What is Microsoft Azure

Before discussing Microsoft Azure (Windows Azure), let's understand Data Centers and their importance in today's business operations.

Data Center(s)

A data-center is a center or place where computer machines and other associated components, like storage systems, networking systems and so on are kept & managed by experts. These data centers are loaded with power supplies backups, redundant communication connections and other backups like air conditioning, security devices and so on.

Our modern non-stop operation has created a huge demand for such places on which one can rely on the facilities. If we establish our own data center then it will cost very much, so many popular vendors offer their data center as rentals. The measured challenges has been security threats & trust of these data centers but it has been eliminated with due course of time & globalization.

Now most business operations are running globally over the internet and their business continuity is totally dependent upon the availability of Information Systems. These company's business operations might be stopped or degraded if any resource system becomes unavailable. So no one is willing to take/see this loss and are looking towards the availability of promised & assured IT systems with security, and this is available in the form of Data Centers (AWS Infrastructure, Microsoft Data Centers, Sentinel Data Centers, Vantage Data Centers, Google Data Centers and so on).

Microsoft Azure (Windows Azure)

Data-Center-Cloud-Computing-AzureNow. Small companies have various options for Data Centers, so what else do they require? Well, after the availability of Data Centers, they still require infrastructure build & deploy options, a code repository facility and management capability for their applications. If all these could be offered from a vendor, then it will would be much easier to make & run a non-stop reliable application. There is no need to worry about power failure, data disk crashes/failure, environmental care, redundant communication (internet) and so on if all this is provided by third-party experts. The best part is the cost-effective rent amount that is less than the set-up of their own infrastructure of the same kind. Now, it is possible to monitor your resource consumption and you need to pay only what you consume or use. :)

(This image is taken from the WikiPedia.org to explain cloud computing.)

Your application run on large & powerful servers compared to your own setup of small servers. These large & powerful servers are shared for different applications of various clients. Your application is not on a fixed/particular server but is on virtual machines (many servers) to scale the availability of your application. This style is called cloud computing. If a user is accessing your application from Singapore, he will be connected to a Singapore-based server, if another user is trying the same application from Finland, he will be connected/served from a Finland-based server. It makes the availability faster for your application. This is the power of a cloud system. For all this, a platform or a powerful operating system is required. Microsoft launches its cloud managing system software with the name "Windows Azure" like its other operating system names ex- "Windows 98", "Windows 8". In March, 2014, after seeing the unexpected rapid development in the cloud computing market, Microsoft bundled many items to make a complete cloud computing solution package and renamed "Windows Azure" to "Microsoft Azure".

Microsoft Azure mainly provides the following facilities:

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service): provides a platforms for development, running and management (run-time execution facility, database, web servers, development tools and so on).
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a services): provides infrastructures (virtual machines, servers, data storage, network load-balancers, networks and so on).
  • Various Tools & Frameworks.
  • Supporting software for both Microsoft and third parties.
  • Programming languages to build cloud-based applications.

For a brief introduction, refer to this good article: Introduction to Microsoft Azure: Part 1.

Twitter: @AnilAwadh