In this article, we will be discussing about the main benefits of using Azure cloud services.
Microsoft Azure cloud platform, among other, provides a rich set of services and resources, that can be used for building robust and highly available solutions and ecosystems.
Even though all services are beneficial for the end user, in this article, we summarize the main of these services and characteristics, that make Azure cloud services, beneficial to the end-user.
High availability is one of the main characteristics of the Azure cloud. There is high availability in all levels.
Especially in the case of its managed services, the provision of high availability automatically takes place in the background, thus ensuring that the services used by the end user, are highly available at any moment.
To this end, there are different types of high availability on the Azure platform, for meeting the different customer needs (i.e. acceptable downtime, backup and data replication requirements, etc.).
Below, we discuss about the available high availability types on the Azure cloud platform:
- Single VM High Availability
- Availability Sets
- Availability Zones
- Azure Site Recovery / Region Pairs
Single VM High Availability
When talking about the high availability for a single virtual machine (VM), the provided SLA is 99.99% which means that the VM, will be available for 99.99% of the time.
By using availability sets, you can achieve a higher level of high availability, since they provide resiliency against machine failures.
To this end, with availability sets, you apply a logical grouping of two or more VMs, so that the Azure platform is aware of the redundancy needs of your application, in order to ensure that a 99.95% Azure SLA is provided.
An availability set is always within the same data center.
With availability zones, you can have physically separate zones, within an Azure region.
Note that each availability zone, has its dedicated hardware (i.e. power, cooling, etc.), thus ensuring redundancy on all possible levels. To this end, availability zones, provide resiliency against entire data center failures, thus ensuring an SLA of 99.99%.
So, for example, based on this setup, you can have replicated VMs across different zones (and thus across different data centers) within an Azure region, thus achieving a great level of high availability.
Azure Site Recovery / Region Pairs
Last but not least, Azure Site Recovery and Region Pairs, as the name implies, provide resiliency against entire Azure region failures, thus providing industry-leading Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) times.
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Scalability, is another benefit you get when using Azure cloud services, that enable you to handle the static increase of workload.
With Azure cloud’s scalability features and mechanisms, you can handle increased workload needs, by either scaling up or scaling out your resources.
With scale up, you can increase the resources in your servers and with scale out, you can increase the number of servers, in order to allow your Azure solution to easily handle the increased workload.
Elasticity, allows your Azure solution to dynamically adapt to workload changes as they happen.
To this end, you can auto-scale your infrastructure and resources, in order to meet the increased workload needs and then, after the workload is decreased, your resources will be auto-adjusted accordingly, based on your parameters.
Even though scalability and elasticity might sound quite similar, please note that there is a major difference: scalability is used for static workload increase (that is workload that is increased over time), and elasticity is used for dynamically handling workload increased by automatically adding (and then removing) resources.
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With Azure cloud platform’s agility features and mechanisms, you can rapidly develop, test and launch software applications.
To this end, this feature, enables developers to focus on the design of their solution, as well as on its monitoring, instead of focusing on the provision and maintenance of the underlying infrastructure resources.
Last but not least, another one of the main benefits of using the Azure cloud services is its Disaster Recovery features.
In Azure, disaster recovery is offered via a combination of features. For example, the combination of the below features, offers a disaster recovery solution:
- Azure Backup
- Azure Site Recovery and Region Pairs
- Azure Archive Storage
In addition to the above key features, when it comes to disaster recovery and high availability, there are additional features such as:
- Geo-redundant storage accounts
- Multi-region deployment for Azure app service
- Use of containers
So, as you can see, there are plenty of features that when combined, provide an efficient disaster recovery solution in Azure.
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Artemakis Artemiou is a Senior Database and Software Architect, Certified Database, Cloud and AI professional, Author, a 9 Times Microsoft Data Platform MVP (2009-2018). He has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry in various roles. Artemakis is the founder of SQLNetHub. Artemakis is the creator of the well-known software tools Snippets Generator and DBA Security Advisor. Also, he is the author of many eBooks on SQL Server. Moreover, Artemakis teaches on Udemy, you can check his courses here.