Microsoft Azure Overview
What is Microsoft Azure?
Windows Azure is Microsoft's cloud platform where developers can create, deploy, and maintain their apps. This cloud application platform allows developers to concentrate on the actual applications, while it takes care of all the elements behind the apps.
Windows Azure offers open across multiple frameworks,languages, and tools. It is fully scalable, localized in that it is hosted globally in many datacenters, and has widespread capabilities are, catering for all elements of application development, deployment, and management.
Azure is comprised of several different service modules,including Infrastructure; Web; Mobile; Dev & Test; Big Data; Media;Storage, Backup & Recovery; and Identity & Access Management.
Microsoft Azure is also known as Windows Azure, Azure, MS Azure, MS Azure, MS Azure.
Microsoft Azure Buyer's Guide
Download the Microsoft Azure Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: April 2021
Microsoft Azure Customers
BMW, Toyota, easyJet, NBC Sports, HarperCollins, Aviva, TalkTalk Business, Avanade, and Telenor.
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Country Manager at Orion Consultores C.A
Jan 24, 2019
The pricing Calculator feature is valuable and easy to use
What is our primary use case?We use Azure as an infrastructure service. Most of our customers have web servers but we also manage Azure for SAP R/3. It works fine. They do have a lot of options for SAP All-In-One, but we don't have as many options for SAP Business One. What Azure offers for Business One customers is too short to have enough servers certified. It works fine but it's not a complete solution for customers that use SAP Business One.
Pros and Cons
- "Azure has improved my organization because it is a new technology and so the customers who don't have enough knowledge about the cloud delegate the administration of their cloud infrastructure to us. We incorporate and add a new service to our product lineup about how to manage their Azure. It impacts our business because we're able to incorporate this new service."
- "The interface is not easy to use. I'd like to see them develop a better interface, more graphical information about the resource and the consumer."
What other advice do I have?I would rate this solution a nine because they are always incorporating new alerts and new features. I wouldn't give it a ten because it's sometimes not easy to use and the price is not a fair price for the solution. I don't know why customers think that Amazon is the best. I think that the customer thinks that the best option for cloud is an Amazon service and the second one is Microsoft. My advice to someone considering this or a similar solution is to be careful with Amazon because the customers think that they are always on the list.
Microsoft and Dev-ops Architect at Mphasis
Jan 22, 2019
Very easy to create a Kubernetes cluster
What is our primary use case?Working Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) to create a Kubernetes cluster. We are maintaining two environments of Kubernetes cluster on Azure using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). We have used other managed PaaS services like ACS, Database, and monitoring, integrated with Jenkins for continuous integration and continuous deployment.
Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Azure. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2021.
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Software Architect at a security firm with 51-200 employees
Dec 30, 2018
Much easier than AWS to set up, change, and configure VMs.
What is our primary use case?* IoT with C# and .NET Core 2.1. * Raspberry Pi with Raspbian OS. * Docker containers * For use in security applications in the retail sector * Using RabbitMQ for message queueing between the internet of things and the cloud.
Pros and Cons
- "Much more intuitive and more visual than AWS. More obvious where things are and how to change their configurations, etc."
- "Being able to set up, change and configure VMs is easy - a lot easier than in AWS."
- "Feedback and error messages make much more sense in Azure than in AWS."
- "There are a number of services offered by AWS that are not yet available on Azure."
What other advice do I have?If you are a C#, .NET or SQL server person, do not even think about using AWS, use Azure instead. If you are more of a Linux/PHP/Java type of person, you may consider AWS as it works much better from the command line and much more like a Linux or Java environment.
Digital Ad-Operations at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Aug 2, 2018
It was easy to deploy our applications on it. However, we are looking for better compatibility and scalability.
What is our primary use case?We wanted to deploy applications and have them interact with services on the back-end, so we deployed Azure for this. The performance has been quite good.
Pros and Cons
- "It was easy to deploy our applications on it."
- "We have faced some challenges trying to deploy a new ESP application."
What other advice do I have?I would rate this solution a seven out of 10. Most important criteria for selecting a vendor: The client will choose the license and buy it. We can try to convince them, but we can not compel them to use a specific vendor's license. Ultimately, the decision-maker is the client.
