A Cloud and Azure Glossary for the Confused
A parody Twitter account called Confused .NET Dev last week tweeted:
For a web hoster Azure has a crazy learning curve: Blob, Table, Queue, Service Bus, Access Control, Drive, CDN, etc @ http://t.co/20Dmz4SoNB— confused .net dev (@ConfusedDotNet) August 14, 2013
A "crazy" learning curve? CDN? Table? Drive? OK, if you say so, but still, point taken, there's maybe some terms in there that may not be immediately obvious. Here's a few things you should remember when developing for the cloud as well as a small glossary that I hope helps this "confused .net dev" and his or her mixed case Twitter account.
Infrastructure as a Service. This means I want the computers in my closet to go away. All that infrastructure, the boxes, network switches, even software licenses are a maintenance headache. I want to put them somewhere where I can't see them (we'll call it, The Cloud) and I'll pay pennies per hour. Worst case, it costs me about the same but it's less trouble. Best case, it can scale (get bigger) if my company gets popular and the whole thing will cost less than it does now.
IAAS is Infrastructure like Virtual Machines, Networking and Storage in the cloud. Software you wrote that runs locally now will run the same up there. If you want to scale it, you'll usually scale up.
Platform as a Service. This means Web Servers and Web Frameworks in the cloud, SQL Servers in the cloud, and more. If you like Ruby on Rails, for example, you might write software against Engine Yard's platform and run it on Azure. Or you might write iOS apps and have them talk to back end Mobile Services. Those services are your platform and will scale as you grow. Platform as a service usually hides the underlying OS from you. Lower level infrastructure and networking, load balancing and some aspects of security is abstracted away.
Software as a Service. Like Office 365, SharePoint, Google Docs or Adobe Creative Cloud, you pay a subscription and you always get the latest and greatest.
Get more CPUs, more memory, more power. Same computer, but bigger. Like, one 8-processor machine with 128 gigs of RAM, big. Gulliver.
More computers, perhaps lots of them. Maybe eight 1-processor machine with 2 gigs of RAM. No, maybe 32. More little machines, like Lilliputians working as a team to move Gulliver.
If a computer is working for you, its CPU is working and that's compute. If it's a Virtual Machine or a Web Server it doesn't matter. You get charged pennies per hour, more for larger CPUs.
Input/Output Operations Per Second, pronounced "eye-ops." This is unit of measurement used to describe the maximum number of reads and writes to a disk or storage area.
Just like a Queue in computer science, it's a holding place that lets you store messages and read them back asynchronously.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Taking binary blobs within storage and caching them nearest where the content is request. If your customers are in Asia, serve the file from a data center in Asia.
Azure Specific Glossary
Web Sites are "PAAS," that's platform as a service. It's the IIS Web Server in the sky. This is the "Easy Button" as Jon Galloway says. You can take virtually any website and move them up to Azure using Azure Web Sites. You can run ASP.NET, PHP, node.js and lots more.
Azure Table vs SQL Azure
Azure Tables are similar to a document database or NoSQL store. Then there's SQL Azure, which is SQL Server in the sky. Great for SQL-like data with relationships and indexes, etc. There's Azure Storage Tables which is nice when you have a huge pile of records that maybe doesn't have a lot of interrelationships, but there's a LOT of it.
Controls Access. Just kidding. No, actually I'm not. Also know as ACS, it's a hosted service that integrates with Microsoft ID, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other identity providers as well as Active Directory. It supports .NET, PHP, Python, Java, Ruby, etc and you can use it as a centralized authorization store. You can call it with web services from any app and manage users and identities from the portal.
Push notification services for any mobile platform. Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android. Broadcast messages to a user across apps or send single notifications to a user, a platform or any combination.
In memory caching for apps that run on Azure. You can use existing memory on web roles or dedicate all of a worker roles memory to in-memory caching.
Media squishing and delivery in the cloud. Production and transcoding workflow, secure delivery to any device, scale up and down elastically.
Secure messaging across firewalls and NAT gateways. It also offers relayed messaging services. Most large hosted and reliable systems need messaging services, sometimes request/response, sometimes peer-to-peer, and sometimes one-way.
Big Data and HDInsight
Apache Hadoop in the Sky, running on Azure. Hadoop is a giant Java-based MapReduce system for creating data-intensive distributed apps. Azure adds lots to augment with .NET support, LINQ, reporting and more.
Binary Large Object...it's any binary blob you've put in Azure storage. Throw them in, get them back.
Virtual Hard Drive. Just like a VHD in Hyper-V or Virtual PC, this binary file represents a complete virtual disk.
Adding more than one disk to a Virtual Machine is a quick and easy way to get more speed for free. For example, if you've got a Virtual Machine running Windows AND a Database like MySQL, you'll have the database application and the Operating System competing for the maximum number of IOPs supported by the disk. Instead, make a new disk and mount it, putting the database on its own drive. This way you've doubled your IOPs with the OS on one drive and the database gets the maximum from its down drive.
You can mount an single Azure VHD as a disk drive within a Virtual Machine or you can mount Blob Storage as a virtual drive of its own.
- Penny Pinching in the Cloud: Enabling New Relic Performance Monitoring on Windows Azure Websites
- Penny Pinching Video: Moving my Website's Images to the Azure CDN (and using a custom domain)
- Penny Pinching Video: Moving an Azure Website between data centers
- Pinching pennies when scaling in The Cloud - lazy loading images and using the Azure CDN to save money
- Penny Pinching in the Cloud: How to run a two day Virtual Conference for $10
- Azure Web Site Cheat Sheet
Did I miss anything major? I'm sure I did, but I wanted to show folks that it's a glossary, sure, but it's not rocket surgery.
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