Free ebook: Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure, Second Edition

We’re happy to announce the availability of our newest free ebook, Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure, Second Edition (ISBN 9781509302963), by Michael Collier and Robin Shahan.


Microsoft Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform, providing a wide variety of services you can use without purchasing and provisioning your own hardware. Azure enables the rapid development of solutions and provides the resources to accomplish tasks that may not be feasible in an on-premises environment. Azure's compute, storage, network, and application services allow you to focus on building great solutions without the need to worry about how the physical infrastructure is assembled.

This book covers the fundamentals of Azure you need to start developing solutions right away. It concentrates on the features of the Azure platform that you are most likely to need to know rather than on every feature and service available on the platform. This book also provides several walkthroughs you can follow to learn how to create VMs and virtual networks, websites and storage accounts, and so on. In many cases, real-world tips are included to help you get the most out of your Azure experience.

In addition to its coverage of core Azure services, the book discusses common tools useful in creating and managing Azure-based solutions. The book wraps up by providing details on a few common business scenarios where Azure can provide compelling and valuable solutions, as well as a chapter providing overviews of some of the commonly used services not covered in the book.

Who should read this book

This book focuses on providing essential information about the key services of Azure for developers and IT professionals who are new to cloud computing. Detailed, step-by-step demonstrations are included to help the reader understand how to get started with each of the key services. This material is useful not only for those who have no prior experience with Azure, but also for those who need a refresher and those who may be familiar with one area but not others. Each chapter is standalone; there is no requirement that you perform the hands-on demonstrations from previous chapters to understand any particular chapter.


We expect that you have at least a minimal understanding of virtualized environments and virtual machines. There are no specific skills required overall for this book, but having some knowledge of the topic of each chapter will help you gain a deeper understanding. For example, the chapter on virtual networks will make more sense if you have some understanding of networking, and the chapter on databases will be more useful if you understand what a database is and why you might use one. Web development skills will provide a good background for understanding Azure Web Apps, and some understanding of identity will be helpful when studying the chapter on Active Directory.

This book might not be for you if…

This book might not be for you if you are looking for an in-depth developer or architecture-focused discussion on a wide range of Azure features, or if you are looking for details on other public or private cloud platforms.

Organization of this book

This book explores six foundational features of the Microsoft Azure platform, along with insights on getting started with Azure, management tools, and common business scenarios. This book also includes a chapter with overviews of some of the more commonly used services, such as HDInsight (Azure’s Hadoop service) and Service Bus, but there are many services in the Azure platform that are not in the scope of this book, such as Azure Batch, Data Lake Analytics, and Azure DNS, just to mention a few. To learn about all of the services available in the Azure platform, start your journey at Also, there is a web application that shows the many services of Azure and allows you to drill down to learn move. See

The topics explored in this book include:

  • Getting started with Azure: Understand what cloud computing is, learn about Azure Resource Manager and Role-Based Access Control, visit the management portals, learn about billing, find out how you can contribute to the Azure documentation and code samples.
  • Azure App Service and Web Apps: Learn about the Azure App Service, consisting of Web Apps, Logic Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, and Function Apps. We will focus on Web Apps and how they work with the App Service and App Service plans, covering the topic from deployment to monitoring and scaling.
  • Virtual Machines: Explore the basic features of Azure Virtual Machines, including how to create, configure, and manage them.
  • Storage: Read about the basics of Azure Storage, including blobs, tables, queues, and file shares, as well as some of the options available such as Premium Storage and Cool Storage.
  • Virtual Networks: Learn the basics of virtual networks, including how to create one, and why a virtual network might be necessary. This also covers site-to-site and point-to-site networking, as well as ExpressRoute.
  • Databases: Explore two relational database options available in Azure: Azure SQL Database and SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.
  • Azure Active Directory: Explore basic features of Azure AD, including creating a directory, users and groups, and using the application gallery.
  • Management Tools: Explore three common tools for working with Azure: Visual Studio 2015 and the Azure SDK, Azure PowerShell cmdlets, and the Cross-Platform Command-Line Interface.
  • Additional Azure services: Get an overview about Azure services not covered in the book that may be fundamental to you now or in the future, such as Azure Service Fabric and Azure Container Service.
  • Business Scenarios: Explore five common scenarios for utilizing Azure features: development and test, hybrid, application and infrastructure modernization, and Azure Mobile Apps, and Machine Learning.

About the authors

Michael S. Collier is currently a Senior Software Development Engineer in the DX TED Commercial ISV team at Microsoft, and previously served as a Cloud Solution Architect. Prior to joining Microsoft in January 2015, Michael was a five-time Azure MVP and served as a Principal Cloud Architect with Aditi Technologies. He has over 15 years of experience with various consulting and technology firms where he was instrumental in leading and developing solutions for a wide range of clients. He has a vast amount of experience in helping companies determine the best strategy for adopting cloud computing, and providing the insight and hands-on experience to ensure they are successful. Michael is also a respected technology community leader, and is often found sharing his Microsoft Azure insights and experiences at regional and national conferences. Michael is also the co-founder of CloudDevelop Conference in Columbus, OH. You can follow Michael’s experiences with Azure on his blog at and on Twitter at @MichaelCollier ( Michael lives in Marysville, Ohio with his wife and two sons. He is a 2003 graduate of The Ohio State University and is a passionate Buckeyes fan. Michael is also an avid golfer, although golf doesn’t always like him.

Robin E. Shahan has over 25 years of experience developing complex, business-critical applications for Fortune 100 companies. As President of Nightbird Consulting, she provided training and helped companies architect and develop scalable, efficient solutions on the Azure platform. She is a six-time Microsoft MVP, and now works for Microsoft as a Sr. Content Developer for Azure Storage.

Robin regularly speaks about Microsoft Azure at various .NET User Groups and Code Camps and runs the San Francisco Azure meetup. She can be found on Twitter as @RobinDotNet, and you can read her articles about Microsoft Azure (and other subjects) at You can reach her via e-mail at