Introduction to Microsoft Azure: Part 2

This article describes each of the Compute Service services including website, Virtual Machine, cloud service, and mobile services and provides insights into how these services relate to one another and how to them as needed.

Before continuing this article, I highly recommend reading the previous part:

Compute Service

 
Azure is a cloud operating system owned and operated by Microsoft that fruitfully runs across numerous Windows servers worldwide. Although it is not necessary to delve deeper into the implicit complexities of how Azure services work and how exactly this operating system operates as a cloud. However, a basic level of understanding of the Azure explicit architecture is sufficient to take an advantage of this operating system to fulfill our business needs. Hence, this article is especially designed to get the taste of the live Azure operating system in terms of exploring the Azure Computer service setup and subsequent configuration.
 

Table of Contents 

  • Live Azure Experience
  • Tour of Compute Service
  • Virtual Machine
  • Website Service
  • Mobile Service
  • Cloud Service
  • Conclusions

Live Azure Experience

 
The Windows Azure platform is capable of executing applications running in the cloud. This section is a quick tour of accessing the Windows Azure operating system via browser. In this context, first things first, we need to create a Windows Live ID account at Microsoft to experience the services of the Azure OS as shown in the subsequent figure. Nowadays, Microsoft is offering a free one-month trial experience of Azure services. However, Microsoft doesn't offer the free usage of Azure service so far. Even as you have created an account and after buying the necessary Azure cloud services subscription and finally login into the Azure portal (manage.microsoftazure.com), you will be able to utilize the entire services including, Compute, Websites, Mobile and Data services, offered by the Azure virtual operating system.

Live Azure Experience

Tour of Compute Service

 
The Windows Azure Compute Service offers the essential processing power to be run as a cloud. Hence, Windows Azure currently provides four models to accomplish this including Virtual Machines, Web Sites, Cloud Services and Mobile Services. These four approaches therefore comprise the Compute Service segment of the Windows Azure platform as in the following:Windows Azure platform
The Azure Compute Service is the core services of the Windows Azure operating system, also referred to as Hosted Services in Windows Azure portal terminology that offers us an ability to develop and deploy Windows Azure cloud services in an environment that consists of an underlying .NET 4.5 Framework and IIS 7 running on a Windows Server OS. Moreover, we can enable Full Trust in Windows Azure services for developing native applications. The Windows Azure Compute Service is based on a role-based design and the current version of Windows Azure endorsed two kinds of roles: Web and Worker Role. Most commonly, the Web role is a typical ASP.NET website with HTTP or HTTPS endpoints or WCF andXML web services that can be executed via an Internet Information Server in the cloud environment, whereas the Worker role runs as a continuous background process in the cloud and exposes internal and external endpoints and calls external interfaces. Moreover it communicates with the queue, BLOB and table Windows Azure storage services. The Compute Service interface will look as in as following in the cloud environment after successfully logging-in.

Compute Service

Virtual Machine


A Virtual Machine is a scalable, on-demand IaaS platform that allows creating, deploying and managing virtual machines running in the Windows Azure cloud. Once deployed, you can then configure, manage and monitor those virtual machines, load-balance traffic among them and connect them to other Windows Azure Cloud Services running web roles and worker roles. Moreover, there is no constraint to configure only a Microsoft operating system at the virtual machine indeed. In fact, it lets you create and configure a Linux operating system too, to deploy a website developed in open-source technology including PHP and Java. After having logged in into the Azure Management Portal using a Windows Live ID,

Azure management

You can create new virtual machines from a standard image available in the Windows Azure Gallery. Even more, we can copy virtual hard disks (VHDs) from our on-premises environment into Windows Azure to use as templates for creating new virtual machines and vice-versa. It is a great way to install an operating system in a virtual machine using a Pre-installed image. Hence, numerous standard images of Windows server, Opensuse, Ubuntu and many more operating systems are already included in the cloud. Even, standard images for Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft BizTalk Server are also available. Operating Systems can be installed in Azure in one of two approaches as in the following:

Virtual Machine

Websites

 
A Windows Azure Web Site is a secure, flexible and scalable platform, offers a variety of virtual web environments to build new websites and enables us to migrate existing business websites into the cloud. We can simply create and publish a new website from scratch resort using the WebMatrix tool that suports the latest web technologies such as ASP.NET, PHP and HTML5. You can use WebMatrix to create websites and publish applications for Windows Azure. Even more, third-party solutions including DotNetNuke, Wordpress, CakePHP and many more can be included directly from the gallery in the portal. Moreover when constructing a new website, we can also have an alternative to create a database, for instance, SQL Server or MySQL to store the data for your web application. The following figure shows the interface provided by the Windows Azure portal that enables creation of a new website. Here, we have three alternatives to craft a website. The first option is Quick Create in which just entering a unique name for the corresponding website is sufficient, the second is Custom Create that enables one extra option of adding a database such as SQL Server to store the website files. Finally, the From Gallery that has a pre-installed template of websites.

Websites

Cloud Service

 
The Cloud Service allows us to build and deploy highly available and almost infinitely scalable applications with moderate administrative costs using any programming language. In a cloud service, we don't care about underlying structure related issues such as patching servers, dealing with hardware failures or troubleshooting network issues since Windows Azure is designed to allow applications to be available even in the event of hardware failures or system upgrades. Instead, pay attention to the building, testing and deploying of applications. Cloud Services applications can be developed using popular development frameworks including .NET, PHP, Java, Python, Node.js and Ruby. Here, The Quick Create option, shown in the following figure, allows for quick crafting of the cloud service by specifying an URL and a region. Henceforth, install the appropriate Windows Azure SDK required for running the application along with any SSL certificates. Then, specify the environment such as production and staging (testing before deploy) where we want to deploy our application to.

Cloud Service

Mobile Application

 
This service provides an immediate solution for building and deploying apps and storing data for mobile devices. The Azure mobile platforms supported by Mobile Services include the Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android applications. The mobile application also offers a back-end storage solution for storing mobile app related data as well as enables user authentication.

Mobile Application

Conclusion

 
This article described each of these Compute Service Services including Website, Virtual Machine, Cloud Services and Mobile services and provides insights into how these services relate to one another and how to use them as needed. By logging-in via Microsoft Live ID into the Azure development portal, we have a taste of the live Azure services, especially Compute Service to streamline the developer undertaking into a virtual cloud environment without relying on any essential physical hardware infrastructure.
 
 

References