Web Developer at Indiana
Jul 26, 2018
This solution has the best website amongst all cloud computing platforms. It is simple to utilize, and one can release nearly anything, from app services to host sites
What is our primary use case?We host various sites and utilize this solution for purchasing domains as well. It's simple to host small sites and back-end software applications on Azure instead of on regional servers
Pros and Cons
- "Azure has the best website amongst all cloud computing platforms. It is simple to utilize, and one can release nearly anything, from app services to host sites."
- "Establishing the account in the beginning was very difficult."
Jun 7, 2018
As a DBA, the easy maintenance and backups are key
What is our primary use case?Installation of SQL Server, Cloudera Hadoop, and MySQL. The performance has been great.
Pros and Cons
- "I come from the DBA side so for me it's the easy maintenance; backups are very easy as well."
- "I would like to see more databases on the cloud, what they call today Big Data should be there."
What other advice do I have?When choosing a vendor what's important to me are stability, a lot of features, variety, and good support. My advice would be, try it using the free trial and I am sure you will be satisfied and take it.
Mobile Lead Engineer at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
May 23, 2018
Puts the "scaffolding" in place and allows you to focus on the business solution
What is our primary use case?Azure Cloud App Services can be classified as a MEAP, Mobile Enterprise Application Platform. It is also a Platform As A Service solution. These Cloud PaaS services are the backbone and the back-end structure that you can use to build omnichannel applications (mobile + web SPA + Kiosk). Azure App Service eases the creation of flexible Express Node.js or .NET WCF microservices. It has an API based on OData and integrated security with OpenID Connect with federated or corporate login. If you need a quick mobile solution, particularly an enterprise mobile solution, this is a wonderful choice. We… more »
Pros and Cons
- "Scalability is definitely in need of improvement. Azure is a very good solution but it still lacks the performance of other cloud platforms."
- "Azure does not handle scalability as well as its competitors. Sometimes a 10 percent increase in a server with 20 percent of CPU usage pushes the server up to 100 percent load, and you start having performance issues."
- "We had issues with the Mobile Service ORM and the Azure SQL Database (cloud version of SQL Server). At times, the queries that are created automatically from the ORM mapping are not very well optimized for this database and that can lead to performance and stability issues. On occasion, the connection manager from the ORM does not handle the database connections very well."
What other advice do I have?I would rate Azure at nine out of 10. The previous version of Microsoft's mobile cloud platform, Mobile Service, had some security and scalability problems but the new version, App Service, has many improvements in these areas. It also uses open-source tools and allows developers to work in isolated environments, in their own workstations (without all the hassles and costs of putting the cloud into the developer’s cycle). If the mobile application is not that big (up to 15 services) and time-to-market is very important, Azure App Service is a great solution. If you need heavy integration with…
Apr 25, 2018
Azure has become a one stop shop for cloud computing and continuing to grow.
What is our primary use case?Currently we are hosting custom web applications, boxed applications, Azure VMs, Azure files for shared company files, Azure blob storage, Azure Active Directory with Active Directory sync, Single Sign On, and development and testing purposes.
Pros and Cons
- "Storage has made remote access to files much more painless and easy."
What other advice do I have?The biggest advantage to using Azure over any other cloud solution is the ability to move your domain into the cloud and be completely server free and still have domain services. I have also found that site-to-site vpn with domain services rack up a good percentage of our monthly costs. These are the fundamentals to move your network into Azure.
Senior Technical Consultant at The Instillery
Apr 16, 2018
Quickly provisions servers, infrastructure, and apps on the fly
What is our primary use case?We have been using Azure for DevOps and non-production environments. It is great when you want to deploy apps in your staging environment first using deployment slots. This allows you to flick the switch very quickly between your current prod app and the newly developed in staging to see how it behaves in the real world. If something goes wrong, you can easily switch it back.
Pros and Cons
- "It very quickly provisions servers, infrastructure, and apps on the fly and complies with security requirements and data safety."
- "Azure ARM console can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning."
What other advice do I have?Run Azure on a 30 day trial and see how you feel about it, then make the decision to switch to the full Azure usage. You see the reason when you view the benefits of using its cloud solution, especially one that integrates so seamlessly with your environment, collaboration tools, and apps.
Principle consultant at Active Data Consulting Services Pty Ltd
Real UserTop 20
Nov 15, 2017
We have the ability to quickly create and manage resources is critical to getting things done, Azure just makes getting things done a lot simpler.
