Here is our selection of Top 10 cutting-edge services offered by Azure in 2021, due to their functionality, simplicity, or power, deserve to be among the first in the ranking:
Microsoft Azure is a Microsoft platform that competes directly with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.
Formed by a series of different tools, Azure is a service that allows companies and developers to acquire the processing and storage capacities of Microsoft data centers for application in their businesses as an alternative to the conventional model.
1. Azure IoT Hub
The Azure IoT Hub is a component that allows us to connect and manage with IoT devices from Azure in an almost natural way, for each device. As main characteristics it is worth mentioning:
- It allows communication to and from the device and Azure.
- Includes support for a variety of platforms and protocols on which the SDKs for those devices are based. It includes integration of specific SDKs for Java, Windows, Linux, etc., and support for most of the protocols used by these devices such as HTTP, message queues (AMQP), and telemetry transport (MQTT).
- Manages the identity of each device and allows access to the relative records stored on the device.
- Allows access and management of the security model that houses the device, as well as the security configuration between Azure and the device.
- Use of the methods that the device hosts.
- It manages the execution of tasks in multiple devices, the verification of the status, and the scheduled update in bulk.
- The integration of the Hub with other services expands the management and implementation capacity exponentially. For example the use of IoT Gateways (to connect old devices and manage them as part of our current park, without sacrificing security), or the use of Machine Learning, to make forecasts of use, maintenance, or scaling on the devices.
2. Stream Analytics
At first glance, the Azure Stream Analytics service is a service that seems small and would not deserve mention, but its power is so monumental that its inclusion is almost mandatory.
The Stream Analytics service is mainly responsible for obtaining information and events in real-time from our devices, applications, sensors, and the infrastructure in general.
Some of its capabilities are as follows:
- Work-based on a partition model, with the aim of providing immediate scaling and adaptability to business needs. Thanks to this feature we can reduce the number of active Streams at one time of the day and increase it at another time, adapting to business requirements and paying according to the needs of our application or platform.
- Capable of monitoring and capturing millions of messages per second.
- Low cost: The cost of the streams is calculated based on the number of units used and based on the information processed, which guarantees that we will pay based on the volumes that we actually use.
- Integrated consultations. Streams include a query language (which is actually a variant of T-SQL) that allows operations to be carried out on the processed information. The power of this language includes the possibility of making joins, filters, aggregations, projections, etc.
- Prepared for the analysis, prediction, and machine learning. With its out-of-the-box integration with the Event Hubs, it is capable of comparing the information sets received both with itself and with other historical models and/or models, which leaves the information ready to be exploited from analysis tools, even in real-time, prediction, or statistics.
3. Azure Active Directory
Another of the services that really stand out in the Azure world is Active Directory services.
More than a service in itself, it is a set of them. At present, they not only serve to manage users and groups but also provide a complete access security system, single sign-on, integration, and escalation.
Azure Active Directory stands out for:
- Integration with all Microsoft cloud applications and services, both in Azure and Office 365.
- Provision of SSO (Single Sign-On) with hundreds of applications and platforms from multiple manufacturers including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOs.
- It includes Multi-Factor authentication for an additional level of security, including reports based on Machine Learning in order to monitor and alert about access patterns.
- Delegated Administration. Depending on the type of service contracted, it allows users to delegate tasks such as resetting passwords or creating and managing groups. At the same time, it includes a self-service password reset service.
- 99.9% SLA thanks to the geo-distribution of the data centers. The distribution in multiple Datacenters allows corporations not only to guarantee that user authentication is always available but depending on certain configurations, it can be done from the services that are geographically closest to the user, avoiding unnecessary latency.
- Identity Integration. It offers the ability to integrate with a number of protocols such as SAML 2.0, WS Federation, and OpenID, which makes it possible to implement Single Sign-On from .Net, Java, Node.js, and PHP, and thanks to a REST API it is possible to read and write to the directory from almost any platform.
- Full integration with on-premise services.
- Pre-integration with third-party services like Salesforce.com, Box, Office 365, and many others.
4. Azure Data Factory
We have a multitude of services for storage management and information management in Azure so it has been difficult to choose one of them.
Data Factory is a service that allows the extraction, transformation, and dumping of information from and to multiple data sources and destinations.
Some colleagues and clients have compared it to the integration services of SQL Server Integration Services, and although we could identify it as a similar service, here we will see some characteristics that make it special:
- Its global deployment allows you to extract information from both on-premises and cloud sources, making the information always available, in a single place, regardless of its origin.
- It allows pre-preparation before being consumed.
- The extraction of information, as well as its transformation and publication, can be scheduled so that it is available according to certain business rules.
- It works through extraction and delivery pipelines, which would allow, for example, to be extracting information from unstructured data from a Big Data engine, at the same time that we extract the results of a stored procedure from a SQL Server. We could integrate, adapt, transform this information in real-time and deliver it to the user in a single information thread, with the appropriate format for our needs.
- It monitors the entire group of pipelines at the same time, in order to quickly identify crashes in the source systems and their use, and identify the availability and consumption that we make of the service.
5. Machine Learning
Impossible that this jewel was not among one of the favorites, and more in these times, in which these techniques become essential.
For those who do not know what it is, we could say that Azure Machine Learning is a service that is part of the Cortana Intelligence Suite, intended to make predictions and look for patterns of behavior of things, based on a certain set of past events.
Among the main characteristics we can mention:
- The community shares its own implementations, which are reusable in any new project, from facial recognition to integrations with R or Python.
- It includes all kinds of algorithms for information processing, from exploration algorithms (looking for patterns in large volumes of data), description (summarizing an event after data processing, for example, positive or negative opinions on social networks), and finally prediction (estimate future behavior based on past behavior).
- It has one of the largest libraries of examples in this field.
The Azure platform has a wide variety of services, among the other 5 ones are:
6. SQL Databases
A crucial basis for any business or service today, databases are structures for organizing and storing fundamental information. With Azure, you can configure your entire bank remotely, saving on the use of on-premises servers.
7. Virtual machines in the cloud
The idea is that the company can have access to numerous virtualized PCs from Microsoft without the need to rent desktops to employees. Other uses may involve testing and development environments for IT sectors, for example.
8. Cloud Services
It is possible to run complete applications in the cloud. A usage scenario for this type of application would be in some common software, used in various sectors of the company, and which could be executed remotely for productivity gains.
Another example is the automation of repetitive services and processes, freeing up time for employees who fail to perform these tasks manually.
9. Data Analysis and with AI
Microsoft’s artificial intelligence can be applied to generate reports and infer relevant business performance data from the traffic submitted to Azure.
10. Containers in the Cloud
Containers are very popular resources today among developers because they allow the development of software in isolation from the systems on which they run.
When transferring these environments to the cloud, developers can start to perform more in-depth tests and on different platforms, saving time in the development cycle.
In this list of our Top 10 favorites, there have been a few in the pipeline (since the Event Hubs, the Logic Apps, or the Azure Site Recovery Services also deserved their attention.