Azure Definitions - Part 2
We are almost half way through. Continue on Part 2….
Azure Database Services:
Azure Database Services are fully managed Paas database services. Azure database services are fully managed, freeing up valuable time you’d otherwise spend managing your database so you can focus on new ways to delight your users and unlock opportunities. Enterprise-grade performance with built-in high availability means you can scale quickly and reach global distribution without worrying about costly downtime.
- Cosmos Database: Azure Cosmos DB is a globally distributed database service. It supports schema-less data that lets you build highly responsive and Always On applications to support constantly changing data. You can use this feature to store data that is updated and maintained by users around the world. Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft’s globally distributed, multi-model database service. With a click of a button, Cosmos DB enables you to elastically and independently scale throughput and storage across any number of Azure regions worldwide. You can elastically scale throughput and storage, and take advantage of fast, single-digit-millisecond data access using your favorite API including SQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Tables, or Gremlin. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cosmos-db/introduction
- SQL Database: Azure SQL Database is a general-purpose relational database-as-a-service (DBaaS) based on the latest stable version of Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine. SQL Database is a high-performance, reliable, and secure cloud database that you can use to build data-driven applications and websites in the programming language of your choice, without needing to manage infrastructure. It is a PaaS offering from Microsoft. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/sql-database/
- Azure Database Migration Service: Azure Database Migration Service is a fully managed service designed to enable seamless migrations from multiple database sources to Azure data platforms with minimal downtime (online migrations). https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/dms/dms-overview
It is a service on Azure that connects Azure users with Microsoft partners, software vendors, and startups. Azure users can try and purchase apps and services from a lot of other service providers. These apps and services are certified to run on Azure. The Microsoft Azure Marketplace is an online store that hosts applications that are certified and optimized to run in Azure.
The Azure Marketplace is often where you start when creating new resources in Azure. The Marketplace allows customers to find, try, purchase, and provision applications and services from hundreds of leading service providers, all certified to run on Azure.
The solution catalog spans several industry categories, including but not limited to open-source container platforms, virtual machine images, databases, application build and deployment software, developer tools, threat detection, and blockchain. Using Azure Marketplace, you can provision end-to-end solutions quickly and reliably, hosted in your own Azure environment.
The communication of internet-connected devices and identifying themselves to other devices is called IoT.
The Azure Internet of Things (IoT) is a collection of Microsoft-managed cloud services that connect, monitor and control billions of IoT assets. In simpler terms, an IoT solution is made up of one or more IoT devices and one or more back-end services running in the cloud that communicate with each other.
Azure Synapse is Azure SQL Data Warehouse:
Azure Synapse is a limitless analytics service that brings together enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics. It gives you the freedom to query data on your terms, using either serverless on-demand or provisioned resources—at scale. Azure Synapse brings these two worlds together with a unified experience to ingest, prepare, manage, and serve data for immediate BI and machine learning needs.
Azure Databricks is an Apache Spark-based analytics platform optimized for the Microsoft Azure cloud services platform. Designed with the founders of Apache Spark, Databricks is integrated with Azure to provide one-click setup, streamlined workflows, and an interactive workspace that enables collaboration between data scientists, data engineers, and business analysts.
Azure HDInsight is a managed, full-spectrum, open-source analytics service in the cloud for enterprises. You can use open-source frameworks such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, Apache Hive, LLAP, Apache Kafka, Apache Storm, R, and more.
Azure HDInsight is a managed Apache Hadoop service that lets you run Apache Spark, Apache Hive, Apache Kafka, Apache HBase, and more in the cloud.
Azure Data Lake Analytics:
Azure Data Lake Analytics is an on-demand analytics job service that simplifies big data. Instead of deploying, configuring, and tuning hardware, you write queries to transform your data and extract valuable insights. The analytics service can handle jobs of any scale instantly by setting the dial for how much power you need. You only pay for your job when it is running, making it cost-effective.
Azure Artificial Intelligence:
AI is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. Through AI, machines can analyze images, comprehend speech, interact in natural ways and make predictions using data.
Azure Machine Learning Service:
Machine Learning is a data science technique to allow computers to use existing data to predict future behaviors, outcome, and trends. Azure Machine Learning service provides SDKs and services to quickly prep data, train, and deploy machine learning models. Improve productivity and costs with autoscaling compute & pipelines. Use these capabilities with open-source Python frameworks, such as PyTorch, TensorFlow, and scikit-learn.
Azure Machine Learning Studio:
Azure Machine Learning Studio is a collaborative, drag-and-drop tool for building, testing, and deploying predictive analytics solutions on your data. Tutorials, videos, and example models show you how to use Studio to build and deploy machine learning models.
Serverless Computing Solutions:
Serverless computing is the abstraction of servers, infrastructure, and operating systems. When you build serverless apps you don’t need to provision and manage any servers, so you can take your mind off infrastructure concerns. Serverless computing is driven by the reaction to events and triggers happening in near-real-time—in the cloud. As a fully managed service, server management and capacity planning are invisible to the developer and billing is based just on resources consumed or the actual time your code is running.
Serverless app runs only when an event is triggered. Scaling and performance are automatically handled.
When you’re concerned only about the code running your service, and not the underlying platform or infrastructure, Azure Functions are ideal. They’re commonly used when you need to perform work in response to an event, often via a REST request, timer, or message from another Azure service and when that work can be completed quickly, within seconds or less.
Azure Functions scale automatically based on demand, so they’re a solid choice when demand is variable. For example, you may be receiving messages from an IoT solution used to monitor a fleet of delivery vehicles. You’ll likely have more data arriving during business hours.
Using a VM-based approach, you’d incur costs even when the VM is idle. With functions, Azure runs your code when it’s triggered and automatically deallocates resources when the function is finished. In this model, you’re only charged for the CPU time used while your function runs.
Furthermore, Azure Functions can be either stateless (the default) where they behave as if they’re restarted every time they respond to an event), or stateful (called “Durable Functions”) where a context is passed through the function to track prior activity.
Azure Functions is a solution for easily running small pieces of code, or “functions,” in the cloud. You can write just the code you need for the problem at hand, without worrying about a whole application or the infrastructure to run it. Functions can make development even more productive, and you can use your development languages of choice, such as C#, F#, Node.js, Python, or PHP. Pay only for the time your code runs and Azure scales as needed.
Azure Logic Apps:
Azure Logic Apps provides a way to simplify and implement scalable integrations and workflows in the cloud. It provides a visual designer to model and automates your process as a series of steps called a workflow. There are many connectors across cloud and on-premises services to quickly connect a serverless app to other APIs. A logic app begins with a trigger (like ‘When an account is added to Dynamics CRM’) and after firing can begin many combinations of actions, conversions, and condition logic. Logic Apps is a great choice when orchestrating different Azure Functions in a process - especially when the process requires interacting with an external system or API.
Azure Logic Apps are similar to Functions - both enable you to trigger logic based on an event. Where Functions execute code, Logic Apps execute workflows built from predefined logic blocks. They are specifically designed to automate your business processes.
You create Logic App workflows using a visual designer on the Azure Portal or in Visual Studio. The workflows are persisted as a JSON file with a known workflow schema.
Azure provides over 200 different connectors and processing blocks to interact with different services - including most popular enterprise apps. You can also build custom connectors and workflow steps if the service you need to interact with isn’t covered. You then use the visual designer to link connectors and blocks together, passing data through the workflow to do custom processing - often all without writing any code.
As an example, let’s say a ticket arrives in ZenDesk. You could:
- Detect the intent of the message with cognitive services
- Create an item in Sharepoint to track the issue
- If the customer isn’t in your database, add them to your Dynamics 365 CRM system
- Send a follow-up email to acknowledge their request
All of that could be designed in a visual designer making it easy to see the logic flow which is ideal for a business analyst role.
Functions vs. Logic Apps:
Azure Functions creates infrastructure based on an event. Azure Logic Apps is a cloud service that creates workflows when you need to integrate apps, data, systems and services.
Functions and Logic Apps can both create complex orchestrations. An orchestration is a collection of functions or steps, that are executed to accomplish a complex task. With Azure Functions, you write code to complete each step, with Logic Apps, you use a GUI to define the actions and how they relate to one another.
You can mix and match services when you build an orchestration, calling functions from logic apps and calling logic apps from functions. Here are some common differences between the two.
|State||Normally stateless, but Durable Functions provide state||Stateful|
|Development||Code-first (imperative)||Designer-first (declarative)|
|Connectivity||About a dozen built-in binding types, write code for custom bindings||Large collection of connectors, Enterprise Integration Pack for B2B scenarios, build custom connectors|
|Actions||Each activity is an Azure function; write code for activity functions||Large collection of ready-made actions|
|Monitoring||Azure Application Insights||Azure portal, Log Analytics|
|Management||REST API, Visual Studio||Azure portal, REST API, PowerShell, Visual Studio|
|Execution context||Can run locally or in the cloud||Runs only in the cloud.|
Azure Event Grid:
Azure Event Grid allows you to easily build applications with event-based architectures. First, select the Azure resource you would like to subscribe to, and then give the event handler or WebHook endpoint to send the event to. Event Grid has built-in support for events coming from Azure services, like storage blobs and resource groups. Event Grid also has support for your own events, using custom topics. Event Grid is fully managed intelligent event routing service.
