This Microsoft Azure Tutorial provides you with in-depth knowledge of the set of Azure cloud services that are helping your organization meet its business challenges. Before jumping into the MS Azure tutorials directly, let’s have a look at what cloud computing is all about.
Introduction to Cloud Computing
Today, cloud computing is a term that is used everywhere. This is because, over the past 10 years, the shift to the internet from traditional software models has gained a lot of momentum. The near future of cloud computing promises new and innovative ways to collaborate everywhere via mobile devices.
So, what actually is cloud computing? Cloud computing is defined as the on-demand delivery of computing services such as software, networking, databases, storage, servers, analytics etc, over the internet. The organizations that offer these computing services are known as cloud providers.
Scenario Before Cloud Computing
The traditional business applications have always been quite expensive and complicated. The variety and amount of software and hardware needed to run them are daunting. A whole team of experts is required to configure, install, update, secure, run, and test them. So, if we scale this effort for multiple efforts, you can understand why global corporations having the best IT departments are not acquiring the applications they need. Medium and small businesses cannot stand a chance.
Scenario After Cloud Computing
The headaches that come with managing software and hardware for various computing services can be eliminated by cloud computing. This is because managing software and hardware rests with the cloud service provider. Also, you can only pay for what you use, scaling up or down is simple, and upgrades are automatic.
Working of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers an easy way to access a broad set of application services, databases, storage, and servers over the internet. Microsoft Azure and various other cloud computing platforms owns and manages the hardware connected to the network that is needed for these application services. You provision and utilize what you require through a web application.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
From global corporations to small startups, non-profits, and government agencies, a variety of organizations are embracing cloud computing for all kinds of reasons. The following are the things that are possible with the cloud.
- Backup, store, and recover data.
- Deploy your application easily in multiple locations.
- Stop sending money on maintaining as well as running data centers.
- Create new services and apps.
- Host blogs and websites.
- Eliminate guessing on infrastructure capacity needs.
- Increase agility and speed.
Kinds of Cloud Computing Services
Cloud computing services fall under 3 major categories - software as a Service(SaaS), platform as a service(PaaS), and infrastructure as a service(IaaS).
Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS) - The IaaS providers will supply the infrastructure such as virtual machines(VMs), servers, operating systems, networks, and storage, and you can pay for what you use.
Platform as a Service(PaaS) - With the help of gateway software, web portals, or APIs(Application Programming Interfaces), users can access the host development tools once cloud providers host them on their infrastructures.
Software as a Service(SaaS) - SaaS is a distribution model that provides software applications(often called web services) over the internet. The SaaS services and applications can be accessed by users from any location with the help of a mobile device or a computer that has internet access.
Types of Cloud Deployments
Cloud computing resources can be deployed in 3 ways. They are public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.
Public Cloud - Public clouds are owned and maintained by third-party cloud service providers. They deliver their computing resources such as storage and servers over the internet. The most popular example of a public cloud is Microsoft Azure.
Private Cloud - In a private cloud, the infrastructure and services are operated on a private network. It refers to cloud computing resources extensively utilized by an organization or a single business.
Hybrid Cloud - Hybrid cloud combines private and public clouds, bound together by technology that enables applications and data to be shared between them. Hybrid cloud provides businesses with more deployment options and greater flexibility by allowing applications and data to move between public and private clouds.
Azure Tutorial - What is Microsoft Azure?
By now, you must have known what cloud computing is all about. Now, it’s time to talk about one of the most prominent cloud computing platforms, Azure. Microsoft Azure is the public cloud computing platform developed by Microsoft. It offers a range of cloud services for networking, storage, analytics, computing, etc. For running existing applications or for developing and scaling new applications, users can pick and select from these services in the public cloud. This platform is widely considered both as an IaaS and PaaS offering.
History of Azure
In 2008, Microsoft revealed its plan to introduce a service for cloud computing known as Windows Azure. Azure’s preview versions had become available and matured and this led to its commercial launch in the year 2010. Though the Azure cloud services’ iterations feel behind the then established cloud service offerings like AWS(Amazon Web Services), the portfolio continued to grow and aid a higher base of operating systems, frameworks, and programming languages. Windows Azure was rebranded as Microsoft Azure in 2014 as the Microsoft identified that cloud computing’s implications stretched far beyond windows.
Azure Costs and Pricing
Azure primarily utilizes a model for pricing which states you can only pay for services you use. Nevertheless, if multiple Azure services are used by a single application, each service may involve multiple pricing tiers. Additionally, if a user makes a long-term commitment to certain services, like compute instances, Microsoft provides a discounted rate.
A company should review and handle its utilization of the cloud to minimize costs as many factors are involved in pricing for cloud service. Azure-native tools like Azure cost management can help to optimize, visualize, and monitor cloud spend. It is also possible to utilize third-party tools like RightScale or Cloudability to handle Azure resource usage and the costs associated with it.
