Azure Onboarding Guide for IT Organizations
Azure Onboarding Guide
for IT Organizations
Azure Cloud Services
Authors and Contributors
The following resources contributed to this version of the Azure Onboarding Guide:
Joachim Hafner – Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft
Contributers and Reviewers
Carsten Lemm – Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft
Eduardo Kassner – Director of Cloud Solution Architecture at Microsoft
Barry Briggs – Independent Consultant for software end enterprise computing
Cloud Solution Architects Microsoft Germany
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Table of Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 5
Moving to the cloud ............................................................................................................................ 6
Adaptation of the IT organization .......................................................................................................... 7
Transforming the IT organization ........................................................................................................... 7
Adopting the cloud ...................................................................................................................................... 9
Preparing and training IT staff for the cloud ................................................................................... 13
Recommendations for moving to the cloud ................................................................................... 15
Managing security, compliance and data privacy................................................................... 17
Working to keep customer data safe ................................................................................................. 18
Security design and operations ....................................................................................................... 18
Infrastructure protection .................................................................................................................... 20
Network protection .............................................................................................................................. 21
Data protection ...................................................................................................................................... 22
Identity and access ............................................................................................................................... 23
Owning and controlling data ................................................................................................................ 24
Managing compliance and data privacy regulations ................................................................... 25
Azure Security Center............................................................................................................................... 26
Microsoft US government cloud .......................................................................................................... 27
Microsoft cloud in Germany .................................................................................................................. 27
Cloud security recommendations for enterprise architects....................................................... 28
Azure enterprise administration .................................................................................................... 36
Understanding Azure subscriptions.................................................................................................... 37
Managing Azure subscriptions ............................................................................................................. 39
Defining naming conventions ............................................................................................................... 43
Recommendations for Azure enterprise administration............................................................. 43
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Integrating Azure into the corporate network ......................................................................... 45
Choosing the right connectivity option ............................................................................................ 45
Using ExpressRoute .............................................................................................................................. 48
Using Site-to-Site VPN ........................................................................................................................ 52
Protecting virtual networks .................................................................................................................... 53
Network Security Groups ................................................................................................................... 53
Forced tunneling ................................................................................................................................... 54
Virtual Appliances ................................................................................................................................. 55
Routing of network traffic ...................................................................................................................... 56
Managing public and private IP addresses ...................................................................................... 57
Recommendations for cloud connectivity ....................................................................................... 58
Extending Active Directory to Azure ............................................................................................ 61
Synchronizing/federating Active Directory Domain Services with Azure AD ..................... 62
Working with multiple forests and domains ................................................................................... 63
Multi-Factor Authentication .................................................................................................................. 66
Hosting Active Directory domain services ....................................................................................... 67
Using additional Azure Active Directory elements ....................................................................... 68
Azure AD B2B Collaboration ............................................................................................................. 68
Azure AD B2C Collaboration ............................................................................................................. 69
Azure AD Domain Services ................................................................................................................ 69
Azure Application Proxy ..................................................................................................................... 70
Recommendations for using Azure Active Directory ................................................................... 70
Operating Azure IaaS Services ....................................................................................................... 72
Gaining operational insights ................................................................................................................. 72
Getting started with Log Analytics ................................................................................................. 72
Creating log searches and raising of alerts ................................................................................. 75
Securing data .......................................................................................................................................... 77
Backing up and restoring data ............................................................................................................. 77
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Azure virtual machines ........................................................................................................................ 78
Files and folders ..................................................................................................................................... 81
Enterprise applications ........................................................................................................................ 83
Establishing secure remote access ...................................................................................................... 85
Automating operational procedures .................................................................................................. 88
Managing IT services according to ITIL ............................................................................................. 89
Recommendations for operating Azure IaaS Services ................................................................. 90
Migrating existing services to Azure............................................................................................ 91
Configuring virtual machine and application migrations ........................................................... 91
Mapping of networks and subnets ..................................................................................................... 92
Planning and testing failover ................................................................................................................ 93
Recommendations for migrating existing services to Azure .................................................... 93
Offering management for cloud-based services ..................................................................... 94
Consuming services .................................................................................................................................. 95
Provisioning of cloud services............................................................................................................... 96
Metering consumption per application ............................................................................................ 98
Billing and price prediction .................................................................................................................... 99
Managing the lifecycle........................................................................................................................... 100
Recommendations for cloud service provisioning ...................................................................... 101
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There are a lot of good reasons for enterprises to move to the cloud, such as greater business
agility, keeping track with the speed of innovation, and cost savings. The current state of the
various cloud surveys shows that cloud adoption is growing and has now hit its stride. The
strong growth in the use of cloud means that the majority of organizations are now operating in
a hybrid environment that consists of on-premises and cloud-based services.
