Introduction to Microsoft Azure

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing plays an increasingly important role in IT infrastructure. Therefore, IT professionals must be aware of fundamental cloud principles and techniques. There are three main types of cloud computing models: public, private, and hybrid.

The advantages of cloud computing are:

  • Managed datacenter. With cloud computing, your service provider can manage your datacenter. This obviates the need for you to manage your own IT infrastructure. Cloud computing also enables you to access computing services irrespective of your location and the hardware that you use to access those services. Although the datacenter remains a key element in cloud computing, the emphasis is on virtualization technologies that focus on delivering applications rather than on infrastructure.
  • Lower operational costs. Cloud computing provides pooled resources, elasticity, and virtualization technology. These factors help you to alleviate issues such as low system use, inconsistent availability, and high operational costs. It is important to remember that with cloud computing, you only pay for the services that you use; this can mean substantial savings on operational costs for most organizations.
  • Server consolidation. You can consolidate servers across the datacenter by using the cloud computing model, because it can host multiple virtual machines on a virtualization host.
  • Better flexibility and speed. When you use the cloud computing model with products such as System Center 2012, you can increase resources’ flexibility and the speed of access to resources.

What is Azure?

Azure is the public cloud services offering from Microsoft. Microsoft datacenters deliver Azure services over the Internet. Customers can subscribe to a variety of the Azure services that run in these datacenters, typically at a cost lower than they might incur if they purchased or hosted their own hardware, or built their own services and software.

Azure Datacenters Locations

Azure is a collection of cloud services that you can use to build and operate cloud-based applications and IT infrastructure. A global network of datacenters host Azure services. Microsoft technicians manage these data centers on a 24-hours-a-day basis. Azure offers a 99.95 percent availability service level agreement (SLA) for computing services.

Azure services enable you to:

  • Create and operate cloud-based applications by using a wide range of commonly used tools and frameworks.
  • Host workloads in the cloud on Azure PaaS services and IaaS infrastructure that comprise virtual machines and virtual networks.

To use Azure services, you require a subscription. You can sign up for a subscription as an individual or as an organization, and then pay for the services you use on a usage-based cost basis..

The Microsoft Classic Azure Portal

The existing Azure management portal is the primary user interface for provisioning and managing Azure services. It is implemented as a web application, and it requires that you sign in using a Microsoft account or an organizational account that is associated with one or more Azure subscriptions.

Azure Portal

The Azure management portal consists of a page for each Azure service. It also includes an All Items page in which you can view all provisioned services in your subscriptions, and a Settings page in which you can configure subscription-wide settings.

The New Microsoft Azure Portal

Although the existing Azure management portal still provides the primary user interface for managing Azure services, a new version of the portal is available in preview form. The New Microsoft Azure Portal represents a significant change in the way that developer and operations (dev/ops) tasks are performed in Azure.

Azure New Portal

You can accomplish most tasks in both the current portal and the Preview (new) portal. However, the Preview portal does not include certain tasks, and you must perform these in the existing portal. In addition, some new preview features are only available in the New Portal.

Azure Web Apps

You can choose to host your web application in the Azure Web Apps service. After creating a new Azure web apss, you can either upload a custom web application or choose from a wide range of popular general purpose web applications, including Drupal, Word Press, Umbraco, and others . Developers can build custom web applications to host in Azure Web Apss by using ASP.NET, Node.js, PHP, and Python.

You can scale up an Azure website by changing tiers. This increases the traffic a single instance of the site can service. Alternatively, scale out by installing a website in multiple instances and using Azure load balancing to distribute traffic. However, you can only scale the website as a single component. You can use Azure SQL Database or SQL Server on a virtual machine to host an underlying database.