What is our primary use case?Building development and production environments to support business acrivity.
Pros and Cons
- "The ability to quickly create and manage resources is critical to getting things done, Azure just makes getting things done a lot simpler."
- "You eventually end up with a large collection of 'bits' all working together, I find it hard to be able to create a logical 'box' and put all the 'bits' that need to be in that box / application into the one place."
What other advice do I have?Start with the simple things first, design your environment before deploying anything, even a simple development environment. Understand the charging model used and get to grips with the basics of PowerShell, as nice as the web based front end is, PowerShell is very handy.
Director of Operations at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Oct 16, 2017
It enables a breakdown of IT silos and speeds up micro-service architectures.
Pros and Cons
- "In general, the entire suite of PaaS is valuable. It enables a true breakdown of IT siloes and allows an organization to embrace DevOps."
- "Predictability and quality. Make sure things work predictable, as expected, and documented."
What other advice do I have?Learn and spend up-front time on training the organization.
Aug 24, 2017
Our Chinese clients can initiate international cloud launches of new IOT products, but pricing for outgoing data caps the ability for startups to justify its deployment.
What is most valuable?Provisioning, info bus, video streaming, IOT templates, Web Services, SQL
How has it helped my organization?Azure has allowed our burgeoning PRC SOE clients to initiate international cloud launches of new IOT products.
What needs improvement?Pricing of outgoing data has capped the ablity for startup products to justify the ROI of Azure application deployment.
For how long have I used the solution?3 years
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?Just cost
What do I think about the stability of the solution?Over the last 12 months we've seen 2 outages.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?No
How are customer service and technical support?Customer Service: Poor, you can't get to people who know the…
Aug 22, 2017
Mobility of cloud-based directory reduced reporting and sped implementing new solutions
What other advice do I have?Evaluate extensibly (the actual scenario), have a definitive vision of where you want to be in a near future, align the strategy with your management and expect that it may not be cheaper. A correct vision of a project of this kind cannot be focused on lowering costs but vision alignment, future scalability, speed on delivering services, and maintaining smaller IT crews focused on business needs. Please do some previous math regarding actual licensing versus a costs model. Extrapolate this to a five year plan to match current hardware lifespans.
Azure Portfolio & Innovation Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Aug 6, 2017
All classic storage configuration settings are now managed by the platform
Pros and Cons
- "Managed storage capabilities, which create a very simple way to create, copy, and replicate local or geo-replicate, it's very simple to assign workloads."
What other advice do I have?Be careful, not all workloads are interesting or cost viability to move to Azure as is. In most cases, it will be necessary an important transformation to better fit the Azure ecosystem. Focus on a first project in order to test all aspects related with platform, providers, own tech capabilities, costs -- that will give you all the tools to decide future plans.
Jul 31, 2017
Saves a lot of time for our developers as it enables moving from the virtual machines to the Web Application-side
What other advice do I have?Learn the fundamentals using the official documentation; for example, you have the Developer Guide and courses. Start using new services based on the scenarios described in the official documentation. Use communities for consulting, such as Stack Overflow, Reddit, and Slack. However, personally, I prefer the channel azured.slack.com.
Head of Software Architecture at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Jul 30, 2017
The App Service is simple to configure as compared to the other services.
What other advice do I have?Understand the scope of each service and its limitations, to avoid problems after execution.
Jul 27, 2017
We love the flexibility at which we can deploy and manage resources for our global clients.
Pros and Cons
- "Azure Active Directory: Has powerful security and auditing capabilities that we use to secure all our apps."
- "The Azure Billing API could be so much better. It only provides billing metrics for a set duration."
What other advice do I have?Make sure you understand the cloud’s pricing model. Depending on your scenario, i.e., in rare cases, it may be more economical to do things on-premises. Regarding some of the SaaS offerings in Azure, again, understand the pricing because it might make sense to leverage what they have as a service. In some cases, you may want to build it and manage it yourself. Also, pay attention to which Azure Region you spin up compute and storage because the pricing can vary between regions and not all the offerings are equal across the regions.
Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Jul 27, 2017
Some of the valuable features include monitoring, management, and data analytics.
Pros and Cons
- "Compute (App service, and virtual machine scale sets): The ability to manage Windows and Linus virtual machines."
- "Specifically, I would like to see better Azure Data Analytics and monitoring RF."
