8 Tips for Effective Azure Architecture

Posted by Gary Utley on December 3, 2019

azure architecture, azure data management, azure managed services When you're planning out your Azure deployment, one of your first considerations will be the architecture you're using. The more thought you put into your architecture today, the more scalable it will be tomorrow. But Azure architecture can be a little confusing, and there are a lot of moving parts.

Here are some tips for settling on the most effective Azure architecture. With the right architecture, your Azure deployment will be stable, scalable, and flexible. 

1. Understand the Difference Between On-Premise and Cloud-Based Architecture

Before you settle on an architecture for your Azure deployment, you should make sure you understand what makes cloud-based architecture unique. There are notable differences between on-premise solutions and cloud-based architecture. 

An on-premise solution is:

  • Monolithic
  • Consistent in scalability
  • Designed to avoid failure
  • Managed manually

A cloud-based solution is:

  • De-centralized
  • Elastic in scalability
  • Designed for failure
  • Self-managing

In essence, a cloud-based solution is more flexible and scalable, and when developed, it is developed so that it fails with elegance, with sufficient redundancies in place to make failure manageable. Comparatively, on-premise solutions are designed to avoid failure altogether, which means when these systems do fail, they often fail catastrophically.

2. Choose Your Architecture Style First

Early on in the process, you need to choose your architecture style. There are five major types of architecture style:

  • N-Tier
  • Web-Queue-Worker
  • Microservices
  • Event-Driven Architecture.
  • Big Data, Big Compute

Before you begin planning your Azure services, you need to have an architecture style in mind. 

3. Review Your N-Tier Architecture

N-Tier architecture setups are very common, especially when migrating on-premises applications that already use this setup. However, this is a complex, sometimes unwieldy setup that is not easily updated without navigating dependencies, and it can sometimes have redundant middle layers that just add latency. Another thing to be considered: Updates for N-Tier architecture are less frequent.

If you're planning an N-Tier architecture, analyze your dependencies first and review your N-Tier setups before locking them into stone. Make sure updates are properly managed and business processes are put into place. Azure managed services can help.  

4. Use Autoscaling for Your WQW Architecture

A WQW architecture is simple and easy to deploy and manage. Though it isn't well-suited to more complex applications, it's an excellent choice for companies that have simpler needs. However, sometimes hidden dependencies can arise, and it is easy for some aspects to grow large and difficult to update.

Under an WQW architecture, you can use autoscaling to manage load and cache semi-static data. This will reduce the chances that problems will arise later on. When loads are high, the autoscaling will be able to manage it without disruption to the end users.

5. Create Management and Update Processes for Microservices Architecture

Composed of a number of independent, smaller applications, a Microservices architecture is usually used for a domain that is fairly complex. Under a Microservices architecture, each individual service can be managed and maintained by a separate team. This is more complex than either N-Tier or Web-Queue-Worker.

Due to the complexity of Microservices architecture, it's advised that an MSP be involved in managing and maintaining the system. Otherwise, there will need to be processes and controls designed to ensure that the system as a whole works consistently.

6. Manage Your Messaging in Your Event-Driven Architecture

This type of architecture is driven by a "publish-subscribe" model and is used for things like Internet of Things solutions. Event-Driven Architecture is a fairly simple model that operates with large volumes of data processing. 

When using event-driven architecture, like for IoT, make sure that you scale things in a way so any event is processed only once and in proper order. Your messaging protocols and processes will be critical to the success of your platform.

7. Don't Forget to Choose Your Messaging Service

Your messaging service is also a part of your architecture. You will need to choose between the three options for Azure messaging: Azure Service Bus, Event Grid, or Event Hubs. The messaging service that's right for your organization is going to depend significantly upon the architecture that you've chosen.  Each of these messaging services are recommended under specific circumstances:

  • Azure Service Bus. Best for commands from producers to consumers. 
  • Event Grid. Best for single, discrete events.  
  • Event Hubs. Best for event streams.

Many infrastructures won't use a single messaging service, but will rather use multiple services together. There are advantages to this, such as the ability to connect the Event Service Bus to the Event Grid. 

8. Don't Forget the Major Design Principles

There are a number of design principles that you need to consider when developing your Azure architecture, regardless of the type of architecture you have chosen. These design principles include:

  • Designing systems that self-heal
  • Making sure that redundancy is baked in
  • Reducing the amount of required coordination
  • Ensuring that systems are scalable
  • Partitioning to avoid issues with limits
  • Building for the needs of the business
  • Designing for evolution

You may have noticed that there are a lot of steps towards developing an effective Azure architecture, and there are a lot of things to consider. Often, it's beneficial to get the help of a professional.

A good managed services provider is going to make the entire process of managing your Azure Architecture easier. The MSP will be able to navigate and monitor these situations, providing Azure deployment and Azure data management for you. 

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of an MSP, and the development of your Azure architecture? Contact the experts at CWPS (now Red River). 

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