Microsoft Azure is a public cloud computing platform created by Microsoft. It provides a platform for building, deploying and managing services and applications through a gobal network of data centers managed by Microsoft. Moreover, it is a free add-on to Microsoft System Center that allows the user to host many of the core Azure services in their own data center. Azure is widely considered both a Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 1)
Microsoft is a public cloud vendor and is completely responsible for hardware purchase as well as maintenance and provides a wide variety of platform services that users can use. Users can lease hardware and software services they require on an as-needed basis, so they purchase hardware on an operational expense. That also allows users to lease access to hardware and software resources that would be too expensive to purchase. Users only have to pay for hardware when they use it. 2)
PaaS and IaaS
With PaaS users deploy their applications into an application-hosting environment provided Microsoft Azure. The developer provides the application, and Azure provides the ability to deploy and run it. This frees up developers from infrastructure management, allowing them to focus strictly on development. Azure provides several PaaS compute offerings, including Azure Websites and Azure Cloud Services.
IaaS is a way of delivering cloud computing infrastructure such as servers, storage, network and operating systems as an on-demand service via secure IP-based connectivity. Rather than purchasing software ord hardware, clients instead buy those resources as a fully outsourced service on demand. IaaS is often based on virtualization techniques, that means creating a virtual computer that is independent of the actual hardware on which it exists, which may indeed be smaller or larger than its virtualized counterpart. 3)
Azure includes many services in its cloud computing platform. For example the compute services. This service provides the Microsoft Azure Cloud Services (web and worker roles), Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Websites, and Azure Mobile Services. So this includes virtual machines, containers, batch processing and remote application access.
Another service is the data service. This includes Microsoft Azure Storage, Azure SQL Database, and the Redis Cache. So this services includes Database as a Service offerings for SQL and NoSQL, as well as unstructured and cached cloud storage.
In addition, the application services are included into Azure. This includes services that you can use to help build and operate your applications, such as the Azure Active Directory, Service Bus for connecting distributed systems, HDInsight for processing big data, the Azure Scheduler, and Azure Media Services. Azure also includes network services. This contains Azure features such as Virtual Networks, the Azure Content Delivery Network, and the Azure Traffic Manager.
Analytical services provide distributed analytics and storage, as well as real-time analytics, big data analytics, data lakes, machine learning and data warehousing.
Another service is the Identity and access management (IAM). This service offers ensure only authorized users can employ Azure services and help protect encryption keys and other confidential information. 4)