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Essential Skills For Microsoft Azure Developers


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When you develop cloud applications, you need several skills and a unique mindset than when building applications for local environments. This is because the cloud offers a massive global scale and resilience, coupled with services and features not available locally. To cope with this new world, you need to revisit some of your existing skills/techniques and acquire new ones.


Here are five essential skills you need when developing cloud software, focusing on building applications for Microsoft Azure.


1) Build for Uncertainty


Unpredictability? Isn't the cloud supposed to be robust and very available? Yes, but to get excellent availability and other benefits from the cloud, you have no control over the server on which your application runs. This is where uncertainty comes in.


When you run an Azure application (suppose an App Service web application), it runs in a Microsoft data center server. Even applications without a server run on servers - everything does. But Azure operates the servers and uses internal models, such as Service Fabric, to handle your application, which leads to a 99.95% uptime. Sometimes Azure anticipates that the server running your application will fail in the next hour or that your application is better to run on another server for performance to move your application to another server.


2) Develop with costs in mind


In the cloud, you pay for what you use most.  Several services run at all times, no matter if they are used. In any case, you should consider the costs of your applications. This means paying attention to memory, CPU usage, storage, and bandwidth usage.


Consider Bandwidth


Consider this scenario: You want to move a system with a local SQL Server to a SQL Azure database (the Azure equivalent of an SQL Server). After adjusting all the application connection strings in the new database - including some of the apps still running locally - the next step would be to move them to the cloud. You may think that everything is fine until you realize that one of the local apps copies the entire database to its memory to shrink the data hourly.


Consider Performance



It would help if you considered the processor and memory you are consuming, in addition to the data. For example, when you use an Azure feature, you'll be billed for the amount of power and processing time required to run your part. This means that if you have a slow function that consumes plenty of CPU and memory cycles, you will pay more, especially when running millions of this operation a month.


3) Develop for resiliency


The cloud is built for strength. This means it ensures that your applications continue to run - even when a server dies. To provide this resilience, the cloud uses several mechanisms that you need to know and consider in your applications.


Most of these mechanisms are tailored to self-preservation. When an SQL Azure database is busy running queries, it will gather received requests to continue to run and not close.


4) Script your environments


In the cloud, it's crucial to encrypt your environment to have it as code (infrastructure as code). If you have a script that can build and update your entire infrastructure, you can quickly destroy everything and rebuild it when needed. This allows you to pay for the infrastructure only when you use it.


5) Choose the right services


This is an essential but tricky skill. The cloud is made up of many services; In Azure, there are over 90 major services, and each has a variety of features. From these services, you need to choose the right ones to run your application, to store your data, to secure your application, and so on.


Image Via PhoenixNAP


Conclusion


Focus on building important things and letting the cloud take care of plumbing can be the most important skill you need when building cloud applications. As developers, we tend to want to make stuff and have control over them. Some may feel compelled to build their own relational mappers of objects and log frames, or even their own compilers. 


Use the technologies that the cloud offers for heavy lifting associated with authentication, sending notifications, moving data around, scaling, and other tasks. When you take advantage of cloud capabilities, you have more time to develop things that add value to your users.


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