DevOps is a set of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams, in order that they can build, test, and release software faster and more reliably. The concept of DevOps is founded on building a culture of collaboration between teams that historically functioned in relative siloes. The promised benefits include increased trust, faster software releases, ability to solve critical issues quickly, and better manage unplanned work.
Azure DevOps (Formerly known as Visual Studio Team Services VSTS) provides development and collaboration tools for your DevOps environment. DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users. The contraction of “Dev” and “Ops” refers to replacing siloed Development and Operations to create multidisciplinary teams that now work together with shared and efficient practices and tools. Essential DevOps practices include agile planning, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and monitoring of applications.
Azure DevTest Labs:
Azure DevTest Labs enables developers on teams to efficiently self-manage virtual machines (VMs) and PaaS resources without waiting for approvals.
DevTest Labs creates labs consisting of pre-configured bases or Azure Resource Manager templates. These have all the necessary tools and software that you can use to create environments. You can create environments in a few minutes, as opposed to hours or days.
Azure Management Tools:
Using management tools you can access Azure resources. Azure portal, Azure powershell, Azure CLI, Rest API clients all talk to azure resource manager. ARM takes care of authentication and fowards user’s instructions to backend resources.
The Azure portal is a public website that you can access with any web browser. Once you sign in with your Azure account, you can create, manage, and monitor any available Azure services. You can identify a service you’re looking for, get links for help on a topic, and deploy, manage, and delete resources. It also guides you through complex administrative tasks using wizards and tooltips.
The dashboard view provides high-level details about your Azure environment. You can customize the dashboard by moving and resizing tiles, and displaying services you’re interested in.
The portal doesn’t provide any way to automate repetitive tasks. For example, to set up multiple VMs, you would need to create them one at a time by completing the wizard for each VM. This process makes the portal approach time-consuming and error-prone for complex tasks.
What is a blade?
The Azure portal uses a blades model for navigation. A blade is a slide-out panel containing the UI for a single level in a navigation sequence. For example, each of these elements in this sequence would be represented by a blade: Virtual machines > Compute > Ubuntu Server.
Each blade contains some information and configurable options. Some of these options generate another blade, which reveals itself to the right of any existing blade. On the new blade, any further configurable options will spawn another blade, and so on. Soon, you can end up with several blades open at the same time. You can maximize blades as well so that they fill the entire screen.
A dashboard is a customizable collection of UI tiles displayed in the Azure portal. You add, remove, and position tiles to create the exact view you want, and then save that view as a dashboard. Multiple dashboards are supported, and you can switch between them as needed. You can even share your dashboards with other team members.
Azure PowerShell is a module that you can install for Windows PowerShell or PowerShell Core, which is a cross-platform version of PowerShell that runs on Windows, Linux, or macOS. Azure PowerShell enables you to connect to your Azure subscription and manage resources. Windows PowerShell and PowerShell Core provide services such as the shell window and command parsing. Azure PowerShell then adds the Azure-specific commands. Azure PowerShell uses .NET Standard, making it available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Azure PowerShell is also available on Azure Cloud Shell.
Azure CLI is a command-line tool using which you can connect to your Azure resources and manage them. It is available on Windows, Linux and MacOS.
Azure Cloud shell:
Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, browser-based scripting environment for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work. Linux users can opt for a Bash experience, while Windows users can opt for PowerShell. It is accessible via URL, https://shell.azure.com.
Azure Cloud Shell is a browser-based command-line experience for managing and developing Azure resources. Think of Cloud Shell as an interactive console that you run in the cloud. Cloud Shell provides two experiences to choose from, Bash and PowerShell. Both include access to the Azure command-line interface called Azure CLI and to Azure PowerShell.
Both environments support the Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell CLIs. Linux defaults to the Azure CLI (with the
azcommand pre-installed), but you can switch to PowerShell for Linux by typing
pwsh. The Windows-based environment has both CLI tools pre-installed. You can create, build, and deploy apps right from this browser-based environment. It’s all persistent as well - you’re prompted to create an Azure Storage Account when you access the Azure Cloud Shell. This storage area is used as your $HOME folder and any scripts or data you place here is kept across sessions. Each subscription has a unique storage account associated with it so you can keep the data and tools you need right for each account you manage.
Azure Mobile App:
The Microsoft Azure mobile app allows you to access, manage, and monitor all your Azure accounts and resources from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. Once installed, you can:
- Check the current status and important metrics of your services
- Stay informed with notifications and alerts about important health issues
- Quickly diagnose and fix issues anytime, anywhere
- Review the latest Azure alerts
- Start, stop, and restart virtual machines or web apps
- Connect to your virtual machines
- Manage permissions with role-based access control (RBAC)
- Use the Azure Cloud Shell to run saved scripts or perform ad hoc administrative tasks
Azure Advisor is a free service built into Azure that provides recommendations on high availability, security, performance, operational excellence, and cost. Advisor analyzes your deployed services and looks for ways to improve your environment across those four areas. You can view recommendations in the portal or download them in PDF or CSV format.
With Advisor, you can:
- Get proactive, actionable, and personalized best practices recommendations.
- Improve the performance, security, and high availability of your resources, as you identify opportunities to reduce your overall Azure spend.
- Get recommendations with proposed actions inline.
You can access Advisor through the Azure portal. Sign in to the portal, locate Advisor in the navigation menu, or search for it in the All services menu. Azure Advisor provides security recommendations by integrating with azure security center.
If we start on the perimeter of the network, we’re focused on limiting and eliminating attacks from the internet. We suggest first assessing the resources that are internet-facing, and to only allow inbound and outbound communication where necessary. Make sure you identify all resources that are allowing inbound network traffic of any type, and then ensure they are restricted to only the ports and protocols required. Azure Security Center is a great place to look for this information, because it will identify internet-facing resources that don’t have network security groups associated with them, as well as resources that are not secured behind a firewall.
Azure Firewall is a managed, cloud-based, network security service that protects your Azure Virtual Network resources. It is a fully stateful firewall as a service with built-in high availability and unrestricted cloud scalability. Azure Firewall provides inbound protection for non-HTTP/S protocols. Examples of non-HTTP/S protocols include: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Secure Shell (SSH), and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). It also provides outbound, network-level protection for all ports and protocols, and application-level protection for outbound HTTP/S.
Stateful, managed, Firewall as a Service (FaaS) that grants/ denies server access based on originating IP address, to protect network resources. Applies inbound and outbound traffic filtering rules. Built-in high availability. Unrestricted cloud scalability. Uses Azure Monitor logging. Azure Application Gateway also provides a firewall, Web Application Firewall (WAF). WAF provides centralized, inbound protection for your web applications.
You can centrally create, enforce, and log application and network connectivity policies across subscriptions and virtual networks. Azure Firewall uses a static public IP address for your virtual network resources allowing outside firewalls to identify traffic originating from your virtual network.
Protect inbound protection at the perimeter:
- Azure Firewall
- Azure Application Gateway is a load balancer that includes a Web Application Firewall (WAF) that provides protection from common, known vulnerabilities in websites. It is designed to protect HTTP traffic.
- Network virtual appliances (NVAs) are ideal options for non-HTTP services or advanced configurations, and are similar to hardware firewall appliances.
Azure DDOS Protection:
A DDoS attack attempts to exhaust an application’s resources, making the application unavailable to legitimate users. DDoS attacks can be targeted at any endpoint that is publicly reachable through the internet. Azure DDoS protection, combined with application design best practices, provide defense against DDoS attacks.
Azure Network Security Groups:
Network Security Groups allow you to filter network traffic to and from Azure resources in an Azure virtual network. An NSG can contain multiple inbound and outbound security rules that enable you to filter traffic to and from resources by source and destination IP address, port, and protocol. They provide a list of allowed and denied communication to and from network interfaces and subnets, and are fully customizable.
You can completely remove public internet access to your services by restricting access to service endpoints. With service endpoints, Azure service access can be limited to your virtual network.
A network security group, or NSG, allows or denies inbound network traffic to your Azure resources.
Note: If you have 2 NSG rules one to allow a port and other rule to deny the same port, rule with low priority wins.
Example, Lets say you have One rule with 300 priority to allow 3389, and other rule with 310 priority number to deny 3389. When processing NSG rules, rules for 3389 port are checked. It already got 300 priority rule which allows 3389. It stops processing all further rules for that port. Normally Deny wins. But in Azure, rules are processed as per priority number
What is the difference between Network Security Groups (NSGs) and Azure Firewall?
The Azure Firewall service complements network security group functionality. Together, they provide better “defense-in-depth” network security. Network security groups provide distributed network layer traffic filtering to limit traffic to resources within virtual networks in each subscription. Azure Firewall is a fully stateful, centralized network firewall as-a-service, which provides network- and application-level protection across different subscriptions and virtual networks.
