What is Azure Arc?

At Ignite 2019, Microsoft announced a new service; Azure Arc. It allows you to extend the capabilities of Azure to your on-prem environment, multi-cloud and edge. At launch, it’s only Azure Arc for Servers, but there will also be an option for data services at a later date. Everything is in public preview for now, so careful with those production environments!

Azure Arc for Servers

The basic concept is that with Azure Arc you can manage machines which are outside of Azure. Once connected, a non-Azure VM becomes a Connected Machine resource in Azure. Connected Machines have a Resource ID, and are manageable using the normally supported components such as Policy and Tags.

To register a Connected Machine, an agent needs to be installed on each local VM. The currently supported OS’ are 2012R2 or newer and Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04. As Connected Machines are an Azure resource, normal resource limits apply (800 resources per RG etc).

The agent has some network requirements, documented here. For onboarding the agent is combined with a script. This process can be done via the Portal or Powershell. Recommendation here would be to follow the option to create a Service Principal if you need to onboard machines at scale.

You will also need to enable a couple of new resource providers in your Azure subcription:

  • Microsoft.HybridCompute
  • Microsoft.GuestConfiguration

Once you have a VM present in Azure as a Connected Machine, you can start managing it, but only using the following services at this time of the preview:

  • Guest Configuration
  • Log Analytics

So for now, the service is quite limited. But you can assume that many more features are on the roadmap. The end goal of Azure Arc is to give you a single tool set to manage all your servers and data services regardless of where they are provisioned. So whether you’re a small company with a hybrid footprint, or an MSP, Azure Arc could make your life a lot easier. One to keep an eye on for GA in 2020!

What is Azure Advisor?

Built into every Azure Subscription and offered as a free service is Azure Advisor. Helpful without being too intrusive, it can be beneficial to many who use Azure.

So, what is it? It’s a personalised recommendation service. It gives you quick and simple insights into your deployments and where they could be optimised. There are four main areas of analysis completed:

  1. High Availability
  2. Performance
  3. Security
  4. Cost

Azure Advisor gives you a central point to analyse all of your deployments for best-practise optimisation. It pulls in recommendations from other services like Security Center to offer a comprehensive view.

Azure Advisor dashboard

You can tweak some of the recommendations that are presented. You can also tighten the scope of recommendations too, for more granular data. Docs has a handy guide explaining how to do that in detail. I will walktrough an example below.

To scope Azure Advisor to only display recommendations for specific resources, it’s a simple change to the configuration settings.

  1. Open Azure Advisor
  2. Click Configuration under the Settings section
  3. You can now choose your scope relative to Azure Subscriptions and which Resource Groups you want to include.
  4. To remove resources from the scope, simply untick the relative box and click Apply

While the service itself is free, always be aware that some recommended optimisations could require a higher spend, such as a performance increase.

As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch!