Cloud services have exploded in popularity over the past decade. One of today’s leaders in cloud services is Microsoft, boasting its extensive Microsoft Azure suite of tools. The argument for cloud services is simple: business networks are increasingly more complex and customers expect sophisticated digital tools and services as necessary table stakes. Hiring and retaining the talent needed to manage these complex services is expensive. Microsoft Azure eases the complexity by managing massive networks and hundreds of services.
Microsoft launched its first cloud offering in 2010 under the brand Windows Azure, changing to Microsoft Azure in 2014. At its core, the goal of Microsoft Azure is to offer teams the ability to build and scale solutions at a level that simply can’t quickly be done in-house by any enterprise. It’s expensive to buy a server computer and servers are complex to connect. Also, going from an idea to a working prototype can take weeks or months.
Microsoft Azure aims to cut through the expense and red tape of building a solution, giving you the tools to bring your ideas to life.
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Why The Cloud?
The heart of cloud computing is the replacement of traditional enterprise data centers. If you have worked in a data center, then you’re aware that the following are true:
- There is a finite number of servers
- Hardware is expensive
- Getting time to test, build, and rebuild a machine is difficult
- Exploring new technologies is complex
The bottom line is that that data centers are powered by limited resources. In contrast, cloud computing is built to satisfy the massive and always-growing needs of companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Their core business requires knowing how to scale and manage complex networks.
At first, cloud services often referred to as virtual machines, file storage, and databases. We’ll get into the details of these core technologies, but it’s worth noting that the number of tools and services now available is significantly beyond the scope of the initial core technologies. It is worth keeping a close eye on the news releases from the Microsoft Azure team for new technologies you can bring into your enterprise.
Adopting a DevOps Mindset: Continuous Iteration
Azure offers scale, speed, and security for digital services. You’ll see that these services are continuously being updated, so there’s no longer a big release date where hundreds of new features arrive. The mindset for building solutions at Microsoft is now a DevOps mindset: continuous delivery.
DevOps is part of the maturity curve for building solutions. The first stage is a traditional “Waterfall” where a software release is a big event fraught with anxiety; the second stage is “Agile” were releases to the software are smaller but are still, in many ways, events. The next evolution is DevOps.
The power of DevOps is to build small microservices that can easily be connected and tested with each other. In many ways, it’s like LEGO bricks. Individually, each service is finite in its capabilities but you have almost unlimited potential when combined with other services. A DevOps mindset is about building services and code that is continually being tested. The result is features that can be streamed to customers as they’re made with the knowledge that the feature will work.
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You Don’t Need to Know How to Code
In many cases, the first group of people to start using cloud services in an enterprise are development teams. The reason is generally based on the need for a service that is not currently supported in the enterprise datacenter. A popular myth is that you need to be a developer to build solutions in the cloud. Let’s bust this myth right now: you do not need to be a developer to develop solutions with Microsoft Azure.
Go to Microsoft’s Azure site to get started using Azure. The site provides an overview of the offered services and how to get started. You can start building solutions here.
Azure’s portal site provides the following:
- Access to set up frequently used services such as virtual machines, SQL databases, and Kubernetes services
- Learning resources for the latest Azure services
- Monitoring of your existing apps
- Review of your solutions’ security
- Management of expenditures
The Azure Portal is intentionally pragmatic in its setup. You’re there to build and invent solutions.
Core Azure Services
As mentioned above, there are more than 600 services offered by Microsoft Azure. Having said that, there are four groups of services that you’ll use for many of your solutions, which form the core for Azure services. These are:
AppsApps are your gateway to Azure and will give you the tools to quickly build a web app, mobile app, or network system.
Virtual MachinesScaling computer power is a crucial benefit of using Microsoft Azure. Building and working with virtual machines offers unprecedented flexibility and operational management for apps you build.
StorageAzure offers almost unlimited room for digital assets.
DatabasesA database can be set up and running in minutes
As with any new technology, there’s really only one way to validate if it will work: you have to build something with it. Here is a link to our latest ebook introducing Microsoft Azure. To be clear, you will not learn about all of Azure’s more than 600 services, but you’ll get a solid understanding of the critical tools that every company starts using when they sign up with the Microsoft Azure Architect Training Course.
Tell us about the solutions you build with Azure. We want to share your success!