Many startups and mid-to-big size organizations tend to move towards cloud computing for their application or infrastructure deployment. Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft provide cloud computing platforms and services with a wide range of benefits. Usually there are three types of cloud services typically known as Software as a Service or SAAS, Infrastructure as a Service or IAAS and Platform as a Service or PAAS. Services like Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's AWS are the top cloud services that companies prefer to use. Other than fulfilling deployment related requirements, these cloud services also provide other tools and services like cloud databases, cloud apps, virtual machines, applications for enterprise integration, developer tools, support for Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, IOT and much more. In addition to these tools and services cloud-based technologies offer scalability, flexibility, reliability, data integrity, security and the most important factor is that they are cost effective.
As business grows, the demand for cloud computing platforms and services is also increasing. According to a CAGR report, cloud computing is projected to increase from $67 billion in 2015 to $162 billion in 2020. Research firms, like Gartner, predict that the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 18% in 2017 to $246.8 billion, up from $209.2 billion in 2016. Based on these predictions and looking at the increasing demand for big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, one can simply imagine how bright the future of cloud computing is.
We at Cazton are pioneers in providing cloud-based consulting and training. Our wide range of experts include consultants, senior and lead consultants, junior and senior level architects and principal consultants have years of hands-on experience dealing with cloud services from Microsoft, Amazon and Google. Our team provides expertise and leadership in solutions architecture in the infrastructure and applications space. We are able to quickly identify, predict, and satisfy our clients' current and future need and design and develop robust and scalable cloud solutions.
What are the different types of cloud services?
Cloud Computing is a concept that focuses on providing a wide range of computing services over the internet (i.e. the cloud). Any service that sits in your computer, but can operate on its own is not a cloud service. Cloud-based services are usually available via paid subscriptions. It is available on demand and can be utilized by any number of people. These services offer several benefits like scalability, flexibility, reliability, data integrity, security and the most important one is that they are cost effective. Generally, cloud services are divided into three main categories:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): As the name implies, this service provides an infrastructure, which can be utilized to store data or deploy and run an application. Typical products that come under IaaS include virtual machines, storage (hard disks), servers, network, load balancers, etc. This is the most basic service in the cloud computing model.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service is a combination of both IaaS and SaaS and adds a layer on top of IaaS. It provides a combination of infrastructure, tools and applications that can be utilized for your application, but removes all of the hardware decisions. It offers a platform for the creation of software, which is then delivered over the web. Products available under this service include operating system, programming language execution environment, database, web server, etc.
Software as a Service (SaaS): This service basically provides software applications as a service. A typical example of SaaS would be Gmail, Dropbox, Facebook where the application is ready to be used by the end user. These are applications that are hosted by a vendor or service provider and are made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet.
What is Azure?
So far we have discussed what cloud computing is and the different types of cloud services available. Now let’s discuss one particular type of cloud computing platform called Azure.
Azure is a public cloud platform completely owned and operated by Microsoft. It is used for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. A large number of organizations prefer using Azure due to its hybrid capabilities and large area coverage. Azure service is available in many regions around the world and can be used for business intelligence, big data analytics, creating artificial intelligence, IOT and cognitive services, deploying web, mobile, hybrid apps, APIs and microservices, serverless computing and much more. Azure provides all three types of services listed above, but is known for providing the strongest PaaS as compared to Amazon.
Microsoft Azure is known to be used for creating solutions for a large number of industries using wide variety of technologies. Let’s take a brief look at all the products and services that Microsoft Azure offers.
What products and services does Microsoft Azure offer?
Microsoft Azure provides an extensive range of products that powers their services like computing, networking, storage, containers, databases, developer tools, tooling and tech support for big data analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive services, internet of things, security and monitoring. There are software development kits and tools available for platforms like .NET, Java, Python, Ruby, NodeJS, etc. It also provides command line interfaces (CLI) and PowerShell support. There are tools and extensions available for Visual Studio, Docker, Python, etc. and storage capability support for environments like Windows, Linux and Mac.
Microsoft keeps upgrading and adding new features to its cloud platform, thus keeping the cloud stack up-to-date. Here are the products offered within Azure:
- Web and Mobile App Services: Microsoft Azure provides services for building, testing, deploying, and managing web apps, mobile apps and APIs. Other services such as Azure search, CDN, media services, notification hubs are also available.
