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Jan 05

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure, which was formerly known as Windows Azure, is a big player when it comes to cloud based products offered. Microsoft Azure offers with 70+ compliance offerings which is claimed by Microsoft as the most by any in the industry and also 54 global Azure regions which is also the most regions of any cloud provider. Cloud based solutions include in the areas of Healthcare, Financial Services, Government, Gaming, Retail and Manufacturing.

How Microsoft Azure works?

Microsoft Azure works as a subscription model in which users or businesses can subscribe to services provided by Azure and pay only for what is being used. Microsoft also offers five different customer support options for Microsoft Azure which are Basic, Developer, Standard, Professional Direct and Premier. Prices vary with the type of customer support plan chosen by a user or the business.

Microsoft Azure Products and Services

The product categories offered by Microsoft Azure include AI + Machine Learning, Analytics, Blockchain, Compute, Containers, Databases, Developer Tools, DevOps, Identity, Integration, IoT, Management and Governance, Media, Migration, Mixed Reality, Mobile, Networking, Security, Storage and Web. And few of the featured products offered are Virtual Machines which provisions windows and Linux virtual machines in seconds, Windows virtual desktop, Azure SQL database, App service, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure databricks.

Azure Active Directory

Azure active directory (Azure AD) is the Microsoft’s cloud based identity and access management (IAM) solution and it is also the backbone of the Office 365 system and Azure AD allows to sync with an on-premise active directory and provide authentication to other cloud based applications via OAuth. Following table summarises the differences between Windows Active Directory and Azure Active directory:

Windows Active Directory Azure Active Directory
Communication Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs
Authentication Kerberos and NTLM Cloud based protocols
Network organisation Forests, Domains and Organisational Units (OUs) Flat structure of users and groups
Entitlement management Administrators or data owners assign users to groups Administrators organise users into groups
Devices No mobile device management Mobile device management
Desktops Desktops are governed by Group Policy Objects (GPOs) Windows desktops can join with Microsoft Intune
Servers Managed by GPOs or other on-premise server management system Uses Domain services to manage servers

Azure Active Directory considerations

  • Licensing – Azure AD licensing is same as Office 365 licensing which works as a monthly subscription and pay for what is being used.
  • Scenario – Can choose the scenario which is best suited. Either as hybrid Azure AD or Azure AD. If there is a Windows AD system already available on-premise, hybrid Azure AD might be the best option. Azure AD is best if building a fully integrated cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • User Provisioning

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