Microsoft Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 Exam Theory Guide

All About Microsoft Azure Fundamentals for Beginners !!!

A Brief Introduction to Microsoft Azure Fundamentals — 1

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Cloud Computing is the buzzword today in various industries. In my graduation in 2015, I have presented few slides on this to my batch as an assignment on new technologies but I never knew that this is going to become a buzzword in 2021!!!

Nowadays, Cloud technologies are ubiquitous in industry and are used by technologists of all stripes — not just DevOps engineers. Increasingly, data scientists and machine learning engineers are running workloads on the cloud to train models and host endpoints for real-time inference.

A key skill for any Data Scientist is the ability to write production-quality code to create models and deploy them into cloud environments. Typically, working with cloud computing and data architectures falls in the Data Engineer job title. However, every data professional is expected to be a generalist who can adapt and scale their projects. More tech jobs list cloud technologies as a required or preferred skill set.

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There are several cloud providers like Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, IBM BlueMix, Oracle Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud. One good fact about Azure is, it has the most cloud regions (around 54), which are not even close…

So let’s begin our journey with Microsoft Azure. With this series of articles, I will help you clear Microsoft Azure Fundamentals — AZ-900 Exam. This exam is for Candidates looking to demonstrate a foundational level of knowledge of cloud services. This exam is for both technical people as well as non-technical people. Mainly for those who would like to understand how various cloud service offerings and Azure work together, for people who are involved in selling and purchasing cloud-based solutions, for people with a technical background who need to validate their foundational level of knowledge of cloud service offerings provided by Azure and so on.

Following are the sections we are going to cover in this series of articles:

  1. Cloud Concepts
  2. Core Azure Services
  3. Security Privacy Compliance and Trust
  4. Azure Pricing and Support

Let’s begin with the first section:

Cloud Concepts

1.1 What Cloud Computing Is?

Today, Cloud Computing has become a buzzword. Most of the enterprises and small and medium business companies use this term, probably without an understanding of it.

Traditionally if you ever have to build applications, you had to procure a lot of hardware. For example, you will need servers, operating systems, and the respective licenses, routers, switches, load balancers, databases, and the lists just go endless… and that means you will need a lot of capital expenditure.

Capital expenditure is the amount of money that you will invest initially to procure that hardware. On the other side, operational expenditure is what you’ll need to maintain that hardware such as heating ventilation cost, electricity cost, workforce, etc. With traditional computing, both CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operational Expenditure) were high.

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Today, with the advent of small and medium business companies and start-ups, we really do not have the scope to invest so much in the hardware or the licenses for the operating systems.

So what do these start-ups do to provision their infrastructure to let the business run? — They have to resort to something called Cloud Computing. This is where a whole bunch of resources will run. So start-ups will simply put the resources e.g., servers, storage, databases, networks, software, AI, and the respective analytics…simply everything into Cloud.

Cloud is nothing but a massive, huge data center that is maintained by the cloud providers. Cloud Providers will make sure that the services that are offered to you will have a faster way of delivery. They innovate faster as the resources would be flexible, and you can definitely scale the resources as and when you want. The best part is the CAPEX and OPEX really fall down exponentially. You typically pay for the services that you use so you only will have very low operating costs. Your infrastructure will be running more efficiently, and you can scale your business when it’s required.

“Cloud Computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal engagement effort or service provider interaction.”

You being a Cloud user just need your userID and password to enter into the world of cloud services provided by the cloud provider. So you will be able to create resources as long as you have Internet and a device that supports a good browser, that’s all you need to maintain the most sophisticated infrastructure in the world. Just you need to pay as you use it!

There was a time when every household, town, farm, or village has its own water well. Today, shared public utilities give us access to clean water by simply turning on the tap; cloud computing works in a similar fashion. Just like water from the tap in your kitchen, cloud computing services can be turned on or off quickly as needed. Like at the water company, there is a team of dedicated professionals making sure the service provided is safe, secure, and available on a 24/7 basis. When the tap isn't on, not only you are saving water, but you aren't paying for resources you don't currently need.

Cloud Computing is like renting resources. Resources like CPU, storage, memory, and network. The cloud provider is responsible for all types of physical infrastructure, hardware required to execute your work, and keeping it up to date with patches and antiviruses.

The cloud services offered tend to vary by the cloud providers. Mostly, they include Compute Power such as Linux or web applications, Storage such as files and databases, Networking competencies to how secure connections can be established between a cloud provider and your company and also Analytics of computing, storage, and network so that you get a visual telemetry and performance data. Every business is unique and has different needs, to meet those needs cloud computing provides a wide range of services.

Let’s understand What is Compute Power? — When you send an email or do certain activities on the internet like booking a reservation or paying an online bill. You will be interacting with the cloud-based servers or the servers that are located somewhere else and you are communicating with those servers just with the browser and your computer. As a consumer, we’re all dependent on computing services provided by various cloud providers that make up the internet. When you are building a solution using cloud computing, you can choose how you want the work to be done based on the resources and needs.

For example, you may want to have more control and responsibility for maintenance so you create a virtual machine. A virtual machine i.e., VM is an emulation of a computer. That means everything is virtual and in the form of a file, the hard disk, CPU, memory, and all other components that comprise a machine will be and hence the term virtual. Just like your desktop or laptop, virtual machines will be able to provide you the necessary services, giving optimum performance. Each VM includes an operating system, and hence it also includes hardware that appears to the user like a physical computer running on Windows or Linux OS. You can install whatever you want like software!

The cloud provider will run the virtual server for you, on a physical server in one of their data centers and they will be often shared with some other servers probably isolated and secure. With the cloud, you can have a VM ready to go in minutes at less cost than a physical computer. There are more possible options in place of VM that means if you want to host a web app, you can have containers and serverless computing instead of a VM.

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A Container provides an isolated execution environment for the applications. They are similar to VMs except that they do not require the guest OS. Instead, the application and all its dependencies are packaged into a container and then a standard runtime environment is used to execute the application. This will allow the container to just startup in few seconds because there is no overhead of the OS to boot and initialize, you only need the application to launch. One of the first pioneers of such projects was Docker. This is an open-source project. It is one of the leading platforms for maintaining containers.

Then What is Serverless Computing? — It will let you run the application cores without you creating, maintaining, and configuring a server. The core idea is that your application is broken into separate functions. That run when triggered by some action. This is ideal for an automated task such as you can build a serverless process that automatically sends an email confirmation after a customer makes an online purchase. Here you can only pay for the processing time used by each function, and then it executes itself.

VMs and Containers are charged when they are running even if the applications are ideal. So this architecture does not work for every application. But, when the app logic can be separated into independent units, you can test them separately and launch them in microseconds and making this the fastest option for deployment.

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Thank You for reading till the end! This is the first article which I have published. I hope I have explained it in some depth. I will be continuing the thread of the articles to cover all four sections mentioned above of Microsoft Azure Fundamentals. Happy Learning! :)

Data Analyst at Infosys Ltd., AI Engineer, MSc. Statistics SPPU.