What other advice do I have?You need to have a clear vision of your business expectation from the product. Define your business requirements, objectives and ensure that your cloud provider can support those requirements. Consider the cost, location, licensing, and technical capability to support and guide your organization.
CTO at a consultancy with 51-200 employees
Jun 26, 2017
It provides hybrid IT management of the on-premise and cloud workloads.
What other advice do I have?Leverage their cloud credit program so as to allow your team to become acquainted with Azure, before turning on their cloud billing services.
Principal Consultant at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Jun 26, 2017
A humongous amount of features are available. It is difficult to keep up with the continuous improvements that they do.
What other advice do I have?Have a vendor agnostic partner to look at your environment and discuss the vision you have on this.
Jun 11, 2017
The most valuable feature is using different types of servers on one environment.
Pros and Cons
- "The most valuable feature is the possibility of using Microsoft and non-Microsoft services on one environment."
- "Monitoring options should be more sophisticated, as there are dashboards on which a end user is able to pin a lot of charts and a number of web parts, but for example, I would love to have some option like in Operational Management Suite."
What other advice do I have?Prepare everything before implementation. Make your plan and calculate what should be the best solution or alternative for you. This solution is at the top of what you can get at the moment on the market. There are huge amounts of separate tools and scenarios from infrastructure monitoring and administering, to hybrid scenarios or quick service creation and maintenance. The main benefit is the possibility of creating quick services, which you can select from many Microsoft and third-party service providers as well.
Server and StorageIO Group (Storage IO): Independent IT Advisor, Author, Blogger and Consultant with 1-10 employees
May 11, 2017
This product has facilitated development, testing, and deployment.
What other advice do I have?Don't be scared, be prepared; do your homework. Look beyond lower cost and instead focus on value, enablement, ease of use, compatibility, resiliency, ability to scale with the stability of performance, capacity, and availability. Look at the extensiveness of services versus a simple check box. You also need to identify any concerns about the cloud, categorize them, and then discuss with others how to address them, or seek a workaround. If you cannot find somebody to chat with, drop me a note.
Feb 25, 2016
The Canvas flow interface brings a very nice functionality that improves self-learning.
What other advice do I have?Machine learning is just one part of the whole data science cycle. Big data (streaming, video, etc.) or deep learning needs must be addressed with additional tools. But for prediction/classification this is a fantastic tool. Below is a PCA graph generated by K-means training model and its Qlik Sense panel. The idea is to segment unlabeled data based on numerical features in order to find common patterns that can be grouped, named clusters.
Oct 19, 2015
We have lower production times because we don't make any more hardware purchases or have software and vendor support contracts.
Valuable Features:Easy and fast provisioning of Cloud Services including Web sites, Virtual Machines and Databases. Great for application development testing, staging and production slots. Better Support and community than the others. The onboarding services are great for new customers.
Improvements to My Organization:No more hardware purchases, software and vendor support contracts = Lower times to production. Great storage capabilities.
Room for Improvement:N/A
Software Developer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Jul 31, 2015
There are limits to resources you can use in Azure, but it enables us to offload demand from our data center when additional hosting capacity is required without notice.
What other advice do I have?Overall, it is a great, solution but is a bit expensive, has some minor limitations, and working around these limits can be a challenge. I still gave Azure a high score because of the support, feature set, availability, and the tools and documentation provided for the API. My advice is to be very clear on the costs associated with what you plan to do. Most people will ask how much it costs to host their infrastructure in Azure, but that question is different for each scenario. Microsoft has an Azure price calculator that you can use to estimate the costs for your planned architecture. I would…
It has long-term value when you consider cost-benefit analyses (with Microsoft's pricing calculator), but it's difficult to know exactly what the costs would be for services running on Azure.
Originally posted at http://jimwilsonblog.com/?p=250 A recent article of an interview with the Red Hat CEO touts the benefits of private cloud implementation. See it here. This debate is usually short sited and doesn’t include all CAPEX & OPEX cost associated with the “Free OS” type of cloud operations. Also, the reusable components from more sophisticated partner communities afford both AWS & AZURE much greater long term valuations when responsible enterprise accounting methods are used to drive the cost-benefits analyses. The proper engineering of a cloud infrastructure which includes smart VMs well orchestrated by business-demand-level-driven auto scaling will always push the TCO/ROI argument to a public solution for large scale systems. Microsoft actually has a TCO tool…
Information Security Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
The low cost is attractive, but stored procedures don't exist.
