Your Guide to Microsoft Azure

 

Table of Contents

 

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing network with a growing customer base of 120,000 new customers per month and more than 50 worldwide data centers. 90% of Fortune 500 companies now rely on Azure. With over 6,000 services, Azure has a wide range of flexible offerings. Azure draws on Microsoft's vast data capacity to provide software, platform, and infrastructure as a service. It's a highly versatile tool that combines many common business needs under a single, powerful platform.   
 

Computing Services  

Azure’s computing services help in the development and management of a few key areas:

  • Managing Windows or Linux virtual machines

  • App services for web development and upkeep

  • Website hosting with flexible updating (FTP, Git, user portal, etc.), compatibility with common programming tools, and website development frameworks

  • Automate common background processing tasks and scheduling them as needed

Storage Services  

Microsoft data centers perform data storage, eliminating the need for local storage networks and hardware. Information is securely accessed by representational state transfer or software APIs. Data is stored in a variety of formats like structured text partitions, binary data, or in unstructured text ‘blobs’, depending on your requirements.  
 

Data Management  

Azure provides iterations of the most common data management tools. Features include: 

  • Text search for data based on OData filtering, NoSQL, SQL (both database and warehousing), and Redis management tools.

  • Scalable storage for businesses that require large parallel queries, real-time analytics for multiple online data points.

  • HDInsight for implementing of Hadoop clusters using Ubuntu Linux.

 

Other features  

Azure can handle diverse tasks like messaging, task automation, encoding and streaming video files, content delivery for a variety of formats (video, images, sound, and applications), machine learning, and internet of things.  

 

Azure Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is one of Azure's main feature sets. In the broad sense, IaaS replaces the need for on-site servers and data storage space. Think of IaaS as a virtual data center (complete with firewalls and network security). You have total control over this 'data center', scaling and changing as you need. Common uses include website hosting, data storage, backup, DevTest environments, web apps, and high-performance computing. IaaS also has several practical advantages over an on-premises data center:  

Why IaaS is the future of infrastructure

  • Save on business expense: Traditional data servers are an expensive investment, with high upfront costs in hardware, physical space, data center protection, and controllers. Aside from the equipment, the cost of maintenance and upkeep locks you in for years. Depending on your company size, an on-premises data center could require several employees' full-time attention for proper oversight. IaaS removes these expenses and the associated storage and upkeep expenses, replacing them with a simple monthly subscription based on your use.

  • Rapid response to changing needs: Implementing a new product, service, or application generates an increased demand on the infrastructure. Using an on-premises data center can cause release delays, as it takes weeks to order and set up the required equipment. IaaS can handle these fluctuations in minutes to hours, decreasing turnaround time. This allows for more precise response to growing infrastructure needs.

  • Increases business flexibility: Many companies have busy seasons or see an increase in customer interaction during a certain time. With IaaS, increases in application demand or infrastructure can scale up to meet those needs. Scaling down is easy when business traffic returns to ‘normal’ levels. This saves on overspending on equipment, while still being prepared for changing demand.

  • Less time spent on upkeep: Managing server infrastructure is a difficult job. Hardware and software need to be replaced, upgraded, and managed constantly. This upkeep requires time and money. Azure IaaS provides a stable environment, without the need for continuous onsite upkeep. This allows your business to focus on more important core business concerns.

 

Azure Hosting

Azure offers a variety of solutions for hosting your company's applications. Apps written in .NET can easily be transferred to Azure hosting, allowing access to the flexibility and stability cloud computing offers. Your hosting requirements will dictate which Azure solution will be best for you. 

   

Azure VM 

  • Pros: Virtual machines are the easiest solution from a migration and end-user perspective. When transferring apps from onsite to a hosted VM, you’re not likely to notice much of a difference in the user environment.  
     

  • Cons: VMs are powerful and user-friendly but they do require upkeep and that cost can add up. Load-balancing, networking, VM management factor into this decision too. 
     