Azure security groups is a feature of VNet that describes firewall rules on the subnets in Azure. Azure firewall is a product for your transit VNet to secure traffic to Azure, across subscriptions and VNets.
You can combine multiple azure services for better protection like:
- NSGs and Azure Firewall
- App Gateway Web Application Firewall and Azure Firewall
You can use Azure Firewall to protect inbound and outbound traffic to the Internet, and Network Security Groups to limit traffic to resources inside your virtual networks.
Application Security Group:
An application security group allows you to logically group a number of virtual machine NICs from the same virtual network and apply a network security group (NSG) rule to them. Application security groups enable you to configure network security as a natural extension of an application’s structure, allowing you to group virtual machines and define network security policies based on those groups. You can reuse your security policy at scale without manual maintenance of explicit IP addresses. The platform handles the complexity of explicit IP addresses and multiple rule sets, allowing you to focus on your business logic.
A layered approach to security
Defense in depth is a strategy that employs a series of mechanisms to slow the advance of an attack aimed at acquiring unauthorized access to information. Each layer provides protection so that if one layer is breached, a subsequent layer is already in place to prevent further exposure. Microsoft applies a layered approach to security, both in physical data centers and across Azure services. The objective of defense in depth is to protect and prevent information from being stolen by individuals who are not authorized to access it.
Defense in depth can be visualized as a set of concentric rings, with the data to be secured at the center. Each ring adds an additional layer of security around the data. This approach removes reliance on any single layer of protection and acts to slow down an attack and provide alert telemetry that can be acted upon, either automatically or manually.
Azure Active Directory:
Two fundamental concepts that need to be understood when talking about identity and access control are authentication and authorization.
- Authentication is the process of establishing the identity of a person or service looking to access a resource. It involves the act of challenging a party for legitimate credentials, and provides the basis for creating a security principal for identity and access control use. It establishes if they are who they say they are.
- Authorization is the process of establishing what level of access an authenticated person or service has. It specifies what data they’re allowed to access and what they can do with it.
Azure account is a globally unique entity that gives you access to your Azure subscriptions and services. Authentication for your account is performed using Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Azure AD is a modern identity provider that supports multiple authentication protocols to secure applications and services in the cloud.
Azure AD is not the same as Windows Active Directory. Windows Active Directory is focused on securing Windows desktops and servers. In contrast, Azure AD is all about web-based authentication standards such as OpenID and OAuth.
Azure AD is a cloud-based identity service. It has built in support for synchronizing with your existing on-premises Active Directory or can be used stand-alone. This means that all your applications, whether on-premises, in the cloud (including Office 365), or even mobile can share the same credentials. Administrators and developers can control access to internal and external data and applications using centralized rules and policies configured in Azure AD.
Azure AD provides services such as:
- Authentication. This includes verifying identity to access applications and resources, and providing functionality such as self-service password reset, multi-factor authentication (MFA), a custom banned password list, and smart lockout services.
- Single-Sign-On (SSO). SSO enables users to remember only one ID and one password to access multiple applications. A single identity is tied to a user, simplifying the security model. As users change roles or leave an organization, access modifications are tied to that identity, greatly reducing the effort needed to change or disable accounts.
- Application management. You can manage your cloud and on-premises apps using Azure AD Application Proxy, SSO, the My apps portal (also referred to as Access panel), and SaaS apps.
- Business to business (B2B) identity services. Manage your guest users and external partners while maintaining control over your own corporate data.
- Business-to-Customer (B2C) identity services. Customize and control how users sign up, sign in, and manage their profiles when using your apps with services.
- Device Management. Manage how your cloud or on-premises devices access your corporate data.
Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) business-to-business (B2B) collaboration lets you securely share your company’s applications and services with guest users from any other organization, while maintaining control over your own corporate data. Work safely and securely with external partners, large or small, even if they don’t have Azure AD or an IT department. A simple invitation and redemption process lets partners use their own credentials to access your company’s resources. Developers can use Azure AD business-to-business APIs to customize the invitation process or write applications like self-service sign-up portals.
Azure Active Directory B2C provides business-to-customer identity as a service. Your customers use their preferred social, enterprise, or local account identities to get single sign-on access to your applications and APIs. Azure Active Directory B2C (Azure AD B2C) is a customer identity access management (CIAM) solution capable of supporting millions of users and billions of authentications per day. It takes care of the scaling and safety of the authentication platform, monitoring and automatically handling threats like denial-of-service, password spray, or brute force attacks.
Azure tenant is a directory, subscription is an object that represents a “folder” that you can put resources in. Subscriptions are tied to tenants. so one tenant can have many subscriptions, but not vice versa.
Users, applications, and other entities registered in Azure AD aren’t all lumped into a single global service. Instead, Azure AD is partitioned into separate tenants. A tenant is a dedicated, isolated instance of the Azure Active Directory service, owned and managed by an organization (a specific organization’s Active Directory instance is known as an “Active Directory Tenant”). When you sign up for a Microsoft cloud service subscription such as Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Intune, or Office 365, a dedicated instance of Azure AD is automatically created for your organization.
When it comes to Azure AD tenants, there is no concrete definition of “organization” — tenants can be owned by individuals, teams, companies, or any other group of people. Tenants are commonly associated with companies. If you sign up for Azure with an email address that’s not associated with an existing tenant, the sign-up process will walk you through creating a tenant, owned entirely by you.
In Office 365 or Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), a tenant is representative of an organization. It is a dedicated instance of the Azure AD service that an organization receives and owns when it creates a relationship with Microsoft, such as by signing up for a Microsoft cloud service like Azure, Microsoft Intune, or Office 365. Each Azure AD tenant is distinct, unique and separate from other Azure AD tenants.
Tenant is where your Azure AD lives. You logon to tenant to access your subscriptions.
A tenant name cannot be changed, so choose your name wisely. A tenant houses the users in a company and the information about them—their passwords, user profile data, permissions, and so on. It also contains groups, applications, and other information pertaining to an organization and its security.
Identity, Principal, Service Principal:
To understand service principals, it’s useful to first understand the words identity and principal, because of how they are used in the identity management world.
An identity is just a thing that can be authenticated. Obviously, this includes users with a user name and password, but it can also include applications or other servers, which might authenticate with secret keys or certificates.
A principal is an identity acting with certain roles or claims. Usually, it is not useful to consider identity and principal separately, but think of using ‘sudo’ on a Bash prompt in Linux or on Windows using “run as Administrator.” In both those cases, you are still logged in as the same identity as before, but you’ve changed the role under which you are executing. Groups are often also considered principals because they can have rights assigned.
A service principal is an identity that is used by a service or application. And like other identities, it can be assigned roles.
What is an Azure account?
An Azure account is tied to a specific identity and holds information like:
- Name, email, and contact preferences
- Billing information such as a credit card
An Azure account is what you use to sign in to the Azure website and administer or deploy services. Every Azure account is associated with one or more subscriptions.
What is an Azure subscription?
An Azure subscription is a logical container used to provision resources in Microsoft Azure. It holds the details of all your resources like virtual machines, databases and more. Each subscription has separate billing. This subscription is useful if you want to separate costs for different teams like development, e-commerce etc.
When you signed up to try out Azure, you create at least one subscription to get started. Every resource that is deployed must be associated with only one subscription so that billing for that item can be processed.
When you sign up, an Azure subscription is created by default. When you create an Azure resource like a VM, you identify the subscription it belongs to. As you use the VM, the usage of the VM is aggregated and billed monthly. Billing is separate for different subscriptions.
Azure offers free and paid subscription options to suit different needs and requirements. The most commonly used subscriptions are:
- Free - An Azure free subscription includes a $200 credit to spend on any service for the first 30 days, free access to the most popular Azure products for 12 months, and access to more than 25 products that are always free.
- Pay-As-You-Go - A Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) subscription charges you monthly for the services you used in that billing period. This subscription type is appropriate for a wide range of users, from individuals to small businesses, and many large organizations as well.
- Enterprise Agreement - An Enterprise Agreement provides flexibility to buy cloud services and software licenses under one agreement, with discounts for new licenses and Software Assurance. It’s targeted at enterprise-scale organizations.
- Student - An Azure for Students subscription includes $100 in Azure credits to be used within the first 12 months plus select free services without requiring a credit card at sign-up. You must verify your student status through your organizational email address.
Using multiple azure subscriptions:
You can create multiple subscriptions under a single Azure account. This is particularly useful for businesses because access control and billing occur at the subscription level, not the account level.
You can create separate subscriptions on your Azure account to reflect different organizational structures. For example, you could limit engineering to lower-cost resources, while allowing the IT department a full range. This design allows you to manage and control access to the resources that users provision within each subscription.
Subscriptions are also bound to some hard limitations. For example, the maximum number of Express Route circuits per subscription is 10. Those limits should be considered as you create subscriptions on your account. If there is a need to go over those limits in particular scenarios, then additional subscriptions may be needed.
One bill is generated for every Azure subscription on a monthly basis. The payment is charged automatically to the associated account credit or debit card within 10 days after the billing period ends. On your credit card statement, the line item would say MSFT Azure.
Subscriptions are billed independently, but the account owner is responsible for payment. In the case of “Pay-as-you-go” subscriptions, the account credit card will be charged for all associated subscriptions.
If your organization has many subscriptions, you may need a way to efficiently manage access, policies, and compliance for those subscriptions. Azure management groups provide a level of scope above subscriptions. You organize subscriptions into containers called “management groups” and apply your governance conditions to the management groups. All subscriptions within a management group automatically inherit the conditions applied to the management group. Management groups give you enterprise-grade management at a large scale no matter what type of subscriptions you might have.
Azure Management Groups are containers for managing access, policies, and compliance across multiple Azure subscriptions. Management groups allow you to order your Azure resources hierarchically into collections, which provide a further level of classification that is above the level of subscriptions. All subscriptions within a management group automatically inherit the conditions applied to the management group. Management groups give you enterprise-grade management at a large scale no matter what type of subscriptions you might have.
For example, you can apply policies to a management group that limits the regions available for virtual machine (VM) creation. This policy would be applied to all management groups, subscriptions, and resources under that management group by only allowing VMs to be created in that region.
Another scenario where you would use management groups is to provide user access to multiple subscriptions. By moving many subscriptions under that management group, you can create one role-based access control (RBAC) assignment on the management group that will allow that access to all the subscriptions. One assignment on the management group can enable users to have access to everything they need instead of scripting RBAC rules over different subscriptions.
You can manage your Azure subscriptions more effectively by using Azure Policy and Azure role-based access controls (RBACs). These provide distinct governance conditions that you can apply to each management group. The resources and subscriptions you assign to a management group automatically inherit the conditions that you apply to that management group.
Along with a normal username and password, users are prompted to enter an additional MFA challenge to be completed in order to login to the application or a system. MFA delivers strong authentication via a range of easy verification options—a phone call, text message, or mobile app notification and one-time passwords—allowing users to choose the method they prefer. It can be used both on-premises and in the cloud to add security for accessing Microsoft online services, Azure Active Directory-connected SaaS applications, line of business applications, and remote access applications. In order to complete the authentication, you are requested to enter a username, password, and an MFA token. This completes the whole authentication process.
MFA works by requiring two or more of the following authentication methods:
- Something you know (typically a password)
- Something you have (a trusted device that is not easily duplicated, like a phone)
- Something you are (biometrics)
What is Encryption?
Encryption is the process of making data unreadable and unusable to unauthorized viewers. To use or read the encrypted data, it must be decrypted, which requires the use of a secret key. There are two top-level types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric.
Symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the data. Consider a desktop password manager application. You enter your passwords and they are encrypted with your own personal key (your key is often derived from your master password). When the data needs to be retrieved, the same key is used, and the data is decrypted.
Asymmetric encryption uses a public key and private key pair. Either key can encrypt but a single key can’t decrypt its own encrypted data. To decrypt, you need the paired key. Asymmetric encryption is used for things like Transport Layer Security (TLS) (used in HTTPS) and data signing.
Both symmetric and asymmetric encryption play a role in properly securing your data. Encryption is typically approached in two ways:
- Encryption at rest
- Encryption in transit
Encryption at rest
Data at rest is the data that has been stored on a physical medium. This data could be stored on the disk of a server, data stored in a database, or data stored in a storage account. Regardless of the storage mechanism, encryption of data at rest ensures that the stored data is unreadable without the keys and secrets needed to decrypt it. If an attacker was to obtain a hard drive with encrypted data and did not have access to the encryption keys, the attacker would not compromise the data without great difficulty.
The actual data that is encrypted could vary in its content, usage, and importance to the organization. This financial information could be critical to the business, intellectual property that has been developed by the business, personal data about customers or employees that the business stores, and even the keys and secrets used for the encryption of the data itself.
Encryption in transit
Data in transit is the data actively moving from one location to another, such as across the internet or through a private network. Secure transfer can be handled by several different layers. It could be done by encrypting the data at the application layer prior to sending it over a network. HTTPS is an example of application layer in transit encryption. You can also set up a secure channel, like a virtual private network (VPN), at a network layer, to transmit data between two systems. Encrypting data in transit protects the data from outside observers and provides a mechanism to transmit data while limiting risk of exposure.
Azure Storage Service Encryption for data at rest helps you protect your data to meet your organizational security and compliance commitments. With this feature, the Azure storage platform automatically encrypts your data before persisting it to Azure Managed Disks, Azure Blob storage, Azure Files, or Azure Queue storage, and decrypts the data before retrieval. The handling of encryption, encryption at rest, decryption, and key management in Storage Service Encryption is transparent to applications using the services.
Azure Disk Encryption is a capability that helps you encrypt your Windows and Linux IaaS virtual machine disks. Azure Disk Encryption leverages the industry-standard BitLocker feature of Windows and the dm-crypt feature of Linux to provide volume encryption for the OS and data disks. The solution is integrated with Azure Key Vault to help you control and manage the disk encryption keys and secrets (and you can use managed service identities for accessing Key Vault).
Azure Key Vault:
Cloud applications and services use cryptographic keys and secrets to help keep information secure. Azure Key Vault safeguards these keys and secrets. When you use Key Vault, you can encrypt authentication keys, storage account keys, data encryption keys, .pfx files, and passwords by using keys that are protected by hardware security modules (HSMs).
Key Vault helps solve the following problems:
- Secrets management. You can use Key Vault to securely store and tightly control access to tokens, passwords, certificates, Application Programming Interface (API) keys, and other secrets.
- Key management. You also can use Key Vault as a key management solution. Key Vault makes it easier to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt your data.
- Certificate management. Key Vault lets you provision, manage, and deploy your public and private Secure Sockets Layer/ Transport Layer Security (SSL/ TLS) certificates for your Azure, and internally connected, resources more easily.
- Store secrets backed by hardware security modules (HSMs). The secrets and keys can be protected either by software, or by FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated HSMs.
The benefits of using Key Vault include:
- Centralized application secrets. Centralizing storage for application secrets allows you to control their distribution, and reduces the chances that secrets may be accidentally leaked.
- Securely stored secrets and keys. Azure uses industry-standard algorithms, key lengths, and HSMs, and access requires proper authentication and authorization.
- Monitor access and use. Using Key Vault, you can monitor and control access to company secrets.
- Simplified administration of application secrets. Key Vault makes it easier to enroll and renew certificates from public Certificate Authorities (CAs). You can also scale up and replicate content within regions, and use standard certificate management tools.
- Integrate with other Azure services. You can integrate Key Vault with storage accounts, container registries, event hubs, and many more Azure services.
Azure Security Center:
Security Center is a monitoring service that provides threat protection across all of your services both in Azure, and on-premises. Security Center can:
- Provide security recommendations based on your configurations, resources, and networks.
- Monitor security settings across on-premises and cloud workloads, and automatically apply required security to new services as they come online.
- Continuously monitor all your services, and perform automatic security assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
- Use machine learning to detect and block malware from being installed on your virtual machines and services. You can also define a list of allowed applications to ensure that only the apps you validate are allowed to execute.
- Analyze and identify potential inbound attacks, and help to investigate threats and any post-breach activity that might have occurred.
- Provide just-in-time access control for ports, reducing your attack surface by ensuring the network only allows traffic that you require.
Azure Security Center is part of the Center for Internet Security (CIS) recommendations.
Azure Security Center is available in two tiers:
- Free. Available as part of your Azure subscription, this tier is limited to assessments and recommendations of Azure resources only.
- Standard. This tier provides a full suite of security-related services including continuous monitoring, threat detection, just-in-time access control for ports, and more.
To access the full suite of Azure Security Center services, you will need to upgrade to a Standard tier subscription. You can access the 30-day free trial from within the Azure Security Center dashboard in the Azure portal. After the 30-day trial period is over, Azure Security Center is $15 per node per month.
Azure Information Protection:
Azure Information Protection (sometimes referred to as AIP) is a cloud-based solution that helps an organization to classify and optionally, protect its documents and emails by applying labels. Labels can be applied automatically by administrators who define rules and conditions, manually by users, or a combination where users are given recommendations. After your content is classified (and optionally protected), you can then track and control how it is used.
Azure Advanced Threat Protection (Azure ATP):
Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a cloud-based security solution that leverages your on-premises Active Directory signals to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions directed at your organization.
Azure Advanced Threat Protection (Azure ATP) is a cloud-based security solution that identifies, detects, and helps you investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions directed at your organization.
Azure ATP monitors your domain controllers by capturing and parsing network traffic and leveraging Windows events directly from your domain controllers then analyzes the data for attacks and threats. Utilizing profiling, deterministic detection, machine learning, and behavioral algorithms Azure ATP learns about your network, enables detection of anomalies, and warns you of suspicious activities.
