This is the first blog in a series about Microsoft Azure. This series will include the steps necessary to get started with an Azure subscription. Microsoft offers a free trial for Azure, available here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/.
Microsoft Azure provides the full range of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). The differences are how much control of the underlying environment you have.
With Azure, you can manage everything from the compute resources, OS, and applications (IaaS), to scalability (PaaS), to just the application (SaaS). We can build and manage servers, or if you don’t care about the underlying OS, just the application, such as SQL or a website.
Azure has the potential to transition your entire data center to the cloud. This is not normally the way most organizations go about it, though. Most organizations transition some of their workload to the cloud, while keeping the rest of their workload on-premises. Some organizations use it exclusively for disaster recovery, geo-locating services, and high-availability. It will be up to you to decide what is best for your organization.
Azure can run several operating systems. Windows Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, and Server 2012 R2 are all available, as well as Server Essentials. You also run Oracle Linux, Ubuntu Server, CentOS, and various other Linux distributions. RedHat is also available, but you must bring your own license. Azure can also run network appliances such as a Barracuda firewall or Citrix NetScaler. You should consult the Azure Marketplace (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/) for all available operating systems and appliances.
Deploying Azure takes a significant amount of planning. I would recommend that you build your first subscription with the intent of destroying it later. Don’t initially put production loads in Azure, because you will forget about something and have to start over. There’s simply too much to design and plan for, and you will likely not get it right the first time.
Azure is not as simple as just creating a VM and installing Windows Server 2012 R2. There are serval licensing factors to consider, storage and network configurations, and access restrictions. All of this defined when setting up networks and storage. We will walk through a lot of this during this series.
For almost everything in Azure, the OS license is provided with your subscription (RedHat is notable exception). You should consult your license agreement to be sure, however, as some things need to be licenses with running in high-availability mode (components in Azure and on-prem).
There are certain appliances that require you to bring your own license. You can determine what requires a license by looking at the page in Azure Marketplace. Things requiring a bring-your-own-license will have this verbiage under the pricing details (pulled from the Citrix NetScaler page):
There are several Microsoft resources that you should review prior to and during your initial deployment:
Documentation Center: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/
Pricing (including calculator): https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/
Azure Infographic: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/infographics/azure/
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