  • Works best with: If your apps rely heavily on localized .msi installer packages and server usage, a VM is an effective solution. Using a VM reduces user frustration and retraining needs so it is a major benefit to your users. 

  

Azure App Services

  • Pros: App Services is a great way to manage your apps and scale them as the need arises. Azure App Services is a PaaS offering so it receives automatic, constant maintenance. 
     

  • Cons: App Services won't work with every app. Some apps may require their code be restructured to assure full compatibility, which can be a time consuming and expensive process. 
     

  • Works best with: If your app doesn’t have any server-side dependencies, is self-contained, and just needs to access a database for information then consider App Services. 

 

Windows Containers

  • Pros: A container usually requires no code restructuring for apps written in .NET or C#. It optimizes your app for cloud usage by adding all the needed dependencies, making your apps Cloud DevOps ready.  
     

  • Cons: Expect to change configurations and app settings to run your app properly in a container. Windows Containers use Docker, which has a bit of a learning curve so training your team is a necessary step to run effectively. 
     

  • Works best with: If your app has service side dependencies that can be moved to a Docker Windows image, it can be moved successfully into a Windows Container. This is also good if you want to future proof your apps and optimize for continued cloud usage.

 

Azure vs AWS

When selecting a cloud computing vendor there are a few major names in the market. The two biggest are Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Often your final choice will come down to these two solutions. Both are experienced, well-regarded services: Azure started in 2010 and AWS started in 2006, each with billions in yearly earnings. Each offers its own pros and cons. Here is a closer look at how the two services compared to each other.    

  

AWS Pros and Cons 

Pros: Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world and this is reflected in their AWS platform. Their IaaS offerings are among the best in the industry and have a decade of experience behind them with global reach. AWS has the scale and backend support for many resources and users. 

  

Cons: AWS’s biggest con its pricing plans. Amazon, notably, adjust costs for their AWS services making exact calculations difficult and many users have noted its pricing structure can be hard to understand. Other common concerns are not being as user-friendly as Azure and having so many options available when managing your system, they can overwhelm you.   

  

Azure Pros and Cons 

Pros: Windows is one of the most widely used OS platforms in business both on the user and server side. Azure makes integration with Microsoft technology like Windows Server, Office 365, and SQL Server seamless. Microsoft is also an industry leader in hybrid cloud technology and has numerous features that AWS can't match. Microsoft's aggressive price match makes it a financial match or better than AWS. Microsoft’s support for open source (Linux for example) is also appealing to many organizations. 

  

Cons: Management tools are not as complete as they could be regarding automation leading to increased manual entry. As a tool, Azure is certainly enterprise ready but support, like training and documentation is not quite as developed as the platform itself.  

  

Which Is the Better Choice? 

The answer largely depends on your requirements. When selecting between AWS and Azure the question you should be asking is what does my company need from a cloud service provider? AWS could be a good fit if you need a large assortment of useful tools and powerful global level support. Azure would be better if your company is deeply involved with Windows offerings such as .NET and Windows Server as they easily integrate with Azure. For budget, we suggest looking at Azure's Total Cost of Ownership calculator and AWS Total Cost of Ownership calculator. The better choice is the one that fits with your company’s needs and budget.    

 

Download this knowledge base:

 

Microsoft Azure Pricing

When a company is deciding on cloud-hosted service versus an on-premises data center, the cost is a key concern. In general, on-premises systems have a lower month to month cost when compared to cloud systems. However, this simple read of expenses does not tell the whole story. Azure can save your company money over the long term despite its higher month to month cost when compared to traditional data centers.

 

Azure Versus On-Premises   

When comparing hosting on-premises or in Azure, there are many external factors to consider aside from simply a monthly cost. Onsite data centers often have ‘hidden’ expenses that can add up over time.   

  • Flexibility costs: The ability to be flexible scale your environment is incredibly important. If your company has a temporary increase in business, you may be forced to quickly upgrade to handle the increased workload. Once the demand drops, you now own the equipment and you’ll either need to sell it or find a use for it. Buying, installing and maintaining hardware takes time and money from your IT team. Onsite systems, while upgradable, are not flexible and can quickly add up. In Azure, you spin up new machines in minutes as the need arises and return to normal levels when the demand drops.