When I first had the idea to build https://report-uri.io, the biggest thing that jumped out at me was that there could be potentially huge amounts of inbound data that would need to be logged, stored and queried in an efficient manner. Doing some quick research it's obvious that most of the time, sites shouldn't really be generating CSP or HPKP violation reports, or so I thought. Once you have setup and refined your policy, you'd expect not to be getting any reports at all unless there was a problem, but this turned out not to be the case. Even excluding things like malvertising, ad-injectors and advertisers serving up http adverts on https pages, which I see a steady stream of constantly, there were things like policy misconfiguration and a genuine XSS attack that could…
Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Dec 16, 2014
Learning curve to get it up and running but it's scalable and flexible.
What other advice do I have?Get onboard with Microsoft and the Azure team and listen out to their partner training. They did a big Azure for IT Pros via their channel 9 msdn a few weeks ago. There is plenty of webinars and e-books which will teach you what you want to know.
Aug 7, 2014
The management console needs work but we would not be building the Healthcare IT application if it were not for Azure.
What other advice do I have?Have a team that understands .NET development and particularly someone who understands Active Directory very well
Java and Azure
The Announcement Microsoft recently announced a partnership with Oracle which brings a number of Oracle technologies to the Windows Azure cloud. In short, they announced: Hyper-V (i.e. the virtualisation technology underpinning Azure) is now certified to run Oracle software. Virtual Machine images will be available with the Oracle Database, and Weblogic preconfigured. Properly licensed and supported Java on Azure. Items 1 & 2 I’m not that excited about, but it’s item 3 which is interesting. The current state of Java on Azure Microsoft have supported Java on Windows Azure since the start. There’s an SDK and tooling built into Eclipse. However, Microsoft haven’t been able to install Java, you’ve had to do that yourself. This has meant that the package you deploy to Azure…
Windows Azure Migration cheat-sheet
I was recently asked whether I do have some cheat-sheet for migrating applications to Windows Azure. The truth is that everything is in my head and I usually go with “it should work” – quickly build, pack and deploy. Then troubleshoot the issues. However there are certain rules that must be obeyed before making any attempt to port to Windows Azure. Here I will try to outline some. Disclaimer What I describe here is absolutely my sole opinion, based on my experience. You are free to follow these instructions at your own risk. I describe key points in migrating an application to the Windows Azure Platform-as-a-Service offering – the regular Cloud Services with Web and/or Worker Roles. This article is not intended for migrations to Infrastructure Services (or Windows Azure Virtual…
Session Affinity and Windows Azure
Everybody speaks about recently announced partnership between Microsoft and Oracle on the Enterprise Cloud. Java has been a first-class citizen for Windows Azure for a while and was available via tool like AzureRunMe even before that. Most of the customers I've worked with are using Apache Tomcat as a container for Java Web Applications. The biggest problem they face is that Apache Tomcat relies on Session Affinity. What is Session Affinity and why it is so important in Windows Azure? Let's rewind a little back to this post I've written. Take a look at the abstracted network diagram: So we have 2 (or more) servers that are responsible for handling Web Requests (Web Roles) and a Load Balancer (LB) in front of them. Developers has no control over the LB. And it uses one and only one…
Director of Infrastructure at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
When to use different Azure IaaS storage types…
I’m been using Azure IaaS in a lot of enterprise deployments lately and I’ve noticed that there is some confusion regarding the different storage types available and provisioned for the virtual machines. In many ways the capabilities associated with Azure storage is its greatest strength, but unless you configure it properly, you might be in for a surprise regarding your results. The key message to understand is the difference between the operating system disk, the temporary disk, and data disks as they have different performance characteristics and will impact your systems in different ways when used correctly or incorrectly. The operating system disk: This disk is used for the operating system install and it will exhibit great read performance. It is not however scalable for…
Simple Calculator for Comparing Windows Azure Blob Storage and Amazon S3 Pricing
UPDATE – 06-DECEMBER-2012 I originally wrote this post in September 2012. Recently at their re:Invent event, Amazon announced reduction in their storage prices by 24-28% (http://aws.typepad.com/aws/2012/11/amazon-s3-price-reduction-december-1-2012.html). Yesterday Microsoft announced similar price reduction (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2012/12/05/announcing-reduced-pricing-for-windows-azure-storage.aspx). I have updated this blog post taking these price reductions into consideration and including them in my calculator below. Please note that both Amazon and Windows Azure have reduced only the storage charges. They have not changed the transaction charges or the bandwidth (Egress) charges. The new prices for Amazon became effective as of 01-December-2012 while that for…
