Azure Governance: Defining Your Organizational Hierarchy

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, October 2nd 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, DevOps, IT Operations, Microsoft

A fundamental building block for your successful adoption of cloud services is the organizational hierarchy, a mode of organizing your cloud services, resources, and virtual machines in such a way that you ensure cloud governance and can better resolve billing within your organization.

Cloud governance is the answer to common questions like:

• “How do I keep my data compliant with industry regulations?”

• “How can I implement chargeback within my organization so I know which departments are consuming cloud services and account for that usage?”

• “How can I mandate security and access measures across our cloud environment?”

By implementing a flexible set of controls and overall organizational hierarchy within Azure, you can enable adoption of the cloud services your business units require and avoid shadow cloud use. A well-designed enterprise cloud environment can accommodate modern agile practices alongside traditional workloads.

Here’s how to structure your organizational hierarchy within Azure so you can set governance requirements and encourage speed of delivery for your individual departments and business units.

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Five Key Questions to Control Cloud Costs

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Friday, August 9th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, IT Modernization

With some organizations looking to move cloud workloads back on-premises to mitigate costs and regain control over their hardware and audit trails, you might be questioning cloud-first and cloud-only initiatives for infrastructure procurement.

After all, for years marketing pushed lower overall costs after migrating to the cloud. So what gives? Why are many cloud workloads ending up more expensive than their on-prem counterparts?

You've probably heard the old joke before that the cloud is “just someone else's data center.” That may have been true a decade ago, but no longer.

Forcing a cloud migration is not the key to savings. You must understand the business value, catalog and think deeply about the existing and desired state of your infrastructure, rearchitect your workloads, and adjust your workflow to this new paradigm. Here are the five key areas you need to plan things out.

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Before Going Serverless, Be Aware of Limitations

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Thursday, July 25th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, DevOps, IT Modernization

Serverless functions (often referred to as Functions as a Service or FaaS) will no doubt continue to grow in popularity and remain a cornerstone of IT services for many years to come. However, they are simply another way of building, maintaining, and delivering IT systems. With that in mind, they naturally have disadvantages or situations in which they may not be the preferred technology to use. These are due both to the nature of serverless and how it is currently implemented by cloud service providers.

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Azure Functions and Logic Apps: Differences and When to Use Them

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, July 10th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Datacenter Automation, Cloud Hosting, DevOps, IT Operations, Microsoft

Microsoft Azure offers native serverless computing features. Two of the most crucial to master are Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps. Each of them help enable business logic that automates your Azure workflow, but they have key differences and in fact can be used together in a complementary manner to offer flexible, powerful control over your cloud resources.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these serverless automation platforms work within Azure and some use cases for them.

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What’s a Jumpbox or Bastion Host, Anyway?

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Thursday, June 20th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft, Networking and Fiber, Security

Microsoft recently revealed a service called Azure Bastion that allows customers a more secure way to connect and access virtual machines (VMs). It uses Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Secure Shell (SSH) network protocol alongside Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.

Bastion connects VMs, your local computers, and cloud resources without exposing them to public network connections. As a Platform as a Service, it simplifies the process of setting up and administrating bastion hosts or jumpboxes in your cloud environment.

But what are bastion hosts or jumpboxes? And why would you use them, or a service like Azure Bastion?

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Office 365 vs. Microsoft 365: Which Is Right for Your Business?

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, May 29th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Active Directory, Windows 10, O365, IT Modernization, Microsoft

As you research your options for enterprise productivity applications you likely will come across Microsoft 365 alongside the more commonly known Office 365.

In typical Microsoft fashion, there are an array of different plans and licensing levels for each option. Deciding which is the best option can therefore take some time.

What is Microsoft 365 and how is it different from Office 365? M365 includes enterprise-specific features that you would likely purchase separately, critically several Enterprise Mobility and Security components.

For businesses at the midsize and enterprise levels, M365 seems like the clear choice. But what exactly do you get at each level of M365? And how does it compare to O365?

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Defining Your Enterprise Monitoring Strategy: Close the Gaps with SCOM 2019 and Azure Monitor

Written by Sameer Mhaisekar on Wednesday, April 17th 2019 — Categories: Azure, SCOM, Datacenter Automation, Cloud Hosting, Enterprise Applications, IT Operations, Microsoft, Monitoring, White Papers

When using Microsoft technologies in your enterprise IT stack, you have a few native options for systems monitoring and alerts. Two recent product developments — folding Operations Management Suite (OMS) functionality into Azure Monitor, as well as the release of the new SCOM 2019 — have reignited the debate to determine whether Azure Monitor can entirely replace the long standing, good-old SCOM (System Center Operations Manager).

In a way, I feel this comparison is a bit unfair, like comparing apples with oranges. Ultimately the two products can work together and overlap in order to eliminate monitoring gaps in your environment. So which monitoring solution would work the best for your enterprise? Let’s try to figure out!

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Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Sentinel: Part 2

Written by Aman Sharma on Tuesday, April 9th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Datacenter Automation, Microsoft, Security

This is Part Two and the final entry in our introductory blog series on Azure Sentinel, Microsoft's new Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool for Azure environments. Read Part One here for information on what Sentinel is, how to set it up, and how to begin importing data from your Azure PaaS and IaaS.

In Part Two, we'll examine deeper functionalities within Sentinel including Machine Learning, queries, and automation.

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Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Sentinel: Part 1

Written by Aman Sharma on Tuesday, April 2nd 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft, Security

Azure Sentinel is Microsoft's cloud-native SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) service with built-in AI analytics. It reduces the cost and complexity to provide a single pane of glass to get central and near real-time view of your whole environment.

Threats related to infrastructure, networking, users, and applications can be monitored via Azure Sentinel. As a cloud-native service, it scales as per your needs. It collates the data from your environment on-premises, in Azure, and any third party cloud providers. It uses Microsoft Threat Intelligence to analyze all the signals and filters out the noise from actual relevant alerts.

This two part blog series will introduce you to Azure Sentinel and show you how to get set up with the service and start exploring its many features.

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Implement Cloud Tagging to Simplify Automation and Administration

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Thursday, March 21st 2019 — Categories: Azure, Multi-Cloud, Datacenter Automation, Cloud Hosting, IT Operations, VMware

Whatever your cloud or virtualization platform of choice, you can implement tags on your resources in order to easily apply configuration changes or search by group.

As multi-cloud environments continue to become more and more popular and your virtual servers, storage, and associated components sprawl across various providers, efficient governance becomes even more critical.

By implementing a cloud resource tagging policy, you lay the groundwork to consistently apply automated or manual actions relating to allocation, reporting, chargeback, compliance, security, patching, software installation, and even decommissioning or scaling resources when required.

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