  • Hardware management and upkeep: This is the major cost factor that is usually missed. While Azure may have higher per hour cost, compared to onsite solutions, it has no upkeep expense. Microsoft handles all the upkeep and hardware management. This requires no expenditure of time or money on your end. By comparison, when an on-premises server goes down, needs replacing, or repairs, that is an investment in company time and money.

  • Upgrades: Servers are quite durable, but upgrades are still required frequently. The cost of replacing faulty parts, new hardware, and necessary software adds up. In Azure, updates are always taken care of so you’re using the latest software with the support required to run it.

 

Hybrid Cloud Benefits

Most discussions about cloud computing positions it as a full replacement for your existing on-premise data center. This misses a huge benefit of cloud computing, a Hybrid Cloud Strategy. Your infrastructure strategy can include Azure for supporting the weakness of on-premise data centers (flexibility, scaling, speed of response). For this reason, hybrid cloud strategies have become a very popular part of Azure’s services (specifically Azure Stack) and offer many advantages to companies that have a solid strategy.  

  • Handle extra demand: Business demand can be unpredictable. Busy seasons or large one-time projects ramp up the demand on your on-premise infrastructure. Upgrading your data center for single projects is a pain and often not a good financial decision. A hybrid cloud system is scalable, meaning it can serve as additional bandwidth when demand is high. After the project is completed or demand returns to normal, your cloud system can easily scale back. 
     

  • Continuity during a disaster: When a disaster strikes, your production infrastructure and information are of the utmost importance. A hybrid cloud can serve as an excellent, automated replacement for other disaster recovery planning. This allows you to perform your daily business activity, access information & infrastructure, and have full coverage while your on-premise data center is recovered and restored. This is also useful for smaller scale occurrences such as hardware failure or repairs/updates that would take physical systems offline.   
     

  • Testing: A hybrid cloud strategy is an excellent way to start testing cloud services as a larger part of your company's infrastructure. You can easily move nonessential projects or archive information to the cloud to test how they function in this new environment. This allows you to keep using your existing systems while slowly testing cloud benchmarks, response time, configuration needs, and other considerations. With proper testing, you can easily have a plan in place if you decide to migrate further to a full cloud-based services in the future. 
     

  • Cost-savings: Azure specifically, gives major price reductions when adopting a hybrid cloud strategy. Sometimes as much as 80% off with Azure Reserved Virtual Machine instances and up to 55% on migrating Azure SQL Database. Past licenses, hybrid clouds can offer the best tool for the job, saving time and money. 

 

One consideration of Azure in hybrid cloud strategy is Azure Stack. The difficulty with hybrid cloud strategies is always the complexity of having two data centers and ensuring consistency across your applications, infrastructure, security, and data systems. Azure Stack shines where AWS and Google have no response. Azure Stack extends Azure services into your data center. It connects your data center with Azure to pass configurations like Azure Active Directory or database systems across the board, so both systems work seamlessly. 

A key reason many businesses don’t move entirely to cloud-based systems is due to sunk costs in the data centers. A well developed and maintained on-premise data center is a major investment in both capital and time. Luckily, with Azure, you can keep using your existing data center while still getting the advantages of the cloud. 

 

Managed Services Providers for Azure

Microsoft Azure offers numerous cloud-based solutions for your business. With IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings, Azure can provide solutions to fit a variety of business needs. Microsoft has continuously improved their service offerings since Azure launched in 2010. As Azure has increased in feature offerings and overall reach across the business world, supporting companies have sprung up to help business manage Azure effectively. Going to an outside expert with Azure best practices, precise skills, and extra industry certifications is one of the smartest business decisions you can make. 

