Did you know that almost 95 percent of 500 Fortune companies are using Azure? Also, Azure is 5 times cheaper than AWS in terms of Windows and SQL server. You would have wondered about questions like what is Microsoft Azure, and how is it better, etc while choosing your cloud service provider. Well, you are in the right place because we will be tackling such questions in this blog.
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Microsoft Azure was announced in October 2008 and released on February 1, 2010, as Windows Azure first and later renamed as Microsoft Azure on 25 March 2015. In today’s scenario, Microsoft Azure’s reach is in 140 countries and is still expanding which is pretty impeccable.
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Before going ahead with ‘what is Microsoft Azure’ blog, it is suggestible that your Cloud Computing concepts are clear. For in-depth knowledge of Cloud Computing, please refer to this blog: Introduction to Cloud Computing.
Check out this Intellipaat Microsoft Azure Full Course video:
In this blog, we will be answering questions starting from ‘what is Microsoft Azure?’ to ‘How to become a professional in Azure?’.
In case you want to go ahead with a specific topic, here are the topics that will be discussed in this blog:
So, let us begin with the definition first, which I am going to talk about in the section below.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Azure was created in 2010 by Microsoft to provide cloud services where users could build, test, deploy, and manage their applications on data centers of Microsoft. These data centers have been spread across 54 global regions. Microsoft offers various services across multiple domains such as Compute, Database, Content Delivery, Networking and many more.
Let us now move on, and deep-dive into Microsoft Azure. Let us start by analyzing the other Cloud Providers.
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AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud
To understand what is Microsoft Azure, we must also know about other cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform. Without going into details, let us just compare them to avoid confusion.
Here are some of the differences between the three cloud service providers.
|AWS||Microsoft Azure||Google Cloud Platform|
|12 years old||7 years old||6 years old|
|Amazon S3 is mostly used for secondary backup||Backup is built into Azure||Does not provide any backup|
|Gives managed virtual tape infrastructure across hybrid environments||Enterprise-grade hybrid cloud storage||It relies on partners like Egnyte|
|Dominant market position||Second largest provider||Recently launched and new|
|Pricing is per hour||Pricing is per minute||Pricing is per minute|
Cloud Computing is in its nascent stage, and therefore there is a lot of scope to grow in this area as a professional with the right certification and the right platform.
Azure holds the largest market share, after AWS. With the extensive use of AWS, there are many professionals who already have mastered it and the job market for AWS has now become saturated. On the other hand, opting for Google Cloud would not help you much, since most of the Fortune 500 companies are not on Google Cloud right now. Hence, the number of jobs available for Google Cloud is comparatively less. Being in the middle ground, getting certified as an Azure Professional is going to be a strategically good choice.
Now that we know learning Azure is the right thing to do, let’s move on in this ‘what is Microsoft Azure’ blog and learn how Azure actually works by discussing the Microsoft Azure architecture.
If you have any doubts or queries related to Azure, do post them on Azure Community!
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Microsoft Azure Architecture
Let us try to understand, Microsoft Azure Architecture by the diagram given below:
Image source: Mastering Cloud Computing, a book authored by Rajkumar Buyya
AppFabric is the middleware which comprises of services such as compute, storage, networking, and identity management. Azure is hosted within Microsoft data centers and is accessible from Microsoft Azure Management Portal. Next, let’s talk about the middleware in detail below, as services.
Let us now explore some of the services that are provided by Microsoft Azure in the segment below.
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Microsoft Azure Services
By now, you might be having a rough idea about the entire cloud services and what is Microsoft Azure. Let us deep-dive into the Azure services.
There is an endless list of services that Microsoft Azure provides you with. We will be focusing on all the important services which are frequently asked in the certification exams.
For better understanding, let’s categorize them into domains as follows:
- Azure Compute
- Azure Networking
- Azure Storage
- Azure Database
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It gives the products that are of building level which determines the execution of an application deployed in the Azure platform. Following are the different services that Azure provides:
Azure Virtual machine: it is an environment that allows the user to have a similar experience as that of while using dedicated hardware.
- Azure Virtual Machine Set: They are used to create thousands of identical virtual machines in a jiffy.
- Azure Container Service: Containers are packages that do not need virtual machines and instead depend on virtual isolation to run applications that have shared OS kernel. And Azure container service creates a container hosting solution.
- Azure Container Registry: It is used to store and manage container images.
- Azure Functions: It doesn’t have a server and lets you run code-on-demand without infrastructure.
- Azure Batch: It is used to scale N number of virtual machines at a time.
- Azure Service Fabric: It is a distributed platform that simplifies the deployment and lifecycle management of a small service-based application.
- Azure Cloud Services: They focus on apps and support Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, .Net, and Ruby.
- Web Apps: They create and deploy web apps at scale very quickly.
