Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet

This complete information about Microsoft Azure consists of widespread use instances, technical limitations, and what to know earlier than adopting the cloud computing platform.

The rise of cloud computing offers companies the power to rapidly provision computing sources with out the pricey and laborious process of constructing information facilities, and with out the prices of working servers with unutilized capability because of variable workloads.

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, launched in February 2010. Along with conventional cloud choices equivalent to digital machines, object storage, and content material supply networks (CDNs), Azure provides providers that leverage proprietary Microsoft applied sciences. For instance, RemoteApp permits for the deployment of Home windows packages utilizing a digital machine, with shoppers on Home windows, Mac OS, Android, or iOS utilizing this system by means of a distant desktop connection. Azure additionally provides cloud-hosted variations of widespread enterprise Microsoft options, equivalent to Active Directory and SQL Server.

This introduction to Microsoft’s cloud platform will probably be up to date periodically to maintain IT leaders within the loop on new Azure providers and methods during which they are often leveraged. (Notice: This text about Microsoft Azure is available as a free PDF download.)

SEE: Top cloud providers in 2020: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, hybrid, SaaS players (TechRepublic)

Govt abstract

  • What’s Microsoft Azure? Microsoft Azure is a set of varied cloud computing providers, together with remotely hosted and managed variations of proprietary Microsoft applied sciences, and open applied sciences, equivalent to numerous Linux distributions deployable inside a digital machine.
  • Why does Microsoft Azure matter? Azure lacks upfront prices or an considerable time delay in useful resource provisioning–capacity is offered on demand. With a usage-based billing components, Azure is a compelling possibility for enterprises transitioning from on-premise Home windows servers to the cloud.
  • Who does Microsoft Azure have an effect on? Azure could be utilized at any scale, from a storage startup to a Fortune 500 firm. Due to the convenience of transition, organizations with an present Home windows Server deployment might discover Azure to be greatest suited to their wants.
  • When was Microsoft Azure launched? Azure reached basic availability in February 2010, with further providers and regional information facilities being added regularly since launch.
  • How do I get Microsoft Azure? New customers obtain a $200 service credit score good for 30 days when signing up for Microsoft Azure; the credit score could be utilized towards any Microsoft-provided service. Further reductions and credit can be found for startups, nonprofits, and universities.

SEE: Putting Azure to work: Tips for IT pros (TechRepublic Premium)

Picture: Microsoft

What’s Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a platform of interoperable cloud computing providers, together with open-source, standards-based applied sciences and proprietary options from Microsoft and different firms. As a substitute of constructing an on-premise server set up, or leasing bodily servers from conventional information facilities, Azure’s billing construction relies on useful resource consumption, not reserved capability. Pricing varies between several types of providers, storage varieties, and the bodily location from which your Azure situations are hosted.

For instance, storage pricing varies primarily based on redundancy and distribution choices. Within the Central US area, scorching domestically redundant block blob storage (LRS-HOT), with three copies in a single information heart, begins at $0.0184 per GB. Geographically redundant storage (GRS-HOT), with three copies in a single information heart and three copies in a second geographically distant information heart, begins at $0.0368 per GB. Learn-Entry GRS (RAGRS-HOT), which permits for learn entry on the second information heart, begins at $0.046 per GB.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

Along with the aforementioned storage, Azure digital machine, CDN, and Home windows-related providers, Azure additionally provides quite a lot of different providers.

  • Azure Kubernetes Services permits enterprise enterprises to create and handle Kubernetes clusters, together with creating, scaling, and upgrading, liberating up builders to give attention to their software.
  • Azure Blockchain Services permits companies to construct, govern, and develop blockchain networks at scale. The Preview characteristic simplifies the formation, administration, and governance of consortium blockchain networks so you’ll be able to give attention to enterprise logic and app improvement.
  • Azure Digital Twins is a service, at present in preview, that gives the instruments essential to mannequin the relationships between individuals, locations, and gadgets utilizing digital illustration of a bodily setting, generally known as the spatial intelligence graph.
  • Azure IoT Suite provides numerous choices for connecting and monitoring gadgets, in addition to offering telemetry and analytics providers.
  • HDInsight is a custom-made Hadoop deployment.
  • Azure Redis Cache is a managed model of the favored open-source Redis information construction server; Azure Cosmos DB is a hosted NoSQL database for particular use instances; and Azure Search is an OData-based managed search service.
  • Azure Media Services provides cloud-based video taking part in, indexing, transcoding, and content material safety providers.
  • Azure Arc permits organizations to increase Azure infrastructure throughout a number of environments, in addition to in hybrid or on-premise codecs.
  • Azure Stack Hub is a very on-premise approach to run Azure providers and purposes in an on-premise information heart to make sure delicate information and bandwidth-intense purposes proceed to work properly and securely.
  • Azure Orbital, a ground-station-as-a-service product that permits organizations with satellites and spacecraft to speak with, and course of information from, these crafts with out having to personal a satellite tv for pc floor station.

Azure can also be engaged on a new service called CloudPC, which ZDNet contributor Mary Jo Foley describes as “an possibility for patrons who need to use their very own Home windows PCs made by Microsoft and/or different PC makers principally like skinny shoppers, with Home windows, Workplace and probably different software program delivered nearly by Microsoft.” The discharge date for the brand new service is unknown, but it surely may very well be as early as Spring 2021.

Microsoft, in coordination with {hardware} distributors equivalent to Lenovo, Dell EMC, HP Enterprise, Cisco, and Huawei, provides the Azure Stack equipment to be used in hybrid cloud deployments. The Azure Stack licensed {hardware} permits organizations to run Azure purposes from the general public Azure cloud whereas leveraging information hosted on-premise, in addition to working the identical providers from the general public Azure cloud on the Azure Stack platform.

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (ZDNet/TechRepublic particular characteristic) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Further sources:

Why does Microsoft Azure matter?

Azure, like different cloud service suppliers, provides the power to immediately provision computing sources on demand. In comparison with the onerous process of planning and constructing an on-site information heart, together with the requisite {hardware} upgrades, upkeep prices, server cooling necessities, electrical energy prices, and use of flooring space–particularly for workplaces with related actual property costs–the financial savings can add up in a short time.

The advantages of Azure lengthen past price management, nonetheless. The duty of administering sure applied sciences equivalent to Home windows Server, Energetic Listing, and SharePoint could be tremendously eased with the mixture of Azure and Office 365. This frees up IT employees to work on new tasks, somewhat than spending time on basic system repairs.

Microsoft is aggressively courting organizations to maneuver AI compute operations into Azure. Project Brainwave–an FPGA-based deep studying system constructed for real-time AI–was launched as a preview to Azure at Microsoft’s Build 2019 developer conference. Microsoft additionally added Cognitive Services algorithms to generate insights from structured or unstructured content material, in addition to including options to Azure Machine Studying Service to assist builders utilizing “a no-code strategy to mannequin creation and deployment utilizing a brand new visible machine-learning interface,” based on ZDNet.

SEE: Recap: Microsoft Build 2020 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Microsoft is bolstering beforehand introduced efforts to carry blockchain choices to Azure, with blockchain-as-a-service characteristic Azure Blockchain Service, which permits builders to create, handle, and govern consortium blockchain networks. Azure Blockchain Service was launched in a public preview at Construct 2019.

Who does Microsoft Azure have an effect on?

Organizations with an present deployment of Microsoft applied sciences, significantly Home windows Server and Energetic Listing, will discover Azure to be a compelling improve. As Home windows Server 2008 has reached the tip of mainstream assist, planning for a migration to cloud-hosted Azure providers could also be preferable to investments in new server {hardware} and Home windows Server licenses.

As with every cloud service, the associated fee profit is extra actual for cash-strapped startup organizations that lack the capital for provisioning {hardware} and related prices of a standard on-premise deployment, or leasing devoted servers in a standard information heart. As a result of the billing construction of Azure relies on sources used, turning to the cloud permits an organization’s IT spine to scale with company development.

SEE: Job description: Cloud Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Presently, 54 areas can be found to be used in Azure. In comparison with AWS and Google Cloud Providers, Azure has a wider attain in growing markets, with extra areas throughout Asia Pacific, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. Of the at present deployed areas, 16 are positioned within the US (eight of that are government-use areas), 2 are in Canada, and one is in São Paulo, Brazil. In Europe, Germany has 4, whereas the UK, France, and Switzerland have two every, whereas Eire and The Netherlands every have one. For Asia Pacific, China and Australia have 4 every, whereas India has three, and Japan and Korea have two. Hong Kong and Singapore host one area apiece. For the Center East and Africa, South Africa and the UAE host two areas apiece.

Further sources:

When was Microsoft Azure launched?

The Azure platform was introduced in October 2008, and reached basic business availability in February 2010. Initially referred to as Home windows Azure, it was renamed to Microsoft Azure in July 2014. Further service areas have been added constantly because the service was introduced.

Azure Stack, the turnkey hybrid cloud answer provided by Microsoft and a lot of {hardware} distributors, was first introduced in May 2015. With the first technical preview in January 2016, organizations might use their very own {hardware} as a part of an Azure Stack deployment. This plan was subsequently walked again, with Microsoft requiring users to buy a prequalified Azure Stack system, below the assumption that such choices would carry out higher. Taking part {hardware} distributors have constantly launched new prequalified programs to be used with Azure Stack.

SEE: Cloud computing: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Beneath Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Azure has expanded to incorporate assist for quite a lot of Linux distributions out there in virtual machines on the Azure platform. Presently, CentOS, Clear Linux, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Pink Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and Ubuntu are supported within the Azure platform, in addition to FreeBSD. Moreover, Azure supports Docker images.

Microsoft and SAP have collaborated to make SAP’s business software and services to run on Azure. On the Sapphire Now convention in 2018, Microsoft introduced basic availability of SAP HANA, noting that Azure provides “26 distinct SAP HANA choices from 192 GB to 24 TB.” In 2019, this was extended further, including Amazon Net Providers (AWS), Google Cloud, and world strategic service companions (GSSPs) for cloud-based supply of S/4HANA.

In June 2020 Microsoft and analytics firm SAS announced a partnership that moved the whole firm to Azure providers. As well as, SAS providers will now be out there by means of the Azure Market as properly.

At Microsoft Ignite in September 2020, Microsoft addressed stability criticisms by increasing its Azure Availability Zones program to 2 different areas: Canada Central and Australia East, bringing the variety of availability zones to 14. 

Additionally at Ignite, Microsoft revealed three new edge computing gadgets for Azure Stack Edge: Azure Stack Edge Professional with GPU (an 11U rack-mountable gadget), Azure Stack Edge Professional R (a ruggedized model of the Stack Edge Professional), and Azure Stack Edge Mini R, a battery-operated, moveable Azure Edge server that may slot in a backpack.

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What providers compete with Microsoft Azure?

One of many core strengths of Microsoft Azure is the convenience of transition for organizations trying to migrate from different Microsoft merchandise, equivalent to SharePoint, or combine tightly with an present Home windows deployment. For these organizations, Azure is probably going essentially the most compelling possibility for a seamless transition to the cloud. Moreover, Microsoft additionally heavily touts compliance certifications for government users, noting that Azure was the primary public cloud platform with a FedRAMP P-ATO.

SEE: Top cloud providers in 2020: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, hybrid, SaaS players (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

When it comes to scale, Google, Amazon, and IBM are actually able to dealing with any quantity of information or compute duties you’ll be able to generate. Amazon Web Services, very similar to Amazon itself, goals to be all the things to everybody; as such, AWS has essentially the most intensive portfolio of cloud providers of any public cloud supplier. Google Cloud Platform‘s core strengths are in machine studying, large information instruments, and intensive container assist. For IoT, the cloud supplier market continues to be huge open, with tailor-made options out there from GE Predix, Samsung’s ARTIK Cloud, and ThingWorx.

Further sources:

How do I get Microsoft Azure?

The Microsoft for Startups program provides as much as $120,000 value of free Azure for 2 years. Eligibility depends on collaboration with a startup accelerator, with Microsoft partnering with over 200 startup accelerators in 47 international locations.

Microsoft’s Azure for Students program grants a credit score of $100 for use inside 12 months, in addition to entry to over 25 free merchandise, together with Digital Machines, File Storage, and SQL Databases for the primary 12 months, whereas different merchandise are all the time free. This supply is offered to college students and school 18 or older at a STEM-related area in a four-year academic establishment.

In 2016, Microsoft pledged to donate $1 billion in cloud services to universities and nonprofit organizations over the subsequent three years. Eligible organizations can register totally free entry at Microsoft Nonprofits.

For particular person builders, new registrants to Azure’s free tier obtain a $200 platform credit score relevant towards any Azure service (excluding third-party choices within the Azure Market), 12 months free use of Azure’s AI providers, and everlasting free use of greater than 25 Azure providers. New users can register here.

Additionally see

Editor’s be aware: This text was written by James Sanders. It has been up to date by Mark Kaelin and Brandon Vigliarolo. 

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