 

Using a Partner 

When deciding on Azure, there are other management options than running it yourself. Some companies have no trouble managing Azure and devote entire departments to this task. But for many companies, this isn't possible. Finding Azure talent can pose problems, let alone trying to develop a team that can cover Azure's range of services. This is where a managed service provider can help. In the simplest terms, they take over the daily management and upkeep of your Azure systems (no matter the size or scope) while working closely in your requirements and helping future cloud planning. 

 

Why use a managed service provider? 

Azure is a multifaceted, flexible, and powerful system. This also means it's a system that can be complex to use if you're not intimately familiar. Even if you have the knowledge to manage your own system, you may not have the time to do so. Every hour spent managing your Azure systems is an hour that cannot be used for your company's core business operations.  

This is why a managed service provider is so valuable. They oversee and manage your Azure system to your specifications allowing you to focus on more pressing matters. By working with a skilled partner, you gain access to experienced and certified engineers without the need to interview and hire new employees. They come with years of industry experience, Microsoft best practices, and work in Azure every day. 

A managed service provider ensures your company is using your Azure systems to your fullest potential. 

 

Azure Backup and DR

Azure Backup 

Being able to effectively backup your company's data is one of the most important ways to protect your business. Organizations can lose data from outside disasters, malicious actors, or localized hardware failure. Azure offers many options for data backup and restoration. At its most basic levels, Azure can backup files from your physical hardware and VMs. More advanced options include application snapshots, full VM backups, granular recovery, Linux support and highly involved data restoration tools. 
 

 

Azure DR  

Most companies can't afford long-term downtime or permanent data loss. Disaster recovery not only protects your data but also the infrastructure that it runs on. Azure Disaster Recovery keeps company information safe and allows the restoration of daily business activities quickly in case of a disaster. As much as we would like it, disasters will never give us prior notice. Effective planning before an event is the only way to protect your environment. With Azure DR you have an easy to use and affordable disaster recovery tool. Azure DR is also scalable, allowing a recovery from a temporary outage all the way to fully restoring an enterprise-wide system

 

Download our Disaster Recovery eBook here:

 
 

Security in Azure

In the modern business world, cyber security has become an important concern. Major data breaches and information theft seem almost common now, even for the biggest companies in the world. Keeping your company’s data safe from cyber criminals requires both vigilance and the proper tools. The methods used by criminals and sometimes employees to access information is ever changing and you need a versatile approach to stay ahead. Azure offers several security features to keep your company's information safe and secure. 

 

Azure Security Features   

  • Threat Protection: Attackers are always developing new ways to target your data and infrastructure. Azure includes a complete security suite to protect against them. Azure Anti-malware serves as protection against viruses, spyware, and other threats. It’s also compatible with third-party tools like network firewalls, increasing security and versatility. The Safety Center lets you oversee all cloud assets and configure overarching security features protocols. Plus, with the Azure Log Integration, you can easily track any occurrences and suspicious activity.    
        

  • Network Security: Your network security is protected in Azure through several methods. VPNs are easily configured controlling overall access and WAN links are available to protect network access. The Azure Fabric Controller can control VM traffic, access levels, and how they communicate with the network.     
     

  • Data Encryption: Proper use of data encryption helps keep information secure. Protocols like IPsec, SSL/TLS, and AES are supported along with support for tools like BitLocker. AES256 encrypts your data in transit and at rest in Azure. Azure Key Management system allows direct control over key generation, configuration, and allowed access. Lastly, Azure also allows client-side encryption allowing you to encrypt data before it’s uploaded to Azure systems and you can also store access keys locally on your own data center.     
     

  • User Account Security: Azure Active Directory provides safety tools to manage user accounts preventing unauthorized access and protecting against accounts being compromised. Tools such as app specific authorization, multi-factor identification, and single sign-on keep your accounts secure.   

 

A Proper Security System is a Versatile One 

Proper security requires a wide range of tools to be effective. With Azure, you have a multifaceted toolkit to protect your company’s data at every level. By being able to approach your security needs through various methods, you reduce vulnerabilities and keep your company's information safe. 

