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Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure, formally known as Windows Azure, is a cloud computing platform offered by Microsoft. It was released on 1st February 2010. In 2008, at Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, Microsoft Chief Software Architect talked about company’s new cloud platform offering and how it can scale an application from 10 users to 10 million users without adding any additional code. Soon Microsoft added SQL Azure Relational Database and support for PHP, Java, CDN and more before making it available for commercial use.

Azure has 54 regions and is available in 140 countries across the globe more than any other cloud provider.

Microsoft provides services which can be used for creating applications for any kind of cloud delivery models: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service).

Services can be categorized as follows:
  • Compute services: It can help you deploy your existing application or new application on cloud. It basically provides the infrastructure such as VMs, Function apps (Serverless computing), Containers etc. You just have to pay for the resources you use. It will also help you scale your application during peak hours or during high demand by adding more instances (scale-out) or by upgrading the plan (scale-up).
  • Networking services: It can help you connect cloud and one or more on-premises infrastructure; and balance the load between two or more VMs, Scale sets, Virtual Network, or even Regions. It can help you create services such as load balancers (Layer 4 and Layer 7), gateways (to connect Virtual network across the region, or on-premises), DNS (Domain Name System), and CDN (Content Delivery Network).
  • Storage services: It provides you massively scalable and secure data storage to meet your demand. Azure storage services contain services such as Queue storage (FIFO), Table storage (NoSQL key-value store), Blob storage (object storage for unstructured data), etc.
  • Web and Mobile services: You can build a fully scalable and manageable web application or cross-platform and native mobile application without worrying about infrastructure. It also supports continuous integration and delivery for accelerating your application releases. It provides services such as Media services (streaming videos or audio at high scale), App services (web application, function apps), Notification hubs, and Service Fabric (for microservices kind of application).
  • Container services: Azure do support containerized based application. You can scale and orchestrate your containers with the help of AKS (Azure Kubernetes Services). Apart from AKS, Azure provides services such as Azure Container registry for storing and managing container images, Container instances run containers without managing servers.
  • Database services (DBaaS): Azure helps you create globally distributed, highly available, fully managed, and secure database. It supports major databases such as MS SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Cosmos DB (NoSQL database), Redis Cache (in-memory storage), etc.
  • Monitoring and Analytics: Monitoring and Analytics can help you in scaling, improving security, auditing, analyzing, and monitoring your application. If enabled, this might save you from unpredicted threats. It also provides services for analyzing and processing real-time data stream from IoT devices. You can take advantage of services such as SQL Data Warehouses, Azure Databricks, HDInsight, Data Factory, Event Hubs, Steam Analytics, etc.
  • AI and Machine learning: It helps you create next-generation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning capability. Applications such as Azure Bot Services and Cognitive Services (Vision, Speech, Search, Knowledge, Language, etc.), when used together, can make a highly intelligent and scalable application. Machine Learning enables computers to learn from huge data by analyzing the trend without explicitly writing code.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): It provides fully managed IoT services and solution accelerators designed for industry and scenarios like remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and connected devices. Services such as IoT Hubs, IoT Edge, and IoT solution accelerators reduces complexity, lowers the costs, increases revenue, speeds up the process, connects the devices, extends cloud intelligence, and manages billions of IoT devices.
  • Identity and Access Control (IAM) and Security: It can help you strengthen the security of your cloud resources by protecting your data, application and infrastructures, enabling advanced threat protection, safeguarding cryptographic keys, protecting from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), restricting access to your resources (Role-based access control - RBAC), and protecting your web application from common web vulnerabilities (OWASP Top 10). Services such as Azure Key Vault, Application Gateway, Azure DDoS Protection, and Security Center will help you achieve all the aforementioned features.

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