Microsoft Azure, which started its journey as Windows Azure in 2008, is now a digital force to reckon in the cloud computing space. It is one among the enterprise-grade cloud computing platforms that offer the trinity of cloud services – Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) under one roof. Each service has several offerings within it making Azure a vast sea of cloud-based services.
Image Credit: Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure also supports a number of third-party systems, programming languages, and frameworks under its ambit of offerings. Additionally, there are 600+ Azure services covering mobile, storage, data management, messaging, CDN, media services, computing and much more. Even the Internet of Things and Machine Learning are available under the Microsoft Azure platform.
In other words, it is a one-stop-shop for digital enterprises that want agility, flexibility, and quick scalability. But, the sheer range of services offered by Microsoft Azure makes it difficult to pick the right service for a business. Also, Microsoft being a continuous innovator keeps changing and updating its Azure offerings on a regular basis. So, a choice made based on last month’s study may not prove to be the right one today.
Although it is challenging, it is not impossible to pick the right Microsoft Azure service. Like any decision-making related to IT, the right Azure service can also be selected for your business by seeking answers to a few specific questions.
How much control do you need?
Each Azure service offers a slightly different degree of control over infrastructure, application calling, load balances and so on.
Image Credit: Microsoft Azure
IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) offers Azure Container Services and Azure Virtual Machines. They provide maximum control but also require you to take care of the updates and infrastructure maintenance. Even ensuring security for the applications would fall on your shoulders. IaaS would prove to be a good choice if you want to run development and test modules, need high-power computing or run isolated applications.
PaaS (platform-as-a-service) gives you control over the applications, all the data and how it will run. But, you will have no control over the operating system nor do you have the responsibility of controlling it.
The last one, software as a service offers very little control over the infrastructure. But, you will be able to derive maximum business value out of the system using applications built and maintained by someone else.
Where do you want to run your application?
Azure offers an elaborate cloud setup that can accommodate all your application requirements. But, there could be instances when you have to strike a balance of utilizing Azure Cloud as well as public cloud facilities.
If you want the application to run purely on Azure, then you have to opt for services like Azure Stack, Azure Public Cloud, or on-premises.
The extent of application usage
The extent of your application usage is another decisive factor in your choice of Azure service. Your application could be running round the clock (like a website) or could be a serverless application that runs on request. The infrastructure requirements for both scenarios are different.
In the always-on mode, you need to pick the classic model which has to be maintained and paid on a monthly basis. It will prove to be a good fit for applications that need to be up and running round the clock, like an online store or a customer service portal, etc. where customers are expected to check in at any time.
But, if your application is used rarely or during specific times which can be predicted, as a background application, then the serverless model is recommended. It is also charged on a monthly basis, so you won’t have to pay much to use the resources on a random basis.
Match your service functionalities to the app requirements
Apart from the control and usage, you also have to consider the functionalities each service offers to make the right choice. For instance, IaaS offers functionalities like VM ScaleSet, Virtual Machines, and Container Service. Platform as a Service offers App Service, Cloud Service, and Service Fabric. App Service will fit better for CMS like WordPress, Umbraco, Joomla, Drupal, and the likes. If running microservices is your requirement, Service Fabric which offers round the clock availability, containers, multi-cloud support, and scalability should be your choice.
The Final Choice
Making the right choice from the vast spectrum of Azure services is not an easy task. You will have to figure out all your requirements elaborately and in fine detail to find the right fit. In fact, there are several other types of requirement categories that you can explore like, analytics using Azure, securing applications using Azure, running applications using Azure and so on.
What we have explained above should help you get around making a fine choice of Azure services.
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