 

Azure Data Services

Data is exploding in the business world. According to a recent Seagate study, "the global data sphere will grow to 163 zettabytes by 2025". Storing, categorizing, connecting, and working with data has become vital to business success. When using Azure, you want to be aware of what your needs are and what services will best match these needs. 

When selecting Azure’s data services, it's important to know what the data you’re storing is going to be used for. Data is a generalized term and the user needs between two different sets of data can be vastly different.  

  • Applications verses analytics: Azure divides data at the base level between OLTP (online transaction processing) used for apps and OLAP (online analytical processing) used for analytical data like reports. The kind of storage and associated tools will depend on what the data is used for. 
     

  • The type of data: When storing data, there are several different ‘forms’ it can take. Unstructured like graphs, key data, and documents and structured data (also called relational) like dates, finances, customer information, logs, usually stored in a conventional database. Experts think 80% of the world’s data is unstructured and only 20% is structured.  

 

The Importance of How Data is Used 

Selecting between the different Azure data services can seem confusing. With Azure SQL Database, SQL Warehouse, applications like MySQL/NoSQL and Hadoop, the options are overwhelming. The easiest way to narrow down your selection is focusing on what your goals are. A billing system that regularly pulls customer accounts requires a different data configuration than data used to run your weekly usage reports. By focusing on what you need your data to do, you can more easily select the proper data storage system. Azure makes this easy, you can also have multiple databases for one application, so you're always using the best tool for the job. Storing and using data in Azure is cheap and simple when you know what you want your data to do.  
 

One of the biggest advantages of Azure is the sheer versatility it offers as a platform for both data storage and hundreds of other IT services. When deciding on what data storage systems to use, let your requirements drive the tool selection first. 

 

Azure Storage

Storage space is an important part of your company's IT management. As a company grows, it needs more storage space, more database infrastructure, and more advanced storage methods. On-premises data management is an expensive proposition, requiring installation costs, continued upkeep, and management. Azure’s cloud-based data storage systems offer a flexible and scalable data solution that's easier to manage.   
 

Advantages of Azure Storage  

  • Scalable: A common concern with data storage is simply having enough room. Over time your company collects client records, logs, employee configurations, and other business data. With traditional onsite storage increasing storage space requires hardware installation and more physical space. Azure can meet your storage needs with a click of a button. Not only is this faster you also don’t have to worry about a new server, hard drive installation, product lifecycle or maintenance time.

  • Redundancy: Backing up your data is the best way to fully protect it. Azure can back up your data with further protection in geo-redundant data centers. This protects in the event of a widespread natural disaster.

  • Security: Azure offers several layers of security protection. Your data is encrypted in transit and at rest. 256-bit AES encryption one of the strongest encryption standards available. You have precise control over who can access your data and how they can do so. Azure Active Directory is the best way to manage who has access to what data.

  • Ease of access: When using a cloud storage platform, your data is accessible whenever you need it. Internet-based data storage is flexible and allows users to get what they need on the go. Microsoft SDKs and Azure PowerShell can also access data for more advanced automation and tasks. If you need a user-friendly GUI, Azure Portal and the Azure Storage Explorer can also access your data.

  • An assortment of storage solutions: Azure storage offers a variety of storage configurations. Choices include traditional file storage, queue systems, disk storage, NoSQL tables, archive systems, and blobs, depending on your requirements.

 

Download this knowledge base:

 

Azure Site Recovery

Disasters are an unpredictable but fundamental part of business. When disasters occur, your business can lose data and infrastructure without notice. These events cause widespread damage and loss of company income. Not only do you have to rebuild your infrastructure, you also have to recover data and calculate revenue lost during the downtime. Azure Site Recovery helps you respond quickly to unplanned events.    

 

Why Use Azure Site Recovery?  

Disaster recovery planning has a profound impact on your response to an outage. This can be the difference between an automated and painless failover and a company-wide outage. Azure speeds up the recovery process by having your systems, data, and associated infrastructure stored safely off-site or in georedundant data centers. Automatic failovers can get your systems back online with little or no downtime. Azure also helps you avoid unrecoverable data loss, which can have an irreversible impact on a company.  

