Launched in 2010, Microsoft Azure is one of the leading cloud providers in the market. It is now being used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies. Approximately 56% of global organizations utilize Microsoft Azure as their preferred cloud service provider.
In this article, we’ll explore Azure services, including compute, storage, databases, and networking, and will delve into the benefits Azure services offer.
What are Azure Services?
With nearly 1 billion active users, Azure offers different types of cloud services that are tailored to cater to the diverse needs of numerous industries. Currently, Azure provides more than 200 cloud services, mainly as Platform as a service (PaaS), Software as a service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions. In addition to those core services, Azure offers many additional services including:
- Machine Learning (ML)
- Data management and governance
- Development and integration
Azure service categories based on cloud computing service models
All Azure services can be classified into the following categories based on the cloud computing service model they leverage.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is a cloud-based service model that offers the necessary resources to develop and deploy software applications. It supports the entire software application development lifecycle, eliminating the need to manage infrastructure. PaaS operates on a pay-as-you-go model, enabling users to purchase Azure resources and access them securely over the Internet.
Following are some of the core Azure PaaS cloud services.
- Development - App Configuration, Azure Chaos Studio, DevTest Labs, Load Testing, Microsoft Dev Box
- Databases - SQL database, Apache Cassandra MI, Database for MariaDB
- Compute - App service, Azure batch, Azure functions, Cloud services, container apps
- Integration - API management, Logic apps, service bus.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Azure SaaS is a service model that allows users to access and utilize cloud-based applications like mail, calendars, and office tools. It allows organizations to deploy applications quickly with minimal costs. Azure manages the hardware and software, such as infrastructure and middleware on your behalf. Therefore, it ensures the high availability and security of those apps.
Following are the SaaS services Azure currently provides:
- Analytics - Data Catalog, PowerBI Embedded
- Development - Azure DevOps, Visual Studio App Center
- Identity and Security - Defend for cloud, Information Protection, Microsoft Sentinel
- IoT - IoT central
- Management and Governance - Azure Advisor, Azure Arc, Azure Backup
- Migration - Azure Migrate, DB Migration Service, Site Recovery
- Networking - Azure Orbital, Internet Analyzer
- Storage - Data Share
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is a cloud service model that provides cloud resources like compute and storage on demand. It also uses a pay-as-you-go model, offering the flexibility to scale resources based on your varying workloads and traffic. It enables organizations to quickly adapt to changing user needs and improve the reliability of their infrastructure.
Following are the IaaS services that Azure currently provides.
- Compute - Azure VMware Solution, Dedicated Host, Virtual Desktop, Virtual Machines, VM Scale Sets
- Storage - Azure Storage, HPC Cache, Managed Disks
- Networking - Azure Firewall, ExpressRoute, Load Balancer, Network Watcher, Private Link, Traffic Manager, Virtual Network, Virtual WAN, VPN Gateway.
Azure foundational, mainstream, and strategic services
Azure services are further categorized as foundational, mainstream, and strategic services. When categorizing these services, their availability in Azure's recommended and alternate regions is taken into consideration.
These are essential or core services provided by the Azure platform. The foundational services are available in all regions recommended for use and in any alternate regions when they become generally available. Additionally, if a new foundational service is introduced, it will be made available in all recommended and alternate regions within 90 days of its general availability.
Some examples of foundational services include:
- Azure Application Gateway
- Azure Backup
- Azure Cosmos
- Azure Event Hubs
- Azure Virtual Machines
- Azure VPN Gateway
These services are accessible in all the recommended regions for deployment. They will be made accessible within 90 days from when the recommended region becomes generally available. Additionally, the availability of these services in alternate regions is determined by customer demand within those specific regions. Those services have already been launched and implemented in many alternate regions.
Some examples of mainstream services include:
- Azure API Management
- Azure Container Registry
- Azure Functions
- Azure Private Link
- Azure Virtual WAN
Strategic services were previously known as ‘specialized services.’ They are designed to meet the specific requirements of a particular industry and are developed with a deep understanding of that specific industry. These services leverage customized hardware to enhance performance or enable unique functionality. They are also made available in regions based on customer demand, and many services have already been launched and implemented in many of the recommended regions.
