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Use these tools and services for best-practice cloud-native Azure apps.

With more organizations moving to the cloud on a daily basis, the development of cloud-native applications is increasingly in huge demand. Cloud-native apps can provide benefits that traditional apps can’t, including automatic resource provisioning, auto-scaling, high availability. These applications can provide organizations and developers with a significant competitive edge.

In this article, you’ll learn about some of the resources available to you for developing cloud-native applications in Azure. You’ll also learn some tips for building resilient and secure applications.

Tools for Cloud-Native Development in Azure

Azure includes a range of built-in tools and services for cloud-native app development. The services and tools introduced here are good options to start with. For a full list, check out Microsoft’s Developer’s Guide to Azure.

Development

Azure includes two main tools for developing and building cloud-native applications: Visual Studio (VS) and Azure App Service.

VS is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that can be used for any platform or environment. It enables you to develop, debug, deploy and monitor applications for and into the cloud or on-premises.

When downloading VS, you can use the free community edition or one of two paid options—professional and enterprise. VS is platform-agnostic but can directly integrate with Azure services, and enables you to deploy directly to Azure.

Azure App Service is a subscription-based Platform as a Service (PaaS) that enables you to build applications for web and mobile clients. It provides a fully managed cloud infrastructure that enables you to deploy apps in containers or directly as code.

App Service includes pre-built apps that can be used as a base for app creation. It supports popular frameworks and languages, including .NET, Java, Python, PHP, Node.js, and Ruby.

Storage

When developing cloud-native applications in Azure there are a number of storage options for you to tie your apps to. You can store and retrieve data from any of the standard storage services, including disk, file, queue, table, or blob. You can also connect your application to database services.

Azure includes pay-for-use database services for structured, semistructured, and relational data. Database services are all fully managed with built-in security and performance tuning features. These services also include automatic geographic data replication.

Database options include:

  • CosmosDB—for unstructured and semistructured data. Provides low latency, high availability and scalability.
  • MariaDB—for relational data. Provides high availability and elastic scaling for mobile and web apps.
  • PostgreSQL—for relational data. Provides scalability and features for geospatial support and rich indexing.
  • MySQL—for relational data. Provides high availability and elastic scaling for mobile and web apps.

You also have the option of using SAP HANA on Azure. SAP HANA is a column-oriented, relational database management system. It is used to store and retrieve data requested by applications.

You can use SAP to perform a variety of analytics, including predictive analysis, spatial data processing, text search, graph data processing, and streaming analytics. You can also use SAP as an application server for creating and running applications.

Deployment

Deploying cloud-native applications in Azure is typically done either in containers or serverless applications. Containerized applications can be run and managed with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) or Azure Container Instances (ACI). Serverless applications can be run with Azure Functions.

AKS is a free, fully managed service used to deploy and manage containers with Kubernetes. This service runs on Virtual Machines (VMs), which you are responsible for configuring, managing, and paying for. It includes an integrated Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. AKS also integrates with VS Code for easier development and deployment.

ACI is a service for hosting containers. It enables you to run containers without provisioning VMs or managing infrastructure. The cost for this service is based on how long your containers run and what computing resources you use. ACI is often used to elastically manage traffic from AKS, running event-driven applications, or data processing jobs.

Azure Functions allows you to write code snippets or entire applications and run them without dedicated instances or resources. Your programs run based on triggers from HTTP requests, Azure service events, or a predefined schedule. In Functions, your app can communicate with Azure and third-party services via API. You can write Functions in .NET, JavaScript, and Java.

Tips for Developing in Azure

There are many tips and best practices for using specific services and tools. To find these, it is best to check the documentation for each service. Regardless of the services you use, though, the following tips can be useful for any application development process.

Use Autoscaling

Autoscaling features enable dynamic resource allocation, using only the resources you need when you need them. This can help minimize the cost of running your applications. To gain the maximum performance and cost benefits, design your applications to be horizontally scalable. Apps often don’t need more powerful processors, just a way to distribute workloads.

When developing your application, try not to tie your code to specific instances. Doing so can limit availability and scalability. If you expect a high traffic volume at specific times, you can create a scheduled autoscaling policy. This policy can start instances before your demand increases.

Focus on Security

Cloud-native applications can be more secure than traditional applications, due to the use of isolated services. This does not mean they are more secure by default, however. It is important to conduct penetration tests to determine where your app and environment are vulnerable. Make sure to log your application activity and monitor app traffic. This data can help you identify threats and alert you if your application becomes unavailable.

If you need to troubleshoot your app, take care not to leave remote debugging features active when you’re done. Remote debugging features can provide a way for attackers to modify your application code. Any traffic that goes to or from your application should be passed through HTTPS. HTTPS can help ensure that transmitted data isn’t rerouted or modified in transit.

Take Advantage of Azure Resources

There are several resources available from Microsoft to help with cloud-native development. These resources are created by Microsoft and include best practices for Azure services.

Microsoft Learn hosts hands-on labs, video courses, and virtual classes for Azure and other Microsoft products. Developer content includes building and deploying applications, building automated workflows, and machine learning in Python. You can also earn Microsoft certifications through the platform.

Azure DevOps Labs is another option that includes mini-courses with tutorials and exercises. DevOps Labs is focused on helping you learn how to use and integrate Azure and select third-party services. The platform includes topics such as how to set up a CI/CD pipeline for PHP applications and how to work with pull requests in VS Code.

Conclusion

The skills and experience needed for developing cloud-native apps are highly valuable, for developers and businesses alike. To expand your skills and develop effective and efficient applications, it’s important to use the tools and resources available to you.

Hopefully, this article helped you understand how to ease the process of making cloud-native apps in Azure. If you want to get started but don’t have an Azure subscription, consider practicing on their free tiers.

Further Reading

Windows Containers and Azure

Microservices and Serverless on Azure

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