- Azure Mobile App: It is used in building and hosting backend for any application on mobile.
- API Apps: It is used to build cloud APIs easily.
- Azure Search: It provides search-as-a-service which is fully managed.
- Notification Hubs: They are used to send push notifications to any platform from any backend easily.
- Azure Logic Apps: It is a cloud service that will help you in automating workflows, business processes, etc.
- Azure Event Hub: It is a collection of events that can be stored.
These networks allow enterprises to safely connect to their cloud resources through Azure ExpressRoute. It is also used to manage private virtual networks and, further, create multiple virtual networks.
- Azure Virtual Network: It performs network isolation and segmentation with filters which routes the traffic. It comprises of Azure Connect which allows easy setup of IP-based and Azure Traffic Manager.
- Azure Load Balancer: It balances a load of traffic going to virtual machines and isolates the external traffic to another virtual machine.
- Azure Traffic Manager: It provides load balancing features.
- Azure Express Route: It is a network that lets you extend the current network into Microsoft cloud over a private connection.
- Azure DNS: It translates a website to the IP address.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN): It helps in improving delivering the content and allows the streaming of content by using the location of 24 different locations that are distributed throughout the world.
- Azure VPN Gateway: It sends encrypted traffic across a public connection.
Want to read more about Azure? Go through this Azure Tutorial!
Azure storage provides storage solutions that are more durable and You can build large-scale applications, and still scale higher if needed, and it automatically balances the data based on traffic.
- Azure Blob Storage: Azure follows storage in terms of binary large objects (BLOBs) with blob service. It gives users the ability to describe their data by adding metadata.
- Azure Queue Storage: It allows applications to communicate via the exchange of messages on a queue hence it avoids lost or unprocessed messages.
- Azure File Storage: It offers file sharing in the cloud using standard protocol.
- Azure Table Storage: It stores semi-structured NoSQL data in the cloud.
Azure Database is a relational database-as-a-service that is reliable and secure, and it gives high performance without having to worry about any infrastructure.
- Azure SQL Database: It is a relational database hosted in Azure and built on SQL server technologies. It provides a scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant database.
- Azure DocumentDB: It is a NoSQL database-as-a-service whose features are a transactional process over no schema data, rich querying and query processing and transaction semantics that are similar to the relational databases.
- Azure Redis Cache: It is a data structure that implements a key-value database with optional durability.
So, those were the services of Azure but there is a lot to it. Coming back to our question, ‘what is Microsoft Azure?’, let us see why companies are opting for Azure, in the next section.
Microsoft Azure Features
Now that we know exactly what is Microsoft Azure, let us see what its features are.
- Disaster Recovery: Since data is not stored on a single physical computer and instead it is present in different geographical locations, it will be much safer in the time of disasters. Even if one location undergoes some natural calamity, other locations are not harmed, and hence your data is safe.
- Security: Azure is continuously updated and that makes it secure. Security Development Lifecycle makes sure that every development phase is safe and secure.
- Flexibility: With Azure, you can scale your storage capacity. Recently, Azure even gave updates on its increased flexibility in terms of virtual machine size. These reserved instances can decrease the Cloud Computing cost.
- Cost: Using physical hardware for the deployment of applications comes up with emptying your pockets. Training people on how to work with it requires a lot of time and money. In this fast-paced technological world, there is huge competition. And if you take time in delivering the final product, it is obvious that your business will foresee a huge loss. Azure is the solution to all those problems as it is cheap in terms of hardware and manpower.
Now that you are aware of Microsoft Azure’s services and features, let us dive into how to log in to Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft Azure Login
Moving along in this ‘what is Microsoft Azure’ blog, let us see, how you can create a free account in Microsoft Azure. On successful signup, you get Rs.13,300 credit in your Microsoft Azure free-tier account, and 25+ free services for a lifetime.
Below are the steps of creating your own Azure free trial account:
Step 1: Go to https://www.azure.com and click on the green Start free button
Step 2: Again, click on the Start free button
Step 3: If you already have a Microsoft account, enter your credentials and log in
Step 4: You will need to verify your account via phone SMS
Step 5: Provide your valid credit/debit card details, but you won’t be charged
Step 6: Next, tick on I agree and click on Sign Up. Within a few seconds, your account will be ready. Here is your dashboard
And that’s how simple it is!
Now, talking about the pricing of Azure, here is what you must know.
Azure gives the most amazing pocket-friendly plans for your Infrastructure on Azure.
Azure Pricing is offered in the following three forms:
- Pay as you go
- Spot Pricing or Low Priority VM
- Azure Reserved Instances
Let us understand them one by one:
Pay as you go: It is as simple as it sounds, you pay only for what you use. For example: Let’s say you use a 64GB RAM machine with 8 CPU cores for 45 minutes. You will just be charged for 45 minutes, nothing more nothing less. Want to hear something cool? The pricing for the machine similar to this spec is as low as, 61 rupees or 0.8 US dollars an hour. Isn’t that amazing! Not impressed with this pricing? Read on.
Spot Pricing or Low Priority VM: You can avail up to 70% discount on the standard pricing of Azure by using this pricing option. How? Azure has a lot of servers under the hood, sometimes because of low demand these servers can go idle, and for this very reason, Azure gives them at discount to users, which can up to 70%. Seems too good to be true? There is a catch though, the moment demand goes up for these servers, they will be taken away from you i.e let’s say you took a Low Priority VM for 0.2 dollars an hour. The moment somebody bids a higher amount on that VM, it will be taken away from you. This kind of pricing is helpful when you are working on tasks that require processing, but they are not urgent. Therefore you do not mind, them being taken away from you.
Azure Reserved Instances: With Azure Reserved Instances you can avail a discount of up to 70% on standard Azure pricing. How? Well, unlike Low Priority VMs, this kind of pricing is for workloads, which are extremely important and require constant processing. The way it works is, you commit to Azure that you will be using a particular VM for let’s say 2 years. This way, Azure gives you an upfront discount up to 70% which can vary based on the commitment time. But, you cannot withdraw the VM mid-term. Once you have committed you will use the VM for a particular amount of time, you will be billed for the time that you committed for, even though you are not using it.
Want to see how the prominent services of Azure are priced? I have tried to put forth the pricing options for the major services down below:
|Component||Price (in dollars)||Free Services|
|App Service||0.01336/hour||Free for the first 12 months|
|Virtual Machines||0.01118/hour||Free for the first 12 months|
|SQL Databases||0.02081/hour||250 GB free for the first 12 months|
|Blob||0.01895/GB||5 GB free for the first 12 months|
|Azure Container Service||0.01118/hour||Free for the first 12 months|
|Functions||0.2053/1 million executions||1 million requests/month always free|
It must be clear to you by now, what is Microsoft Azure and how fast Azure is growing. So, why not see some job prospects in this field?
Image source: https://www.businessinsider.com/
Cloud is growing each day and so are the platforms that provide cloud-based services.
- The average salary of an Azure Architect is about ₹3,046,000–₹3,327,00 annually, in India.
- While the basic pay scale for a Cloud Developer is up to ₹2,000,000–₹3,000,000, an Azure Administrator’s average salary is about ₹1,200,000–₹1,900,000.
- There are 16,000+ openings as of today globally, and this is 5,000+ in India! With the majority of the companies shifting to cloud services, the number of jobs in this field is going to increase.
We have almost reached the end of this blog and it must be crystal clear to you about what is Microsoft Azure and all its advantages in terms of services it offers, job market, etc. Isn’t it going to help, if you learn and gain expertise now? Getting certified as a cloud professional, especially as an Azure professional, will give your career a new edge.
If you have any doubts or queries related to Azure, do post them on Azure Community!
Microsoft Azure Certification
Microsoft has become popular worldwide. It has managed to set a benchmark for all its certifications, and it is also making sure to deliver the best cloud servicing platforms.
Further, there are three roles in Azure cloud services. They are:
- Cloud Administrator
- Cloud Developer
- Cloud Solutions Architect
Want more information about Azure Certification? Read this blog on Microsoft Azure Certification and Training Guide!
This certification is basically for beginners. With this certification, Microsoft aims to help the candidates learn and acquire knowledge and skills about basic cloud concepts and core Azure fundamentals.
- There have been few updates on this certification. Instead of appearing for the exams AZ-100 and AZ-10, from May 1, 2019, there will only be one exam that you need to pass:
- AZ-103: Microsoft Azure Administrator
This certification is recommended only if you’ve been in the cloud servicing industry for at least 2–3 years. With this certification, Microsoft aims to help the candidates learn all skills required in the development domain such as designing or building cloud-based applications. To achieve this certification, you will need to clear the following exam:
- Exam AZ-203: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure
This is the first role-based certification that is launched for the expert level. With this certification, Microsoft aims to help the candidates learn the most advanced Azure skills, along with learning to design secure, reliable, and scalable solutions for businesses. After this certification, a candidate is expected to have gained expertise in compute, network, security, and storage. To achieve this certification, you will have to pass the following exams:
- Exam AZ-300: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies
- Exam AZ-301: Microsoft Azure Architect Design
If you have taken up Exam 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, then you need to go for the following exam to get certified:
- Exam AZ-302: Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification Transition
Now that you know what is Microsoft Azure and the steps involved in getting certified, I am sure, it will be a game-changer altogether.
So, are you confident enough to answer the question ‘what is Microsoft Azure?’ now?
In case you want to get certified and become an Azure Specialist, here is the course you are looking for Microsoft Azure Masters Program!