Hosting Your Applications with Microsoft Azure


Also known as Azure, Microsoft Azure is an online platform offering several cloud computing services to business organizations. Platforms like Azure provide cloud-based solutions for business enterprises, helping them manage computing resources, networking, and storage. 

Hosting Your Applications with Microsoft Azure

Also known as Azure, Microsoft Azure is an online platform offering several cloud computing services to business organizations. Platforms like Azure provide cloud-based solutions for business enterprises, helping them manage computing resources, networking, and storage. 

Azure provides easy integration with other Microsoft products, as well as the tools to help you build and manage applications either on-premise or across multiple clouds. Azure is also flexible—you can combine it with your preferred open-source tools to enhance efficiency. 

Microsoft Azure provides cloud-based tools to help organizations achieve their needs. In this article, you’ll learn about the services and benefits of Azure.

What’s Microsoft Azure?

Azure is a public cloud computing platform that manages the entire infrastructure, hardware, and server system of users. The services of Azure are available for free, pay-as-you-go, or on-demand basis. Azure also offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which means you can host your essential network resources and storage systems on the cloud. IaaS helps businesses bypass the high cost of managing data centers and hardware systems.

Furthermore, Azure’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides the platform (such as middleware, development tools, and database management services) required to develop applications. Think of PaaS as building an e-commerce website. But the main components of the website, such as shopping cart, checkout, and payment system, are hosted on Azure—the third-party cloud server. 

Software as a Service (SaaS) is another cloud-based service that Azure provides. In this instance, Azure provides the entire software applications for users. With SaaS, you don't need to worry about the running and installation of software because Azure will do that for you. All you need is a compatible web browser to access the software application. Outlook, Google apps (e.g, Google doc), and Microsoft 365 tools are common examples of SaaS. 

Microsoft Azure Services

Microsoft describes Azure as a cloud that offers “limitless scale, limitless performance, and limitless possibilities for your data”. It’s a caption that summarizes the vastness of services that Azure offers through its cloud models (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) and on-premise server solutions. 

In general, Azure offers 200+ products and cloud services across multiple categories such as compute services, storage and databases, and artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. Other categories include the Internet of Things (IoT), management and developer tools, web services, and content delivery networks (CDN). Now, let’s take a brief look at some of the categories in detail.

1. Compute Services

Azure compute is an on-demand server required to host an application. It comprises disks, processors, memory, networking, and operating systems. The Azure compute services include:

    • Virtual Machines (VMs):  Azure VMs are scalable cloud-based software emulations of physical computers. VMs provide IaaS, and they can be used to host operating systems and run software applications.
  • Azure Container Instances (ACI): Containers are lightweight virtualized environments. Containers provide microservices that allow users to split large application processes into independent smaller pieces for better efficiency. ACI is a PaaS offering that allows users to develop and run containers. Also, you can use Azure Kubernetes Services to run multiple containers on VMs.
  • App Services: These are HTTP-enabled web hosting services that let users host and manage applications in their preferred programming language (e.g., .NET, .NET Core, Java, or Python, etc.).
  • Azure Functions (Or Serverless Computing): Serverless computing is a PaaS offering that provides built-in infrastructure. Serverless computing allows businesses to focus on improving the innovation and productivity of apps rather than worry about infrastructure, scaling, and management of applications. Azure Functions is a serverless service used to run event-triggered codes and compute resources without having to manage containers or web services. 

2. Storage and Database 

Azure SQL Database is a PaaS that offers a database as a service, managing SQL standards in the cloud. Azure storage also provides enormous space to save data. You can save your data through the Azure storage formats listed below: 

  • Azure Blob: It’s used for storing large unstructured (e.g., texts, images, and videos) data. Azure Blob is also suitable for storing documents, audio, and virtual hard disk (VHD) files. 
  • Azure Queue: It’s used for storing large amounts of messages that can be accessed through HTTP/S connections. Besides, it provides communication between application components, irrespective of the cloud/on-premise models, or device (e.g., desktop or mobile) where the application components are running. 
  • Azure File: A network storage that allows administrators to access files through Server Message Block (SMB). Azure Files can be accessed simultaneously as an on-cloud premise or through the cloud. Azure Files also simplifies file sharing between VMs. 
  • Azure Disk: Azure disks are virtualized storage centers. They’re used to store the data files of VMs. Azure disks are available in ultra disks, premium solid-state drives (SSD), standard SSDs, and standard hard disk drives.

3. AI and Machine Learning

AI is the use of computer systems to simulate human intelligence to resolve problems. Everyday examples of AI include smart assistants (e.g., Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa), conversational bots, and email spam filters. Azure provides a suite of AI and machine learning tools, such as Jupyter, Notebook, and Visual Code, to optimize business processes.

Benefits of Using Microsoft Azure Services

Microsoft Azure is an on-demand cloud platform available in over 130 countries across 55 regions worldwide. Given its high availability, it provides global reach for businesses with negligible downtime. Other benefits of Azure include: 

1. Security and Compliance

Azure facilitates data protection by using advanced encryption processes like disk encryption, server-side encryption, and client-side encryption. Azure also implements multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect the confidentiality and authenticity of data. 

Cybersecurity compliance is another top feature of Azure security systems. Azure’s built-in cybersecurity compliance frameworks cut across several industries. Some of these frameworks include the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and General Data Protection Regulation.

2. It’s Cost-effective

It's expensive to maintain physical data centers and on-site hardware components. This is why Azure provides a pay-as-you-use pricing model for its cloud services. It helps businesses, especially small and medium businesses, to access data and computing processes through the cloud without spending a tonne on on-site server and infrastructure maintenance.

3. High Scalability

Scalability is a distinctive feature of Azure. Azure provides on-demand flexibility that allows users to retain performance levels despite adjusting their service plans to fit current business needs. For example, during periods of web traffic, you can momentarily increase the storage and computing demands of your website compared to low traffic periods. 

4. Backup and Disaster Recovery Options

Sometimes, data loss and service disruptions are unavoidable. Azure offers multiple cloud-based and on-site data recovery options,  such as Azure Site Recovery and Data Backup, to recover and safeguard data. 


Closing Thoughts 

Organizations across different sectors use cloud computing services for data storage, project management, and data analytics. Azure provides secure cloud and on-site services for business enterprises. However, the cybersecurity position of cloud services remains a big worry for cloud users despite the benefits of cloud computing. You can allay your cloud-related cybersecurity concerns by partnering with NW Technologies

At NW Technologies, we offer comprehensive information technology (IT) management services. Our IT services include vulnerability and risk assessments, and vendor management. We understand that your endpoint devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and servers) are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. And that's why we provide endpoint security strategies to help you manage your endpoint systems. Finally, we offer without making you break the bank. Book a session to enjoy our scalable and affordable cybersecurity solutions today.

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