The cloud is also changing how companies consume technology. Employees and business
departments are more empowered than ever before to find and use cloud applications, often
with limited or no involvement from the IT department, creating what’s called “shadow IT.”
Despite the benefits of cloud computing, companies face numerous challenges including the
integration of cloud services into the enterprise architecture, security and compliance of
corporate data, managing employee-led cloud usage, establishing operational processes for
cloud services, and even the development of necessary skills needed in the cloud era.
As companies move data to the cloud, IT departments are looking to put in place policies and
processes so that employees and business departments can take advantage of cloud services
that drive business growth without compromising the security, compliance, and governance of
corporate data.
The purpose of this document is to provide an overview, guidance, and best practices for
enterprise IT departments to introduce, consume, and manage Microsoft Azure-based services
within their organization. The target audience is enterprise architects, cloud architects, system
architects, and IT managers.
This document is not intended to replace existing documentation about Microsoft Azure
services and features.
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Moving to the cloud
The evolution and maturation of cloud technologies have brought enterprise IT into a
transitional stage. A 2015 EDUCAUSE study found that CIOs expect a significant shift in focus in
the next five years, away from managing primarily infrastructure and toward the cloud.
But why is cloud technology so irresistible? Why is making the migration such a good idea for
businesses? Answering this question for your business before you make the move is essential.
There are no two ways about it: Your business will move to the cloud, and making that move is a
good idea. But your success hinges on your reasoning for making the move. There are many
different opportunities to migrate to the cloud, each of which may have a different reason
behind it, and it’s critical that you identify each of these reasons.
According to a study from Accenture (Behind Every Cloud, There’s a Reason), there are six most
common business and technology drivers for making the move to the cloud, including how to
identify these drivers, how to identify the right drivers for your program, and how to define your
drivers. Properly identifying, defining, and balancing these drivers can help your business
successfully execute its cloud strategy and move toward a true transformation.
The six drivers for making the move to the cloud fall under two main categories: business
drivers, including business growth, efficiency, and experience, and technology drivers, including
agility, cost, and assurance.
Business growth
What are you doing to make your company more successful from the perspective of expansion?
This can take a number of different forms (for example, driving sales, enlarging wallet share, or
increasing productivity), so it’s important to clearly define how you intend to achieve this
Efficiency includes streamlining processes to get work done faster or with less resources. This
can turn around and fuel growth (for example, by allowing you take on more work) or reduce
costs (for example, by reducing the amount of resources required).
Whether it’s external or internal, the customer experience is of utmost importance in today’s
world. A good experience can increase brand loyalty among customers and retention among
employees. In general, a positive customer experience is strongly tied to brand value.
Agility is the most common cloud driver today, especially when IT is leading the charge. Being
agile helps IT change and scale fast enough to keep up with business needs.
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The difference between the technology driver cost and the business driver efficiency is often
misunderstood. Although efficiency can lead to cost savings, the cost driver focuses on reducing
the cost of IT licenses or operations and/or redefining the cost model for technology solutions.
Finally, assurance encompasses the achievement of mission-critical technology outcomes, such
as protecting against datacenter crashes or security breaches and maximizing disaster recovery
effectiveness. Going to the cloud for assurance frees IT to be more strategic and passes these
responsibilities to a provider that is typically better at handling them than your business is.
As you begin your move to the cloud, it’s important to identify which of these factors is driving
your journey. Doing so should help inform your next steps and justify making the move.
