Introduction to Microsoft Azure
What is Azure?

Begun in February 2010 after the announcement of its development two years before, MS Azure has quickly grown, adding many services - including the flagship Azure Virtual Machines, an IaaS compute platform.

This Introduction to Microsoft Azure course, created by our Azure expert Ganapathi Subramanian, is an introduction to the whole Microsoft Azure Platform. It will start from the most basic concepts you'll need to get started with the whole Azure family. We'll also give you a quick overview of the most important services in the platform for computing, storage, and database.

Who should follow this course

This is a beginner, introductory course to Azure, so you can enjoy it with no previous knowledge. You might, however, want to take a look at our introductory courses "Introduction to Cloud Computing" and "Introduction to Virtualization Technologies" to learn more about Cloud Computing and Virtualization from a low-level, provider-agnostic point of view.


Azure is a public multi-tenant Cloud platform supported by Microsoft. Azure has been around for more than four years and it's maturing every day with new features and support. Windows Azure allows enterprises and small business to create highly available applications and services in the Cloud quickly and easily. This diagram shows a high level view of the services offered in Azure. At a high level, Azure supports compute, storage, network and application services which can be leveraged for building business solutions.

These high level services are in turn comprised of many features to provide more control and flexibility. The services created using the Azure platform are hosted in Microsoft data centers spread across 13 global regions including North America, Europe and Asia. The services deployed in these data centers leverage the built-in redundancy and recovery features supported by the Azure platform for high availability. Azure also supports guaranteed performance levels for its services. Azure provides flexibility to be used as a public Cloud platform in which all the resources are hosted in Microsoft data centers or a hybrid Cloud platform in which part of the solution is hosted locally with an enterprise infrastructure.

Azure services

Azure supports both the IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, and PaaS, Platform as a Service, models which provide different levels of control for resource management. Azure is a technology agnostic platform and supports many operating systems and programming languages like Windows, Linux, Unix, .Net, Java, PHP, Python, etc.

Azure services are managed through a management portal, users log in to the portal to manage the resources. Azure also supports rest-based APIs and PowerShell scripts for managing resources programmatically. Applications for Azure can be develop using popular development tools like Visual Studio .Net and Eclipse. Azure supports a pay-per-use model for its services. Users get a monthly bill broken down into various usage elements. Azure billing and consumption is managed through accounts and subscriptions. Enterprise and personal accounts can be created using the management portal. Azure is a highly secure environment with security controls implemented at every layer. Services in Azure are secured using certificates, user IDs and passwords, access restrictions and firewalls to prevent unintended access.

Azure is certified for various leading industry compliant standards like ISO, SOC, PCI and HIPAA which allows business solutions to be hosted securely on the platform. So here's a summary of why Azure can be a Cloud platform of choice. Azure is a fast-maturing, multi-featured platform, it's a low cost Cloud platform compared to on-premise infrastructure and other competitors. Services in Azure can be created very quickly and easily which improves the time-to-market factor.

Applications in Azure can be built using familiar tools and languages. Azure supports high availability and guaranteed performance for its services, it's a highly secure and compliant Cloud environment.

About the Author

Trevor Sullivan is a Microsoft MVP for Windows PowerShell, and enjoys working with cloud and automation technologies. As a strong, vocal veteran of the Microsoft-centric IT field since 2004, Trevor has developed open source projects, provided significant amounts of product feedback, authored a large variety of training resources, and presented at IT functions including worldwide user groups and conferences.