3 Ways Azure Helps You Do DevOps Better

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Over the past year, the big story in cloud computing has been the rise of Azure, especially in the enterprise segment of the market. Azure has gone from being distant second to the leader or a close contender for the top spot. Seeing the opportunity, Microsoft is investing further into Azure to make it not just another platform to run apps in the cloud, but the one with the widest and deepest range of cloud services.

 

While there are numerous services in the “Azureverse,” there are some that stand out for their ability to facilitate DevOps teams. Let’s look at these particular services.

1. AKS is Kubernetes the easy way

In mid-2018, Microsoft took the covers off its managed Kubernetes service, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). This is significant because of the central role Kubernetes plays in today’s cloud ecosystem. Every vendor is looking to build out the most Kubernetes-friendly platform available, and Microsoft won’t be left out.

Kubernetes, though powerful as an orchestration platform for containers and cloud resources, is challenging to set up and manage. The key differentiator for AKS is that it makes managing Kubernetes easy. Microsoft’s client base is predominantly enterprise organizations, and not every developer in these organizations wants to operate from the command line. They’d prefer a friendly user interface that abstracts away the low-level manual work of maintaining Kubernetes. AKS is the perfect solution for these developers.

AKS gives users the ability to update Kubernetes with just a click. This is a huge leap forward if you’re used to the manual update process thus far. Once set up, Azure makes it simple to create and manage resources in your Kubernetes cluster. With a wizard-based navigation, you can simply enter a few details and follow a pre-designed flow to create new instances or provision more storage. Additionally, AKS gives you all the must-haves for monitoring your resources, allowing you to drill down to the details quickly. This is valuable when investigating attacks, or troubleshooting bugs that affect the app in production.

Finally, AKS works really well if you’re a Microsoft shop already. It has ready-made integration with Active Directory so IT can have the same role-based access control (RBAC) for Kubernetes as they’ve had with the broader Azure platform or other Microsoft services in the past. Even the developer experience is familiar as AKS integrates with Visual Studio Code, a favorite of developers in enterprises.

In short, Azure is one of the best places to run your Kubernetes clusters in, especially if you want to enjoy the benefits of containers without the manual work of maintaining them.

2. Xamarin integration for mobile productivity

A couple of years ago, Microsoft acquired mobile development and testing tool Xamarin. Today, Xamarin is integrated with Azure to make it easy for mobile developers to build mobile applications at enterprise scale.

For DevOps teams, mobile can be hard to manage because of the multiple operating systems, device fragmentation, and various development frameworks. The user interface matters for today’s mobile apps. It can take a lot of time to design application front-ends that work well across any mobile device. Xamarin makes it easy to build a mobile front-end for both iOS and Android in minutes. This is essential when building proof-of-concept apps, and MVPs. Xamarin lets you go from idea to app in the quickest possible time.

You can leverage various APIs to integrate with your enterprise data, and scale out in the cloud. Xamarin and Azure empower you to handle mobile development at enterprise scale.

3. Azure Functions for ultimate ease of use

If AKS makes managing containers easy, Azure Functions takes it to the extreme by being a serverless computing platform that lets you completely forget about servers. All you need to do is upload your code and define how much resources you’ll need to run that code. Azure Functions takes care of provisioning the resources and running the code for you. You pay for usage, so when the system is idle, it doesn’t incur any costs. This is great for running short-term workloads, or for integrating legacy enterprise apps with modern cloud services.

Build for the future with AI and more

Azure has a range of cutting-edge services for artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and more. Azure’s AI solution is complete with image processing, textual analysis, NLP, and other features. For data science and machine learning, Azure has several options,  including solutions for anomaly detection, data mining, data classification.

Blockchain is based on a technology called “distributed ledger.” The most popular open source tool for distributed ledger is Hyperledger. However, Azure recently announced a blockchain development kit for organizations that want to create blockchain applications internally.

For DevOps teams, these technologies are interesting, but hard to get started with. Setting up the required data science teams and analytics platforms can stop teams from getting started. Azure’s solutions can help DevOps teams get past the initial hurdles and get up to speed quickly.

Conclusion

Whether it’s running containers, building mobile apps, focusing on code and not servers, or adopting cutting-edge technologies, Azure is on the ball, innovating to meet all the needs of DevOps teams. It’s no surprise that Azure is the leading cloud platform for enterprises today.


Twain began his career at Google, where, among other things, he was involved in technical support for the AdWords team.Today, as a technology journalist he helps IT magazines, and startups change the way teams build and ship applications.


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