Cloud computing is redefining how modern applications are being designed. Instead of creating applications as monoliths, cloud technology has allowed them to be broken down into smaller, decentralized microservices. Each service communicates with one another through application programming interfaces (API) or asynchronous messaging. This type of architecture also allows applications to scale more conveniently, adding new instances of services whenever demand increases (scaling-out) and removing examples of services whenever demand reduces (scaling-in).
Unsurprisingly, cloud computing applications and platforms have grown tremendously popular in recent years, revolutionizing how businesses work and creating new revenue streams. It’s estimated that more than 77 percent of businesses use some enterprise cloud solutions in their computing infrastructure.
What Is Microsoft Azure in Cloud Computing?
There are many cloud computing platforms in the market, but Microsoft Azure is one of the biggest. Microsoft Azure is the cloud platform of choice at the enterprise level, used by 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, was released in 2010 by Microsoft as a public cloud services platform where users could build, test, deploy, and manage their applications using Microsoft’s cloud-based data centers. The servers that make up these data centers are scattered across 140 countries and growing. Through Azure, Microsoft offers a host of services on different domains, such as Compute, Database, Content Delivery, and Networking.
What Is Microsoft Azure Used For?
The solutions that enterprises can build on Microsoft Azure include:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
Azure is a quick, flexible, and—more importantly for enterprises—affordable cloud platform. But what exactly can you do with it? Below are a few examples of Azure solutions:
App DevelopmentUsers can create virtually any web application in Azure
App HostingAfter development, you can then host the application on Azure
Software TestingUsers can also test applications on Azure
Virtual Machine CreationAdd virtual machines to your IT infrastructure using Azure
Virtual Hard DrivesExpand your fleet of virtual machines with virtual hard drives (or cloud-based storage)
Integration and SynchronizationAzure lets you integrate cloud-based apps with your existing IT infrastructure
Business IntelligenceAzure is a powerful business intelligence tool that allows you to capture and store essential metrics that measure your application’s activities
These solutions are available on other cloud platforms as well, including Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, Azure has several unique features that make Azure architecture training or Azure certification worthwhile, which we’ll go into later.
What Is Microsoft Azure Architecture?
If you’re looking to apply for Azure Architect jobs or perhaps get Azure training, it’s essential first to understand what Microsoft Azure architecture is.
Like other cloud platforms, Microsoft Azure depends on a technology called virtualization, which is the emulation of computer hardware in software. This is made possible by the fact that most computer hardware works by following a set of instructions encoded directly into the silicon. By mapping software instructions to emulate hardware instructions, virtualized hardware can use software to function like “real” hardware.
Cloud providers maintain multiple data centers, each one having hundreds (if not thousands) of physical servers that execute virtualized hardware for customers. Microsoft Azure architecture runs on a massive collection of servers and networking hardware, which, in turn, hosts a complex collection of applications that control the operation and configuration of the software and virtualized hardware on these servers.
This complex orchestration is what makes Azure so powerful. It ensures that users no longer have to spend their time maintaining and upgrading computer hardware as Azure takes care of it all behind the scenes.
Microsoft Azure Features
Improved Backup and Disaster Recovery
Microsoft Azure offers flexibility, advanced site recovery, and built-in integration. The cloud-based nature of Azure makes it innately flexible, allowing you to backup your data in virtually any programming language, operating system, or location. Azure also allows you to set backup schedules daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever schedule you please.
On the other hand, Microsoft Azure’s site recovery features can enhance your tape backup systems by providing offsite replication and decades-long data retention with minimal onsite maintenance and operational costs. Azure also stores three backups of your data in three different locations in the data center, plus another three backups in a remote data center.
Develop and Host Web and Mobile Apps
Azure is an ideal platform for developing, hosting, and managing web and mobile apps, making them autonomous and adaptive through features like automatic patch management, AutoScale, and integration for on-premise apps.
Automatic patch management on your virtual machines frees up time you would otherwise spend managing your infrastructure, allowing you to focus on improving your app’s core features. Meanwhile, AutoScale, a feature integrated into Azure Web Apps, automatically adjusts your resource threshold based on user traffic, saving you money outside of peak hours. Finally, Azure links your web apps to an on-premise app, allowing your stakeholders to access resources within your firewall.
Integration with Active Directory
Microsoft Azure can integrate with your Active Directory, supplementing your existing access and identity capabilities. It also gives your DNS improved security, worldwide reach, and centralized management.
One of the things that makes Azure unique is its ability to extend your Active Directory environment’s reach globally while maintaining direct control. No other cloud platform can expand your domain controller’s reach and consolidate Active Directory management.
And if you have multiple sites or use cloud apps like Office 365, Azure’s integration with Active Directory gives you a centralized tool to manage and maintain access to your suite of tools.
Microsoft Azure Architecture Best Practices
Cloud computing has changed how organizations perform many of their business functions and how applications and systems are built. The primary role of an Azure architect is to ensure that the application delivers business value by meeting your organization’s functional requirements. However, this also entails making sure that the solution is designed to be scalable, reliable, secure, and efficient.
While there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all method for designing architecture on Azure, there are a few best practices that all architects agree will apply to any cloud provider, technology, or architecture. While these best practices only scratch the surface of what you can do on Azure, focusing on them should help you build a strong, flexible, and secure foundation for your application.
Design with Security in Mind
Data is the most precious and potentially damaging (in the wrong hands) component of your organization’s IT infrastructure. Every architect must focus on securing access to your architecture through stringent authentication procedures and protecting your application and data from network threats. Also, you should use encryption protocols to protect your data.
Security must be at the forefront of your application’s lifecycle, from pre-development and design to implementation, deployment, and operations. While Azure provides robust protections against threats, such as DDoS attacks and network breaches, architects must still take it upon themselves to integrate security practices into the application itself, their processes, and organization.
Design for Scalable Performance
As mentioned earlier, the beauty of cloud computing and microservices architecture lies in the ease of scaling performance. For your architecture to perform at its best and be scalable, it must be capable of shifting resource capacity according to demand. This is usually done by ensuring that applications can scale dynamically based on traffic or usage activity.
An architecture that’s designed with a focus on performance and stability also provides a great experience to customers. Finally, scalability is also tied to your bottom line. An architecture that can adjust according to demand will save you money.
Design for Recoverability
Every architect must anticipate the worst-case scenario of their architecture going down with no way to recover their data. A reliable cloud environment is one that has multiple safeguards against catastrophic failure at all levels. A huge part of this is designing an architecture that’s capable of recovering from failure within the timeframe required by both customers and stakeholders.
Design for Efficiency
Last but not least, be sure to design your cloud infrastructure in a way that makes application development and operation cost-effective. That means identifying potential areas of inefficiency and waste, ensuring that your IT resources are spent wherever you can maximize ROI.
It’s also crucial to have a monitoring architecture that lets you detect impending failures or problems before they happen, or, at the very least, before it catches the attention of your customers.
Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Architecture
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a Microsoft Azure architect, now is a fantastic time to get started. The first step is to get Microsoft Azure certified. Take advantage of our Microsoft Azure Architecture Certification Training Course, designed to teach you everything you need to know about the nuances of Azure, before seeking certification. Contact Simplilearn to discover more about the Microsoft Azure Architecture Course today.