- Web Apps: Azure Web Apps is a cool way to create and deploy scalable and highly available web applications in a language of your choosing. It provides support for both Windows and Linux environment and enables automatic deployment through VSTS and GitHub. Apps created using various frameworks like .NET, PHP, NodeJS, Java and Python are easily deployable.
- Mobile Apps: Since the evolution of smartphones, the demand for mobile apps has increased over the years. Azure App Services provides full support for creating native Android, iOS and Windows phone apps. It also supports hybrid cross-platform apps created with Xamarin or Cordova.
- API Support: An API is the important piece of functionality that helps with scaling your application. It provides a single mode of data consumption for various devices. Microsoft Azure provides full support for easily deploying and managing APIs.
- Azure Search: Search is the most important functionality in any web or enterprise application. Having a robust search can help improve sales and grow business. Azure provides a custom search service that can be added to your web or mobile application. Azure Search is highly scalable and provides full-text search for multiple languages, geo-spatial search, filtering and faceted navigation, type-ahead queries, hit highlighting, and custom analyzers.
- CDN Service: A CDN service enables faster response time, higher content availability and scalability and one of the best way to enhance user experience. Azure CDN provides delivery of high-bandwidth content across the globe from its global data centers.
- Azure Mobile Engagements: It’s important to know how users actually use your mobile application. Azure Mobile Engagements does just that. It is Azure’s SaaS user-engagement platform that gives complete app-usage insights and real-time user segmentation. This service helps application provider and marketing agents better understand their app customers.
- Notification Hubs: This provides quick notifications and helps you engage more easily with your customers. Azure’s notification hubs service provides a multi-platform, scalable push-notification engine that enables sending millions of messages to your app users.
- Azure Media Services: Applications that are media-oriented require constant encoding, packaging and uploading of video or audio data. AMS provides an extensible cloud-based platform that enables developers to build scalable media management and delivery applications.
- Storage Services: Storage space is the most important requirement for any organization. As data grows, more and more storage space is required. Azure Storage Service which is a cloud-based storage service provides different types of storage like blob, disk, file and queue along with backup and recovery mechanisms. All the files, data or information stored with Azure storage is highly secure, durable, scalable and redundant.
- Blob Storage: If your organization has large amounts of unstructured data like text, audio, video, files, binary data, it can all be stored with Blob Storage. All that data can then be accessed over the network through Http or Https.
- Disk Storage: Another type of storage provided by Azure is the Disk Storage. This uses physical disks to store data and OS applications in virtual machines. The disks are available as Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs).
- Queue Storage: Does your application support behind-the-scenes data processing? Do you want to process data asynchronously for better user experience? Azure Queue Storage allows storing large number of messages from anywhere around the world.
- File Storage: The traditional way to store data or files would be to use any file server. Azure now introduces Azure File Storage that allows storing, replicating and moving files to the cloud, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
- Data Lake Storage: Does your organization deal with tons of big data? Or is your application based on Hadoop Ecosystem? Azure Data Lake Store lets you capture data of any size, type, and ingestion speed and store it on cloud. This service can be accessed through your HDInsight cluster, which is Hadoop based and WebHDFS-compatible REST APIs. It enables data analytics and improves performance.
- StorSimple: Azure StorSimple is an integrated storage solution that manages storage tasks between on-premises devices and Azure cloud storage.
- Backup & Site Recovery: Business related data is always important for any organization and managing that data on-premises can be a tedious task. There can be chances of storage failure that result in loss of data. Microsoft Azure provides data backup service that backs-up data for on-premises servers, virtual machines, virtualized workloads, SQL server, SharePoint server, and more. Its recovery mechanism replicates and manages data in Azure VMs, on-premises VMs and physical servers.
- Database Services:Azure provides services for storing large amounts of structured data (both schema-based and schema-less) using different types of database-storage mechanism. Let's take a look at the different database technologies that are offered as database-as-a service:
- Azure SQL Database: This service is based on Microsoft’s in-house SQL server engine that provides a relational database to store large amount of structured data. Azure SQL databases are highly reliable, secure and provide high performance.
- Azure MySQL and PostgreSQL Database: If your application is built using open source tools and platforms, one of the most preferred database technology to be used in such scenarios would be MySQL or PostgreSQL. Azure's MySQL and PostgreSQL database service are also based on the open source MySQL and Postgre Server engine respectively that offers high performance and scalability benefits.
- Azure Cosmos Databases: Azure CosmosDB, which was formerly known as DocumentDB, is a multi-model database service that enables data to be distributed globally. This means that your data gets much closer to your customers as it is replicated and stored across multiple Azure data centers in various regions.
