Monday, January 4, 2021

What we get for free

 The Azure subscription we began yesterday comes with a $200 credit that we could use, but I am really only interested in the free resources.  The first one listed is 750 hours of a Windows virtual machine.  The size is B1S which is 1 vCPU (virtual CPU) and 1 GB RAM.  It is a small machine, able to run windows software.  Next is the same running Linux.  Rounding out the top 3 is 2 64GB managed disks to mount on the virtual machines (VMs).  You can see the start of the list below:


I am not wanting to start a server farm in the cloud, I am more interested in using cloud services.  VMs are what we often talk about as Infrastructure as a Service or more often written as IaaS. It is the easiest way to get current workloads into the cloud, but it is really just shifting part of the load rather than restructuring it.  None of those 3 are exciting to me, but I may talk through using the VMs as development boxes if we get to the point we need something more than a browser based editor or compiler.

The next 3 in the list are a lot more interesting to me, and this is where we will start later this week.  The first is Azure Blob Storage, and some recent changes to it allow us to do some very interesting things with it.  Specifically, we are going to use it to host static web pages and web resources without having to manage or set up a web server.  Azure File Storage will give us to store some structured data while processing it, and last on this row we get a pretty large SQL Database.  SQL stands for Structured Query Language and the database type is a relational database.  That means we build tables of data and relate them to each other. 


Next, we get access to a global database for un-structured data or a NoSQL database.  This one is CosmosDB and it has interfaces, or API masks it can wear to make it look like MongoDB or several other popular NoSQL types.  Next, we get 15 GB of outbound network traffic.  Inbound is free, outbound costs.  It won't do us much good to build something in the cloud if no one can reach it, so this will be used, a lot.  Last on this row is time with the AI for Anomaly detection.  I haven't used it, but I am guessing it is a type of automatic classification engine.  One of the ideas I have been thinking about lately has to do with a lot of pattern matching, so this might come in handy. 

On to the next three, and they are all AI related.  The first is computer vision, and a colleague of mine has been putting it and the Amazon equivalent to some interesting uses.  I am not sure I have a use for it right now.  The next is automatic content moderation, and it could be interesting.  At some point we should be interacting with the public, and having a bot moderating the contact could be good.  The final of the three is a set of two projects to customize the vision AI we just talked about.

The next three are all recognizers built for specific purposes.  The first is faces, the next is forms, and the last is 'ink' or hand writing. The ink one aligns pretty well with the idea I am working on, but the forms might also come in handy.  I really don't see me using the facial recognition.
The next three are around language and interactions.  The first will allow us to build chat bots that understand natural language.  The next is a personalizer that will let us customize interactions with users, and the last will let us build an automatic Q&A bot.

The last two are more text based, with the first allowing us to analyze text for tone, topic, and sentiment.  It could be fun to play with.  The last is the translation API, which will allow us to translate text real time between different languages.

Whew!  That was a long list!  Those are all of the services we get to use for free for 12 months.  There are usage limits, but they are pretty generous.

But wait!  There is more!  There are an additional 27 resources that are always free to use that I will go through tomorrow.  They include some that we will leverage once we start writing code, or at least doing some computation.  Stay tuned!