What is Azure?

Posted by Kaitlin Kelly on September 9, 2019

A common job requirement I am coming across is experience with Azure. In an effort to get to know this a little better, let’s dive into what Azure does, and why we need it.

First - what is Azure? Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through data-centers. Microsoft breaks this down for us:

Cloud computing is when you access computing services—like servers, storage, networking, software—over the internet (“the cloud”) from a provider like Azure. For example, instead of storing personal documents and photos on your personal computer’s hard drive, most people now store them online: that’s cloud computing.

Cloud computing platforms, like Azure, tend to be less expensive and more secure, reliable, and flexible than on-premises servers. With the cloud, equipment downtime due to maintenance, theft, or damage is almost non-existent. You can scale your compute and storage resources—up or down—almost instantly when your needs change on Azure. Also, you typically pay only for the services you use, which provides a level of convenience and cost-control that’s almost impossible to achieve with on-site infrastructure.

Azure, as you can gather from above, is a cloud computing provider developed by Microsoft.

What does Azure do? That is a question with many answers. To sum up Microsoft, here are the main categories of Azure’s capability:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service: Considered the most basic of the services, this is basically renting the IT infrastructure you need, including servers, networks, operating systems, etc.
  2. Platform as a Service: This is one step up from IaaS, as this provides not only the IT infrastructure you need but also an on-demand environment for developing, testing, and deploying applications.
  3. Serverless Computing: Serverless computing is similar to PaaS, except this cloud computing service only executes when a specific event tells it to.
  4. Software as a Service: This service delivers software applications over the Internet, typically on a subscription basis.

Why is cloud computing beneficial over a traditional set up?

In my opinion, cost and scale are two main points. The cost of buying hardware and software, running an on-site data-center, hiring a team of people to manage the data-center, keeping the data-center powered at all times, etc are all expensive reasons to switch to cloud computing. In terms of scale, expanding your storage capabilities is as easy as the click of a button.