Azure, microsoft's cloud platform

Azure is the cloud platform from microsoft and in it's simplest way it's just a bunch of services wich is offered over the internet. Azure has to compete with the Google App engine and Amazon's EC2 service. Microsoft's own definiton of Azure is: 

Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly  build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool, or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.

Cloud computing categories

There are several cloud computing categories offered by azure:

  • IAAS: infrastructure as a service the customer is responsible for configuring and managing the virtual machines

     

  • PAAS: platform as a service customer develops and deploys applications and is resposible for it.

  • SAAS: software as service Like hotmail, customer use the application and is responsible for noting.

Why use azure

    There are three reasons to use cloud
  • Speed

    With azure you have a new Virtual Machine running in minutes. With your on premise hardware a new Virtual Machine can take some day's,

    No hard- en software differences. You can build your OTAP wicht exactly the same environment. No hard en software differences mean you can really test your software in the test-environment

  • Scale

    The ability to scale up AND down your environment

  • Economics

    No costs in buying and maintaining soft en hardware

    No cost in maintaining knowledge to maintain soft en hardware

Azure services

So if azure is just a bunch of services, what services are there?

  • Compute services

    • Virtual machines
    • Web sites
    • Cloud services
    • Mobile services
  • network services

    • Virtual network
    • Traffic manager
    • Cache
  • Data services

    • Cata management ( SQL server )
    • Storage, queues, blobs
    • HD-insight. Microsft apache hadoop implementatiion  
    • Recovery services 
  • app services

    • Media services, build workflows for creating, managing, and distribution of media
    • Messaging, consist of azure service bus and windows azure queue
    • Biztalk services
    • Active directory, identity management
    • Multifactor authentication

Compute services

Compute services is the base of microsoft azure and the base of the computing services is the virtual machine. You just have to go to the portal enter some data push the button and there you have your compute service. There are four different flavours of azure computing service and with this four azure is very flexible.

Virtual machines

You can easily create a virtual machine with azure portal. Just login fill in some details, click on create, and within two minutes there is your virtual machine ready to go. Important feature here is speed. Azure offers you default some ready to go virtual machines with, for example, SQL-server pre-installed.

Websites

As easily as creating a virtual machine you can create a website. Just fil in the details, click and there is your website. It's easier and faster as creating a virtual machine and then create your website. The maintenance on the server used for this website and IIS used to host this website is done by Azure. So ease of use is the key-point here next to lack of control on IIS or and the server.

Cloud services

Azure cloud services offers the easiness of azure websites but with a bit more control on IIS of the server. It's meant for dedicated front-end or middle-tier applicatins on IIS with a bit more control on the server. Cloud services offers two roles:  

  • Web role: a dedicated IIS server used for front-end or middl-end applications
  • Work role: for applications that asynchroneously and generally perform long runnig data processing task independent of the user interaction
Mobile services

Mobile services helps you the accelerate the process of developing mobile apps. The mobile services can be divided in four segments

  • Data, store and retrieve data
  • Users, validate user credentials
  • Push, send notifactions
  • Services, schedule jobs

Network services

Virtual network

Azure virtual network helps you to connect your on premise applications to the cloud. Therefor are to kinds of vpn-connections available:

  • Point to point
  • Site to site

There is somewhere a list of supported vpn devices

Traffic manager

The traffic manager let's you load balance incomming traffic accross multiple hosted windows azure services.

    you can use traffic manager for
  • performance
  • round robbin, just equally distribute
  • failover, transfer the traffic to a backup device

Data services

SQL server

With SQL server you have, again, the two options

  • Use a virtual server, install SQL and do all the maintenance
  • Use a azure database, maintenance is done by microsoft azure
Data recovery

Azure offers a backup-manager wich will backup your data. You can specify the regions where you want your data to be stored. The recovery managers just works like a general recovery manager and gives yo the option to restore your data. SQL server is default daily backuped and saved for thirty day's.

Azure active directory

windows azure active directory services is a subset of the active directory services installed on the Windows2012 server. With windows azure active directory services you can control the access to all azure applications in the cload, it takes care of a single sign on situation in the whole company. Azure AD just, only stores user-information, groups e.d. in comparision to a full blown AD store allso hardware information, computers, servers, printers e.d If you want a complete cloud solution AD has to be installed on a virtual machine. Or of course you use the on-premise AD server.

Windows azure queue

If applications has to talk to each other on windows azure you can use the windws azure queue. The sending application place a message in the queue and has to know nothing of the receiving application. The receiving app process the message. It's easy to implement, scales perfectly and can be a good choise for use as application has to interact wich each other.

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