cloud computing is a technology that provides access to innumerable computing assets available over the internet. All you need to do is use your computer or mobile device to connect to your cloud service provider through the internet. Once connected, you get access to computing resources, which may include serverless computing, virtual machines, storage, and various other things.


An image is showing the cloud computing ecosystem and components where it is used like mobile, servers, databases, storages, etc.

Cloud computing ecosystem


As Wikipedia describes it, cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user.

 

It is basically providing space for people to take advantage of many services such as storage, intelligence, analytics, software, etc. at a single place for faster and flexible utilization. AWS is the most widely used cloud computing platform.

 

 

Advantages of Cloud Computing

 

  • Cost reduction-The best advantage of cloud computing is the cost reduction that it causes because in cloud computing you only pay for the specific service that you are using and for the specific amount of time period that you are using it for.

 

  • Efficiency- As all the services are at a single place, the work rate gets boosted and there is rarely a downtime in cloud computing which ensures the data remains safe and up to fine work at all times.

 

  • Data Security- Cloud offers many advanced security features that guarantee that data is securely handled and stored. Many clouds provide an enormous set of rules for privacy and authentication. Thus making our data impenetrable and safe from all theft that takes place online.

 

  • Scalability- Cloud-based solutions are ideal for both, internationally set-up businesses and start-ups. It is also applicable for businesses with fluctuating bandwidth demands. 

 

If your business requires an increase, you can easily increase your cloud capacity without having to invest in physical infrastructure. Scalability in a capsule provides high-yielding resources with professional solutions and zero up-front investment.

 

  • Disaster recovery- Data loss is one of the major concerns for all businesses. Storing your data in clouds allows it to be accessible anywhere and anytime even if your primary equipment is attacked. Cloud-based services ensure quick data recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios - from natural disasters to power outages. 

 

  • Transparency- Cloud enables full visibility and control over the data. It is upon us who can access the file and to what extent. This division of work not only streamlines working but also removes the redundancy of a document’s copies.


 

Understanding Microsoft Azure

 

Azure is a cloud computing platform that allows you to access and manage cloud services and resources provided by Microsoft. These services and resources include storing your data and modifying it, depending on your needs.

 

Azure was launched on February 1, 2010, significantly later than its main competitor, Amazon web services(AWS). It’s free to create an account and follows a pay-per-use model, which means you pay only for the services you opt for.

 

(Read also: AWS machine learning University)

 

Azure provides more than 200 services that are divided into 18 categories. These categories include computing, networking, storage, IoT, migration, mobile, analytics, containers, artificial intelligence, and other machine learning, integration, management tools, developer tools, security, databases, DevOps, media identity, and web services. Even though, Azure is also one of the top 10 Big Data Analytics tools.

 

 

What are the Azure Services?

 

  1. Compute Services 

 

  • Virtual Machine- This enables you to create a virtual machine in Windows, Linux or any other configuration within seconds. In simple words, Virtual machines are emulations of physical computers, and they include all the components just like a normal computer. It is an IaaS(Internet as a Service) service.

 

  • Azure app service- Azure App Service is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) function in Azure that is designed to host web-oriented applications, APIs, and automated business processes

 

  • Containers- Containers are an augmented environment for running an application. It consists of a bundle of libraries and components that are needed to run an application with the help of an existing host OS.

 

  • Cloud Service- This service lets you create expandable applications within the cloud. Once the application is deployed, everything, including furnishing, load balancing, and health monitoring, is taken care of by Microsoft Azure. 

 

(Related blog: Google Compute Engine in Google Cloud)

 

  • Service Fabric- With service fabric, the process of creating a microservice is immensely simplified. Microservice is a collection of small applications.

 

  • Functions- With the help of functions, you can create applications in any programming language. The catch about this service is that you need not worry about hardware requirements while developing applications because Azure takes care of that. All you require to do is provide sufficient code.

 

  1. Networking Services

 

  • Azure CDN- Azure CDN (Content Delivery Network) is the agent for delivering content to users. It uses a high bandwidth allowing transferring of content 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 instantaneously.


An image is displaying the CDN networking structure.

CDN overview, Source


  • Express Route- This service lets you sync your official network to the Microsoft cloud or any other services that you want, through a private connection. So, the only exchange of information that will happen here will be between the enterprise network and the service that you want. As the connection is private, the traffic does not go over the internet.


Displaying the working of ExpressRoute.

Working of ExpressRoute, source: doc.microsoft.com 


 

  • Virtual network- The virtual network allows you to work between two Azure services privately and securely. You can also connect virtual networks to each other, allowing resources in either virtual network to communicate with each other, using virtual network peering.

 

  • Azure DNS- This service allows you to host your own DNS domains or system domains on Azure. By hosting your domains in Azure, you can manage your DNS records by using the same credentials, APIs, tools, and billing as your other Azure privileges.

 

  • Azure Bastion- The Azure Bastion service is a new platform-managed PaaS service that you can use inside your virtual network. It provides secure and seamless RDP/SSH connectivity to your virtual machines directly in the Azure portal.

 

  1. Storage Services

 

  • Azure Disks- 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.

 

  • Azure Blobs- This service is optimized to store an enormous amount of unstructured data, including text and even binary data. 

 

  • Azure Files- This is a layered file storage service that can be accessed via industry SMB (server message block) protocol. 

 

  • Azure Queues- With queue storage, you can provide orderly message queuing for a large workload. This service can be privileged from anywhere in this world.

 

  • Azure Tables- Tables in Azure allows you to store structured NoSQL data in the cloud, providing a key/attribute store with a schemaless design.

 

 

Why use Azure?

 

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities

 

Azure boasts a flawless combination of IaaS and PaaS services. IaaS enables enterprises to outsource their infrastructure on Azure and only pay for what they consume and PaaS lets them create their own web applications and solutions without having to buy and thus maintain the underlying groundwork.

 

  1. Security Offerings

 

Azure has been designed with the highly secure SDL(Security Development Lifecycles) process. Private data and services stay safe and secure on the Azure Cloud. Microsoft Azure offers the best compliance coverage among the rest, of over 50 compliance offerings and is the most trusted cloud platform by U.S. government institutions.

 

  1. Unmatched Hybrid Capabilities

 

Azure provides a broad range of functions including virtual private networks (VPNs), caches, content delivery networks (CDNs), and ExpressRoute which make Azure truly a Hybrid beast. These functions allow easy mobility and Azure to be a reliable bridge between the on-premise public cloud.

 

  1. Integrated Ecosystem

 

Organizations dependent on Microsoft tools and accessories like Office 365, Outlook and SharePoint, would surely invest in a cloud platform that impeccably integrates with Microsoft products. It simplifies working as it uses the same virtual on-premise machines like Windows and Linux.

 

  1. Cost-Efficient

 

Microsoft’s pay-as-you-go model requires you to only pay for what you use to build or expand resources using Azure services. This cuts down the IT administration costs to a minimum as infrastructure is taken care of by Microsoft on Azure. 

 

It connects datacenters to the cloud effortlessly and supports 42 regions like no other cloud platform. In addition, 12 data centres are more on the way, taking the total to 54 data centres across the globe.


 

Conclusion

 

Azure has proven home to tons of data and has secured a reputed name in the industry. The future is Cloud computing and Microsoft Azure proves it why it is the best in the field.

 

All the features and privileges paralleled with the assurity of Microsoft make it the most highly recommendable of the lot. 

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