Today, developers have lots of clouds to choose from. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are just the big three; a more complete list of public cloud providers is considerably longer.
That may leave you wondering which cloud platform is best for building and deploying applications. While there is no universal answer to that question, this article explains why Azure provides a number of benefits, especially if you are building cloud-native apps — meaning those that are designed first and foremost to run in the cloud, as opposed to on-premises apps that run partly in the cloud.
What is Azure?
Microsoft Azure is the second-largest cloud service provider in the world, according to Gartner. It started out in 2010 as a cloud development and PaaS solution, but has since evolved to include IaaS capabilities. Azure provides an ever-increasing number of services that are designed to meet the needs of users, from enterprises to freelancers, in one easy-to-use and easy-to-manage platform.
What is a cloud-native app?
A cloud-native architecture means more than just shifting some of the workload to the cloud. It also means developing on the cloud for the cloud. By developing and deploying applications in a way that considers the characteristics and behaviors of the cloud, workflows and processes that capitalize on cloud platforms are generated.
Cloud-native applications are usually containerized, microservice-based, and operated on managed platforms in order to increase agility, scalability, and reduce the cost of operations through efficient use of resources.
Azure application creation and hosting features
Azure uses a standard Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize And Close security model. The idea is to protect not only the platform but also the end-user. This level of security is essential in a world where security breaches have the greatest impact they’ve ever had, and data is the core of almost every organization.
Microsoft Azure also employs technologies such as Multi-Factor Authentication. This reduces security risks by adding another layer of verification onto your password in case it’s compromised. Azure offers quite a number of alternative verification options, which include SMS and mobile app, and uses machine learning to identify inconsistent sign-in patterns or threats in order to notify the administrator. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication can be used within Azure to secure Remote Desktop, VPNs, and Active Directory, or can be deployed on-premises.
Another security feature Azure offers is Azure Information Protection which helps you to secure sensitive information which is sent out of the company. The technology allows users to classify, label and protect data based on its sensitivity using embedded permissions. Information Protection also gives companies the flexibility to choose how their encryption keys are managed, including Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) and Hold Your Own Key (HYOK).
Other security features include Azure Key Vault and Azure DDoS Protection.
Microsoft Azure is about as convenient as you can get. With its global cloud network, Azure provides connections across regions. This creates a great relationship with data for a company, its employees, and clients, no matter their location on the globe. In the age of globalization, there’s almost nothing as important.
In order to be as cost-effective as possible, Azure offers pay-as-you use pricing which is supplemented by its free Cost Management system. Cost Management provides tools to optimize, allocate and monitor costs. Azure’s prices run as low as $0.008/hour for Windows and Linux Virtual Machines.
Azure has very high availability and offers a 99.95% service level agreement (SLA) which means that in total it has less than five hours of annual downtime. Support for Azure, much like all Microsoft extensions, is extensive and easily accessible, with 24/7 tech support.
For companies who would prefer faster, private connections with lower latency, Azure provides ExpressRoute.
Microsoft Azure offers full container integration support. It supports the deployment, management and operations of major container services such as Kubernetes. Azure also provides a Web App for Containers tool that allows users to easily deploy and run scalable containerized web apps.
Full support for containers is advantageous because it makes it easy to deploy cloud-native applications as microservices, or to use Azure-based storage services in conjunction with containerized applications that also run in the Azure cloud.
From Azure Stream Analytics to the Azure Video Indexer, Microsoft Azure offers a wide range of data analysis tools. It also offers Hadoop, Spark, and other clusters using HDInsight. Stream Analytics is a particular favorite because it involves real-time, data stream processing from IoT devices, which I believe is essential to global technological progress.
According to the EMC corporation, organizations lose an average of $1.7 trillion per year through data loss and downtime. With Azure, you can breathe easy knowing that your data is as safe as it can be. By default, any data you store in Azure storage has at least three copies stored in the same data center. If for any reason your data becomes unavailable, the platform switches over to data from one of the copies. Azure also comes equipped with rolling reboot and regional or global failover capabilities.
Building a truly cloud-native application takes work, but Azure can make it easier by providing a flexible and robust set of hosting, monitoring, security and backup features. Azure may not be the very best fit for every use case in the world, but by and large, it is a strong solution for cloud-native application hosting.