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Microsoft Azure Cloud Concepts

Part One of Azure Fundamentals Series.

Introduction to Azure

Cloud is a collection of computers (mostly, physical servers) that are connected over the internet and are used to provide on-demand resources or services.

Thousands of physical servers are housed in buildings known as Data Centres. Microsoft, an American Multinational corporation has Data centres in more than 130 countries all over the globe. Through these data centres, Microsoft provides the Azure Cloud Computing service.

Azure offers resources and services for building, testing, deploying and managing applications.

Economic Benefits of using Azure

If you own a company or a start-up, you have to handle the IT infrastructure of your company. The infrastructure generally consists of Physical hardware like computers and Networking hardware like routers, firewall software etc, and various storage areas. Purchasing and managing the hardware comes under Capital Expenses. You pay for your equipment even if you no longer use it.

With Azure, Capital expenses are turned into Operational expenses because you don’t purchase hardware instead you rent hardware.

All cloud providers including Azure, charge you money based on your usage. If you use a resource (aka hardware) you pay. If you don't, you don’t pay. This is known as the Pay-as-you-go model.

Using Azure, you can benefit from Economies of Scale. This means when a lot of companies or people use Azure resources, the ability to acquire resources at lower costs would become easier than when very few people were using them.

This leads us to a very important question: How do we use Azure? or How do I use Azure in my existing business?

The Solution: Types of Cloud Computing

Let’s find out how you can adopt Azure for your company.

Public Cloud

If you use the public cloud model, you have all your hardware rented from Azure. It helps you cut costs and you can scale out your IT resources based on demand. You don’t have to worry about maintaining your data centre or hardware, but you have limited control over your resources because you don’t own anything and you have to depend on Microsoft for the security of your hardware or applications.

Private Cloud

Also known as On-Premises Data centre. It is entirely dedicated to a single company. The company owns and maintains its private cloud. Resources can be used without the internet and the company has full control over everything. On the flip side, Capital expenses are huge.

Hybrid Cloud

Most companies use the hybrid cloud strategy. It is a combination of the public cloud(like Azure) and the private cloud.

The hybrid cloud model allows enterprises to deploy applications in private IT environments or public clouds and move between them. You can use the best features of a public cloud provider while storing sensitive information in your own data centres. This gives a business greater flexibility and more data deployment and security options.

For a hybrid cloud to work, the data in your on-premises data centre must be compatible with the cloud providers. The downside of using a hybrid cloud is the complexity that arises when connecting servers of public cloud with private cloud’s.

Services Provided by Azure

As you consider using cloud services, it’s important to know the shared responsibility model and which security tasks are handled by Azure and which tasks are handled by you.

IaaS: Infrastructure-as-a-Service

If you choose to leverage the IaaS, you get the servers, storage and networking resources. You are responsible for creating Virtual Machines, updating the Operating system, etc. You are given access to applications that monitor your VMs.

Azure manages the infrastructure, it takes care of fault tolerance i.e, it monitors and replaces defective infrastructure.

PaaS: Platform-as-a-Service

PaaS helps you in building, testing, deploying, managing and updating your business application.

You only manage the code of the application while Azure takes care of software licences, underlying infrastructure, middleware, development tools, orchestration software, etc. It also provides business intelligence tools to help your application grow.

SaaS: Software-as-a-Service

If you use Gmail or MS Outlook, then you have already used a form of SaaS. SaaS applications are on-demand software or hosted software. Azure manages all of the underlying infrastructure, middleware, app software and app data are located in Azure’s data centre.

You can rent the use of an app for your business and your users connect to it over the Internet with a web browser.

The article is part one of the Azure Fundamentals Series. Stay tuned for more!

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Shreya Sinha

Programmer on weekdays, Creative writer on weekends. New content every Friday. Connect with me: