Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform, also known as Platform as a Service or PaaS, which has become a flagship service for the company’s cloud strategies. This service allows users to create applications that work on and are controlled through Microsoft’s data centres. However, Azure is still quite new and there are many people who do not know enough about its new cloud platform.
Basics of Microsoft Azure
Let’s first understand what Microsoft Azure is. In very simple terms, Azure is a virtual environment offered by Microsoft where developers can create cloud-based applications that can be run anywhere. Thus, Azure rolls up all the layers of computer management and service provisioning and provides a single platform where developers can write applications without worrying about aspects like system resources, machines, etc. Companies stand to benefit from this cloud platform since they only have to pay for the time they use Microsoft’s resources. As a result, they can bring down their capital costs to a large extent and focus on cloud-based applications.
Parts of Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure can be split into 3 layers, which are explained below:
- The fabric layer
The first layer that makes up Azure is its cluster of data centres. It is a cluster of machines solely dedicated to supporting and running the Azure platform. They not only form the base of the cloud platform, but also as the source of power.
- The storage layer
The next layer of Microsoft Azure is its storage layer. This layer is represented by queues, binary large objects or BLOBs, and tablets. The storage layer also houses a feature known as Azure Drives. This particular feature basically allows you to mount data volumes like disks, while the tables are used for holding structured data, which is a lot like a traditional database. Queues can act as messaging components; applications can add a message to the queue and remove it so that they can act on them later. Thus, queues can enable asynchronous communication.
- The working layer
This layer includes the application programming interface or API, and the software development kit or SDK. Developers work on this layer, and they use tools that run on the Azure fabric. As a result, developers can create apps that can work anywhere across the Azure platform.
What can administrators expect from Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure takes care of many aspects as a cloud platform. However, administrators and IT professionals still need to create and deploy their customised applications, and they also have to monitor them constantly. As an administrator, you would need to forecast the demand for your applications and manage them so that they meet the demand. You also need to ensure that the data and access to data is secured and the applications are backed up. In other words, your responsibilities as an administrator more or less remain the same as they would if you had an on-premise system.
Another role that remains unchanged is that of configuring, setting up, and managing the applications on Microsoft Azure. Although you would have control panels to make application creation easy, the fact is that the applications need to be managed manually. However, Azure does free administrators from the responsibility of managing development software and hardware. Resource usage is cut down to a large extent since the fabric layer of Azure takes care of all the development resources.
When administrators are freed from resource management, they can concentrate on the service delivery part of the process. This is one of the most important benefits of Microsoft Azure, and the reason for its popularity.
Advantage of Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure is not the only cloud platform on offer. There are several other companies competing against Microsoft, including giants like Google and Amazon. In fact, Azure is actually one of the last cloud platforms to come into the limelight, and is well behind its competitors. However, Azure does offer some unique applications, development platforms, and services. Most other cloud platform services offer data storage, PaaS, and infrastructure. Microsoft Azure, on the other hand, offers a broader range of features and services including:
- Platform as a Service
- Application data storage service
- A fabric layer for connecting resources and services
- Physical data centres for hosting applications and services
Another benefit offered by Azure over its competitors is AppFabric, which contains SDKS and API tools, samples, libraries and documentation for creating cloud applications using the popular .NET platform. Companies that have already made applications using .NET languages can find this very beneficial. It gives Azure an edge over other cloud platforms like Google, which uses only Java.
Microsoft Azure is available in a number of pricing plans. Companies can pay by the database, connection, service hours or instance size. In most categories, Microsoft guarantees a 99.99% uptime SLA. You also have a pricing calculator that lets you choose the right plan for your needs. Overall, Microsoft Azure seems to be one of the most complete cloud platform services available in the market, and it will definitely be a popular choice among businesses looking to migrate to the cloud.
If you are looking to migrate to a Windows Azure platform , please feel free to contact us and allow us to help you find the the best solution provider for the migration.