Azure ATP Components
Azure ATP consists of the following components:
- Azure ATP portal The Azure ATP portal (https://portal.atp.azure.com) allows the creation of your Azure ATP instance, displays the data received from Azure ATP sensors, and enables you to monitor, manage, and investigate threats in your network environment.
- Azure ATP sensor Azure ATP sensors are installed directly on your domain controllers. The sensor directly monitors domain controller traffic, without the need for a dedicated server, or configuration of port mirroring.
- Azure ATP cloud service Azure ATP cloud service runs on Azure infrastructure and is currently deployed in the US, Europe, and Asia. Azure ATP cloud service is connected to Microsoft’s intelligent security graph.
Azure Policy is an Azure service you use to create, assign and, manage policies. These policies enforce different rules and effects over your resources so that those resources stay compliant with your corporate standards and service level agreements. Azure Policy meets this need by evaluating your resources for noncompliance with assigned policies. For example, you might have a policy that allows virtual machines of only a certain size in your environment. After this policy is implemented, new and existing resources are evaluated for compliance. With the right type of policy, existing resources can be brought into compliance.
Policies can enforce things such as only allowing specific types of resources to be created, or only allowing resources in specific Azure regions. You can enforce naming conventions across your Azure environment. You can also enforce that specific tags are applied to resources. You’ll take a look at how policies work.
Imagine we allow anyone in our organization to create virtual machines (VMs). We want to control costs, so the administrator of our Azure tenant defines a policy that prohibits the creation of any VM with more than 4 CPUs. Once the policy is implemented, Azure Policy will stop anyone from creating a new VM outside the list of allowed stock keeping units (SKUs). Also, if you try to update an existing VM, it will be checked against policy. Finally, Azure Policy will audit all the existing VMs in our organization to ensure our policy is enforced. It can audit non-compliant resources, alter the resource properties, or stop the resource from being created. You can even integrate Azure Policy with Azure DevOps, by applying any continuous integration and delivery pipeline policies that affect the pre-deployment and post-deployment of your applications. All data stored by Azure Policy is encrypted at rest.
The process of creating and implementing an Azure Policy begins with creating a policy definition. Every policy definition has conditions under which it is enforced. And, it has an accompanying effect that takes place if the conditions are met. To apply a policy, you will:
- Create a policy definition
- Assign a definition to a scope of resources
- View policy evaluation results
What is a policy definition?
A policy definition expresses what to evaluate and what action to take. For example, you could ensure all public websites are secured with HTTPS, prevent a particular storage type from being created, or force a specific version of SQL Server to be used.
In Azure Policy, several built-in policies that are available by default. For example:
- Require SQL Server 12.0: Validates that all SQL servers use version 12.0. Its effect is to deny all servers that don’t meet these criteria.
- Allowed Storage Account SKUs: Determines if a storage account being deployed is within a set of SKU sizes. Its effect is to deny all storage accounts that don’t adhere to the set of defined SKU sizes.
- Allowed Resource Type: Defines the resource types that you can deploy. Its effect is to deny all resources that aren’t part of this defined list.
- Allowed Locations: Restricts the available locations for new resources. Its effect is used to enforce your geo-compliance requirements.
- Allowed Virtual Machine SKUs: Specifies a set of virtual machine SKUs that you can deploy.
- Apply tag and its default value: Applies a required tag and its default value if it’s not specified by the deploy request.
- Enforce tag and its value: Enforces a required tag and its value to a resource.
- Not allowed resource types: Prevents a list of resource types from being deployed.
You could use policy to restrict which Azure regions you can deploy resources to. For organizations that are heavily regulated or have legal or regulatory restrictions on where data can reside, policies help to ensure that resources aren’t provisioned in geographic areas that would go against these requirements.
You could use policy to restrict which types of virtual machine sizes can be deployed. You may want to allow large VM sizes in your production subscriptions, but maybe you’d like to ensure that you keep costs minimized in your dev subscriptions. By denying the large VM sizes through policy in your dev subscriptions, you can ensure they don’t get deployed in these environments.
You could also use policy to enforce naming conventions. If our organization has standardized on specific naming conventions, using policy to enforce the conventions helps us to keep a consistent naming standard across our Azure resources.
To implement these policy definitions (both built-in and custom definitions), you’ll need to assign them. You can assign any of these policies through the Azure portal, PowerShell, or Azure CLI.
Assign a definition to a scope of resources
Once you’ve defined one or more policy definitions, you’ll need to assign them. A policy assignment is a policy definition that has been assigned to take place within a specific scope.
This scope could range from a full subscription down to a resource group. Policy assignments are inherited by all child resources. This inheritance means that if a policy is applied to a resource group, it is applied to all the resources within that resource group. However, you can exclude a subscope from the policy assignment. For example, we could enforce a policy for an entire subscription and then exclude a few select resource groups.
Requests to create or update a resource through Azure Resource Manager are evaluated by Azure Policy first. Policy creates a list of all assignments that apply to the resource and then evaluates the resource against each definition. Policy processes several of the effects before handing the request to the appropriate Resource Provider to avoid any unnecessary processing if the resource violates policy.
Each policy definition in Azure Policy has a single effect. That effect determines what happens when the associated policy rule is matched. When that happens, Azure Policy will take a specific action based on the assigned effect.
Azure Policy can allow a resource to be created even if it doesn’t pass validation. In these cases, you can have it trigger an audit event that can be viewed in the Azure Policy portal, or through command-line tools. The easiest approach is in the portal as it provides a nice graphical overview that you can explore. You can find the Azure Policy section through the search field or All Services.
How are Azure Policy and RBAC different?
At first glance, it might seem like Azure Policy is a way to restrict access to specific resource types similar to role-based access control (RBAC). However, they solve different problems. RBAC focuses on user actions at different scopes. You might be added to the contributor role for a resource group, allowing you to make changes to anything in that resource group. Azure Policy focuses on resource properties during deployment and for already-existing resources. Azure Policy controls properties such as the types or locations of resources. Unlike RBAC, Azure Policy is a default-allow-and-explicit-deny system.
Initiatives work alongside policies in Azure Policy. An initiative definition is a set or group of policy definitions to help track your compliance state for a larger goal. Even if you have a single policy, we recommend using initiatives if you anticipate increasing the number of policies over time.
Like a policy assignment, an initiative assignment is an initiative definition assigned to a specific scope. Initiative assignments reduce the need to make several initiative definitions for each scope. This scope could also range from a management group to a resource group.
Once defined, initiatives can be assigned just as policies can - and they apply all the associated policy definitions.
Under this initiative, you would have policy definitions such as:
- Monitor unencrypted SQL Database in Security Center – For monitoring unencrypted SQL databases and servers.
- Monitor OS vulnerabilities in Security Center – For monitoring servers that don’t satisfy the configured baseline.
- Monitor missing Endpoint Protection in Security Center – For monitoring servers without an installed endpoint protection agent.
Initiative definitions simplify the process of managing and assigning policy definitions by grouping a set of policies into a single item. For example, you could create an initiative named Enable Monitoring in Azure Security Center, with a goal to monitor all the available security recommendations in your Azure Security Center.
Like a policy assignment, an initiative assignment is an initiative definition assigned to a specific scope. Initiative assignments reduce the need to make several initiative definitions for each scope. This scope could also range from a management group to an individual resource.
Each initiative is assignable to different scopes. One initiative can be assigned to both subscriptionA and subscriptionB.
Azure Role Based access control:
Role-based access control (RBAC) helps you manage who has access to Azure resources, what they can do with those resources, and what areas they have access to. RBAC provides access to azure resources, enabling you to grant rights to users they need to complete their jobs. RBAC is considered a core service and is included with all subscription levels at no cost.
Here are some examples of what you can do with RBAC:
- Allow one user to manage virtual machines in a subscription and another user to manage virtual networks
- Allow a DBA group to manage SQL databases in a subscription
- Allow a user to manage all resources in a resource group, such as virtual machines, websites, and subnets
- Allow an application to access all resources in a resource group
Using RBAC, you can segregate duties within your team and grant only the amount of access to users that they need to perform their jobs. Instead of giving everybody unrestricted permissions in your Azure subscription or resources, you can allow only certain actions at a particular scope. When planning your access control strategy, it’s a best practice to grant users the least privilege to get their work done.
Best Practices for RBAC
Here are some best practices you should use when setting up resources.
- Segregate duties within your team and grant only the amount of access to users that they need to perform their jobs. Instead of giving everybody unrestricted permissions in your Azure subscription or resources, allow only specific actions at a particular scope.
- When planning your access control strategy, grant users the lowest privilege level that they need to do their work.
- Use Resource Locks to ensure critical resources aren’t modified or deleted
Resource locks are a setting that can be applied to any resource to block modification or deletion. Resource locks can set to either Delete or Read-only. Delete will allow all operations against the resource but block the ability to delete it. Read-only will only allow read activities to be performed against it, blocking any modification or deletion of the resource. Resource locks can be applied to subscriptions, resource groups, and to individual resources, and are inherited when applied at higher levels.
