What is Microsoft Azure? Here’s Everything You Need to Know


Cloud computing has taken the world by storm, all thanks to the widespread adoption of the internet. Today, there are several cloud computing service providers that offer a wide range of computing services to meet the needs of individuals, large enterprises, and everything in between them.

Azure or Microsoft Azure is one big name in the cloud computing domain. It is a cloud computing platform that provides an extensive range of cloud computing products and services to meet the varying needs of customers.

If you are new to Microsoft Azure and want to know more about it, you have landed just at the right place. Here, we will introduce you to Azure and many of its aspects that you should know if you want to use its services or become an Azure developer.

So without wasting any time, let’s get going!

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure or Azure is a cloud computing service provider that gives users access to more than 600 services. Azure is operated by Microsoft and it is a public cloud computing platform. The Azure portal makes it really easy for users to manage all the Azure services that they have subscribed to.

It makes use of all the three major cloud service models, namely infrastructure as a service (Iaas), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). Microsoft Azure supports several programming languages, frameworks, and development tools. The services offered by Azure are suitable for a variety of purposes, including storage, networking, and analytics.

Azure follows the pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means that users only have to pay for the services that they have opted for and used. There are no fixed charges for using Azure services. This pricing model makes Azure services cost-effective for businesses as well as individuals.

A Quick Introduction to Cloud Computing

As Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform, it’s essential that you have an idea of what cloud computing is all about. In general, cloud computing refers to the delivery of resources like computing power, data storage, etc. via the internet. Also, the computing services offered under cloud computing include servers, analytics, software, and networking.

The best part of cloud computing is that it saves businesses from all the hassles of setting up and managing their IT infrastructure. Also, most cloud service providers charge for only the resources utilized, thus it becomes an economical option for businesses. Also, they get access to top-class services as the most popular cloud service providers are just too big names in the tech domain. For instance, Azure is operated by Microsoft, AWS is operated by Amazon, and GCP is operated by Google.

How Does Microsoft Azure Works?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud service provider that offers an impressive range of cloud services. As of 2021, it has more than 200 data centers that are spread across the world. Also, Azure services are easily accessible for users from different countries.

Users first need to sign up for an Azure account and then they can choose the specific services that they need by logging into their accounts on the Azure portal. Also, a user can manage all their resources, like database, storage, databases, etc.

Azure keeps a track of the services that you use along with the time for which you use to generate the bill.

Popular Azure Products and Services

Following are the most popular Azure products and services along with their brief overviews:

  • Azure Active Directory

Azure Active Directory or Azure AD is a dedicated identity and access management solution. It allows users to manage their credentials and facilitates single sign-on to apps that they use.

The service also comes with features including conditional access and multi-factor authentication to safeguard online identities and prevent unauthorized access to apps. Also, Azure AD claims to provide protection against 99.9 percent of cybersecurity attacks.

  • Azure CDN

The CDN (Content Delivery Network) service offered by Amazon helps to ensure quick delivery of content to audiences across the globe. The servers are dispersed in several geographical areas, and the content is delivered from the servers that are closer to the users making the request to access the content.

Azure CDN makes it possible to reduce the latency and deliver the content to users in a jiffy. Also, the CDN provides scalability so that it becomes easy to handle sudden traffic spikes and heavy loads without hampering the performance of the applications.

  • Virtual Machines

Azure lets you create and work on virtual machines that run Windows or Linux. The best thing about Azure Virtual Machines is that you can set them up almost instantaneously. As virtual machines are instances of operating systems, they work individually. Thus, virtual machines act as a preferred choice for running and testing apps, creating backups, etc.

With Azure, you get the flexibility to run apps on a hybrid cloud environment where certain sections of your app run on Azure cloud and other sections run on a data center owned by you. Additionally, while working with Azure, it becomes just too convenient to set up extra virtual machines on the go. Also, once you are done with your tasks, you can shut down the virtual machines and save on costs for running them. 

  • Azure Backup

Data is among the most precious assets for businesses, thus assuring its safety is extremely important. The Azure Backup service allows businesses to protect their data and save themselves from losing data due to human errors.

The backup solutions offered by Azure act as a cost-effective way of securing your data. Basically, you can backup all your important data on the Azure cloud and retrieve it at your convenience. With the Azure Backup service, you can back up your on-premises data, Azure VMs, Azure Managed Disks, and much more.

