Azure Compute Infrastructure
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Microsoft Azure offers services for a wide variety of compute-related needs, including traditional compute resources like virtual machines, as well as serverless and container-based services. In this course, you will learn how to design a compute infrastructure using the appropriate Azure services.
Some of the highlights include:
- Designing highly available implementations using fault domains, update domains, availability sets, scale sets, availability zones, and multi-region deployments
- Ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery using Azure Backup, System Center DPM, and Azure Recovery Services
- Creating event-driven functions in a serverless environment using Azure Functions and Azure Log Apps
- Designing microservices-based applications using Azure Container Service, which supports Kubernetes, and Azure Service Fabric, which is Microsoft’s proprietary container orchestrator
- Deploying high-performance web applications with autoscaling using Azure App Service
- Managing and securing APIs using Azure API Management and Azure Active Directory
- Running compute-intensive jobs on clusters of servers using Azure Batch and Azure Batch AI
- Design Azure solutions using virtual machines, serverless computing, and microservices
- Design web solutions using Azure App Service
- Run compute-intensive applications using Azure Batch
- People who want to become Azure cloud architects
- People preparing for a Microsoft Azure certification exam
- General knowledge of IT architecture
I hope you enjoyed learning about Azure’s compute services. Let’s do a quick review of what you learned.
You can put an application’s VMs into availability sets to help it survive both planned and unplanned outages. An availability set lets you configure the number of update domains and fault domains.
Update domains put virtual machines into groups where the VMs will be rebooted at the same time. By default, your VMs will be put into 5 update domains, but you can set it to anything between 2 and 20.
To survive unplanned outages, put VMs into fault domains. The maximum number of fault domains is either 2 or 3, depending on the region. Fault domains are physically isolated from each other, but they’re still within the same datacenter, so they won’t protect you against a data center failure.
Availability zones are an alternative to availability sets. An availability zone is a physically separate zone within an Azure region. Putting VMs in separate availability zones will protect you against a data center failure.
To protect against a regional failure, you need to deploy your VMs in multiple regions, using an active/active or active/passive model.
To scale an application, you can use vertical scaling, which means to use bigger VMs, or horizontal scaling, which means to use more VMs. With a scale set, you can set metrics to autoscale the number of VMs in the set. You can also configure autoscaling with Azure Cloud Services and Web App for Containers.
You can reduce your VM costs by using either reserved instances, where you prepay for one or three years, or low-priority instances, which can be preempted at any time.
To speed up networking between VMs, you can enable Accelerated Networking on their network interfaces, which allows them to bypass the virtual switch.
Azure DevTest Labs makes it easy to spin up non-production environments using base images, formulas, and artifacts.
Azure IaaS VM Backup only backs up Azure VMs. The Azure Backup Agent supports both cloud-based and local VMs, as well as physical servers. However, it only supports Windows, and you have to install the agent on every virtual and physical machine you want backed up. Both of these products store their backups in a Recovery Services vault.
System Center DPM and Azure Backup Server can back up anything except Oracle. They can store their backups in a Recovery Services vault or locally attached disk. System Center DPM can also store them locally on tape.
To apply a backup policy to a large number of VMs, it’s easiest to do it from a Recovery Services vault.
The Site Recovery service supports three failover scenarios: Azure to Azure, on-premises to Azure, and on-premises to secondary site. To support physical or VMware servers, you need a Configuration server, a Process server, and a master target server. You also need to install a Mobility service on each server that needs to be replicated. To support Hyper-V, you install the Azure Site Recovery Provider and Recovery Services agent on each Hyper-V host or cluster node. In the event of an outage, you have 6 different options for which recovery point to failover to. Latest is the default.
Microsoft’s primary serverless offering is Azure Functions. It’s event-driven and it’s invoked using a trigger that you specify. Inputs and outputs are configured with bindings. Durable Functions is an extension that lets you create orchestrator functions.
Azure Logic Apps is simpler than Azure Functions and it doesn’t require you to write any code. It’s also invoked using triggers.
To implement a microservices architecture, you need to use containers. Azure Container Instances is not really suitable unless you have very simple requirements. Instead, you should use either Azure Container Service or Azure Service Fabric.
Azure API Management acts as a gateway between clients and microservices. It also handles management tasks like security, monitoring, analytics, and rate limiting.
To deploy a web application that doesn’t have a microservices architecture, Azure App Service Web Apps is usually the best choice. One useful feature is deployment slots. You can have multiple versions of your app in different slots and then swap your staging slot with your production slot when you’re ready.
Three typical ways to increase the performance of a web app are scaling, caching, and using an edge network. You can configure App Service to autoscale based on metrics and schedules. For caching, you can use Azure Redis Cache. To serve static content to users in different geographic regions, you can use a content delivery network.
To make a web app highly available, deploy a standby copy in the paired region. Use Azure Traffic Manager to handle routing during a failover.
If your web app needs more than 20 instances or instances with a high memory to CPU ratio or secure network isolation, then you can use the Isolated service tier.
You can host a web API by creating an API App in Azure App Service. To secure the API, use Azure Active Directory. You can use AAD alone or use the AAD B2C service, which is designed for customer-facing web and mobile apps. You can also use the API Management service as a gateway to your API.
Azure Batch is usually the best way to run HPC applications. To use it, you upload the application and data files to Azure Storage, create a pool of compute nodes, create a job, and add tasks to the job. In many cases, you can use low-priority VMs to save money. For machine learning workloads, use Azure Batch AI.
Now you know how to design Azure solutions using virtual machines, serverless computing, and microservices; design web solutions using Azure App Service; and run compute-intensive applications using Azure Batch.
To learn more about Azure’s compute services, you can read Microsoft’s documentation. Also, watch for new Microsoft Azure courses on Cloud Academy because we’re always publishing new courses. Please give this course a rating, and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know. Thanks and keep on learning!
About the Author
Guy launched his first training website in 1995 and he's been helping people learn IT technologies ever since. He has been a sysadmin, instructor, sales engineer, IT manager, and entrepreneur. In his most recent venture, he founded and led a cloud-based training infrastructure company that provided virtual labs for some of the largest software vendors in the world. Guy’s passion is making complex technology easy to understand. His activities outside of work have included riding an elephant and skydiving (although not at the same time).