• Azure Key Vault Azure Key Vault is used to safeguard cryptographic keys and secrets in hardware security modules (HSMs) and allows Azure applications and services to use them. For example, you might use Key Vault to store storage account keys, data encryption keys, authentication keys, .PFX files, or passwords.

    You can use Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to control access to a Key Vault, which means you can control access to your keys and secrets using Azure AD. You can store your storage account keys that are used by a service principal (an identity representing an application) into an Azure Key Vault and give access only to that service principal, thus protecting your storage account keys.

    You can generate keys using Key Vault, but you can also store keys you have generated outside Azure. For security purposes, Microsoft cannot see or extract your keys. There is also logging capability that allows you to monitor the use of your keys in Key Vault.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Site Recovery Azure Site Recovery (ASR) provides a disaster recovery as a service solution for Hyper-V, VMware, and physical servers, using either Azure or your secondary datacenter as the recovery site. ASR can be a key part of your organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy by orchestrating the replication, failover, and recovery of workloads and applications if the primary location fails.

    While there are many attractive technical features to ASR, there are at least two significant business advantages:

     ASR enables the use of Azure as a destination for recovery, thus eliminating the cost and complexity of maintaining a secondary physical datacenter.

     ASR makes it incredibly simple to test failovers for recovery drills without impacting production environments. This makes it easy to test your planned or unplanned failovers. After all, you don’t really have a good disaster recovery plan if you’ve never tried to fail over.

    The recovery plans you create with ASR can be as simple or as complex as your scenario requires. They can include custom PowerShell scripts, Azure Automation runbooks, or manual intervention steps. You can leverage the recovery plans to replicate workloads to Azure, easily enabling new opportunities for migration, temporary bursts during surge periods, or development and testing of new applications.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Backup Azure Backup is a backup as a service offering that provides protection for physical or virtual machines no matter where they reside—on-premises or in the cloud. Azure Backup encompasses several components (Azure Backup agent, System Center Data Protection Manager [DPM], Azure Backup Server, and Azure Backup [VM extension]) that work together to protect a wide range of servers and workloads.

    Azure Backup uses a Recovery Services vault for storing the backup data. A vault is backed by Azure Storage (block) blobs, making it a very efficient and economical long-term storage medium. With the vault in place, you can select the machines to back up and define a backup policy (when snapshots are taken and for how long they’re stored).

    Azure Backup can be used for a wide range of data backup scenarios, such as the following:
     Files and folders on Windows OS machines (physical or virtual)

     Application-aware snapshots (VSS—Volume Shadow Copy Service)

     Popular Microsoft server workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Exchange (via System Center DPM or Azure Backup Server)

     Linux support (if hosted on Hyper-V)

     Native support for Azure Virtual Machines, both Windows and Linux

     Windows 10 client machines

    Even though Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery share the same Azure portal experience, they are different services and have different value propositions. Azure Backup is for the backup and restore of data on-premises and in the cloud—it keeps your data safe and recoverable. Azure Site Recovery is about replication of virtual or physical machines—it keeps your workloads available in an outage.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Media Services Azure Media Services enables you to provide audio or video content that can be consumed on-demand or via live streaming. For example, NBC used Azure Media Services to stream the 2014 Olympics (http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2014/02/06/going-for-gold-windows-azure-media-services-provide-live-and-on-demand-streaming-of-2014-olympic-winter-games-on-nbc/#sm.00001fhr9yr2zfciwlu2fkqhgu8kp).

    To use Media Services, you can call the .NET or REST APIs, which allow you to securely upload, store, encode, and package your content. You can build workflows that handle the process from start to finish and even include third-party components as needed. For example, you may use a third-party encoder and do the rest (upload, package, deliver) using Media Services.

    Media Services is easy to scale. You can set the number of Streaming Reserved Units and Encoding Reserved Units for your account. Also, although the storage account data limit is 500 TB, if you need more storage, you can add more storage accounts to your Media Services account to increase the amount of available storage to the total of the combined storage accounts. And last but not least, you can use the Azure CDN with Media Services for the fastest content delivery possible.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Notification Hubs While Event Hubs allow you to take in millions of events per second, Azure Notification Hubs send data in the other direction—they enable you to send push notifications to mobile devices from any backend, whether in the cloud or on-premises. With a single API call, you can target individual users or entire audience segments of millions of users across all of their devices.

    Push notifications are challenging. In general, the app developer still has to do much of the work to implement even common push notification scenarios, like sending notifications to a specific group of customers. To make them work, you have to build infrastructure that is complicated and, in most cases, unrelated to the business logic for the app.

    Notification Hubs remove that complexity, eliminating the need for you to manage the challenges of push notifications. Notification Hubs are cross-platform—they can be used to support Windows, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone apps; they reduce the amount of push-specific code you have to put in your backend. They are fully scalable, allowing you to send notifications to millions of devices with a single API call.

    All of the functionality of a push infrastructure is implemented in Notification Hubs for you. The devices only have to register their PNS handles, and the backend can send messages to customers without worrying about the platform the customers are using.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Event Hubs Azure Event Hubs is a highly scalable managed service capable of ingesting millions of events per second, enabling you to capture, process, and analyze massive amounts of data originating from connected devices (often IoT scenarios) and applications. You can think of Event Hubs as a gateway, or entry point, for an event processing pipeline. Data is collected into an Event Hub, then transformed and stored. You have control over what data transformations and storage are needed.

    The programmatic interface for Event Hubs is AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) or HTTP(S), making it very easy for a wide range of clients to publish event data to Event Hubs. To support the need for massive scale, Event Hubs uses a partitioning pattern to scale the load internally. Receiving messages from an Event Hub is handled via consumer groups. Consumer groups are responsible for knowing from which partition to read and maintaining a view (state, position in the stream, etc.) of the Event Hub.

    You will often see Azure Event Hubs used to ingest data in a big data or IoT scenario. A characteristic of both scenarios is the generation and processing of large volumes of (often relatively small in size) data. To process and analyze the data, another Azure service, Azure Stream Analytics, is often paired with Event Hubs.

    It is important not to confuse Event Hubs with Azure Service Bus queues or topics. While the two are similar in that they are both messaging systems, Event Hubs is designed specifically for handling message events at high scale. It does not implement some of the messaging capabilities of Service Bus queues and topics, such as dead lettering, filters (property based routing), and various message retrieval, delivery, and scale semantics. Service Bus is better suited for per-message needs, while Event Hubs is better suited for event streaming needs.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Service Bus Azure Service Bus is a managed service for building reliable and connected applications (either on-premises or in the cloud) leveraging messaging patterns. Service Bus is often used as a key component in eventually consistent solution architectures—providing asynchronous messaging integrated with additional Azure resources such as SQL Database, Storage, Web Apps for App Service, or applications hosted on Azure Virtual Machines.

    Service Bus features four different communication patterns:
     Queues Provide a basic FIFO (first in, first out) messaging pattern. Messages in a queue are stored until they are retrieved and deleted. Service Bus queues are conceptually similar to Azure Storage queues, yet they offer a few more advanced middleware capabilities (dead lettering, auto-forwarding, sessions, duplicate detection, etc.).

     Topics Provide a publish-and-subscribe messaging pattern. A message can be written to a topic, and multiple subscriptions can be attached to that topic, with different subscriptions receiving different messages depending on a filter.

     Relays Provide a bidirectional (two-way) communication pattern. Instead of storing messages like queues and topics, a relay simply proxies calls from the client/producer to the server/receiver. Service Bus Relays is also one of the older services in Azure. It was publicly announced in May 2006 as Live Labs Relay (since incorporated into the Service Bus family).

     Event Hubs Provide a highly scalable event and telemetry ingestion service for supporting scenarios requiring low latency and high reliability. The section below discusses Event Hubs in more detail.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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  • Azure Search Azure Search is a search as a service solution. You populate the service with your data, and then you add search capabilities to your web or mobile applications that call the service to search that data. Microsoft manages the search infrastructure for you and offers a 99.9 percent SLA. You can scale to handle more document storage, higher query loads, or both.

    You can search your data using the simple query syntax that includes logical operators, phrase search operators, suffix operators, precedence operators, and so on. You can also use the Lucene query syntax to enable fuzzy search, proximity search, and regular expressions. Data integrations allow Azure Search to automatically crawl Azure SQL Database, DocumentDB, or Azure Blob storage to create an index for your search.

    At this time, 56 languages are supported. Azure Search can analyze the text your customer types in the search text box to intelligently handle language-specific terms such as verb tenses, gender, and more. You can even enable autocomplete for the search text boxes. Additionally, Azure Search includes geo-spatial support so you can process, filter, and display geographic locations. This means you can show search results ordered by proximity, such as the closest Starbucks.

    Source of Information : Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure Second Edition

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