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What is Microsoft Azure and How Does it Work?

What is Microsoft Azure and How Does it Work?

Did you know that almost 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure, which is 5x cheaper than AWS for Windows and SQL Server? Read the blog to learn more about Azure.

Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, was introduced in October 2008 and released in February 2010. It is now available in 140 countries and is still expanding.

Before going ahead with the ‘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.

In this blog, you’ll get to learn what is Microsoft Azure and how it works. We will answer questions ranging from the meaning of Azure to how to become a professional!
In case you want to go ahead with a specific topic, here are the topics that will be discussed in this blog:

Check out this Intellipaat Microsoft Azure Full Course video:

So, let us begin with the Azure definition first, which I am going to talk about in the section below.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Azure is a cloud computing platform and an online portal that allows you to access and manage cloud services and resources provided by Microsoft. Microsoft Azure was officially launched on February 1, 2010. Azure allowed users to build, test, deploy, and manage applications on the data centers of Microsoft. These data centers have been spread across 54 global regions. Microsoft offers various services across multiple domains such as computing, 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.

Want to become a Microsoft Certified Azure Professional? Check out Intellipaat’s Azure Administrator certification now!

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud

To understand what Azure Cloud is, 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.

Azure vs AWS vs GCP

Here are some of the differences between the three cloud service providers.

AWSMicrosoft AzureGoogle Cloud Platform
15 years old13 years old13 years old
Amazon S3 is mostly used for secondary backupBackup is built into AzureDoes not provide any backup
Gives managed virtual tape infrastructure across hybrid environmentsEnterprise-grade hybrid cloud storageIt relies on partners like Egnyte
Dominant market positionSecond largest providerRecently launched and new
Pricing is per hourPricing is per minutePricing is per minute

Cloud Computing is still new, and there’s a lot of opportunity for professionals to grow in this field by getting the right certifications.

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 to learn how it actually works by discussing the Microsoft Azure architecture.

Go through our blog on what is Azure Data Lake to learn in detail.

Azure History

  • Windows Azure was first introduced by Microsoft in early October 2008, but it was not launched online until February 2010. 
  • Microsoft renamed Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure later in 2014. 
  • A service platform for .NET services, SQL services, and many live services was offered by Azure. Regarding “the cloud,” many people remained highly doubtful. 
  • Furthermore, Azure released the initial public beta versions of its machine learning services.
  • Azure released SONiC, a cross-platform Linux distribution, Azure ARM Portal (2015), Azure Service Fabric (2016), Azure Service Fabric Mesh (2018), and Azure IoT Central (2018).
  • The introduction of Kubernetes altered the way cloud computing is operated, forcing Microsoft to capitalize on the trend with the Azure Arc. 
  • Additionally, Azure provides more than 600 services. The vision and strategy employed by Microsoft to transform Azure and the cloud service platform in the market are remarkable.

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Microsoft Azure Architecture

Let us try to understand, Microsoft Azure Architecture by the diagram given below:

Microsoft Azure Architecture

Want to become a Microsoft Certified Azure Professional? Check out Intellipaat’s AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification now!

How Does Microsoft Azure Work?

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Developers and IT specialists can use this platform, which is available in both private and public clouds, to deploy, implement, and maintain applications. Microsoft Azure generally uses the following principles while working:

  • Microsoft Azure uses a technology known as virtualization by utilizing an abstraction layer known as a hypervisor.
  • A virtual machine (VM) created by a hypervisor can perform all computer functions. 
  • Microsoft Azure can run multiple virtual machines concurrently, and each virtual machine can run any operating system, including Windows and Linux
  • Azure replicates this virtualization technique on a massive scale by using Microsoft’s data center
  • Every data center has numerous server racks full of machines, and each machine has a hypervisor on it so that it can run multiple virtual machines. Every single one of those servers is connected via the network switch
  • The Azure Virtual Network service is used to provision private networks. It builds isolated and secure environments to run virtual machines (VMs) and applications. 
  • Azure is a massive server and networking hardware collection that powers a complex set of distributed applications. 
  • Azure is so powerful because of the way these servers are orchestrated, where virtualized hardware and software are configured. 
  • Azure handles hardware maintenance and upgrades for users, saving them time and effort by handling these tasks in the background. 

What Is Microsoft Azure Used for?