Note: Applying Read-only can lead to unexpected results because some operations that seem like read operations actually require additional actions. For example, placing a Read-only lock on a storage account prevents all users from listing the keys. The list keys operation is handled through a POST request because the returned keys are available for write operations.
When a resource lock is applied, you must first remove the lock in order to perform that activity. By putting an additional step in place before allowing the action to be taken on the resource, it helps protect resources from inadvertent actions, and helps protect your administrators from doing something they may not have intended to do. Resource locks apply regardless of RBAC permissions. Even if you are an owner of the resource, you must still remove the lock before you’ll actually be able to perform the blocked activity.
As an administrator, you may need to lock a subscription, resource group, or resource to prevent other users in your organization from accidentally deleting or modifying critical resources. You can set the lock level to CanNotDelete or ReadOnly. In the portal, the locks are called Delete and Read-only respectively.
- CanNotDelete means authorized users can still read and modify a resource, but they can’t delete the resource.
- ReadOnly means authorized users can read a resource, but they can’t delete or update the resource. Applying this lock is similar to restricting all authorized users to the permissions granted by the Reader role.
When you apply a lock at a parent scope, all resources within that scope inherit the same lock. Even resources you add later inherit the lock from the parent. The most restrictive lock in the inheritance takes precedence.
Note: If resource is locked, you have to remove the lock and then you can delete that resource. If resource like a VM is read only, that read only applies from Azure end. User can still login to VM and make changes inside the VM. Only from Azure end, he cant delete, start or stop that vm.
Just as a blueprint allows an engineer or an architect to sketch a project’s design parameters, Azure Blueprints enables cloud architects and central information technology groups to define a repeatable set of Azure resources that implements and adheres to an organization’s standards, patterns, and requirements. Azure Blueprints makes it possible for development teams to rapidly build and stand up new environments with trust they’re building within organizational compliance with a set of built-in components – such as networking – to speed up development and delivery.
Create reusable environment definitions that can recreate your Azure resources and apply your policies instantly
Azure Blueprints is a declarative way to orchestrate the deployment of various resource templates and other artifacts, such as:
- Role assignments
- Policy assignments
- Azure Resource Manager templates
- Resource groups
The process of implementing Azure Blueprint consists of the following high-level steps:
- Create an Azure Blueprint
- Assign the blueprint
- Track the blueprint assignments
With Azure Blueprint, the relationship between the blueprint definition (what should be deployed) and the blueprint assignment (what was deployed) is preserved. This connection supports improved deployment tracking and auditing.
The Azure Blueprints service is backed by the globally distributed Azure Cosmos database. Blueprint objects are replicated to multiple Azure regions. This replication provides low latency, high availability, and consistent access to your blueprint objects, regardless of which region Blueprints deploys your resources to.
How it’s different from Resource Manager templates
The service is designed to help with environment setup. This setup often consists of a set of resource groups, policies, role assignments, and Resource Manager template deployments. A blueprint is a package to bring each of these artifact types together and allow you to compose and version that package – including through a CI/CD pipeline. Ultimately, each is assigned to a subscription in a single operation that can be audited and tracked.
Nearly everything that you want to include for deployment in Azure Blueprints can be accomplished with a Resource Manager template. However, a Resource Manager template is a document that doesn’t exist natively in Azure – each is stored either locally or in source control. The template gets used for deployments of one or more Azure resources, but once those resources deploy there’s no active connection or relationship to the template.
With Azure Blueprints, the relationship between the blueprint definition (what should be deployed) and the blueprint assignment (what was deployed) is preserved. This connection supports improved tracking and auditing of deployments. Azure Blueprints can also upgrade several subscriptions at once that are governed by the same blueprint.
There’s no need to choose between a Resource Manager template and a blueprint. Each blueprint can consist of zero or more Resource Manager template artifacts. This support means that previous efforts to develop and maintain a library of Resource Manager templates are reusable in Azure Blueprints.
Checkout Azure Blueprint demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxmuPblsleM
How it’s different from Azure Policy
A blueprint is a package or container for composing focus-specific sets of standards, patterns, and requirements related to the implementation of Azure cloud services, security, and design that can be reused to maintain consistency and compliance.
A policy is a default allow and explicit deny system focused on resource properties during deployment and for already existing resources. It supports cloud governance by validating that resources within a subscription adhere to requirements and standards.
Including a policy in a blueprint enables the creation of the right pattern or design during assignment of the blueprint. The policy inclusion makes sure that only approved or expected changes can be made to the environment to protect ongoing compliance to the intent of the blueprint.
A policy can be included as one of many artifacts in a blueprint definition. Blueprints also support using parameters with policies and initiatives.
A blueprint is made up of artifacts. Azure Blueprints currently supports the following resources as artifacts:
|Resource Groups||Subscription||Create a new resource group for use by other artifacts within the blueprint. These placeholder resource groups enable you to organize resources exactly the way you want them structured and provides a scope limiter for included policy and role assignment artifacts and Azure Resource Manager templates.|
|Azure Resource Manager template||Subscription, Resource Group||Templates, including nested and linked templates, are used to compose complex environments. Example environments: a SharePoint farm, Azure Automation State Configuration, or a Log Analytics workspace.|
|Policy Assignment||Subscription, Resource Group||Allows assignment of a policy or initiative to the subscription the blueprint is assigned to. The policy or initiative must be within the scope of the blueprint definition location. If the policy or initiative has parameters, these parameters are assigned at creation of the blueprint or during blueprint assignment.|
|Role Assignment||Subscription, Resource Group||Add an existing user or group to a built-in role to make sure the right people always have the right access to your resources. Role assignments can be defined for the entire subscription or nested to a specific resource group included in the blueprint.|
Azure Monitor maximizes the availability and performance of your applications by delivering a comprehensive solution for collecting, analyzing, and acting on telemetry from your cloud and on-premises environments. It helps you understand how your applications are performing and proactively identifies issues affecting them and the resources they depend on. Azure monitor starts collecting data as soon as you create azure subscription and start adding resources. Activity logs record when resources are created or modified and metrics display how the resource is performing.
As soon as you create an Azure subscription and start adding resources such as virtual machines and web apps, Azure Monitor starts collecting data. Activity Logs record when resources are created or modified and Metrics tell you how the resource is performing and the resources that it’s consuming.
You can extend the data you’re collecting into the actual operation of the resources by enabling diagnostics and adding an agent to compute resources. Under resource settings, you can enable Diagnostics
- Enable guest-level monitoring
- Performance counters: collect performance data
- Event Logs: enable various event logs
- Crash Dumps: enable or disable
- Sinks: send your diagnostic data to other services for more analysis
- Agent: configure agent settings
Application Insights is a service that monitors the availability, performance, and usage of your web applications, whether they’re hosted in the cloud or on-premises. It leverages the powerful data analysis platform in Log Analytics to provide you with deeper insights into your application’s operations. Application Insights can diagnose errors without waiting for a user to report them. Application Insights includes connection points to a variety of development tools, and integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio to support your DevOps processes.
Azure Monitor for containers is a service that is designed to monitor the performance of container workloads, which are deployed to managed Kubernetes clusters, hosted on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). It gives you performance visibility by collecting memory and processor metrics from controllers, nodes, and containers, which are available in Kubernetes through the metrics API. Container logs are also collected.
Azure Monitor for VMs is a service that monitors your Azure VMs at scale, by analyzing the performance and health of your Windows and Linux VMs (including their different processes and interconnected dependencies on other resources, and external processes). Azure Monitor for VMs includes support for monitoring performance and application dependencies for VMs hosted on-premises, and for VMs hosted with other cloud providers.
Integrating any, or all, of these monitoring services with Azure Service Health has additional benefits. Staying informed of the health status of Azure services will help you understand if, and when, an issue affecting an Azure service is impacting your environment. What may seem like a localized problem could be the result of a more widespread issue, and Azure Service Health provides this kind of insight. Azure Service Health identifies any issues with Azure services that might affect your application. Azure Service Health also helps you to plan for scheduled maintenance.
Responding to alert conditions
In addition to allowing you to analyze your monitoring data interactively, an effective monitoring solution must respond proactively to any critical conditions that are identified within the data it collects. This might involve, for example, sending a text or email to an administrator who is responsible for investigating an issue, or launching an automated process that attempts to correct an error condition.
Alerts. Azure Monitor proactively notifies you of critical conditions using alerts, and can potentially attempt to take corrective actions. Alert rules based on metrics can provide alerts in almost real-time, based on numeric values. Alert rules based on logs allow for complex logic across data, from multiple sources.
Autoscale. Azure Monitor uses Autoscale to ensure that you have the right amount of resources running to manage the load on your application effectively. Autoscale enables you to create rules that use metrics, collected by Azure Monitor, to determine when to automatically add resources to handle increases in load. Autoscale can also help reduce your Azure costs by removing resources that are not being used. You can specify a minimum and maximum number of instances, and provide the logic that determines when Autoscale should increase or decrease resources.
