Azure Worker Roles: Why You Should Know About Them

Azure Worker Roles are a new addition to the Cloud infrastructure that will significantly expand the ways in which you can use Azure and will enable you to offload long-running, compute-intensive tasks from your Azure Web Apps and App Services by spinning up additional instances on-demand to handle the additional workload. Let’s take a look at what Azure Worker Roles are, why they’re important, and how you can use them today.

What Are Azure Worker Roles?

Azure worker roles are, at their simplest level, containers that run long-running, compute-intensive tasks. If you’re interested in offloading these types of tasks from your Web or mobile app to a service like Azure, it may be tempting to use something like Amazon’s AWS Lambda service. But there are multiple reasons why you should consider using Azure worker roles instead.

How Do I Use Azure Worker Roles?

Azure allows you to create virtual machines with specific specifications that execute in your own sandbox environment. This can be valuable, especially if you’re creating a system where multiple machines are required to complete a task, as it gives you control over exactly how those VMs are configured and connected to each other. The downside is that it requires some level of knowledge about operating systems and virtual machine management knowledge most developers just don’t have. Azure offers another option: worker roles. These are pre-configured VMs that come with a long list of tools and software already installed, letting you focus on writing code while letting Microsoft worry about how best to configure its hardware resources.

What Else Should I Know?

Many companies, big and small, are using Azure to scale their businesses. But how do you handle tasks that need to be executed in a more traditional client-server setup? For instance, how would you go about launching a new SQL Server database from an on-premises data center and keeping it synced with your on-premises servers? In these situations, one solution is Azure worker roles. An Azure worker role allows you to offload intensive computing tasks to a separate Azure service. From there, administrators can simply write code that runs at regular intervals (such as every minute or hour) to process user requests and create or update files in an Azure storage account or SQL database.

What If I Need More Help?

Azure Worker Roles are useful for tasks like image processing, rendering and artificial intelligence. Because these jobs can be lengthy, you might need to come up with a strategy for tracking their status. Luckily, Azure allows you to set schedules for your workers so that they don’t interfere with production workloads; if something goes wrong, an email notification will alert you so that you can address any issues quickly.

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