Microsoft Azure has a very wide range of resource and service offerings, which contributes to its vast and diverse use cases. One of Microsoft Azure’s applications is cloud computing with virtual machines and containers. These computational resources can support third-party applications, Windows Server services like Internet Information Services (IIS), networking services like firewalls, and infrastructure elements like DNS servers. Linux and other third-party operating systems are also supported by Microsoft.

Here are a few examples of Microsoft Azure’s use cases:

  • Azure App Service and Azure Functions are two services that are used to develop and deploy applications in the Azure cloud. Once the application is deployed, end users can access it.
  • Identity and Access Management helps secure the applications and data that are deployed and stored in Microsoft Azure. Multi-factor authentication, identity governance, and single sign-on are commonly used.
  • Microsoft Azure offers a variety of data storage services, including file storage, blob storage for unstructured data, table storage for NoSQL data, and Azure SQL Database for relational databases. Based on the volume of data we receive, the service can be scaled up or down.

Tools including version control, build automation, release management, and application monitoring are provided by Azure DevOps.

Are you ready to test your skills in Azure?
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Microsoft Azure Services

Azure all services

By now, you might have a rough idea about the entire cloud services and what is MS Azure. Let us deep-dive into Azure services.

There is an endless list of services that this cloud computing service provides you with. We will be focusing on all the important services that are frequently asked in the certification exams.

For better understanding, let’s categorize them into domains as follows:

  1. Azure Compute
  2. Azure Networking
  3. Azure Storage
  4. Azure Database

Watch this Azure Video Tutorial:

Azure Compute

Azure Compute

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 it provides:

  • Azure Virtual Machine: it is an environment that allows the user to have a similar experience as that 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 a 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.
  • Azure Web Apps: They create and deploy web apps at scale very quickly.
  • Azure Mobile App: It is used in building and hosting the 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 automate workflows, business processes, etc.
  • Azure Event Hub: It is a collection of events that can be stored.

Want to become an Azure developer, Check out this Azure Developer Certification in Singapore to enhance your career!

Azure Networking

Azure Networking

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 that route the traffic. It comprises 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: Azure DNS translates a website to the IP address.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN): Azure CDN helps in improving 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

Azure Storage

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 a standard protocol.
  • Azure Table Storage: It stores semi-structured NoSQL data in the cloud.

Azure Database

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 Database
  • 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 relational databases.
  • Azure Redis Cache: It is a data structure that implements a key-value database with optional durability.

Notable other services are Azure Service Bus, Azure Notification Hub, and Azure Resource Manager. 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 this cloud computing service, in the next section.

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Microsoft Azure Features

Here, we list some of the top features of Azure that are forcing enterprises of all sizes to move to the Azure cloud infrastructure:

  • Azure Virtual Machines come in new sizes and series, like the H100 and Hb v4 series, specifically designed for heavy-duty tasks such as machine learning and high-performance computing. 
  • Azure Container Instances support Windows containers, enabling developers to operate both Windows and Linux containers simultaneously.
  • Azure Kubernetes Service supports Kubernetes 1.25 and has features like CSI drivers and RuntimeClass.
  • Azure Blob Storage offers pricing choices, featuring a Hot tier tailored for frequently accessed data.
  • Azure Files supports SMB over TCP, enabling users to access Azure Files shares from any location globally.
  • Azure Machine Learning includes features promoting responsible AI, such as explainability and fairness.
  • Azure search can be used to embed search functionality into any custom application.
  • Azure ExpressRoute offers a direct connection between Azure data center and your on-premise environment.
  • Secure, dedicated access to Redis cache is possible with Azure Redis Cache.
  • Azure Batch lets you effortlessly run and execute your applications like an assembly line.
  • Azure Data Factory lets you seamlessly work on the on-premise or cloud infrastructure.
  • Azure Load Balancer is a cloud-based system that accepts client requests, determines which machines in the set can handle them, and then forwards those requests to the appropriate machines.
  • Disaster Recovery: Since data is not stored on a single physical computer and instead is present in different geographical locations, it will be much safer in the time of disaster. 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, the service from Microsoft even gave updates on its increased flexibility in terms of virtual machine size. These reserved instances can decrease the Cloud Computing cost.

Now that you are aware of Microsoft Azure’s services and features, let us dive into how to log in to Microsoft Azure.

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Microsoft Azure Login

Moving along in this ‘What is Azure’ blog, let us see, how you can create a free account in Microsoft Azure. On successful signup, you get USD 200 (Rs.15350) credit approximately in your Microsoft Azure account, for the next 30 days.

