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What is Azure?

Azure is a cloud computing platform and an online portal that allows you to access and manage cloud services and resources provided by Microsoft. These services and resources include storing your data and transforming it, depending on your requirements. To get access to these resources and services, all you need to have is an active internet connection and the ability to connect to the Azure portal.

Azure Services and How It Works

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Web: These services support the development and deployment of web applications. They also offer features for search, content delivery, API management, notification and reporting.

  4. 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.

  5. Analytics: These services provide distributed analytics and storage, as well as features for real-time analytics, big data analytics, data lakes, machine learning, business intelligence, internet of things (IoT) data streams and data warehousing.

  6. 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.

  7. Media and content delivery network (CDN): These CDN services include on-demand streaming, digital rights protection, encoding, and media playback and indexing.

  8. Integration: These are services for server backup, site recovery and connecting private and public clouds.

  9. 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.

  10. IoT: 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Development: These services help application developers share code, test applications and track potential issues. Azure supports a range of application programming languages, including JavaScript, Python, .NET and Node.js. Tools in this category also include support for Azure DevOps, software development kits (SDKs) and blockchain.

  13. Security: These products provide capabilities to identify and respond to cloud security threats, as well as manage encryption keys and other sensitive assets.

  14. AI and machine learning: This is a wide range of services that a developer can use to infuse AI, machine learning and cognitive computing capabilities into applications and data sets.

  15. Containers: These services help an enterprise create, register, orchestrate and manage huge volumes of containers in the Azure cloud, using common container platforms such as Docker and orchestration platforms including Kubernetes.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Intune: Microsoft Intune can be used to enroll user devices, thereby making it possible to push security policies and mobile apps to those devices. Mobile apps can be deployed either to groups of users or to a collection of devices. Intune also provides tools for tracking which apps are being used. A remote wipe feature allows the organization's data to be securely removed from devices without removing a user's mobile apps in the process.