 

Advantages of Azure Site Recovery 

  • Reduced infrastructure costs: Azure can serve as a backup solution for your company, reducing expenses and removing the need to manage your own offsite data center. Azure can also serve as a full data center replacement in case of a disaster.

  • Easy to use: Azure Site Recovery is an easy to manage and flexible tool. You can customize data recovery by organizing the sequence and commands in an automated failover to speed up the process. In the event of a disaster, you can initiate a fully automatic recovery process with no impact to your users. Other useful features include automatically routing onsite applications to Azure in case of an outage and the ability to test your disaster recovery plan without impacting users.

  • Fast recovery: The ability to quickly recover and resume normal business activities is one of the most important parts of disaster recovery. On average, the cost per minute of downtime is $7,900 and the average downtime is 86 minutes, total just under $700,000. Total data center outages averaged 119 minutes for a total cost just under $1 million. Azure quickly restores data and infrastructure with minimal impact to daily business.

 

Azure Active Directory

Who has access to your company's information and controlling that access is one of the most important parts of data security. Azure combines logins for corporate applications and systems under one easy to manage active directory system. Here are some of the controls you have with Azure AD: 

  • User accounts, associated groups, and roles

  • Access security and passwords

  • Outside users and customer accounts (B2B and B2C)

  • Security settings

  • Device management

  • App access and management (Office 365, Skype, etc.)

  • Ability to run user access reports

 

About Azure AD

Azure Active Directory allows direct control of user identities, management of their access and what data they have access to. One of Azure AD’s most useful features is its scope. Azure AD works with apps, data access, and your company's systems & infrastructure. With single sign-on, you can manage your users' access to corporate systems using one ID and password. 

 

Azure AD Key Features 

  • Secure: Azure AD has several security features to keep access protected and information safe. Multi-factor identification, single sign-on, and privileged identity management are just some security tools to control access.

  • User-Friendly: A common issue for users is multiple logins to various corporate systems. Azure AD combines access to Azure’s many features through a single ID. Easier for you to manage and greatly reduces user confusion.

  • Compatibility: Due to Azure being a web-based cloud platform, its features are accessible from a web-based access panel. Users can log in from Windows or Mac or mobile systems like Android and iOS. This makes for a secure system that isn’t tied to a single office location or device.

  • Collaboration: Azure AD makes controlling account access easy for B2B use. You can manage what systems or outside accounts have access during the account setup process. It's easy to create guest accounts for access outside of your organization. When working with customer accounts, login and access levels can be set up for desktop, ASP.NET applications, and single page access.

 

Azure PowerShell

A classic command-line interface (CLI) is one of the most powerful ways to manage systems like databases, web apps, and virtual machines. If you've used a CLI, you know its power and speed. Azure's CLI application is appropriately named Azure PowerShell.  

 

An Overview of Azure PowerShell  

  • Ease of Access: Through Cloud Shell, you can easily run PowerShell in your web browser treating it like any other cloud application. If you wish to run it as a local application, PowerShell can be installed on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

  • Familiarity: PowerShell is a very well-known Windows tool. Once a closed source tool, it has recently become cross-platform and open source, expanding its reach and use. Having a well-known management tool removes the need to learn a new platform to perform common tasks.

  • Powerful: Azure PowerShell offers direct control over many of your day to day business activities. This direct hands-on control makes managing your various systems far easier.

 

PowerShell Commands and Features  

  • App Commands: Create apps, test, scale, monitor, backup, link to a database, and integrate to GitHub.

  • SQL Databases: Create databases, sync to existing ones, copy information, create backups, restore information, monitor for outside intrusion, and manage firewall rules.

  • Virtual Machine Management: Create VMs, modify the features and resources using scripts and commands.

  • Cosmos DB: Cosmos DB integration is currently limited but does allow for account management. Create Accounts for various APIs, generate account keys, and configure failover priority.