Understanding the Basics of Windows Azure Service Bus
As we become more distributed in our everyday lives, we must change our approach and view of how we build software. Distributed environments call for distributed software solutions. According to Wikipedia, a distributed system is a software system in which components located on networked computers communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages. The most important part of a distributed system is the ability to pass a unified set of messages. Windows Azure Service Bus allows developers to take advantage of a highly responsive and scalable message communication infrastructure through the use of their Relayed Messaging or Brokered Messaging solutions. -- Relay Messaging -- Relay Messaging provides the most basic messaging requirements for a distributed software…
(Some) Best Practices for Building Windows Azure Cloud Applications
In this blog post, I will talk about some of the best practices for building cloud applications. I started working on it as a presentation for a conference however that didn’t work out thus this blog post. Please note that these are some of the best practices I think one can follow while building cloud applications running in Windows Azure. There’re many-many more available out there. This blog post will be focused on building Stateless PaaS Cloud Services (you know that Web/Worker role thingie :) utilizing Windows Azure Storage (Blobs/Queues/Tables) and Windows Azure SQL Databases (SQL Azure). So let’s start! Things To Consider Before jumping into building cloud applications, there’re certain things one must take into consideration: Cloud infrastructure is shared. Cloud…
Building Private Clouds with Windows Azure Pack (WAP)
The model of elastic self-service deployment of VMs and applications that come with the Azure public cloud are changing the way IT departments allocate servers. Rather than tying servers to a specific application, IT departments now look to provide a pool of shared and dynamically self-allocated resources. There are compelling needs to run on premise a private version of the Azure Cloud that provides a lot of the multi-tenant services and benefits of the public Cloud. There are a lot of hosting partners that want to offer these Azure Cloud OS services to their customers. MS wants to give a consistent platform across hosting providers, private DCs, and Azure Cloud. The newly released Windows Azure Pack (WAP) decouples and brings a few of Azure OS features and a modified portal with common…
Bring Windows Azure to your datacenter
How about having the Windows Azure experience locally on your datacentre? Microsoft is now enabling Hosting Service Providers to use Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 to deliver the same great experiences already found in Windows Azure. The first two of these finished services are high density website hosting and virtual machine provisioning and management. Hosting Service Providers enable these modules through the new Service Management API and optional portal. Create high scale WebSites – Out of the box automation lowers customer onboarding costs while metering and throttling of resources can help tailor customer offerings. Supports many frameworks including ASP.NET, Classic ASP, PHP and Node.js with full Git integration for Source Code Control. Download and install the…
Early Thoughts on the Windows Azure Announcements
Today’s release marks a significant milestone for Windows Azure. To date, Windows Azure has been a platform that allows developers to build and run applications across Microsoft’s global datacenters – the key emphasis has been on “applications”. Windows Azure has not been a platform for providing the underlying infrastructure for running your own virtual machine – this has been a key pain point for many customers looking to move to the cloud that Microsoft has heard loud and clear. Today’s announcement makes it clear that Windows Azure is more than just a Platform-as-a-Service provider. In my opinion, there are three significant components of today’s announcements worth delving into deeper: New Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities. Free (or low-cost) hosting with Windows…
Top Reasons Developers Should Use Windows Azure Mobile Services
With the recent release of Social Cloud, I asked the RedBit teamwhat are the top reasons for using Windows Azure Mobile Services and here is what we have. Easy Third Party Authentication Using the Identity feature of Azure Mobile Services allows developers to quick implement OAuth based authentication without having to worry about a lot of the plumbing code that is required when writing everything from scratch. You can easily incorporate authentication with Microsoft Account Facebook Twitter Google As a developer all you would have to do is Specify the keys in the portal Use the mobile SDK for iOS, Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone with application Authenticate via the SDK calling MobileServiceClient.LoginAsync() Here is what it would look like from the dashboard…
5 Great Features in Windows Azure Backup
Windows Azure Backup was recently released as a preview feature in Windows Azure’s already comprehensive suite. This is a great feature, even in its current preview state. However, due to its recent release, it can be difficult to find helpful descriptions of features already available. In this blog, we will highlight five great features of the Windows Azure Backup Preview and a short description of each one. 1. Scheduled Backup In the world of backup and recovery, scheduled backups are not necessarily a new feature. New or old, it is definitely a convenient and required backup feature, especially for those who value data integrity. Windows Azure does a great job of providing users with a simple interface that can be configured on the Windows Azure Backup Agent snap in for…
Active Directory in Azure – Step by Step
Ever since Windows Azure Infrastructure Services were announced in preview I keep hearing questions "How to run Active Directory in Azure VM? And then join other computers to it". This article assumes that you already know how install and configure Active Directory Directory Services Role, Promote to Domain Controller, join computers to a Domain, Create and manage Azure Virtual Networks, Create and manage Azure Virtual Machines and add them to Virtual Network. Disclaimer: Use this solution at your own risk. What I describe here is purely my practical observation and is based on repeatable reproduction. Things might change in the future The foundation pillar for my setup is the following (totally mine!) statement: The first Virtual Machine you create into an empty Virtual Network in…
Bending the Windows Azure Media Services–H.264 Baseline profile
Disclaimer: What I will describe here is not officially supported by Microsoft and by Windows Azure Media Services. This means that if task fails you cannot open support ticket, nor you can complain. I discovered these hidden feature by digging deeply into the platform. Use the code and task preset at your own risk and responsibility. And note that what works now, may not work tomorrow. Exploring the boundaries of Windows Azure Media Services (WAMS), and following questions on StackOverflow and respective MSDN Forums, it appears that WAMS has previously supported H.264 Baseline Profile and have had a task preset for Baseline Profile. But now it only has Main Profile and High Profile task presets. And because the official documentation says that Baseline Profile is supported output format…
Bending the Azure Media Services – clip or trim your media files
Disclaimer: What I will describe here is not officially supported by Microsoft and by Windows Azure Media Services. This means that if task fails you cannot open support ticket, nor you can complain. I discovered these hidden feature by digging deeply into the platform. Use the code and task preset at your own risk and responsibility. And note that what works now, may not work tomorrow. So, we have Windows Azure Media Services, which can transcode (convert from one video/audio format to another), package and deliver content. How about more advanced operations, such as clipping or trimming. I want, let’s say to cut off first 10 seconds of my video. And the last 5 seconds. Can I do it with Windows Azure Media Services ? Yes I can, today (5 April 2013). The easiest way to start with Media…
A journey with Windows Azure Media Services–Smooth Streaming, HLS
Back in January Scott Gu announced the official release of Windows Azure Media Services. It is amazing platform that was out in the wild (as a CTP, or Community Technology Preview) for less then an year. Before it was RTW, I created a small project to demo out its functionality. The source code is public on GitHub and the live site is public on Azure Web Sites. I actually linked my GitHub repo with the Website on Azure so that every time I push to the Master branch, I got a new deployment on the WebSite. Pretty neat! At its current state Windows Azure Media Services does support the VOD (or Video On Demand) scenario only. Meaning that you can upload your content (also known as ingest), convert it into various formats, and deliver to audience on demand. What you cannot currently do is…
Secure your ASMX WebServices with SWT and Claims
I was recently involved into interesting project, that was using the plain old ASMX web services. We wanted to migrate it to the Windows Azure Access Control Service and make use of Claims. The way we achieved that is to add additional Soap Header to the client requests that includes Simple Web Token (SWT). On the server side, we make a check for this specific header existence, then extract the token, perform some validation checks and inject a fresh new Claims Identity into the Service instance. One thing to look out for is that you have to think of a workaround, if your ASMX WebService is a Singleton object. My implementation works with non-singleton implementations. And I currently get my Simple Web Tokens from Windows Azure Access Control Service’s WRAP endpoint. I have configured a…
Windows Azure Basics (part 2 of n)–networking
In my previous post on Windows Azure Basics, I tried to introduce you the cloud computing concept and explain the Windows Azure Platform with not so technical terms. It is time now to get over the networking. What is happening behind the scenes? What we can or cannot (currently) use? Lets first take a look at the following picture, which tries to show almost complete Windows Azure hosted service: Here are the terms/abbreviations you see on the illustration: LB – Load Balancer. It is the Windows Azure software Load Balancer, which routes the Internet traffic to and from your hosted service; VIP – virtual IP address. This is the internet facing public IPv4 (currently) network address for your hosted service. You have to pay attention to it, as you only have one single…
