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On demand cloud compute capacity, seamless scaling, and instant virtualization – pay as you go, with Azure Compute

Posted by Rajiv Dattani on 4/6/21 12:48 PM


Microsoft Azure is known for its multiple service offerings, making it the right choice for your workloads, especially when you’re new to the cloud landscape.

Out of all these services available on the Windows Azure platform, Azure Compute services are those which determine the execution of an application. For better proficiency, it is, therefore, important to understand the concept of Azure Compute in detail. 

In this blog, we explore more about Azure Compute and why it is a great choice to create compute resources, configure them to do the work you need, and pay only for what you use.

What is Azure Compute?

Azure Compute is primarily an on-demand computing service for running various cloud-based applications. It is known to offer computing resources such as multi-core processors and supercomputers via virtual machines and containers. 

The word compute here typically refers to the hosting model on which your application runs for the said computing resources. These Azure Compute services can be classified into three categories -

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Serverless services

Apart from this, Azure Compute is known to - 

  1. Provide serverless computing to run various apps without requiring infrastructure setup or configuration
  2. Be available on-demand and can be created within minutes
  3. Allow you to pay only for the resources you use and for as long as you use them

Compute Options Available With Azure

Among the main compute options available with Azure include -

  1. Virtual Machine

Virtual machine or VM is an IaaS service that allows you to deploy and manage the computer side of a virtual network (VNet). It is one of the most popular and useful services available through Azure.

Essentially a computer file, a virtual machine (sometimes called an image), acts like a real computer and typically runs in a window like traditional computer programs. Using Azure virtual machines, you can deploy different services such as Windows and Linux within the Azure cloud. 

Key Highlights of VM

  • Azure compute offers a host of VM images that are preloaded with an OS and other software tools. This helps you to both reduce cost and also eliminate the need to install an OS and software
  • You can deploy any type that reloads and you don’t have to manage the underlying physical servers
  • Allows you to control the traffic flow using network security groups
  • You can monitor different underlying metrics like CPU Utilization and Network Utilization

If you wish to avail of the Virtual Machine service, you can get a bare VM in which you can install the OS of your choice. 

Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets allow you to create and manage a group of identical and load-balanced VMs. 

They also let you manage, configure, and update a huge number of VMs centrally and within minutes to provide higher availability and security for your applications. 

In addition to this, the number of VM instances can go up or down automatically in response to demand or a defined schedule. With VM Scale Sets, you can easily build large-scale services for multiple areas such as compute, container workloads and big data.

  1. Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS)

The task of automating, managing and interacting with a massive number of containers is known as orchestrating. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a full orchestration service for containers with distributed architectures and multiple containers. In this service, the master node is managed by Azure and end-users manage full nodes.

Key Highlights of AKS

  • Azure Kubernetes services can be used for multiple purposes including deploying, scaling and managing various container-based applications across a cluster of container hosts
  • Since it is a managed service, it is free and you only have to pay for the worker nodes within your cluster and not for the masters
  • You can either use Azure CLI or other platform-driven deployment options such as Terraform and Resource Manager Templates to create an AKS cluster in the Azure portal
  1. Azure Batch Computing

As soon as you're ready to run a job, Batch Computing - 

  • Installs applications and staging data 
  • Starts a pool of compute VMs
  • Runs multiple jobs irrespective of the number of tasks you have
  • Identifies failures and requires work
  • Scales down the pool as work completes
  • You pay for exactly what you use with no capital investment

Further, Azure also provides capabilities in situations where you need raw computing power or supercomputer level power.

  1. Cloud Services

Using a PaaS hosting model, cloud services are the managed services for running cloud applications. The cloud service technology is designed to support applications that are reliable, scalable, and inexpensive to operate and are also hosted on virtual machines (VMs).

Unlike Azure App Services, in this case, you have more control over the VMs as you can install your own software on VMs that use Azure Cloud Services, and even access them remotely.

Organizations could utilize Azure Cloud Services for building, deploying, and managing various applications with ease. The fact that Azure offers extensive support to a diverse range of databases, operating systems, programming languages, frameworks, and devices, makes cloud services ideal for enterprises to change the conventional perspectives on their day-to-day operations.

Other Key Features of Cloud Services

  • It is a sophisticated service that you can use to host scalable, highly available and complex applications
  • The service requires minimum intervention
  • The high level of customization in Azure Cloud Services is another reason why they are so valuable for both large enterprises and small businesses alike. They allow organizations to choose the platforms, services, and virtual infrastructures they actually need
  • Unlike other competing cloud service vendors, Microsoft Azure offers high availability and redundancy across all of its data centers
  • Businesses looking to keep a few of their processes on private servers can easily build a hybrid cloud environment using Azure’s advanced networking features
  • Azure's cloud services that are priced based on consumption, allows businesses to better manage their IT budgets and leverage the specific cloud features they need

Among some of the other cloud computing techniques include -

  • App Service - App service is a managed platform-as-a-service offered for hosting RESTful APIs, web apps, mobile app back end, or automated business processes
  • Azure Container Instances - Azure container instances offer a quick and simple way to run a container in Azure without requiring a high-level service or provisioning any virtual machines
  • Service Fabric - Service fabric is essentially a platform that can run in any environment, including Azure or on-premises. Put simply, it is an orchestrator of micro-services across a cluster of machines. 

To Conclude

To leverage the multiple benefits and merits of Microsoft Azure's cloud services, organizations today are drastically migrating their workloads to Azure. It allows them to deploy various compute services quickly based on requirements.

However, with so many options available in the rapidly changing cloud offerings, companies often find it challenging to pick the right Azure Compute service to fit their workloads.

The need here is to perform a detailed evaluation of the services and strategize accordingly to check if one meets your individual needs and then choose the right Azure Compute Service for long-term success with the cloud.

Topics: Microsoft Azure, Azure Compute

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