Azure Arc and the Azure control plane enables Cloud Solutions Architects to build hybrid and mutlicloud architectures. Taking advantage of the Azure control plane to manage infrastructure and allows to deploy Azure services anywhere. This allows customers to build cloud solutions and applications architectures consistently, independent of where the application is running.
In this blog post, we will have a look at Azure Arc for Cloud Solutions Architects. Azure Arc allows you to extend Azure management and Azure services to anywhere. Meaning that you can deploy, manage and govern resources running across hybrid and multi cloud environments, and bring services such as Azure SQL Database and Azure PostgreSQL Hyperscale to your on-premise datacenter, edge location, or other cloud providers. Since Azure Arc can help in many different scenarios.
Azure Arc simplifies governance and management by delivering a consistent multi-cloud and on-premises management platform. Azure Arc enables you to manage your entire environment, with a single pane of glass, by projecting your existing resources into Azure Resource Manager. You can now manage virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, and databases as if they are running in Azure. Regardless of where they live, you can use familiar Azure services and management capabilities. Azure Arc enables you to continue using traditional ITOps, while introducing DevOps practices to support new cloud-native patterns in your environment.
This provides you with a single control plane for your hybrid and multicloud environment.
Let's have a look at some key Azure Arc scenarios for Cloud Solutions Architects.
In hybrid and multicloud environments, it can be difficult for Cloud Solutions Architects to get a central view of all the resources they need to manage. Some of these resources are running in Azure, some on-premises, branch offices, or even at other cloud providers. By connecting resources to the Azure Resource Manager using Azure Arc, Security Engineers can get central visibility of a wide range of resources, including Windows and Linux servers, SQL server, Kubernetes clusters, and Azure services running in Azure and outside of Azure.
The single control plane using Azure Resource Manager lets you organize and inventory assets through various Azure scopes, such as management groups, subscriptions, resource groups, and tags.
Establish central visibility in the Azure portal and enable multi-environment search with Azure Resource Graph. This allows you to run queries against the Azure resource graph and provide a centralized view of all your resources running in Azure and outside of Azure.
As a Cloud Solutions Architect, you want to make sure that only people who need access can access these systems. You can delegate access and manage security policies for resources using role-based access control (RBAC) in Azure. With Azure Arc enabled servers, we are seeing customers removing the local access for administrators and only provide them access to the system in the Azure portal using Azure Arc and Azure Management services. If you run in multiple environments and tenants, Azure Arc also integrated perfectly in Azure Lighthouse. Azure Lighthouse is especially interesting for managed services providers.
Azure Arc enables you to create custom locations, so you can use the Azure Resource Manager not just to deploy to Azure Regions but also to your own custom locations. You can learn more about custom locations on Microsoft Docs.
Azure Arc allows you to deploy Azure application services such as Azure App Service, Functions, Logic Apps, Event Grid, and API Management anywhere, on-premises, edge locations, or any other cloud provider. This is great if you are building and running cloud-native applications on Azure PaaS services and want them to run outside of Azure without rearchitecting them.
These are the new Azure Arc-enabled Application services announced at Microsoft Build 2021. These allow you to run Azure PaaS services on-premises and at other cloud providers.
Next to Azure Application services to run services like Web Apps and Logic Apps, you also want to leverage data services and databases. With Azure Arc enabled Data services you can run services like Azure SQL Managed Instances anywhere.
The applications services can be combined with the Azure Arc enabled Data services which include:
Azure Arc brings DevOps practices anywhere. Modern Kubernetes deployments house multiple applications, clusters, and environments. With GitOps, you can manage these complex setups more easily, tracking the desired state of the Kubernetes environments declaratively with Git. Using common Git tooling to track cluster state, you can increase accountability, facilitate fault investigation, and enable automation to manage environments.
With Azure Arc and Azure Stack HCI, you can run the Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on-premises in your own datacenter or edge location on top of Azure Stack HCI. This AKS cluster can be Azure Arc enabled, to allow management and deployment of applications to your Kubernetes clusters. You can learn more on Microsoft Docs.
Azure Arc enabled machine learning lets you configure and use an Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters to train and manage machine learning models in Azure Machine Learning.
Azure Arc enabled machine learning supports the following training scenarios:
Learn more on Microsoft Docs.
If developers build applications that need to authenticate against Azure resources, Azure VMs can leverage their Managed Identity to authenticated. With Azure Arc, applications or processes running directly on an Azure Arc-enabled servers can leverage managed identities to access other Azure resources that support Azure Active Directory-based authentication for example Azure Key Vault. An application can obtain an access token representing its identity, which is system-assigned for Arc-enabled servers, and use it as a 'bearer' token to authenticate itself to another service.
You can learn more about the managed identity overview documentation for a detailed description of managed identities, as well as the distinction between system-assigned and user-assigned identities. For authenticate against Azure resources with Arc-enabled servers, check out the following article.
As a Cloud Solutions Architect, one of your jobs is to make sure that all the systems have the latest updates and patches installed to protect against vulnerabilities. Often customers spend hours orchestrating or deploying patched or building automation for their patch management. With Update Management, you can manage operating system updates for your Windows and Linux servers. In addition, it allows you to schedule and automates patching for your servers.
You do not just want to manage your systems; you also want to monitor them and make sure that you get alerted in case anything is happening which you disrupted your environment and applications. You can monitor your Kubernetes clusters and containers, Linux, and Windows Servers. Azure Monitor provides you with monitoring guest operating system performance and discover application components to monitor their processes and dependencies with other resources the application communicates using VM insights.
One of the great features in Azure Monitor which can help Cloud Solutions Architects is the Microsoft Dependency agent. This provides you with information about the incoming and outgoing connections to a specific server.
Log collection and analytics can be very helpful to a Cloud Solutions Architect in many ways. With Azure Log Analytics you can collect, sort, filter, and analyze your logs centrally. It allows Security Engineers to get a central view of all the security logs of the systems they manage. These logs can also be used for thread hunting using Azure Sentinel.
Microsoft Azure Sentinel is a scalable, cloud-native, security information event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automated response (SOAR) solution. Azure Sentinel delivers intelligent security analytics and threat intelligence across the enterprise, providing a single solution for alert detection, threat visibility, proactive hunting, and threat response.
With change tracking and inventory, you can get an overview of the changes happening in your environment and get an inventory of software installed on your Windows and Linux servers.
You might have managed certificates on your servers using Active Directory and Group Policies for your local environment. In hybrid cloud or mutlicloud environments, servers are often not even domain joined. That can make managing certificates a challenge. With a combination of the Azure AD Managed Identity assigned by the Azure Arc agent and Azure Key Vault you can easily and securely deploy and manage certificates to your Windows and Linux servers.
Making sure that your servers and Kubernetes clusters are secured is often a challenging task, especially in a hybrid or multicloud environment. With Azure Security Center you get threat detection and proactively monitor for potential security threats for your Azure Arc resources. It allows you to deploy Azure Defender for servers and Azure Defender for Kubernetes to your hybrid and multicloud resources.
As a Cloud Solutions Architect, you want to know if your servers or Kubernetes clusters are compliant with the company policies. Or you are even in charge to make sure that all your systems are configured correctly and secure. This is where Azure Policy Guest Configuration on your Azure Arc enabled servers can help you to make sure that everything is compliant.
Azure Stack HCI is a new hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) operating system delivered as an Azure service that provides the latest security, performance, and feature updates. Azure Stack HCI has Azure Arc build-in and can be managed through the Azure Portal.
Learn more about Arc enabled servers, see the following overview
Learn more about Arc enabled Kubernetes, see the following overview
Learn more about Arc enabled data services, see the following overview
Experience Arc enabled services from the Jumpstart proof of concept
Also, check out my video on how to manage your hybrid cloud using Azure Arc on Microsoft Channel 9.
Azure Arc enables Cloud Solutions Architects and others to build hybrid and multicloud solutions and with the right tooling to manage and operate hybrid and multicloud resources such as Windows and Linux servers, Kubernetes clusters, and other resources. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
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