Azure Service Health:
Azure Service Health is a suite of experiences that provide personalized guidance and support when issues in Azure services affect you. Azure Service Health can notify you, help you understand the effect of an issue, and keep you updated as the issue resolves. Azure Service Health also can help you prepare for planned maintenance and changes that could affect the availability of your resources.
Azure Service Health is composed of:
- Azure Status provides a global view of the health state of Azure services. With Azure Status, you can get up-to-the-minute information on service availability. Everyone has access to Azure Status and can view all services that report their health state.
- Service Health provides you with a customizable dashboard that tracks the state of your Azure services in the regions where you use them. In this dashboard, you can track active events such as ongoing service issues, upcoming planned maintenance, or relevant Health advisories. When events become inactive, they are placed in your Health history for up to 90 days. Finally, you can use the Service Health dashboard to create and manage service Health alerts, which notify you whenever there are service issues that affect you.
- Resource Health helps you diagnose and obtain support when an Azure service issue affects your resources. It provides you with details about the current and past state of your resources. It also provides technical support to help you mitigate problems. In contrast to Azure Status, which informs you about service problems that affect a broad set of Azure customers, Resource Health gives you a personalized dashboard of your resources’ health. Resource Health shows you times, in the past, when your resources were unavailable because of Azure service problems. It’s then easier for you to understand if an SLA was violated.
Microsoft Privacy Statement
The Microsoft privacy statement explains what personal data Microsoft processes, how Microsoft processes it, and for what purposes.
The statement applies to the interactions Microsoft has with you and Microsoft products such as Microsoft services, websites, apps, software, servers, and devices. It is intended to provide openness and honesty about how Microsoft deals with personal data in its products and services.
Azure Trust Center:
Trust Center is a website resource containing information and details about how Microsoft implements and supports security, privacy, compliance, and transparency in all Microsoft cloud products and services. Trust Center is an important part of the Microsoft Trusted Cloud Initiative, and provides support and resources for the legal and compliance community including:
- In-depth information about security, privacy, compliance offerings, policies, features, and practices across Microsoft cloud products.
- Recommended resources in the form of a curated list of the most applicable and widely used resources for each topic.
- Information specific to key organizational roles, including business managers, tenant admins or data security teams, risk assessment and privacy officers, and legal compliance teams.
- Cross-company document search, which is coming soon and will enable existing cloud service customers to search the Service Trust Portal.
- Direct guidance and support for when you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Azure Service Trust Portal (STP):
The Service Trust Portal (STP) hosts the Compliance Manager service, and is the Microsoft public site for publishing audit reports and other compliance-related information relevant to Microsoft’s cloud services. STP users can download audit reports produced by external auditors and gain insight from Microsoft-authored reports that provide details on how Microsoft builds and operates its cloud services.
Service Trust Portal is a companion feature to the Trust Center, and allows you to:
- Access audit reports across Microsoft cloud services on a single page.
- Access compliance guides to help you understand how you can use Microsoft cloud service features to manage compliance with various regulations.
- Access trust documents to help you understand how Microsoft cloud services help protect your data.
Azure Compliance Manager:
Compliance Manager, a workflow-based risk assessment tool in the Microsoft Service Trust Portal, enables you to track, assign, and verify your organization’s regulatory compliance activities related to Microsoft Professional Services and Microsoft cloud services, such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Azure.
Combines the detailed information provided by Microsoft to auditors and regulators as part of various third-party audits of Microsoft ’s cloud services against various standards (for example, ISO 27001, ISO 27018, and NIST) and information that Microsoft compiles internally for its compliance with regulations (such as HIPAA and the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR) with your own self-assessment of your organization’s compliance with these standards and regulations.
Enables you to assign, track, and record compliance and assessment-related activities, which can help your organization cross team barriers to achieve your organization’s compliance goals.
Provides a Compliance Score to help you track your progress and prioritize the auditing controls that will help reduce your organization’s exposure to risk.
Provides a secure repository for you to upload and manage evidence and other artifacts related to your compliance activities.
Produces richly detailed reports in Microsoft Excel that document the compliance activities performed by Microsoft and your organization, which can be provided to auditors, regulators, and other compliance stakeholders.
Azure Purchase Options:
- Azure.com: Buying directly through Azure.com is the fastest and easiest way for organizations of all sizes to get started with Azure. You can manage your Azure deployments and usage yourself and get a monthly bill from Microsoft for the services used.
- Microsoft representative: Buying Azure through a Microsoft representative is intended for large organizations or customers who already work with one. You’ll also manage your Azure deployments and usage yourself and get a monthly bill from Microsoft for the services used.
- Microsoft partner: Cloud Service Provider (CSP) are Microsoft partner companies that customers hire to build solutions on azure. Payment is done for azure usage goes through customer CSP.
When you create an Azure resource, Azure creates one or more meters for that resource. Meters track resources usage and each meter generates a usage record that is used to calculate your bill.
Service Level Agreement for Azure:
Microsoft maintains its commitment to providing customers with high-quality products and services by adhering to comprehensive operational policies, standards, and practices. Formal documents called Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) capture the specific terms that define the performance standards that apply to Azure.
- SLAs describe Microsoft’s commitment to providing Azure customers with specific performance standards.
- There are SLAs for individual Azure products and services.
- SLAs also specify what happens if a service or product fails to perform to a governing SLA’s specification.
Azure does not provide SLAs for most services under the Free or Shared tiers. Also, free products such as Azure Advisor do not typically have an SLA.
When combining SLAs across different service offerings, the resultant SLA is called a Composite SLA. The resulting composite SLA can provide higher or lower uptime values, depending on your application architecture.
You can use SLAs to evaluate how your Azure solutions meet business requirements and the needs of your clients and users. By creating your own SLAs, you can set performance targets to suit your specific Azure application. This approach is known as an Application SLA.
Resiliency refers to a system’s ability to stay operational during abnormal conditions. Resiliency is the ability of a system to recover from failures and continue to function. It’s not about avoiding failures, but responding to failures in a way that avoids downtime or data loss. The goal of resiliency is to return the application to a fully functioning state following a failure. High availability and disaster recovery are two crucial components of resiliency.
When designing your architecture you need to design for resiliency, and you should perform a Failure Mode Analysis (FMA). The goal of an FMA is to identify possible points of failure and to define how the application will respond to those failures.
These failures include:
- Natural disasters
- System maintenance, both planned and unplanned, including software updates and security patches.
- Spikes in traffic to your site
- Threats made by malicious parties, such as distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks
The cloud provides efficient ways of running technology. As a cloud provider, we focus on pricing innovation with the goal of helping you save more. This gives you more cloud for less cost, while maintaining simplicity and flexibility.
Receive a discount on your Azure services by purchasing reservations. Giving us visibility into your one-year or three-year resource needs in advance allows us to be more efficient. In return, we pass these savings onto you as discounts of up to 72 percent(approximately).
Note: Even if you are in reservation for 1 or 3 years on VM, you can still upgrade configuration for that vm. New updated prices will be charged to you.
Azure Cost Management:
Azure Cost Management is another free, built-in Azure tool that can be used to gain greater insights into where your cloud money is going. You can see historical breakdowns of what services you are spending your money on and how it is tracking against budgets that you have set. You can set budgets, schedule reports, and analyze your cost areas.
Accessing preview categories
There are two types of previews available:
- Private Preview. An Azure feature marked “private preview” is available to specific Azure customers for evaluation purposes. This is typically by invite only and issued directly by the product team responsible for the feature or service.
- Public Preview. An Azure feature marked “public preview” is available to all Azure customers for evaluation purposes. These previews can be turned on through the preview features page as detailed below.
Finding preview features
You can learn about preview features through the preview features page . This page lists the preview features that are available for evaluation. To access a preview feature, select its entry on this page and learn more about how to evaluate it. You can also use the RSS Feed button on this page to subscribe to notifications and stay informed.
You can also find Azure preview features in the portal as follows:
- Sign in to Azure portal.
- Select Create a resource in the resources panel to open the New pane.
- Enter the word preview into the search box at the top of the New pane.
- A list of available preview features is displayed, with the word (preview) next to each one.
Azure Event Hubs: Azure Event Hubs allow you to receive and process millions of events of real-time data each second via dynamic data pipelines. Event Hubs also integrates seamlessly with other Azure services.
When you provision an Azure resource, Azure creates one or more meter instances for that resource. The meters track the resources’ usage, and generate a usage record that is used to calculate your bill. At the end of each monthly billing cycle, the usage values will be charged to your payment method and the meters are reset. You can check the billing page in the Azure portal at any time to get a quick summary of your current usage and see any invoices from past billing cycles.
The key takeaway is that resources are always charged based on usage. For example, if you de-allocate a VM then you will not be billed for compute hours, I/O reads or writes or the private IP address since the VM is not running and has no allocated compute resources. However you will incur storage costs for the disks.
Note: De-allocating a VM is not the same as deleting a VM. De-allocation means the VM is not assigned to a CPU or network in a datacenter. However, your persistent disks remain, and the resource is present in your subscription. It’s similar to turning off your physical computer.
