Friday, 1 April 2016

Azure Infrastructure Services

Azure “is a growing collection of integrated cloud services for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money”. Well, that’s the marketing lingo, but what are the actual services available?

The diagram above, from here, is the best example I've seen of capturing everything that Azure is and the services that it offers.

Let's start with the infrastructure services.

Infrastructure services (IaaS) abstract away physical machines to services that can be molded via code rather than plugging in cables.

Under the banner of Compute, there are a couple of services. Azure Virtual machines let you deploy images in any way. They aren't just limited to Windows, support includes Linux, Oracle IBM and SAP. Azure Container Service allows you to deploy containers to Azure. This is heavily open-source friendly and allows you to use Apache Mesos or Docker Swarm to orchestrate.

There's many options for file storage as a service. Azure Blob Storage provides a service for storing large amounts of unstructured data that can be accessed via http(s). A blob account has multiple containers (think of these are folders or organizational units) and each container can lumps of data (blocks, append-only, page blobs). Azure Files provides fully managed file shares using the standard SMB protocol. This allows you to migrate file shared-based applications to the cloud with no changes. Finally in the storage offerings there are a variety of low-latency and high throughput storages referred to as premium storage. These are essentially pre-configured virtual machines with optimized technology (e.g. SSD) for storage. Options include hosting SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Redis and MongoDB.

There's a whole raft of networking services. Azure Virtual Network provides an environment to run your machines and applications where you can control the subnets, access control policies and more. Azure Load Balancer does exactly what it says on the tin - it's a Layer 4 load balancer that allows you to distribute incoming traffic. Azure DNS is another Ronseal service! ExpressRoute lets you create private connections between your data center and Azure data centers (giving you up to 10 Gbps). Traffic Manager is similar to load balancing, but with more flexibility around failover, A/B testing and combining Azure / on-prem systems. Azure VPN Gateways is another virtual network manager, and Application Gateway is an application level load balancer. 

Confused yet?