Azure Essentials – Embracing Cloud Computing and Its Key Components

Posted by: Brian Martel , on 7/12/2022, in Category Microsoft Azure
Views: 41468
Abstract: This overview about Azure Essentials highlights the benefits, deployment models, and service models of cloud computing, along with essential Azure concepts, such as regions, availability zones, Azure Resource Manager, ARM templates, resource providers, resource types, and resource definitions. Additionally, the overview touches on powerful tools for managing Azure resources and services, such as Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell.

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses access and manage IT resources, with Microsoft Azure standing out as a leading cloud computing platform.

This guide touches upon the essentials of Azure and cloud computing, providing an introduction to their benefits, deployment models, service models, and core concepts.

In addition, we will briefly discuss Azure Resource Manager, ARM templates, resource providers, resource types, and resource definitions, along with the powerful management tools, Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell. By gaining an understanding of these topics, you will be better equipped to navigate the Azure ecosystem and begin harnessing the potential of cloud computing for your organization.

Embracing the Cloud Computing Revolution

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations manage and access IT resources. It is an on-demand service that delivers computing resources, like storage, processing power, and networking capabilities over the internet. The benefits of cloud computing are numerous:

  • Cost efficiency: Cloud computing helps businesses save money by eliminating the need for purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware and software.
  • Scalability: Cloud services can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing demand, ensuring that businesses only pay for what they need.
  • Flexibility: Cloud platforms support a wide range of applications, tools, and services, allowing organizations to choose the best solutions for their needs.
  • Security: Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures to protect their infrastructure and customer data, ensuring that businesses can trust their cloud environment.
  • Availability: Cloud services are designed to be highly available, ensuring minimal downtime and maximum productivity.

Cloud Deployment Models

When adopting cloud computing, organizations can choose from three main deployment models:

  1. Public Cloud: In a public cloud, computing resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider and shared among multiple customers. Public cloud providers, like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offer a variety of services to help businesses build, deploy, and manage their applications.
  2. Private Cloud: A private cloud is dedicated to a single organization and can be hosted either on-premises or by a third-party provider. Private clouds give businesses more control over their data and infrastructure while still enjoying the benefits of cloud computing.
  3. Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud environments, allowing businesses to leverage the best of both worlds. Organizations can share data and applications between the two environments, providing flexibility and control.

Different Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing can be broken down into three primary service models:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS providers manage the underlying infrastructure (servers, storage, and networking), while customers are responsible for managing the operating system, applications, and data. Azure Virtual Machines is an example of IaaS.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS provides a platform for developers to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about infrastructure management. The cloud provider takes care of the infrastructure, operating system, and runtime environment, allowing developers to focus on writing code and deploying applications. Azure App Service is an example of PaaS.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS delivers software applications over the internet, eliminating the need for customers to manage infrastructure, operating systems, or application development. The cloud provider manages all aspects of the service, and users access the applications through a web browser. Examples of SaaS include Office 365 and Salesforce.

cloud-computing-servicemodel

Figure: Cloud service models and who manages what

[Image source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Cloud_Computing_Servicemodelle.png]

Azure – Core Concepts

Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive cloud computing platform offering a wide variety of services, such as computing power, storage, and databases. To effectively use Azure, it’s essential to understand some key concepts:

Azure Subscriptions

A subscription is a billing unit and a way to organize resources. Each subscription is associated with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenant, which provides identity and access management services.

Azure Active Directory (AD)

Azure AD is a cloud-based identity and access management service that enables single sign-on and multi-factor authentication for secure access to applications and resources.

Azure Resources

In Azure, resources are individual components, such as virtual machines, storage accounts, and databases. Resources can be managed individually or as part of a resource group, which helps organize and manage resources that are related to a specific project or application.

Azure Regions and Availability Zones

Azure regions are geographically distributed data centers that host Azure services. Each region consists of multiple data centers for redundancy and fault tolerance. Azure services are available in multiple regions, providing global coverage and ensuring data residency requirements are met.

Availability zones are physically separate data centers within a region, connected by low-latency networks. They provide high availability and fault tolerance for mission-critical applications by allowing resources to be distributed across multiple zones. By deploying resources in different availability zones, you can protect your applications and data from data center failures.

Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

Azure Resource Manager is a management layer that sits between the user and the Azure services. It provides a consistent way to manage, organize, and deploy resources in Azure. Some of the benefits of ARM include:

  • Resource Groups: ARM allows resources to be organized into resource groups, making it easy to manage and monitor related resources.
  • Tags: Tags can be applied to resources and resource groups, enabling better organization and reporting.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): ARM enables granular control over who can access and manage resources by assigning roles with specific permissions.
  • Consistent Deployment: ARM templates enable consistent deployment of resources, ensuring that the same resources are created in the same way every time.

ARM Templates

ARM templates are JSON files that define the resources and configurations required for an Azure deployment. They enable infrastructure as code, allowing resources to be created, updated, or deleted in a consistent and repeatable manner. Some of the key benefits of ARM templates include:

  • Idempotence: ARM templates are idempotent, meaning that they can be applied multiple times without changing the end result.
  • Modularity: ARM templates can be modular, enabling reusable components that can be shared across multiple deployments.
  • Parameterization: ARM templates can be parameterized, allowing for customization without modifying the template itself.

The Building Blocks

ARM relies on resource providers to manage specific types of resources. Resource providers are identified by a namespace, such as Microsoft.Compute, Microsoft.Storage, or Microsoft.Web. Each resource provider has one or more resource types, which define the resources that can be created and managed. For example, Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines is the resource type for virtual machines under the Microsoft.Compute resource provider.

Understanding resource providers and resource types is essential for the following reasons:

  • Registering resource providers in your subscription may be required to deploy certain resources.
  • Resource providers and resource types are referenced in ARM templates and the Azure portal when creating and managing resources.

Understanding Azure Resources

All resources managed by ARM have a common set of properties in their definition, including:

  • Name: The unique name assigned to a resource.
  • ResourceGroupName: The name of the resource group that the resource belongs to.
  • ResourceType: The type of resource, defined by the resource provider and resource type.
  • Location: The Azure region where the resource is deployed.
  • ResourceId: A globally unique identifier for a specific resource, following the format: /subscriptions/<subscription ID>/resourceGroups/<resource group name>/providers/<resource provider>/<resource type>/<resource name>.
  • Tags (optional): Key-value pairs that can be applied to resources and resource groups for better organization and reporting.

The Power of Command

Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell are command-line tools that enable interaction with Azure resources and services. Both tools provide commands for managing resources, deploying ARM templates, and more.

  • Az PowerShell Module: The Az PowerShell module is a set of cmdlets for managing Azure resources using PowerShell. It provides commands for listing, creating, updating, and deleting resources, as well as deploying ARM templates.
  • Azure CLI: The Azure CLI is a cross-platform command-line tool for managing Azure resources. It offers similar functionality to the Az PowerShell module but uses a different syntax.

Conclusion

Throughout this guide, we have covered the fundamentals of Azure and cloud computing, including their benefits, deployment models, service models, and core concepts. We have also discussed Azure Resource Manager, ARM templates, resource providers, resource types, and resource definitions, along with the powerful tools for managing Azure resources and services, Azure CLI, and Azure PowerShell. Armed with this knowledge, you are now better prepared to navigate the Azure ecosystem and fully leverage cloud computing services for your organization. As you continue to learn and work with Azure, your understanding of its capabilities will deepen, allowing you to harness the full potential of cloud computing.

In future articles, we will delve into more advanced Azure topics and discuss practical use cases, best practices, and optimization techniques for effectively utilizing Azure services. Stay tuned for more insights and guidance to help you get the most out of Microsoft Azure and the world of cloud computing.

Happy learning!

This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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Author

Brian Martel, an experienced Azure and DevOps developer, has spent the last decade mastering technologies such as Kubernetes, Docker, Ansible, and Terraform. Armed with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and certifications like Cloud DevOps Engineer Expert (AWS and Azure) and Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), Brian has a proven track record of guiding organizations through successful transitions to cloud-based infrastructures and implementing efficient DevOps pipelines.

He generously shares his wealth of knowledge as a mentor and an active participant in the developer community, contributing articles, speaking at user groups, and engaging with others on social media. All the while, Brian remains dedicated to staying current with the latest trends in his field.



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