- Table Storage: If your application uses NoSQL databases, then Azure’s Table storage is a nice choice that stores structured NoSQL data in the cloud. Azure’s Table Storage service is fast and cost effective as compared to traditional databases.
- Redis Cache: Azure Redis Cache is a fully managed dedicated Redis cache that can be used to increase the performance of your cloud applications. It provides native support for complex structures like hashes, lists, sets, and ordered sets. Transaction support for multiple operations against the cache. Updating cache values without having to retrieve the item from the cache. Keys with limited time-to-live, pub/sub messaging patterns and more.
- Data Analytics Services:
- HDInsight Services: For analyzing big data, the Hadoop stack has always been the most preferred technology. With Azure’s HDInsight, you can now perform big data analytics and data streaming on the cloud. It also allows you to create Hadoop clusters and develop solid big data solutions using technologies like Apache Hive, HBase, Spark, Kafka, and others.
- Azure Databricks Services: Azure Databricks is an Apache Spark-based analytics platform optimized for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. It provides one-click setup fully managed spark clusters, streamlined workflows, and an interactive workspace for easy collaboration between data scientists, data engineers and business analysts.
- Stream Analytics Services: A stream of data basically means a continuous flow of data, which can come from a variety of devices, sensors, log files, websites, social media feeds, etc. Azure’s Stream Analytics service is a complete event-processing engine that lets us analyze these streams of data.
- Data Lake Analytics Services: Azure Data Lake Analytics is an on-demand analytics job service that lets you write queries to transform your data and extract valuable insights. You only pay for what and how much you use, which makes this service very cost effective.
- Data Lake Store Services: Azure Data Lake Store is a hyper-scale repository for big data analytic workloads. It lets you capture data of any size, type, and ingestion speed in one single place for operational and exploratory analytics.
- AI & Cognitive Services:
- Machine Learning Services: Azure Machine Learning Service allows data scientists, machine learning experts and AI specialists to create end-to-end advanced analytics solution and ML & AI models that can be easily deployed at cloud scale.
- Azure Bot Services: A bot is a sophisticated application created using artificial intelligence techniques that can communicate conversationally with users via text or speech. Azure Bot Service accelerates the process of developing a bot.
- Azure Batch AI Services: As data scientists and AI experts create complex AI and machine learning models, Azure's Batch AI lets them train their models on clusters of Azure virtual machines, including VMs with GPU support. This service provides resource management and job scheduling specialized for AI training and testing.
- Cognitive Services: Microsoft's Cognitive Services are a set of APIs, SDKs and services available to developers to make their applications more intelligent, engaging and discoverable. With the help of these services, we can utilize the power of machine learning and add advanced intelligence into our products.
- Security Services:
- Azure Active Directory Services: Security is one of the most critical cross-cutting concern in any application. With Azure’s Active Directory service, we can enable single sign-on capabilities in our app. This service also provides identity management, multi-factor authentication, role based access, security monitoring, alerting, etc.
- Key Vault Services: Applications that use cryptographic keys or store any secret information should be safeguarded from hackers. Azure’s Key Vault service enables increased security and control over keys and passwords, reduces latency with cloud scale and global redundancy and enhances data protection and compliance.
- Multi-Factor Authentication Services: As the name implies, multi-factor authentication service is a two-step authentication system that adds an extra layer of identity verification to the simple sign-on process eventually making the app a bit more secure.
- Azure Stack: Wouldn’t it be great if you get a chance to work on Azure services from your own organization’s data center? Let our experts help you. We can build and deploy apps on Azure stack or Azure or both.
How can Cazton help with Microsoft Azure Consulting?
The Microsoft technology stack is one of the most widely used technology stacks by our experts. We at Cazton have world-class experts with years of experience working on real-world projects using Microsoft Azure and other cloud computing platforms. Our experts have hands-on experience using all of Azure tools, SDKs and products in wide range of projects.
Our team of highly talented software consultants and architects, big data specialists, AI experts, data scientists and cloud computing experts can offer the best value to you at a very affordable rate. We offer extremely flexible arrangements where you can hire our experts full-time or through fixed bid or hourly SOWs or on a contract-to-hire basis.
Cazton is composed of technical professionals with expertise gained all over the world and in all fields of the tech industry and we put this expertise to work for you. We serve all industries, including banking, finance, legal services, life sciences & healthcare, technology, media, and the public sector. Check out some of our services:
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