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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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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End of Support for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008: Should You Migrate to the Cloud?

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Thursday, June 6th 2019 — Categories: Active Directory, Cloud Hosting, IT Modernization, Microsoft, Security

You would be a woefully uninformed and unprepared as an IT admin if you didn’t know that two major Microsoft products, the 2008 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server, are each about to reach their end of support. That means it’s time to upgrade or migrate lest you fall victim to inevitable security vulnerabilities.

One big question when facing a major software upgrade such as this is whether to remain in place, so to speak, and update to the latest version from your current deployment scenario on premise or in a hosted environment, or to move to a cloud-based server – namely Azure, since that offers you tight integration and lower costs with Microsoft products such as these.

SQL Server end of support is imminent, coming up on July 9, 2019. Windows Server has a few months to go, ending support on January 14, 2020.

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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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Automating Azure Alert Rule Creation Using PowerShell and ARM Templates

Written by Gabriel Mora on Thursday, March 14th 2019 — Categories: Azure, Cloud Hosting, IT Operations, Microsoft, Monitoring

Alert Rules in Azure are a tool to let you know when some condition of your choice has occurred within any given component of your Azure infrastructure. In other words, they alert you to potential problems so you can remedy them before anything serious goes wrong.

Have you ever had the tedious task of creating multiple alerts for all of the resources in your subscription? Let me tell you, it is really time consuming to create them from scratch one by one.

I have a PowerShell Script that can Target and Create specific metric alerts for the resources you define inside of the script, making it much simpler to create a large amount of alerts at one time.

Skip down to the script if you’re familiar with Alerts already. If you aren’t here’s an overview on how they work.

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Service Availability Reporting in SCOM

Written by Sameer Mhaisekar on Wednesday, February 20th 2019 — Categories: Enterprise Advisory Services, SCOM, IT Operations, Microsoft

Many customers frequently ask the question whether or not it is possible to fetch a report of up-time of a service being monitored with SCOM. Usually, the answer is – not out of the box. However, you can achieve this using a simple workaround.

One way of doing it is to author your own service monitor, but that involves considerable amount of knowledge and experience of management packs and the underlying coding. It usually takes a lot of time as well. Not everyone has the right knowledge or the time to spend on this so I thought I’d share a quick trick I do to measure uptime of a service and also be able to present it to the concerned parties in the form of a report.

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