Some examples of strategic services include:
- Azure API for FHIR
- Azure Lab Services
- Azure VMware Solution
- Azure Applied AI Services
- Azure Machine Learning
- Azure Red Hat OpenShift
- Azure Kubernetes
Types of Azure services
Azure offers a wide range of cloud services to help organizations harness the power of the cloud computing infrastructure. These services support various business use cases, enabling organizations to innovate, scale, and secure their applications and data. Following is a list of different types of cloud services that Azure currently provides.
- AI + Machine Learning
- Identity + Security
- IoT + MR
- Management + Governance
- Media + Comms
Core Azure services
This section will discuss the core Azure services.
Azure compute services
Azure compute services enable organizations to deploy, manage, and scale applications and workloads in the cloud. Here are some of the core compute services provided by Azure.
- Azure App Service - Allows easy creation, deployment, and scaling of web applications and APIs using .NET, .NET Core, Node.js, Java, Python, or PHP languages and running in containers, Windows, or Linux.
- Azure Functions - A serverless platform that simplifies development using any programming language, allowing faster development.
- Container Instances - Provide a way to run containers without managing the underlying infrastructure. They allow you to launch containers on Azure without setting up and managing a container orchestration platform.
- Virtual Machines (VMs) - Allow you to create and run Windows or Linux virtual machines in the cloud.
Azure storage services
Azure storage provides scalable and secure storage options for organizations. A few examples are as follows:
- Azure Data Lake Storage - Designed for big data analytics workloads. It allows for storing and analyzing large volumes of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.
- HPC Cache - Enables caching data for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads. It is specifically designed to enhance performance and reduce latency for compute-intensive applications.
- Managed Disks - Provides high-performance block storage for critical Azure Virtual Machines and Azure VMware Solution applications. It offers various disk options for optimized costs and performance, including Ultra Disk Storage, Premium SSD, Standard SSD, and Standard HDD.
Azure database services
Provides managed databases to simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of databases in the cloud. Here are some of the core database services provided by Azure.
- Apache Cassandra MI - Enables cost-effective scaling of mission-critical workloads, offering flexible management and high availability.
- Azure Cosmo DB - A fully managed serverless distributed database that supports PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Apache Cassandra.
- Redis Cache - Provides in-memory storage for faster data access.
- Azure Database for MySQL - A cost-effective solution comes with advanced security, high availability options, and a reliable SLA.
Azure Networking Services
Azure Networking Services provide networking solutions for organizations to build, manage, and secure their network infrastructure in the Azure cloud environment. Following are some of the core networking services provided by Azure.
- Application Gateway - The Azure Application Gateway has features like a web application firewall, integration with various Azure services, end-to-end SSL encryption, layer seven intelligent routing, SSL offload, and centralized certificate management.
- Azure DNS - Provide DNS hosting capabilities.
- ExpressRoute - Allows private connections between Azure data centers and on-premises or colocation infrastructure.
- Private Link - Helps establish secure and private connections between virtual networks and Azure PaaS, customer-owned or Microsoft partner services, enhancing network security and simplifying architecture.
Advantages of Azure Services
- Enables businesses to scale resources up or down based on demand to accommodate varying workloads and traffic.
- Provides a cost-effective pay-as-you-go model to optimize resource costs based on actual usage.
- Since Azure manages the underlying infrastructure, organizations can focus on application development and business logic.
- Azure offers a comprehensive and rich development environment for developers, enabling continuous integration and deployment workflows.
- Support innovation by offering a wide range of advanced services like AI and ML, big data analytics, IoT, and blockchain
- Offers robust security and compliance solutions for data protection and meeting regulatory requirements.
- Azure helps deploy applications with low latency and improved performance with robust application deployment capabilities.
- Azure enables organizations to leverage their existing resources, providing seamless integration between on-premises and the Azure cloud platform.
Microsoft Azure provides an extensive range of over 200 cloud services, encompassing PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS solutions. Azure PaaS services support the entire software development lifecycle, while Azure SaaS solutions allow access to cloud-based software applications. IaaS services provide on-demand computing resources. The core services of Azure include computing, storage, databases, and networking. It also offers some additional services such as AI and ML, analytics, IoT, migration, data management, governance, security, development, and integration.
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