What is Microsoft Azure?
As per the Wikipedia website, Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters.
Basically what this means is that Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform which is hosted on Microsoft datacenters [and Microsoft Partner Hosted Datacenters]. Any developer can use any language or framework to design any application. Moreover, these applications can be deployed on cloud and can be managed also from Microsoft Azure Platform.
Some of the available services includes-
- Azure Active Directory – It provides user management and access control capabilities.
- Azure API Management – This allows you to publish APIs.
- App Service – This allows you to create enterprise-ready mobile apps for any platform or device.
- Azure Automation – This allows you to automate the creation, deployment, monitoring and maintenance for Azure resources.
- Azure Backup – This allows you to manage cloud backups.
- Azure CDN – As the name suggests, this provides you a content delivery network.
- Azure DNS – This basically allows you to host your DNS domains with your Azure apps.
- Azure load balancer – This provides you with a way to distribute traffic among service instances in Azure Cloud Services or Azure Virtual Machines.
- Azure Cache – This provides you with fast access to data.
- Azure Mobile Engagement – This provides you with mobile application management (MAM) capabilities.
- Azure Mobile Services – This provides back-end services for building cross-platform mobile apps.
These are obviously very very few features of this product. This list is very long and out of scope for this particular blog post. You can find the complete list of all the services for Microsoft Azure here.
At one of the recently held AzureCon event, Microsoft announced some new enhanced features for Microsoft Azure. On 29th September 2015, Jason Zander [CVP, Microsoft Azure Team] also posted a blog post stating all the new features.
Some of the improved features for Microsoft Azure –
- Azure Mobile Engagement – If you are a mobile developer then this will enable you to have a real-time analysis of user segmentation, app user analytics, and contextually-aware smart push notifications and in-app messaging across devices. This will result in maximizing app usage, retention and monetization.
- Azure Security Center – This will provide you with a centralized view of all the security policies.
“Azure Security Center provides customers an easy way to find, deploy, and manage critical security services such as the Cisco ASA Firewall. With Cisco ASAv’s superior protection, high performance, and flexible consumption models, our mutual customers can embrace the cloud with confidence and without compromising security.” as per Dov Yoran, senior director of Strategy and Business Development for Cisco’s Security Business Group.
- Azure IoT Suite – IoT stands for Internet of Things. Microsoft consolidated multiple services to deliver a unified IoT solution. Microsoft Azure is one of the first public cloud platforms to get the IoT platform capabilities and it is expected that Google and Amazon will also follow suit.
- Azure Container Service – The Container as a Service [CaaS] delivery model is gaining momentum. Azure Container Service builds on Microsoft’s Docker and Mesopshere to create and manage scalable clusters of host machines onto which containerized applications can be deployed, orchestrated, and managed. You can go through the blog post by Ross Gardler, Program Manager for Azure by clicking here. It is to be noted that Google and Amazon had already announced Google Container Engine and EC2 Container Service and Microsoft was expected to announce its own CaaS.
- Azure File Storage – As the name suggests, this is a file-sharing service in the public cloud. Its similar to Amazon EFS (Elastic File System). Suppose, you have an application which uses SMB file shares. These applications can now be ported to Azure. Moreover, it uses the latest SMB 3.0 protocol, which is more secure and persistent. Also, the contents of Microsoft Azure File Storage can also be accessed by virtual machines in an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and applications too hosted in a Platform as a Service (PaaS).
There are many more feature up-gradations which can be found here.
Lately, Microsoft has been investing more and more on cloud. It is in a very fierce competition with Google and Amazon which is resulting in price drops and improved functionality. Microsoft used to be a proprietary software company which was in competition with Linux and other Open-Source Software but lately it has been using many open-source technologies such as Mesos to deliver more value to its customers.