Azure service directory overview
All Microsoft Azure service categories are browsable from the following URL: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/.
You can also explore all features and technical details of all available Azure services at: https://portal.azure.com/#allservices.
Microsoft Azure organizes available services under the following general categories:
- AI + machine learning
- Developer tools
- Hybrid + multicloud
- Internet of Things
- Management and governance
- Mixed reality
- Virtual desktop infrastructure
All Azure service documentation is available at Microsoft Docs at:
Outside of the scope of Azure services are the followign Microsoft Online services, which by large extent also run on Azure infrastructure but which are managed separately:
Azure ASM vs ARM model
Microsoft Azure used to offer the Azure Service Management (ASM) model which is also known as the classic management model. This is now deprecated for new Azure tenants/subscriptions and the Azure Resource Management (ARM) model is being used instead. While ASM utilizes the notion of an Azure Service as being the fundamental building block of the management system, ARM uses the notion of the Azure Resource as its foundation. Migration from the ASM to the ARM model is feasible in certain scenarios. The following diagram illustrates Azure Resource Manager architecture in relation to Azure management tools traffic flows and how each management tool request is being handled by ARM.
Azure control plane and data plane
Azure Resource Manager (ARM) utilizes two types of Azure operations, namely the control plane and the data plane. The control plane is used for Azure resource provisioning and management and the data plane is used for service and resource manipulation, such as accessing and editing data of any given resource. As an example, you create a virtual machine through the control plane and after the virtual machine is created, you interact with it through data plane operations, such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Azure Resource Manager (ARM) utilizes Azure .
Azure Resource Providers
A resource provider is a service which supplies Azure resources. For example, a common resource provider is
Microsoft.Compute, which supplies the virtual machine resource.
Microsoft.Storage is another common resource provider. Resource providers are organized by resource provider namespaces and each resource provider is mapped to an Azure service. Before a resource provider can be used in your Azure subscription it must be registered. Some resource providers are registered by default. Others are automatically registered if you provision an Azure resource via the Azure management portal or via Azure ARM templates. Other resource providers must be manually registered by an Azure administrator because they can be used. See more details on resource providers in Microsoft Docs articles Resource providers and types as well as Resource Providers for Azure services.
Azure roles and professional functions
Given the vast nature of Azure services and enterprise applications of each service category, it is important for any Azure administrator to familiarize themselves with all service categories to better understand new and existing services. Not everyone can be an expert in all fields but understanding the fundamentals of each category as well as understanding integration options among the service categories is key to implementing an Azure solution. What happens in practice is that there are various roles which correspond to human functions in Azure management, ranging from Azure service helpdesk teams to Azure administrators, devops, developers and architects. Each of these professional groups have a specific role to play in the Azure ecosystem but despite of each individual role, everybody needs to understand the big picture of Azure ARM and service categories.
Considering professional certifications for Azure available fields, it is recommended to review the ever changing Microsoft Certification Poster at: https://aka.ms/TrainCertPoster.
In the following sections, we will provide a short description as well as typical applications and workload usage scenarios of each of the above Azure service categories. Some Azure services may belong to more than one categories, for example Azure Container Instances fall into both the Compute and Containers category.
AI and machine learning
AI and machine learning services allow Azure administrators and developers to create applications using artificial intelligence capabilities for any scenario. Examples of AI and machine learning services include Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Data Bricks and Microsoft Genomics. More details about AI and machine learning services can be found at: https://stefanos.cloud/blog/azure-ai-and-machine-learning-services-overview/.
Azure Analytics services allow administrators and developers to gather, store, process, analyze, and visualize data of any variety, volume, or velocity. Examples of Analytics services include Azure Analysis Services, Azure Data Bricks, Azure Data Factor (ADF), Azure Data Lake Storage and Data Lake Analytics as well as Azure Synapse Analytics and HDInsight. More details about Analytics services can be found at: https://stefanos.cloud/blog/azure-analytics-services-overview/.
Azure Compute services allow Azure administrators and developers to access cloud compute capacity and scale on demand. Examples of Azure Compute services include Azure VMs, Azure App Service, Azure Functions, Azure Batch, Azure Container Instances, Azure Kubernetes Service and Azure Service Fabric. More details about Azure Compute services can be found at: https://stefanos.cloud/blog/azure-compute-services-overview.
Azure Containers services allow administrators and developers to develop and manage containerized applications with integrated tools. Examples of containers services include Azure Kubernetes service (AKS), Azure Container Instances (ACI), Azure Redhat Openshift and Azure Container Registry. More details about Azure Containers services can be found at: https://stefanos.cloud/blog/azure-container-services-overview.
Azure supports a wide range of secure, enterprise-grade and fully managed data store services. Both SQL and non-SQL data stores are supported. Examples of Databases services include Azure SQL, Azure SQL Edge, Azure SQL Managed Instances, SQL Server on Azure VMs, Table Storage, Azure database for MySQL and Azure Cosmos DB. More details about Azure Databases services can be found at: https://stefanos.cloud/blog/azure-database-services-overview/.
Azure Developer tools services allow administrators and developers to build, manage, and continuously deliver cloud applications using any platform, development runtime or language. Examples of containers services include Azure DevOps, Azure Pipelines, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Azure DevTest Labs and Azure Lab Services. More details about Azure Developer tools services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/developer-tools/.
Azure Devops services allow developers and devops engineers to deliver innovation faster with simple, reliable tools for continuous delivery (CI/CD). Examples of devops services include Azure DevOps, Azure Pipelines, Azure Boards, Azure Repos and Azure Test Plans. Integration options are offered with all major devops tools. More details about Azure Devops services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/devops/.
Hybrid + multicloud
Azure Hybrid cloud and multicloud services allow developers and administrators to integrate on-premise resources with Azure tenants/subscriptions and also incorporate resources from other public clouds (AWS, GCP, IBM Cloud, Citrix Cloud, etc) into Azure solutions. Examples of hybrid cloud and multicloud services include Azure Active Directory (AAD), Azure Arc, Azure Stack, Azure Stack HCI, Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge. More details about Azure Hybrid Cloud and Multicloud services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/hybrid-cloud-app/.
Azure identity services allow administrators and developers to manage user identities and access to protect against advanced threats across devices, data, apps, and infrastructure. A multitude of Identity Providers and Authentication (AuthN) and Authorization (AuthZ) protocols are supported. Examples of identity services include Azure Active Directory (AAD), Azure AD Domain Services (AD DS), Azure Active Directory External Identities and Azure Information Protection. More details about Azure identity services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/identity/.
Azure integration services allow administrators and developers to seamlessly integrate on-premises and cloud-based applications, data, and processes across enterprises. Examples of integration services include Service Bus, Event Grid, API management, Logic Apps, Azure Healthcare APIs and Azure Web PubSub. More details about Azure integration services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/integration/.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Azure IoT services allow administrators and developers to connect assets or environments, discover insights, and drive informed actions to transform businesses. Examples of IoT services include Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Sphere and Azure SQL Edge. More details about Azure IoT services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/iot/.
Management and governance
Azure management and governance services allow administrators and developers to simplify, automate, and optimize the management and compliance of cloud resources. Examples of management and governance services include Azure Monitor, Azure Automation, Azure Advisor, Azure Policy, Azure Blueprints, Azure Lighthouse, Azure Automanage and Azure Purview. More details about Azure management and governance services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/management-tools/.
Azure media services allow administrators and developers to deliver high-quality video content anywhere, any time, and on any device. Examples of media services include Azure Media Services, Content Delivery Network (CDN and Azure Media Player. More details about Azure media services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/media-services/.
Azure migration services allow administrators and developers to simplify and accelerate migrations to the cloud with guidance, tools, and resources. Migration services cover the migration of virtual machines, databases and other forms of structured and non-structured data. Examples of media services include Azure Migrate, Azure Database Migration Service (DMS), Azure Site Recovery (ASR) and Azure Data Box. More details about Azure migration services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/migration/.
Azure mixed reality services allow administrators and developers to blend physical and digital worlds to create immersive, collaborative experiences. Examples of mixed reality services include Azure Digital Twins, Remote Rendering, Kinect KD, Spatial Anchors and Object Anchors. More details about Azure mixed reality services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/mixed-reality/. Azure Mixed reality services integrate with Microsoft Mesh.
Azure mobile services allow administrators and developers to build and deploy cross-platform and native apps for any mobile device. Examples of mobile services include Azure App Service, Xamarin and Visual Studio App Center. More details about Azure mobile services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/mobile/.
Azure networking services are one of the most fundamental category of services (alongside security, storage and compute services) in that they provide the fundamental environment upon which to build other IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services. Azure networking services allow administrators and developers to connect cloud and on-premises infrastructure and services to provide customers and users the best possible experience. Examples of networking services include Azure Virtual Network, Azure DNS, Azure Network Watcher, Azure Private Link, Azure Front Door, Azure Express Route, Azure Web App Firewall, Azure Firewall, Azure VPN Gateway, Azure Virtual WAN, Azure Application Gateway, Azure Traffic Manager and Azure Load Balancer. More details about Azure networking services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/networking/.
Azure security services allow administrators and developers to protect enterprises from advanced threats across hybrid cloud workloads. Examples of security services include Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, Azure Key Vault, Azure Firewall, Azure Web Application Firewall and Azure Defender. More details about Azure security services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/security/.
Azure storage services allow administrators and developers to get secure, massively scalable cloud storage for data, apps, and workloads. Examples of storage services include Azure Blob storage, Azure disk storage, Azure Files, Azure Storage Accounts, Azure Storage Accounts, Azure Data Lake Storage and Azure Backup. More details about Azure security services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/storage/.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
Azure VDI services allow administrators and developers to empower employees to work securely from anywhere with a cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure. Examples of VDI services include Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops for Azure.
Azure Web services allow administrators and developers to build, deploy, and scale powerful web applications quickly and efficiently. Examples of Web services include Azure App Service, API Apps, API Management, Mobile Apps, Web Apps, Static Web Apps, Azure SignalR service and Azure Communication services. More details about Azure Web services can be found at: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/web/.
Azure Resource Providers by Azure service category
Now that you have familiarized yourself with each Azure service category, it is a good practice to review the available Azure Resource Providers for each service category by visiting the following Microsoft Docs article: Azure Resource Provider operations by service category.