Microsoft Azure, formerly known as Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform. It provides a range of cloud services, including compute, analytics, storage and networking. Users can pick and choose from these services to develop and scale new applications, or run existing applications in the public cloud.
The Azure platform aims to help businesses manage challenges and meet their organizational goals. It offers tools that support all industries — including e-commerce, finance and a variety of Fortune 500 companies — and is compatible with open source technologies. This provides users with the flexibility to use their preferred tools and technologies. In addition, Azure offers 4 different forms of cloud computing: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and server less.
Azure products and services
Microsoft sorts Azure cloud services into nearly two dozen categories, including:
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This is a wide range of services that a developer can use to infuse artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing capabilities into applications and data sets.
Databases. This category includes Database as a Service (DBaaS) offerings for SQL and NoSQL, as well as other database instances — such as Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Database for PostgreSQL. It also includes Azure SQL Data Warehouse support, caching and hybrid database integration and migration features. Azure SQL is the platform’s flagship database service. It is a relational database that provides SQL functionality without the need for deploying a SQL server.
Containers. These services help an enterprise create, register, orchestrate and manage huge volumes of containers in the Azure cloud, using common platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes.
Azure Virtual Desktop. Set up Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) in minutes to enable secure remote work. Provide the familiarity and compatibility of Windows 10 with the new scalable multi-session experience for your end users and save costs by using existing eligible Windows licenses. Manage your end-to-end Azure Virtual Desktop deployment alongside other Azure services within the Azure portal.
Compute. These services enable a user to deploy and manage VMs, containers and batch jobs, as well as support remote application access. Compute resources created within the Azure cloud can be configured with either public IP addresses or private IP addresses, depending on whether the resource needs to be accessible to the outside world.
Mobile. These products help developers build cloud applications for mobile devices, providing notification services, support for back-end tasks, tools for building application program interfaces (APIs) and the ability to couple geospatial context with data.
Web. These services support the development and deployment of web applications. They also offer features for search, content delivery, API management, notification and reporting.
Storage. This category of services provides scalable cloud storage for structured and unstructured data. It also supports big data projects, persistent storage and archival storage.
Analytics. These services provide distributed analytics and storage, as well as features for real-time analytics, big data analytics, data lakes, machine learning (ML), business intelligence (BI), internet of things (IoT) data streams and data warehousing.
Networking. This group includes virtual networks, dedicated connections and gateways, as well as services for traffic management and diagnostics, load balancing, DNS hosting and network protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Media and content delivery network (CDN). These CDN services include on-demand streaming, digital rights protection, encoding and media playback and indexing.
Integration. These are services for server backup, site recovery and connecting private and public clouds.
Identity. These offerings ensure only authorized users can access Azure services and help protect encryption keys and other sensitive information in the cloud. Services include support for Azure Active Directory and multifactor authentication (MFA).
Internet of things. These services help users capture, monitor and analyze IoT data from sensors and other devices. Services include notifications, analytics, monitoring and support for coding and execution.
DevOps. This group provides project and collaboration tools, such as Azure DevOps — formerly Visual Studio Team Services — that facilitate DevOps software development processes. It also offers features for application diagnostics, DevOps tool integrations and test labs for build tests and experimentation.
Security. These products provide capabilities to identify and respond to cloud security threats, as well as manage encryption keys and other sensitive assets.
Migration. This suite of tools helps an organization estimate workload Migration costs and perform the actual migration of workloads from local data centers to the Azure cloud.
Management and governance. These services provide a range of backup, recovery, compliance, automation, scheduling and monitoring tools that can help a cloud administrator manage an Azure deployment.