  • Azure Blob Storage

This service focuses on providing object storage that is highly scalable and secure. It is a first-rate choice for storing large unstructured data and hosting scalable cloud-native, web, and mobile applications.

Azure Blob Storage works seamlessly with several popular web development frameworks, such as .NET, Node.js, and Python. Also, it facilitates comprehensive data management and thus it becomes easy to create data lakes.

  • API Management

APIs are at the core of web development and make it possible for different systems to interact and exchange data. The API Management service offered by Azure takes away all the hassle for publishing, managing, analyzing, and securing APIs. It acts as a unified platform for managing all the APIs of a business.

API mocking, versioning, and revisions along with the ability to automate the API documentation process is what makes Azure API Management a desirable choice for growing businesses. The web services and data exchange through APIs can be restricted to desired customers, employees, or partners through different measures, including authentication and authorization.

Additionally, one key advantage of leveraging this Azure service is that it allows automatic conversion of conventional and legacy web services into REST APIs. This ensures that the back-end of your applications can perform in accordance with modern needs.

  • Azure Bots

The Azure Bot Service is dedicated to applications that require the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). To be more specific, Azure Bots provides a dedicated environment for developing conversational AI, such as chatbots and virtual agents.

With an open-source toolset, it becomes possible for you to create bots that support multiple languages. The chatbots you develop can have different use cases such as customer support, customer feedback collection, service stats, order tracking, etc. Also, as a business, you get the flexibility to deploy your bots on websites, mobile applications, Slack, and more.

  • Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps is one of the most sought-after services as it helps software development teams to plan, develop, test, and deploy applications quickly. It comes with an interactive tool named Azure Boards that allows team members to plan and discuss ideas productively.

It brings together several tools that intend to streamline the processes involved in DevOps, such as Azure Pipelines for CI/CD, Azure Repos for hosting and collaborating on private repositories, and Azure Test Plans for effective testing.

  • Azure CosmosDB

NoSQL databases are highly popular for storing data of real-time web apps and big data. The Azure CosmosDB is a NoSQL database service that is high in demand among Azure users. It is a fully-managed database service that comes with seamless support for other databases, including Cassandra and MongoDB through high-performance APIs.

With a 99.99% uptime guarantee, Azure CosmosDB is capable of handling traffic spikes to ensure the apps working doesn’t get hampered even during high workloads.

Azure Pricing Model and Plans

When it comes to pricing, Azure employs a pay-as-you-go subscription model, which means that there are no definite pricing plans. Instead, the customers are charged on the basis of the services/resources that they use.

As a user, you only need to pay for the Azure services that you are using. Also, the billing depends on the number of resources that you use. Also, the pricing for each service varies, for instance, the starting price of Linux Virtual Machine is $0.0004 per hour and that of Azure Functions is $0.20 per million executions.

You can get all the pricing details for Azure services by clicking here.

Advantages of Using Microsoft Azure

Following are the key advantages of using Microsoft Azure:

  • Azure promises an uptime guarantee of 99.95% for most of its services.
  • It facilitates the development and hosting of web applications as well as mobile applications.
  • Azure employs top-class security measures to ensure the complete security of its services.
  • Most services are easily scalable.
  • It provides high-quality services for working on advanced technologies, including IoT and artificial intelligence.

Disadvantages of Using Microsoft Azure

Using Azure is not always sunshine and roses as it has the following disadvantages too that you need to know:

  • Managing multiple Azure services requires businesses to hire Azure professionals.
  • Azure services do not provide equally high speeds in all the regions of the world.
  • Depending on Azure for all IT infrastructure needs can be risky in case the platform goes through a major outage.

Microsoft Azure: Summary

Launch Year2008
LicenseOpen source for client SDKs, Closed source for the platform
Approximate Number of Services600
Key CompetitorsAmazon AWS, GCP (Google Cloud Platform)

To Sum it Up

Microsoft Azure is a popular name in the cloud computing world. It is a cloud service provider and cloud computing platform that offers a vast array of services. From cloud storage to development tools, Azure makes it possible for businesses to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

In this article, we have discussed several important pieces of information about Azure that can help you to understand what it is all about. If there’s anything you want to share about Azure, please do that in the comments below.

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