In this subscription, you get popular services free for 12 months, and more than 55 other services that are always free.

Below are the steps of creating your own Azure free trial account:

1st Step: Go to https://www.azure.com and click on the green Start Free button

Azure Free account

2nd Step: Again, click on the Start free button

Azure start free

3rd Step: If you already have a Microsoft account, enter your credentials and log in

Azure signin
Azure create password

Enter the required details:

Azure name details
Azure Birthdate Details

4th Step: You will need to verify your account via phone SMS/email.

Azure email Verification

5th Step: Provide your personal and professional details followed by valid credit/debit card details. You will be charged Rs 2.00 approx. initially but this amount will be refunded within 3-7 business days.

Azure Location Details
Azure Credit Card Details

6th Step: Next, tick on I agree and click on Sign Up. Within a few seconds, your account will be ready. Here is your dashboard

Azure Services Dashboard

And that’s how simple it is!
Now, talking about the pricing of this cloud computing service, here is what you must know.

Go through these Microsoft Azure Interview Questions and Answers to excel in your interview.

Azure Pricing

Microsoft Azure gives the most amazing pocket-friendly plans for your Infrastructure on Azure.

Pricing of Azure is offered in the following three forms:

  1. Pay as you go
  2. Spot Pricing or Low Priority VM
  3. 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: Azure Spot Pricing and Low Priority VMs offer users a way to save up to 70% on standard Azure pricing by using unused compute capacity. Azure Spot Pricing allows users to bid on spare compute resources, while Low Priority VMs are always available at a discounted price but can be interrupted if demand for compute resources increases.

This pricing option is ideal for workloads that can be interrupted, such as batch processing jobs, dev/test environments, and large compute workloads.

Certification in Cloud & Devops

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 this cloud service 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? We have tried to put forth the pricing options for the major services below:

ComponentPrice (in dollars)Free Services
App Service0.01336/hourFree for the first 12 months
Virtual Machines0.01118/hourFree for the first 12 months
SQL Databases0.02081/hour250 GB free for the first 12 months
Blob0.01895/GB5 GB free for the first 12 months
Azure Container Service0.01118/hourFree for the first 12 months
Functions0.2053/1 million executions1 million requests/month always free

You can also use Azure Calculator to calculate the charges of the services that you wish to use.

Step 1: Visit the above link and select your service.

Azure Calculator Dashboard

Step 2: Provide the details of the product selected before. In our case, details include Region, Operating System, Number of Virtual Machines, and the configuration of an instance.

Azure Calculator VM

You will get the cost.

Azure Calculator Instance

It must be clear to you by now, what Microsoft Azure means and how fast it is growing. So, why not see some job prospects in this field?

In case you want to get certified and become an Azure Specialist, here is the course you are looking for Microsoft Azure Masters Program!

Azure Competitors

Here are a few of Microsoft Azure’s competitors:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • IBM Cloud
  • Alibaba Cloud
  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)
  • Salesforce
  • Tencent Cloud

Azure Jobs

Azure job

Image source: The Businessinsider

Cloud is growing each day and so are the platforms that provide cloud-based services.

  1. The average salary of an Azure Architect is about ₹3,046,000–₹3,327,00 annually, in India.
  2. 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.
  3. There are 16,000+ openings as of today globally, and this is 5,000+ in India! With the majority of 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 a 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.

Azure certification-What is Microsoft Azure-Intellipaat

Further, there are three roles in Azure cloud services. They are:

  • Azure Administrator
  • Azure Developer Associate
  • Azure Solutions Architect

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

This certification is basically for beginners who want to start their career as Microsoft Azure administrators. With this certification, Microsoft aims to help the candidates learn and acquire knowledge about core Azure fundamentals and skills required to become an administrator.

  1. There have been a 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-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator

Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

We recommend this certification only for those who have 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:

  1. Exam AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure

Prepare for Azure DevOps with the help of these Azure DevOps Interview Questions.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect

Microsoft launched its first role-based certification 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 computing, network, security, and storage. To achieve this certification, you will have to pass the following exams:

If you have taken up Exam AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate, then you need to go for the following exam to get certified:

  1. Exam AZ-305: Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

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, now we hope that you are confident enough to answer the question ‘What is Azure?’

Know about the difference between Azure, AWS, and GCP in the blog by Intellipaat.

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