Forefront Identity Manager (Microsoft Identity Manager)
Forefront Identity Manager (FIM), also known as Microsoft Identity Manager, is a self-service identity management software suite for handling role-based access control policies, credentials, and identities across heterogeneous computing environments.
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Forefront Identity Manager incorporates self-help tools in Microsoft Outlook so that the end-users can handle conventional aspects of access and identity like resetting their own passwords without the need for help desk assistance. It also enables end-users to create their own email distribution lists and security. IT administrators can utilize this software to manage smart cards and digital certificates. It also offers automation and administrative tools.
FIM can be linked-to Azure Active Directory with the help of a tool FIM connector for Windows Azure Active Directory. This tool is used to synchronize on-premise data to Azure Active Directory in FIM. Once you download and install the tool, you can simply follow the wizard to connect on-cloud Azure Active Directory with your FIM information.
Azure Load Balancer
Azure Load Balancer can be termed as a cloud-based system that enables a set of machines to function as one single machine for serving user requests. The primary job of a load balancer is to take the client requests, see which machines in the set will be able to handle such requests and forward these requests to relevant machines. For the creation of a public load balancer by using Azure portal, For in-depth information on Azure Load Balancer, you can view here.
Azure Data Factory
The Azure Data Factory is a completely managed service for processing, composing data storage, movement of services into reliable, scalable, and stream-lined production pipelines. The Azure Data Factory offers access to cloud data in Azure Storage and Azure SQL Database, and on-premises data in SQL Server. For on-premises data, the access is provided via a data management gateway that links to on-premises SQL Server databases. For in-depth information on Azure Data Factory, you can see here.
Azure Data Lake
Azure Data Lake is a highly scalable public cloud service that enables developers, business professionals, scientists, and other Microsoft customers to obtain insight from complex, large datasets. Azure Data Lakes can be provisioned by customers for storing an unlimited amount of unstructured, semi-structured, or structured data from a variety of sources. For more information on Azure Data Lake, you can view here.
Azure Cloud Services
Azure cloud services are categorized into 18 major product types. They are as follows.
Web - Web services support web application development and deployment. It also provides features for reporting and notification, API management, content delivery, and search.
Data storage - Data storage services offer scalable cloud storage for unstructured as well as structured data and also offer support for archival storage, persistent storage for containers, and big data projects.
Analytics - Analytics services offer distributed analytics and storage, and features for big data analytics, real-time analytics, data lakes, machine learning, etc.
Management - Management services offer a range of compliance, recovery, backup, monitoring, scheduling, and automation tools that can enable a cloud administrator to handle an Azure deployment.
Mobile - Mobile products help a developer provide notification services, provide tools for building APIs, offer support for back-end tasks, develop cloud applications for mobile devices, and so on.
Migration - Migration tools help a company forecast the costs for workload migration, and do the actual migration of workloads to the Azure cloud from local data centers.
DevOps - DevOps group offers collaboration and project tools like Visual Studio Team Services that make the DevOps software development processes much easier to accomplish.
Databases - Databases category incorporates DBaaS(Database as a Service) offerings for NoSQL and SQL, and other database instances like Azure Database for PostgreSQL and Azure Cosmos DB.
Azure Compute - Azure Compute services allow a user to manage as well as deploy containers, virtual machines(VMs), and batch processing. They also support remote application access.
Containers - Container services help a company manage, orchestrate, register, and create high volumes of containers in the Azure cloud with the help of common platforms like Kubernetes and Docker.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence - This is a broad range of services that a developer can utilize to infuse cognitive computing, AI, and machine learning capabilities into data sets and applications.
Security -Azure products offer capabilities to detect and respond to cloud security threats and manage encryption keys and various other sensitive assets.
Development - Development services help application developers track potential issues, test applications, and share code.
Internet of Things(IoT) - These services enable users to analyze, monitor, and capture IoT data from sensors and various other devices.
IAM(Identity and Access Management) - IAM offerings make sure that only the users who are authorized can access Azure services, and help in protecting encryption keys and other sensitive information in the cloud.
Hybrid Integration - These services enable connecting public and private clouds, site recovery, and server backup.
CDN(Content Delivery Network) and Media - These services include digital rights protection, on-demand streaming, encoding, indexing and media playback.
Networking - Networking group includes gateways, dedicated connections, virtual networks, and services for load balancing, diagnostics, traffic management, network protection against DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, and DNS(Domain Name System) hosting.
Azure Management Portal
Microsoft Azure Management Portal is a simple way to observe and track all Azure subscriptions, spending, and usage. The reporting features and dashboard will provide you with an in-depth understanding of Azure expenditure and consumption. The features of the Azure Management Portal include:
- Strategize future usage and capacity
- Exploit your cloud data
- Optimize virtual machine size and scale
- Control billing and spend
- View all subscriptions at one place
The latest Azure Portal is depicted in the below image.