Windows Azure basics (part 1 of n)
We live in dynamic times. Buzzwords such as cloud computing, elastic scale, reliability and their synonyms are taking more and more space in our daily life. People (developers) want to move to the cloud. They are often confused by all the new terms. In this part 1 of [we-will-see-at-the-end-how-many] articles I will try to explain with non-geeky words the Windows Azure terms. First of all, what is Cloud Computing before all? This is when Computing power (namely CPU, RAM, Storage, Networking) is delivered as a service via a network (usually internet), and not as a product (a server that we buy). Cloud computing is a marketing term for technologies that provide computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and…
Windows Azure Basics–Compute Emulator
Following the first two posts of the series “Windows Azure Basics” (general terms, networking) here comes another one. Interestingly enough, I find that a lot of people are confused what exactly is the compute emulator and what are these strange IP Addresses and port numbers that we see in the browser when launching a local deployment. If you haven’t read the Windows Azure Basics – part 2 Networking, I strongly advise you to do so, as rest of current post assumes you are well familiar with real Azure deployment networking components. A real world Windows Azure deployment has following important components: Public facing IP Address (VIP) Load Balancer (LB) with Round Robin routing algorithm Number of Virtual Machines (VM) representing each instance of each role, each with its own…
Owner at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
May 23, 2013
Easy to connect to on-premise infrastructure, but deprovisioning services is complicated and SLA is not competitive
Valuable Features:SSO access Easy connect to On-Prem infrastructure GA of new features, such as Azure Backup and Mobile services, free websites and easy to manage pay-as-you-go model.
Room for Improvement:Deprovisioning services is complicated. SLA is not competitive. While some prices have been lowered, some increased after GA. Options from beta moved to different categories.
Sr System Engineer at a outsourcing company with 501-1,000 employees
Mar 31, 2013
We moved our accounting database from an in-house SQL Server to MS Azure cloud and saw a significant increase in performance.
What other advice do I have?We moved our accounting database from an in-house SQL Server to MS Azure cloud and saw a significant increase in performance. We can now connect to the database even while roaming and back it up anywhere, anytime. Data replication services make it highly reliable and always available.
Head of Infrastructure at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Jul 15, 2012
Good for running Microsoft Enterprise Applications, although a pricey alternative to other IaaS/Paas service providers in the market.
What other advice do I have?It's true that to run various Microsoft Enterprise Solutions, Azure is the best option, keeping aside minor caveats. Unless your requirement makes it mandatory to use IIS, you should consider other IaaS service providers available in the market, which are comparatively cheaper as well. It has good support for various platforms like Java, Ruby, and PHP for websites. Windows Azure provides API's built on popular and robust technology like HTML, REST, and XML.
Senior Manager of Data Center at a integrator with 51-200 employees
Jul 2, 2012
Microsoft's cloud computing platform Windows Azure is a combination of both PaaS and IaaS
What other advice do I have?Windows Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft for running windows applications and working with data on the cloud. It is based on the architecture of HyperV and windows fail over clustering to support redundant instances of application with zero downtime. It's built to quickly deploy application with .NET, JAVA, SQL, Python, and other cloud services. It works on the combination of SQL, azure, and AppFabric, along with other cloud services.
Director of IT at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Jun 30, 2012
Windows Azure is classified as platform, as a service, and forms part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, along with its software as a service offering Microsoft Online Services
What other advice do I have?The Windows Azure platform, which provides a range of functionality to build applications that span from consumer web to enterprise scenarios, includes a cloud service operating system and a set of developer services. With Windows Azure there are at least two instances of each role that the application needs and therefore, the Fabric controller load balances users’ requests between them. What this means is that there is no guarantee two requests from the same user will go to the same instance. This may be a problem with some applications that need a stateful connection with the user. A…
Engineer at a manufacturing company with 51-200 employees
Jun 21, 2012
Microsoft Azure is best cloud computing platform available in the market.
What other advice do I have?I love Microsoft's products because they are simple yet powerful and secure.
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