Adaptation of the IT organization
The effective adoption of cloud services requires changes to an organization’s existing
operational practices and procedures (see EDUCAUSE Preparing the IT Organization for the
Cloud). The external nature of cloud services may require an organization to rethink its IT service
management and disaster recovery practices, as well as how given cloud services integrate with
its existing in-house technology infrastructure. The pay-as-you-go cost model common with
cloud services may entail changes to financial management practices and total cost of
ownership calculations. Procurement processes may need to be adjusted to increase agility and
effectively address the unique risks associated with cloud service, and new vendor management
roles may need to be established and resourced to ensure ongoing compliance with contract
Transforming the IT organization
Cloud strategy development is an evolutionary process in most enterprises. Adopting a cloud
strategy requires careful coordination among a variety of stakeholders, including IT and
information security staff, legal teams, compliance experts, procurement specialists, and
institutional leadership. Once an enterprise cloud strategy is adopted, the implementation of
those strategies requires transformation in the IT organization. Some common approaches and
stages to developing an enterprise-wide cloud strategy include:
Cloud aware
Enterprise users and IT staff are aware of broad cloud trends but are not yet prepared to
adopt public-cloud solutions. These institutions may choose to build on-premises
solutions in a way that prepares them for an eventual move to the cloud.
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Cloud experimentation
The IT organization begins to learn about the various cloud services available to them in
the forms of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. The organization may begin deploying some common
SaaS solutions (such as Office 365), which sometimes grows into testing IaaS
Opportunistic cloud
The IT organization begins to actively seek out cloud solutions that meet new business
requirements. Services may remain as traditional on-premises deployments, but cloud
solutions are considered and deployed when reliability, scalability, or other benefits are
Cloud first
This strategy places cloud at the top of the decision-making chain. The default
assumption within the enterprise is that cloud services will fulfil the majority of the
enterprise computing needs.
The adoption of the various cloud strategies causes a paradigm shift that impacts both the IT
organization and IT staff members. Business units are increasingly driving the selection and
adoption of cloud IT solutions, and in doing so they may bypass the IT units. Enterprises will
achieve the best outcomes when their IT organizations serve as enablers, simplifying and
accelerating business units’ adoption of cloud services. In order to evolve into the role of cloud
enabler, IT units should carefully consider the value they bring with regard to cloud service
adoption, such as:
Establish strategy and goals
Define criteria for moving to or starting applications in the cloud
Architect core infrastructure components for cloud integration: Identity, Networking,
Acquire cloud development skills
Retool for adoption and change management
Take a systematic and disciplined approach to security and compliance
Now more than ever, IT units must clearly understand the evolving needs of business and units
and be prepared to help them assess the full range of possible solutions to their technology
needs. Successful IT organizations will find ways to simplify and accelerate cloud adoption by
reducing the barriers their partners face and by helping their company avoid potential pitfalls.
IT organizations must develop competencies with cloud technologies and services even as those
services evolve and change. Practically, this means that staff must have time to explore new
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technologies and that organizations may need to increase their investment in IT staff training. IT
organizations that fail to provide sufficient time for training and exploration will likely find
themselves unable to contribute meaningfully to the campus technology conversation. Business
units will not wait. They will simply bypass IT organizations unable to meet their needs. Change
management practices and IT governance processes need to become agile and rapidly
responsive to the needs of users, while still assessing risks to the organization.
Adopting the cloud
In any transformative change, it is important to understand what the destination is and what the
waypoints along the journey will be. There are multiple potential destinations for any
application, and IT cloud deployments will be a mixture of them (hybrid cloud). Hybrid cloud
uses compute or storage resources on your on-premises network and in the cloud. You can use
hybrid cloud as a path to migrate your business and its IT needs to the cloud or integrate cloud
platforms and services with your existing on-premises infrastructure as part of your overall IT
Private Cloud
Private Cloud technologies are hosted in an on-premises datacenter or in a datacenter
of a managed service provider. This might be necessary for certain applications or data
that can’t be moved to the cloud. Private Clouds are especially useful if they implement
a technology stack that is consistent with the Public Cloud. Microsoft Azure Stack is a
product that enables organizations to deliver Azure services from their own datacenter.