Factors affecting costs
Costs are resource-specific, so the usage that a meter tracks and the number of meters associated with a resource depend on the resource type.
Note: Each meter tracks a particular kind of usage. For example, a meter might track bandwidth usage (ingress or egress network traffic in bits-per-second), the number of operations, size (storage capacity in bytes), or similar items.
The usage that a meter tracks correlates to a number of billable units. The rate per billable unit depends on the resource type you are using. Those units are charged to your account for each billing period.
Azure usage rates and billing periods can differ between Enterprise, Web Direct, and Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) customers. Some subscription types also include usage allowances, which affect costs.
Azure has datacenters all over the world. Usage costs vary between locations that offer particular Azure products, services, and resources based on popularity, demand, and local infrastructure costs.
For example, you might want to build your Azure solution by provisioning resources in locations that offer the lowest prices. This approach, though, would require transferring data between locations if any dependent resources and their users are located in different parts of the world. If there are meters tracking the volume of data moving between the resources you provision, any potential savings you make from choosing the cheapest location could be offset by the additional cost of transferring data between those resources.
Azure billing zones
Bandwidth refers to data moving in and out of Azure datacenters. Most of the time inbound data transfers (data going into Azure datacenters) are free. For outbound data transfers (data going out of Azure datacenters), the data transfer pricing is based on Billing Zones.
A Zone is a geographical grouping of Azure Regions for billing purposes. The following zones exist and include the listed countries (regions).
|Zone 1||United States, US Government, Europe, Canada, UK, France, Switzerland|
|Zone 2||East Asia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, India, Korea|
|Zone 3||Brazil, South Africa, UAE|
|DE Zone 1||Germany|
In most zones, the first outbound 5 gigabytes (GB) per month are free. After that amount, you are billed a fixed price per GB.
Note: Billing zones aren’t the same as an Availability Zone. In Azure, the term zone is for billing purposes only, and the full term Availability Zone refers to the failure protection that Azure provides for datacenters.
Azure pricing calculator
To make estimates easy for customers to create, Microsoft developed the Azure pricing calculator. The Azure pricing calculator is a free web-based tool that allows you to input Azure services and modify properties and options of the services. It outputs the costs per service and total cost for the full estimate.
Azure pricing calculator
Open the Azure pricing calculator . On the pricing calculator page, you’ll see several tabs:
- Products. This tab is where you’ll do most of your activity. This tab has all the Azure services listed and is where you’ll add or remove services to put together your estimate.
- Example Scenarios This tab has several examples of infrastructure involved in common cloud-based solutions. You can add all the components of the entire scenario to estimate the cost.
- Saved Estimates. This tab has all of your previously saved estimates. We’ll go through this process in a moment.
- FAQ. Just as it says, this tab has answers to some frequently asked questions.
Note: Make sure you have a clean calculator with nothing listed in the estimate. If you have anything present in your estimate, click the trash can icon on each item to reset the estimate.
We can either share the Excel spreadsheet, or we can click on the
Share button in the calculator. Sharing will give you a URL that you can use to share this estimate. Anyone with this link will be able to access it, making it easy to share with your team.
If you are logged in with your Azure account, you can save the estimate, so you can come back to it later. If you are signed in, you should see a notification that your estimate was saved. If you aren’t signed in, you’ll see a message to sign in to save your estimate. After you’ve saved the estimate, scroll back up to the top of the page and select the Saved Estimates tab. You will see your estimate there. You can then select it to pull it back up, or delete it if you no longer need it.
Total Cost of Ownership:
The pricing calculator and cost management advisor can help you predict and analyze your spend for new or existing services.
If you are starting to migrate to the cloud, a useful tool you can use to predict your cost savings is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator.
Visual Studio subscribers can activate a monthly credit benefit that allows you to experiment with, develop, and test new solutions on Azure. Use Azure credits to try out new services such as App Service, Windows 10 VMs, Azure SQL Server databases, Containers, Cognitive Services, Functions, Data Lake, and more, without incurring any monetary costs.
When you activate this benefit, you will own a separate Azure subscription under your account with a monthly credit balance that renews each month while you remain an active Visual Studio subscriber.
The credit amount varies based on the program level, and you should check the documentation for more details on how much credit you receive for your specific subscription level. For example:
- $50 per month for Visual Studio Professional
- $150 per month for Visual Studio Enterprise
The monthly Azure credit for Visual Studio subscribers is for development and testing only and does not carry a financially-backed SLA. Azure will suspend any instance (VM or cloud service) that runs continuously for more than 120 hours or if it’s determined that the instance is being used for production. This benefit is made available to Visual Studio subscribers on a best efforts basis; there is no guarantee of capacity availability.
Use reserved instances
If you have virtual machine workloads that are static and predictable, using reserved instances is a fantastic way to potentially save up to 70 to 80 percent off the pay-as-you-go cost. The savings can be significant, depending on the VM size and duration the machine runs. You commit to reserved instances in one-year or three-year terms. Payment can be made in full for the entire commitment period, or the commitment can be billed monthly. After it’s reserved, Microsoft matches up the reservation to running instances and decrements the hours from your reservation. Reservations can be purchased through the Azure portal. And because reserved instances are a compute discount, they are available for both Windows and Linux VMs.
Choose low-cost locations and regions
The cost of Azure products, services, and resources can vary across locations and regions, and if possible, you should use them in those locations and regions where they cost less. Some resources are metered and billed according to how much outgoing network bandwidth they consume (egress). You should provision connected resources that are bandwidth metered in the same region to reduce egress traffic between them.
Right-size underutilized virtual machines
Recall from our previous discussion that Azure Cost Management and Azure Advisor might recommend right-sizing or shutting down VMs. Right-sizing a virtual machine is the process of resizing it to a proper size. Resizing a VM requires it to be stopped, resized, and then restarted. This may take a few minutes depending on how significant the size change is. Plan for an outage, or shift your traffic to another instance while you perform this task.
Deallocate virtual machines in off hours
]If you have virtual machine workloads that are only used during certain periods, but you’re running them every hour of every day, you’re wasting money. These VMs are great candidates to shut down when not in use and start back up on a schedule, saving you compute costs while the VM is deallocated.
Delete unused virtual machines
This advice may sound obvious, but if you aren’t using a service, you should shut it down. It’s not uncommon to find non-production or proof-of-concept systems that are no longer needed following the completion of a project.
Migrate to PaaS or SaaS services
PaaS services typically provide substantial savings in both resource and operational costs. The challenge is that depending on the type of service, varying levels of effort will be required to move to these services, from both a time and resource perspective. You might be able to move a SQL Server database to Azure SQL Database easily, but it might take substantially more effort to transfer your multi-tier application to a container or serverless-based architecture. It’s a good practice to continuously evaluate the architecture of your applications to determine if there are efficiencies to be gained through PaaS services.
Use Dev/Test subscription offers
The Enterprise Dev/Test and Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Dev/Test offers are a benefit you can take advantage of to save costs on your non-production environments. This benefit gives you several discounts, most notably for Windows workloads, eliminating license charges and only billing you at the Linux rate for virtual machines. SQL Server and other Microsoft software covered under a Visual Studio subscription (formerly known as MSDN) are also included.
There are a few requirements for this benefit. First, it’s only for non-production workloads. This benefit also requires any users of these environments (excluding testers) must be covered under a Visual Studio subscription. In short, for non-production workloads, this benefit allows you to save money on your Windows, SQL Server, and other Microsoft virtual machine workloads.
Bring your own SQL Server license
If you are a customer on an Enterprise Agreement and already have an investment in SQL Server licenses, and they have freed up as part of moving resources to Azure, you can provision bring your own license (BYOL) images off the Azure Marketplace, giving you the ability to take advantage of these unused licenses and reduce your Azure VM cost. You’ve always been able to use these licenses by provisioning a Windows VM and manually installing SQL Server, but this process simplifies the creation process by leveraging Microsoft certified images. Search for BYOL in the Marketplace to find these images.
Use SQL Server Developer Edition
Many people are unaware that SQL Server Developer Edition is a free product for nonproduction use. Developer Edition has all the same features that Enterprise Edition has, but for nonproduction workloads, you can save dramatically on your licensing costs.
Look for SQL Server images for Developer Edition on the Azure Marketplace and use them for development or testing purposes to eliminate the additional cost for SQL Server in these cases.
Use constrained instance sizes for database workloads
Many customers have high requirements for memory, storage, or I/O bandwidth. But they also often have low requirements for CPU core counts. Based on this popular request, Microsoft has made available the most popular VM sizes (DS, ES, GS, and MS) in new sizes that constrain the vCPU count to one half or one-quarter of the original VM size, while maintaining the same memory, storage, and I/O bandwidth.
- Azure Advisor and Azure Cost Management are two services that help you optimize cloud spend. You can use these services to identify where you’re using more than you need, and then scale back to the capacity you’re actually using.
In case you missed part 1, Check it out HERE
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