In this series of articles, we will be discussing Microsoft Azure starting from the basics of cloud. Anyone with enthusiasm to learn cloud computing with Azure can learn from this series of articles without any prior knowledge on Cloud, Azure or any programming language. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
What is Cloud Computing?
Before diving into Cloud Computing and all the other terminologies, let’s first look at an example. If we have to turn on a light bulb in our house, we just have to press the switch and the light turns on automatically. But, if we look at it deeply, pressing the switch is not the only thing that’s turning the light bulb on. There are electricity generating plants, transformers, high tension lines, wires, circuit, etc. which have huge roles in turning the light on.
After having everything in place in the perfect way, the light turns on by receiving electricity. But, we as individuals don’t have to go through all these hurdles to turn a light bulb on. Even if we try, it’ll become almost impossible and super expensive just to turn a light bulb on. That’s the reason why we rely on the Electricity Authority who go through all these hurdles so that millions of individuals can leverage the service.
Similarly, in the field of Computers, if we want to open a new company or accomplish a new heavy task, we have to manage a lot of resources like hardware, software, servers, etc. and manpower to maintain all those infrastructures. This takes a lot of time, money, human resource and maintenance just to accomplish a simple task. This creates lots of difficulties. So, what is the solution to all these difficulties? The answer is Cloud Computing.
Basically, cloud computing refers to renting computer resources like CPU, servers, storage, computers, etc. for a specific or multiple use cases. This procedure is carried out by means of the Internet. If any individual or any organization wants to take cloud services, they can visit the different cloud providers online; namely: Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, etc. Cloud Computing is based on the “Pay as you use” model. This means, the more resources I rent, the more I have to pay and vice versa.
Its exactly similar to paying electricity bills; we pay as we use and don’t need to worry about the maintenance of electricity generating plants, transformers, etc. The cloud provider is responsible for updates and maintenance of the resources. Normally, cloud providers provide with Compute Power, Storage, Applications, Networking, Analytics, and many more services. Out of these services, the most common two services are Compute Power and Storage.
Firstly, talking about compute power, it is the resource we require to accomplish any task from a computer; be it opening an email, or ordering some items online, etc. In the cloud, there are various ways of building solutions based on how one would like to work. If there is a requirement of a new desktop with full control, customers can opt for Virtual Machines. A virtual machine is an emulation of a real computer which has an independent OS, and other programs as per user requirement.
With the cloud, we shouldn’t worry about the operating systems and licensing while creating a virtual machine. Also, we do not have to buy any hardware; the cloud provider hosts the machine on its data centres. This makes opting a virtual machine an easier option rather than buying an actual computer. Also, we can choose all the hardware requirements we want in our VM and pay accordingly. Apart from VMs, there are containers and serverless computing methods for Compute power.
Containers are the platform that provides a consistent, isolated execution environment for the various applications. There are many containers like Docker which allow different components of applications to be deployed into different containers. Containers make it easy for the apps to be deployed in multiple environments, either on-premises or cloud with no changes in the application. Likewise, Serverless computing refers to running application code without creating, maintaining and configuring the server.
For example, email confirmation after a product purchase. In the cloud, serverless computing charges are done whenever the function is called, which is different from VMs and Containers where the charge is calculated on the basis of active time. Talking about storage, there are different types of data we have and would want to store in different ways. In the cloud, for files like pictures and videos, we can opt for disks; while in some cases, like a record file, using database storage would be a better option. The benefit of the cloud on all these services is that we can scale the services on the basis of our need and pay only for what we use.
Where is the cloud?
One might wonder where all these services on cloud are coming from. There must be some specific place or space with a massive infrastructure capable of providing all these services to millions of individuals and organizations. Looking at the name specifically, cloud is something that lies in the sky. However, in the computational world, it’s quite different. In the computing world, cloud is located not on a single premise, but on the various geographical regions containing lots of data centres all around the globe. These data centres are responsible for hosting all the services any cloud provider has to offer.
The network of these data centres forms the cloud. The regions are areas divided geographically where there are many data centres in close proximity in each region. Having these different geographical regions all around the world makes cloud accessible to all. The data centres are constructed on areas which are geographically stable and have the least risk of natural calamities. Having the presence of these geographical regions also makes it easy for any organization to perform globally diminishing the requirement of setting up infrastructure in different places around the globe.
Till this point, we’ve discussed some basics on what cloud is, where it’s located and how it functions. In the next article, we’ll get introduced to Microsoft Azure which is one of the biggest Cloud Platforms.