Introduction to Microsoft Azure and Its Basic Terminologies

Learn about Microsoft Azure and its basic terminologies and various services.

Microsoft describes Azure in the following words:

Azure is a continually expanding set of cloud services that help your organization meet your current and future business challenges. Azure gives you the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive global network using your favorite tools and frameworks.

As we discussed, cloud services fall under three main categories:

  • Infrastructure as a service
  • Platform as a service
  • Software as a service

Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform Azure is widely considered both a PaaS and an IaaS offering. As of 2020, Microsoft Azure has 22 categories of cloud services including AI and machine learning, blockchain, networking, containers, analytics, security, storage, databases management, and more. Some organizations use Azure for data backup and disaster recovery or even as an alternative to their own data center rather than investing in local servers and storage. These organizations decide to run some or all of their critical business applications in Azure like other public cloud providers. Azure primarily uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model that charges based on the consumption of the Azure services. However, if a single application uses multiple Azure services, each service might involve multiple pricing tiers.

Microsoft Azure is just one of the several major public cloud service providers that are operating on a large global scale. Other major providers include Google Cloud Platform(GCP), Amazon Web Services(AWS) and IBM. Currently, there’s a lack of standardization among cloud services and capabilities, meaning that no two cloud providers offer the same service in the exact same way. This makes it difficult for businesses to use more than one public cloud provider to pursue a multi-cloud strategy.

How does Microsoft Azure work?

Microsoft Azure is a private and public cloud platform. You may be familiar with the Azure services, the developers, and the IT professionals used to build, deploy, and manage the applications. But how does it work?

Azure uses a technology known as virtualization. Virtualization creates a separation between the coupling of a computer’s CPU and its Operating system using an abstraction layer known as a hypervisor. All the functions that a real computer can perform, are emulated using a hypervisor. It can run multiple virtual machines at the same time, and each virtual machine can run any compatible OS such as Windows or Linux. Azure takes this virtualization technology and repeats it on a massive scale in Microsoft data centers throughout the world. Each data center has many racks that are filled with servers. Each server then includes a hypervisor to run multiple virtual machines.

A network switch provides connectivity to the servers. In each rack, there is a server deployed which runs a special software called fabric controller. This fabric controller is then connected to another software which is known as the orchestrator. Now, whatever happens in Azure is managed by the orchestrator. The web API can be called by many tools, including the user interface of the Azure portal. When a user makes a request to create a virtual machine, the orchestrator packages everything that is needed, picks the best server rack, and then sends the package and request to the fabric controller. Once the fabric controller has created the virtual machine, the user can connect to it.

Azure makes it easy for developers and IT professionals to be agile once they build, deploy, and manage their applications and services. But this agility can have unintended consequences if unauthorized resources are created, or if the resources are left running after they’re no longer needed. The solution to this problem is to use Azure’s resource access management tools as part of your organization’s governance program.

Terminologies related to Azure

Let us discuss some of the basic terminologies related to Azure which will help us understand the upcoming lessons easily.

  • Resource groups: A resource group is a container that holds related resources for an Azure solution.

  • Subscription: An Azure subscription is a logical container which is used to deploy the resources in Azure. It is actually connected to your billing information from where you will be charged for all your resources. It contains the details of all your resources like virtual machines (VMs), databases, and more. When you create an Azure resource like a VM, you need to associate your resource with a particular subscription.

  • Azure Portal: It is a UI where you can get an overview and see the Azure services. You can create a new service or manage an existing one easily by using the Azure Portal.