Microsoft Azure Essentials

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform, providing a wide variety of services you can use without purchasing and provisioning your own hardware. Azure enables the rapid development of solutions and provides the resources to accomplish tasks that may not be feasible in an on-premises environment. Azure's compute, storage, network, and application services allow you to focus on building great solutions without the need to worry about how the physical infrastructure is assembled.

This ebook covers the fundamentals of Azure you need to start developing solutions right away. It concentrates on the features of the Azure platform that you are most likely to need to know rather than on every feature and service available on the platform. This ebook also provides several walkthroughs you can follow to learn how to create VMs and virtual networks, websites and storage accounts, and so on. In many cases, real-world tips are included to help you get the most out of your Azure experience.

In addition to its coverage of core Azure services, the ebook discusses common tools useful in creating and managing Azure-based solutions. The ebook wraps up by providing details on a few common business scenarios where Azure can provide compelling and valuable solutions.

Who should read this ebook This ebook focuses on providing essential information about the key services of Azure for developers and IT professionals who are new to cloud computing. Detailed, step-by-step demonstrations are included to help the reader understand how to get started with each of the key services. This material is useful not only for those who have no prior experience with Azure, but also for those who need a refresher and those who may be familiar with one area but not others. Each chapter is standalone; there is no requirement that you perform the hands-on demonstrations from previous chapters to understand any particular chapter.

Assumptions
We expect that you have at least a minimal understanding of virtualized environments and virtual machines. There are no specific skills required overall for this ebook, but having some knowledge of the topic of each chapter will help you gain a deeper understanding. For example, the chapter on virtual networks will make more sense if you have some understanding of networking, and the chapter on databases will be more useful if you understand what a database is and for what you might use one. Web development skills will provide a good background for understanding websites, and some understanding of identity will be helpful when studying the chapter on Active Directory.

This ebook might not be for you if… This ebook might not be for you if you are looking for an in-depth developer or architecture-focused discussion on a wide range of Azure features, or if you are looking for details on other public or private cloud platforms.

Organization of this ebook This ebook explores six foundational features of the Microsoft Azure platform, along with insights on getting started with Azure, management tools, and common business scenarios. There are many services in the Azure platform that are not in the scope of this ebook, such as HDInsight (Azure's Hadoop service), Service Bus, and Azure Automation, to mention just a few. To learn about all of the services available in the Azure platform, start your journey at http://azure.microsoft.com.

The topics explored in this book include:

  • Getting started with Azure: Understand what cloud computing is, visit the management portals, and learn about billing.
  • Websites and Cloud Services: Learn about Azure Websites, from deployment to monitoring, and gain an understanding of the web and worker roles used in Azure Cloud Services.
  • Virtual Machines: Explore the basic features of Azure Virtual Machines, including how to create, configure, and manage them.
  • Storage: Read about the basics of Azure Storage, including blobs, tables, queues, and file shares.
  • Virtual Networks: Learn the basics of virtual networks, including how to create one, and why a virtual network might be necessary. This also covers site-to-site and point-to-site networking, as well as ExpressRoute.
  • Databases: Explore two relational database options available in Azure: Azure SQL Database and SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.
  • Azure Active Directory: Explore basic features of Azure AD, including creating a directory, users and groups, and using the application gallery.
  • Management Tools: Explore three common tools for working with Azure: Visual Studio 2013 and the Azure SDK, Azure PowerShell cmdlets, and the Cross-Platform Command-Line Interface
  • Business Scenarios: Explore four common scenarios for utilizing Azure features: development and test, hybrid, application and infrastructure modernization, and Azure Mobile Services.

Michael S. Collier

Michael Collier is a Windows Azure MVP and serves as a Principal Cloud Architect for Aditi, a Microsoft SI partner that specializes in Windows Azure. He has nearly 11 years of experience building Microsoft-based applications for a wide range of clients. Michael spends his days serving as a developer or architect – helping clients succeed with the Microsoft development platform. He gets very “geeked up” about any new technology, tool, or technique that makes his development life easier. Michael spends most of his spare time reading technology blogs and exploring new development technologies. He is also an avid golfer and attempts to be good at shooters on the Xbox 360. Previous speaking engagements include Central Ohio Day of .NET, Central Ohio .NET Developers Group, Cloud Connections, and multiple Windows Azure Boot Camp events. Michael earned his Bachelor of Computer Science and Engineering from The Ohio State University. You can follow Michael on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MichaelCollier and on his blog at www.MichaelSCollier.com.

Robin E. Shahan

Robin E. Shahan is a Microsoft Azure MVP with over 25 years of experience developing complex, business-critical applications for Fortune 100 companies. As the VP of Technology for the startup GoldMail (DBA PointAcross), she re-architected their entire infrastructure and migrated it to Microsoft Azure, reducing their costs by 90%. Robin is the President of Nightbird Consulting, focusing on helping companies architect and develop scalable and efficient solutions utilizing the Azure platform. Robin regularly speaks about Microsoft Azure at various .NET User Groups and Code Camps and runs the San Francisco Azure meetup. She can be found on Twitter as @RobinDotNet, and you can read her articles about Microsoft Azure (and other subjects) at http://robindotnet.wordpress.com.