When managing your company's IT infrastructure, the most important part is not the hardware but the information it contains. Company records, customer accounts, highly customized virtual machines and application code are just some of the valuable information that must be secure. Azure offers several tools to keep your company's data well protected. Three areas Azure focuses on for information safety are data backup, disaster recovery, and security. 

 

Azure DevTest

A development and testing environment for any IT department is critical. These environments are essential to product development, bug fixes, and continued monitoring. More than ever, these DevTest environments are moving to the cloud. Flexibility and cost reduction are major drivers in moving these to the cloud. 

Azure DevTest is a fully featured cloud-based testing environment that offers advantages over on-premises environments. Aside from saving on data center space, an Azure Dev/Test environment offers fast spin up and spin down, greater compliance, and cost savings. They can also be fully protected with backups, saving on recreating work in the event of a disaster.  
 

Three Advantages Microsoft Azure DevTest Offers  

  • Manage and protect your test environment: Virtual machines use up energy, processing power, and internet bandwidth. Azure allows you to oversee your VMs through preset parameters to control their use. These include overall lab policies for VM software and limits on the number of VMs for each lab. A cost trend calculator tracks estimated expenses and alerts you when you are reaching cost thresholds.

  • Save time: If you've ever configured a virtual machine you know how time consuming this process can be. After development and testing, these virtual machines must be reconfigured to a default state for future use. With Azure DevTest, you can build VMs based on premade, custom images to fit your specific needs. Also, formula environments can be updated in real time to meet situational changes without the need to create an entirely new VM. This saves on spin up time and these machines can spin down when the project is over.

  • Environment control and configuration: Azure DevTest allows a great deal of control over your testing environment. With a central ‘hub’ you can easily keep track of your company’s VMs and make changes as needed. Compliance has been hard for DevTest environments in the past. This environment used to operate as the 'shadow IT'. Now, these machines are fully compliant, backed up and protected by the full power of Azure. Automation tools allow for automated testing under clearly defined environments. Plus, you can configure a wide assortment of various hardware and software configurations to test any scenario that your end users may throw at you.

 

Azure ASM to ARM Migration

Azure Service Management (ASM) or Azure Classic was the first version of Azure. As a long-term Azure customer, you may still have services running under ASM. Migrating these systems to the newer Azure Resource Manager (ARM) offers major advantages while still allowing the same controls as your ASM systems. 

 

Why Migrate from ASM to ARM? 

  • The first reason is usability. ARM’s control panel is lighter, easier to use, and programmed in HTML5. The ease of use the ARM portal has more in-depth control for resources, load balancers, DNS management, and security tools. ASM is simply an older system that lacks some of the features and quality-of-life improvements that have been implemented in ARM. 

  • ASM (Classic) lacks resource grouping, which is far less efficient and requires extended searches to find the resources you need. Under ARM resources are grouped together making management and associated tasks far easier. 

  • The ASM to ARM migration can dramatically reduce your Azure spend. 

  • ARM offers nearly all the features ASM has while also giving you access to new tools and capabilities that make managing your systems faster and more efficient. 

 

Performing the Migration and Things to Know 

  • Before migrating review your subscription limits to make sure you have the proper capacity for the migration. In general, it's a good idea to have double the capacity for a successful migration. Limits that you should review include (but are not limited to) cores, storage, backup vaults, cloud services and others. 

  • In general, PowerShell manages the entire migration process, using an administrator account and exact commands. Before migrating, you’ll want to install the latest version of Azure PowerShell. 

  • Migrations are a multiphase operation. These phases are setup, prepare, validate, abort (if there are errors to correct) and lastly, commit.  

  • You can migrate virtual machines that are in or not in virtual networks, unattached resources (such as network security groups), and storage accounts.  

  • It’s important to be aware that not every setting or configuration a VM has is supported when migrating. Before migrating, these features can be removed and then re-added once the migration is completed. Be sure to review documentation so that your VMs can be correctly configured for migration and errors avoided. 

 

Download this knowledge base: