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How can I use Azure Resource Manager more effectively?

Cloud admins use Azure Resource Manager to track apps and resources in Microsoft's public cloud. What are some tips for getting started with the tool?

Azure Resource Manager, a management tool for the Microsoft public cloud, is a multifaceted tool designed for developers, DevOps and IT operations staff. While it can be a helpful for managing Azure resources and applications, it can also be easy to get lost in the features.

Here are five quick tips to get started with Azure Resource Manager:

  1. Use Azure templates to automate the deployment of applications with many Azure services and complex topologies. Users can easily modify Azure templates as conditions change, and apply those modifications to every deployment using the template.
  2. Although Azure templates can be written in any text editor, it's best to choose an editor that supports JSON syntax highlighting. Organizations that already use Visual Studio should take advantage of built-in support for Azure templates, including forms for common elements, such as variables and resources, and the ability to hierarchically display template structure.
  3. Use Azure Resource Groups to segregate all resources used for a particular application. Since a resource can only exist in one group, these make it easy to allocate available Azure capacity, enforce access policy and track usage for individual applications.
  4. Use resource tags to assign properties and categorize resources. Although Resource Groups can track usage, an application will often employ multiple groups, such as one for production, and another for testing and development. Tags allow users to group these into a common category and simplify resource tracking, usage and billing through Azure Resource Manager. For example, applying tags to all services assigned to a particular application and workgroup makes it easy to run a report listing all resources with that tag and the total charges for the month.
  5. Use role-based access controls (RBACs) to consistently apply security policy and access controls to Azure users, groups and services. Azure RBACs work much like they do on an enterprise Active Directory, and resource policies operate like default-deny network firewall rules to control the actions resources can take. For example, a policy might restrict the locations in which a particular resource can be deployed or only allow certain organizations to deploy a particular resource, such as HDInsight Hadoop cluster.

Azure Resource Manager offers a range of features to help cloud admins deploy and manage cloud-based applications on the Microsoft public cloud. To get started with the software, familiarize yourself with Azure templates, Resource Groups and some of the other key capabilities mentioned above.

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