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Microsoft Azure has been around for several years now and most everyone in the business or technology world has at least heard of it. Most people in the business can also feel the wind shifting and sense that the next big technology revolution is close at hand. More and more networks and systems are transitioning, if only partly at first, to the cloud. Microsoft Azure is at the forefront of the revolution in the cloud technology world.

To make sure that you’re changing with the times and staying current, now is the time to start ramping up on Microsoft Azure and cloud computing technology. Let’s take a look at some of the components offered by Azure and the skills you will acquire on your journey to becoming an Azure master.

Azure Cognitive Services

Azure Cognitive Services encapsulates programming interfaces, development kits, and services that an application developer can leverage to build artificial intelligence and data science concepts into their applications without having prior knowledge. It’s like baking a cake with a boxed cake mix instead of having to learn how to build the batter from scratch using the raw materials.

Cognitive Services includes a catalog of services for adding Speech, Search, Knowledge, Vision, and Language capabilities to your apps. There are several APIs and SDKs available for each one of these pillars. This is part of Microsoft’s ever-evolving stable of machine learning APIs that can be used to add artificial intelligence aspects to your applications.

Azure Active Directory

You may already be familiar with Microsoft Active Server Directory. If you’re not familiar with Active Directory, in its basic form, it is the software that manages your access to your network. It manages your login and all of your permissions for resources and network destinations.

Since Azure operates in the cloud, there are some differences between it and legacy Active Server Directory. For one thing, Azure Active Directory incorporates security and permissions with network and resource access that can be multi-leveled to provide more real-time security and authorization. It also has built-in functionality to provide seamless single sign-on for all of your applications. These security, authentication, and authorization add-ons can also be instantly included in any applications developed for the environment, which provides a more holistic security solution for your network and software.

SQL Azure

Database as a service is a relatively new concept. However, Microsoft SQL Server users and developers should be able to transition over to SQL Azure very easily. It’s the same database management technology that we’re used to except that it lives in the cloud where security and scalability are handled for you. If you’re currently utilizing SQL Server for your database management on a virtual server then you’re already familiar with the concept. Now the virtual server just resides somewhere out in the cloud instead of being on a virtual network server on premises.

Migrate your database to the cloud without having to rewrite your apps. You just need to change your configuration to point to the cloud server. It also includes analytical and learning apps to maximize the scalability and performance of your database that you just don’t get with standalone database servers.

Azure Search

If your application will include search services for large data sets or document repositories, Azure can provide you with the ability to apply cognitive search that is powered by artificial intelligence to augment your content. You can provide insight into your data and provide structured information for large data sets more quickly than ever before.

Previously, searching large data sets and file directories could be very resource intensive and take a long time to run. AI-powered Azure Search makes it easy to augment your search capabilities to make them faster and less of a drain on resources. Also, because it is in the cloud, your server capabilities can be automatically scaled up or down to fit your needs for horsepower during an intensive search.

You may be saying to yourself as you read this post, “These are cool features, but how do they help me and why should I care about the cloud?” The answer is that the cloud is the way of the future. In the next 5 to 10 years, most of the computing power of the planet will reside in the cloud and not on local hardware that has to be actively managed and maintained. If you master these new concepts, they will give you the skills that you will need to be able to design and develop a complete software solution for the cloud.

You will be able to spin up virtual servers in the cloud for your web application and database servers. You can use SQL Azure to build and host your back-end data repository. Then you can design and program your application and add the capabilities of Azure Cognitive Services and Azure Search to make it more powerful and useful. Lastly, you can use Azure Active Directory to make your application secure and manage access to it and to be able to extract telemetry and analytics from its usage. Azure provides you with the tools to design, develop, test, deploy, manage, and maintain a complete software application end to end without the need of localized software that will be automatically scalable in real-time. These skills are indeed powerful!

To learn more about Azure and how you can master the skills for your current or future position, contact ONLC today! There’s no time like the present!

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