Image: Aidan Finn
Azure Resource Manager
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Basically, the infrastructure for your application is made up of various components such as database server, database, virtual network, storage account, and a virtual machine. You don’t view these elements as different entities, instead, you view them as interdependent and related components of a single entity. You want to monitor, manage, and deploy them as a group.
Azure Resource Manager will allow you to function with resources as a group in your solution. You can delete, update, or deploy all resources for your solution in a coordinated, single operation. A template can be used for deployment and it can work for various environments like production, staging, and testing. Azure Resource Manager offers features for tagging, auditing, and security to help you handle your resources after deployment.
Consistent Management Layer - Resource Manager offers a consistent management layer to execute tasks via Azure PowerShell, client SDKs, REST API, and Azure portal. All the Azure portal’s capabilities are available via Azure PowerShell, client SDKs, Azure REST APIs, and Azure CLI.
The below image depicts how the tools communicate with the Azure Resource Manager API. The Resource Manager service authenticates and authorizes requests once the API passes requests to it. Then, the requests are routed to the appropriate service providers by the Resource Manager.
For modern data storage scenarios, Azure Storage is the cloud storage solution of Microsoft. Azure storage provides a highly scalable object store for data objects, a NoSQL Store, a messaging store for the purpose of reliable messaging, and a file system service for the cloud. The benefits of Azure Storage are as follows.
Highly available and durable - In the event of transient hardware failures, redundancy makes sure your data is secure. Data can also be replicated across geographical regions or data centers for more protection from a natural disaster or local catastrophe. In this way, data remains highly available even during an unexpected outage.
Secure - The service encrypts all the data that is written to Azure Storage. Azure storage offers you fine-grained control over who will access your data.
Scalable - In order to meet the performance and data storage needs of today’s applications, Azure storage is designed to be highly scalable.
Managed - Any critical problems and maintenance are handled by Microsoft Azure.
Accessible - You can access Azure storage from anywhere in the world over HTTPS or HTTP
Why do you need Azure Certification?
Today, many organizations around the world are using the Azure cloud platform to drive their businesses, and this explains the importance of gaining expertise in Azure. But, you can showcase this expertise through an Azure certification. It is proof of your knowledge of Azure features, deployment, working, and management.
More Information click: Microsoft Azure Certification Path
With the demand for cloud computing increasing day-by-day and Microsoft being established as a leader in the cloud computing space, it is important to analyze what Microsoft Azure is up to and its impact in the near future. I have explained previously in this tutorial that Azure offers services in the form of IaaS.
For most customers, the advantage of IaaS is the decreased expense and complexity of handling data center infrastructure and physical servers. There are many companies that aren’t willing to keep all their eggs in the public cloud basket. Microsoft has identified this and created a low-level infrastructure private cloud service known as Azure Stack.
Azure Stack provides companies with a hybrid cloud solution. The main idea behind the creation of Azure Stack is to give companies the power of cloud services yet allowing them to hold control of their data center for real hybrid cloud agility.
Thus, Azure continues to evolve by enhancing accessibility to migration and various other services such as Virtual Machine on Linux, for example. In the near future, we will see many services that are cost-friendly and can become available for an ever-growing customer base who are looking for a simple, but trustable and powerful Azure cloud.
Microsoft Azure is one of the major global providers of public cloud service. Other major providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). At present, there is no standardization among cloud capabilities or services. This implies no two providers of cloud services deliver the same service in the same manner utilizing the same integrations or APIs. This makes it difficult for a business to utilize more than one provider of cloud service to pursue a multi-cloud strategy, though third-party tools for cloud management can decrease some of these challenges.
IT Industry is going through a wave of innovation and is being powered by the cloud phenomenon. Azure Online Training equips the learners with in-depth knowledge of the Azure concepts to effectively undertake various tasks as a developer, administrator, and database administrator. In Azure training, you will understand the basic and main cloud computing principles and how the implementation of these principles is done in Microsoft Azure.
Azure vs AWS
Two of the most trusted cloud platforms by businesses (old and new, big and small) all over the world are Microsoft Azure and AWS. There is a heavy discussion going on among businesses on which cloud platform to choose between Azure and AWS, and Azure vs AWS is a commonly seen analogy today. You can compare the feature set of both cloud platforms and decide on which one is suitable for your business. More explanation on this is given here.
Privacy and security are built into the Azure platform. You can get a unified view of security across all your cloud and on-premises workloads. You can locate and onboard new Azure resources automatically and apply security policies across your hybrid cloud workloads to ensure compliance along with security standards. You can also analyze, search, as well as connect security data from different sources, including firewalls and various other partner solutions.
Thus, this MS Azure Tutorial has discussed the components and features of Azure and what it can do for your business as a powerful cloud computing platform.