In today’s post for our Learning Azure series, we’re going to look at some of the services available for FREE* in Azure.
* These are various distinctions of FREE and as of August 2, 2022. If you are seeing this at a later date, you will want to check their product pricing pages for details.
Two Types of Free
There are two types of FREE that are seen in Azure:
- Free for your first 12 months
- Always Free
This Free Services page breaks the services into these groups.
Today, I want to cover some of the services that are slated as always free and how you can learn more and get started using them today.
Always Free services
These are some of the services that are always free for your Azure account. Some of these services will have posts later on, so I’m not getting into all of their learning resources.
Hosting and Automation
Products I’m covering later this week include:
Developer and Data Tools
There are some tools in the list that are listed as free and related to Azure:
I’m also adding Azure Data Studio here, even though it isn’t on the free page. I’m guessing this is one of those cases where it pays to bridge between dev and data. Azure Data Studio is an awesome editor for working with Azure data sources. Think VS Code for the data professional.
Other Always Free Services
If you want to get started today with these other technologies and don’t want to wait for my upcoming posts, check the learning and docs links for details!
Azure Cosmos DB
Azure Cosmos DB is one of my favorite technologies to talk about as it has such a HUGE community presence. I focus on data modeling as well as working with their Gremlin API, which is the focus of my intro to graph databases talk. However, there is so much more there than what I can cover here. They also have a wonderful community for learning too. I’m going to share some quick links here – but rest assured, there are 2 days of blog posts in the data week that are dedicated to Azure Cosmos DB.
Azure Logic Apps
Am I really recommending a low-to-no-code platform? Oh yes! Azure Logic Apps allows you to automate workflows with a graphical UI with a focus on configuration rather than code. You can get into complex workflows to automate and also empower your users. I use Azure Logic Apps as part of a notification system for one of my clients, pulling CSVs from an Azure Queue and emailing them to someone via Office 365. If they need to change where the notifications go, I can trust their marketing folks to go in and edit the Logic App without having to get into code. Check out these links for automating workflows and empowering your users to do more without writing code.
- About Azure Logic Apps
- Go serverless: Enterprise integration with Azure Logic Apps (Azure Friday)
- Build automated workflows to integrate data and apps with Azure Logic Apps
- Creating custom APIs you can call from Azure Logic Apps
- Battle Royale: Azure Logic Apps vs Power Automate (Microsoft Flow) with Prashant G Bhoyar (Azure Serverless Conf 2021)
Azure Cloud Shell
It’s no secret that I prefer command line environments to GUIs. Azure Cloud Shell is my go-to command-line when I am working with Azure resources and not on my machine with my preferred terminals and shells.
It has support for multiple languages, including:
Run your language with
--version to confirm which version is supported in the Cloud Shell. Note: There is no language version parity between Azure Cloud Shell and services, at least not at a first glance.
You can also run
code in Azure Cloud Shell. I discovered this feature recently, and I’m excited this is a thing.
There are other tools installed as well. Check out this list of tools in Azure Cloud Shell.
There are some limitations to running Azure Cloud Shell. However, these limitations haven’t been enough to stop me from working with this shell.
Check out the features and tools for Azure Cloud Shell in this Microsoft Learn module.
Bonus: Azure Architecture Center
The icons that I’ve used for the services in this post come from the Azure icons in the Azure Architecture Center. When I got back into consulting, I found myself training others in Azure technologies and building out architecture diagrams for various industries. The Azure Architecture Center is one of my go-to resources to recommend to software engineers, infrastructure folks, data professionals, and others who need to understand the architecture possibilities out there. These are some of the things I recommend:
- Browse Azure Architectures – See what architectures have been documented. Use these as starting points when you have to come up with a quick solution and don’t want to start your diagram from scratch.
- Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) for Azure – This is a collection of guidance for adopting Azure in your environment.
- Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework – This is a set of guiding tenets to improve workloads, formed by 5 pillars – reliability, security, cost optimization, operational excellence, and performance efficiency.
- Cloud design patterns – These are patterns known for building cloud apps that are reliable, scalable, and secure.
- Assessments – Evaluate your business strategies and receive guidance in various aspects of cloud and platform adoption.
- Technology choices for Azure solutions – There are flowcharts (such as for compute), decision tables (such as choosing between traditional web apps and single page apps), and comparison matrices (such as analytical data stores) to help choose the right Azure offerings for things such as computer, containers, hybrid options, identity service, data, storage, AI/ML, networking, IoT, and more.