An Overview of Microsoft Azure Services

Azure is the public cloud computing platform of Microsoft and it offers:

  • Software as a service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Azure comprises more than 600 cloud services and supports varied operating systems, databases and developer tools. And the best part (in our opinion)? Splunk On-Call integrates with Microsoft Azure to help on-call teams improve incident response for Azure-based environments.

What’s Azure?

At its core, Azure replaces or supplements your on-premises infrastructure. And that’s not all — Azure also offers a vast range of other services that improve the functioning of several departments in your organization and help you resolve critical business problems.

For instance, you can…

  • Get big data insights with Azure analytics.
  • Manage your billions of IoT devices on a unified Azure platform.
  • Get secure and scalable cloud data storage.
  • Automate your development, testing, and deployment with DevOps, and deliver content across the globe without latency issues.

Some popular Azure services

Below is a brief overview of some of the most popular Microsoft Azure services and how you can leverage them across your entire architecture. We’ll take a look at application, data, development, compute and network services.

Azure application services

Azure application services help you develop, deploy, and maintain various applications on the Azure platform. These include:

  • Azure AI
  • Azure Analytics
  • Azure IoT
  • Azure Active Directory (AD)
  • Azure Media Services
  • Azure Scheduler

Let’s look at the three most notable application services.

Azure AI

Microsoft Azure enables your AI teams to have quick access to AI and ML services, helping you to engage with customers, empower your employees and optimize business processes across the organization.

Your developers can create interactive applications on Azure’s AI Platform which offers AI capabilities like NLP, speech recognition, voice synthesis, face detection, video indexing, and text analytics. Further, Microsoft Azure Bot Service releases intelligent agents on different platforms (website, messaging services, email, SMS, etc.) that can be used to create intelligent chat applications.

Azure Analytics

You can process and analyze large volumes of data to make well-informed critical business decisions with Azure’s analytics suite. It allows your analytics team to run complicated queries across huge sets of data and get actionable insights.

Backed by Apache, the analytics solution offers an interactive real-time workspace to your data engineers, data scientists and business analysts working on shared projects that enable them to quickly perform real-time analysis of large data sets on varied topics.

(Learn more about business analytics & predictive analytics.)

Azure Internet of Things (IoT)

Azure IoT provides your organization with platform and services that can help you develop internet of things solutions without reinventing the wheel.

  • Azure’s IoT Central (SaaS) offers pre-configured solutions.
  • Azure IoT solution accelerators offer more flexibility to develop a custom solution for your organization.
  • Azure IoT Hub is the core platform (PaaS) supporting Azure IoT Central and Azure IoT solution accelerators.

Further, Azure IoT offers numerous SDKs and integration support for connecting a range of IoT devices and gather insights from the incoming data with advanced analytics and visualization.

(See how IoT is optimizing industries like manufacturing, telecommunications, energy and more.)

Azure data services

Azure data services store and manage data on the cloud. Microsoft Azure comes with a range of data services: 

  • Azure Storage
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure DocumentDB
  • Azure StorSimple
  • Azure Redis Cache

Let’s look at Azure Storage, one of the most prevalent data services provided by Microsoft Azure.

Azure Storage

Microsoft Azure’s data storage service offers secure and scalable cloud storage for both structured and unstructured data. Using Azure Storage, your data security experts can ensure safe, smooth integration of your on-premises data with cloud data.

Azure Storage supports multiple storage options such as blob, queue, file, and NoSQL. You can store any size of data, from a small size blob to a large file, per your business requirement, without affecting the production environment.

Azure development services

Microsoft Azure offers multiple development tools and services to enhance the overall software development and deployment process. Here’s a quick look at one of the essential services by Microsoft i.e. Azure DevOps, enabling continuous delivery to customers.

Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps automates your software delivery process and boosts your software development by providing an alternative to the self-managed CI/CD servers and open-source DevOps tools. Microsoft Azure DevOps technology can help you in hassle-free delivery with its fast and reliable tools. It is an extensible platform which can augment your existing tools and IDEs and offer hundreds of integrations in the Marketplace.

Azure compute services

Azure compute services are the hosting services responsible for hosting and running the application workloads. These include Azure Virtual Machines (VMs), Azure Container Service, Azure App Services, Azure Batch and Azure ServiceFabric.

Here’s a brief note on two of the most frequently used compute services, Azure VMs and Azure Container Service.

Azure Virtual Machines (VMs)

A Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine (VM) is an on-demand, scalable computing resource. You don’t need to buy any physical hardware and bear its maintenance cost; you have the flexibility of virtualization. Your cloud administrators only need to:

  1. Select the operating system.
  2. Configure the required resources.
  3. Create the web server.

Best of all? This is all finished within a few minutes.

Azure Container Service

Azure helps you leverage the container-based development practices and the microservices architecture. You can migrate your .NET applications to microservices using Windows Server containers with Azure Service Fabric. Further, you can use Azure Kubernetes Service to scale and orchestrate Linux containers.

You can choose between Docker Hub and Azure Container Registry to store your images and deploy to any preferred target. Moreover, it simplifies the configuration process and optimizes it for the cloud. The major advantage is that it consumes less space as compared to VMs and starts instantly; hence speeding up the processes.

Azure network services

Azure Network Services refer to those services that perform networking operations within Azure and between Azure and on-premises infrastructure. These include Azure Virtual Network, Azure ExpressRoute, Azure-provided DNS, Azure Traffic Manager and Azure Content Delivery Network.

Let’s take a quick look at Azure CDN.

Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Azure CDN allows distribution of large files by providing high bandwidth content and reducing the file download time. It caches the file to an Azure data center closest to the user’s geographical location. Hence, it lowers the latency to a great extent and decreases the load on application by relieving it from the whole process of delivering the content. The end-users derive the main benefit out of this service as it offers a better experience to them.

Just the beginning

These services are only a glimpse of what Azure can do for your business. Many enterprises across the globe are utilizing the capabilities of Microsoft Azure applications to optimize their business models as it revolutionizes overall infrastructure and application performance.

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Stephen Watts
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Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts works in growth marketing at Splunk. Stephen holds a degree in Philosophy from Auburn University and is an MSIS candidate at UC Denver. He contributes to a variety of publications including CIO.com, Search Engine Journal, ITSM.Tools, IT Chronicles, DZone, and CompTIA.