It helps you build and deploy your applications the same way regardless of whether it
runs on Azure or Azure Stack.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service abstracts hardware (server, storage, and network
infrastructure) into a pool of computing, storage, and connectivity capabilities that are
delivered as services for a usage-based (metered) cost. IaaS services allow you to build
and run server-based IT workloads in the cloud, rather than in your on-premises
datacenter. IaaS services typically consist of an IT workload that runs on virtual machines
that is transparently connected to your on-premises network. Your on-premises users
will not notice the difference. IaaS is one of the most common cloud deployment
patterns to date. It eliminates the need for capital expense budgets and reduces the
time between purchasing and deployment to almost nothing. In addition, it is most
similar to how IT operates today.
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Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service delivers application execution services, such as application runtime,
storage, and integration, for applications written for a prespecified development
framework. In a PaaS deployment model, enterprises are focusing on deploying their
application code into PaaS services. PaaS provides an efficient and agile approach to
operate scale-out applications in a predictable and cost-effective manner. Service levels
and operational risks are shared because the consumer must take responsibility for the
stability, architectural compliance, and overall operations of the application while the
provider delivers the platform capability (including the infrastructure and operational
functions) at a predictable service level and cost.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service delivers business processes and applications, such as CRM,
collaboration, and email, as standardized capabilities for a usage-based cost at an
agreed, business-relevant service level. SaaS provides significant efficiencies in cost and
delivery in exchange for minimal customization and represents a shift of operational
risks from the consumer to the provider. All infrastructure and IT operational functions
are abstracted away from the consumer. IT departments need only to take care of
provisioning users and data and perhaps integrating the application with Single SignOn.
The chart below shows the different responsibilities for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Most enterprises developed already or started developing new modern cloud applications.
Those applications have been designed for the cloud right from the beginning, and they make
use of PaaS offerings such as Azure Web Apps, Mobile Apps, Logic Apps, SQL Databases, Stream
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Analytics, and HD Insight, among others. But there is also a huge amount of traditional
enterprise IT that can benefit from the cloud as well without re-architecting existing applications.
Large enterprises are running hundreds or thousands of applications running perhaps on tens of
thousands of virtual machines. Key questions that need to be answered are: Which applications
could be moved? How could they be moved? How to prioritize? How does it affect the business?
Therefore, it is important to create a well-attributed catalog of applications managed by IT. The
relative importance of attributes such as business criticality, amount of integrations points,
performance requirements, etc., can be weighted and a prioritized list can be built. You can think
about those characteristics top-down or bottom-up. Top-down describes where each
application should go to; bottom-up describes where it can go.
The top assessment first evaluates the security and compliance aspects. Then it assesses the
complexity, interfaces, authentication, data structure, latency requirements, and other aspects of
the application architecture. Next are operational requirements, service levels, maintenance
windows, monitoring, and others. The result is a score that reflects the relative difficulty to
migrate the applications. Furthermore, the financial benefits of the application such as
operational efficiency, total cost of ownership, return on investment, and others have to be
taken into account. The seasonality, required scalability, and elasticity of the application need to
be considered and finally business continuity and resilience requirements that the application
might have. With this analysis you can figure out the applications that have the highest potential
value and are better suited for migrations.
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Analyzing the applications from a bottom-up perspective is aimed at providing a view into the
eligibility, at a technical level of an application to migrate. Evaluated requirements are typically
maximum memory, number of cores, operating system and data disk space, network interface
cards, network and IP settings, load balancing, clustering, versions of operating systems,
databases, middleware products, and web servers, among others.
Another aspect is the cloud platform, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS that the application should be migrated
to. Many enterprise organizations take a three-step approach to cloud adoption. The first
priority is to take advantage of SaaS productive workloads such as Office 365. The second
priority is to base new modern cloud applications on PaaS (Azure SQL databases, Azure Web
Apps, Logic Apps, Mobile Apps, etc.). The focus is on functionality rather than infrastructure. The
third priority is moving existing applications to IaaS virtual machines by using one of the two
Lift and Shift: Existing virtual machines are shifted to the cloud.
Build in the cloud: applications are prebuilt in Azure, and traditional methods are used
to back up and restore data.
To maximize efficiency, organizations are intending to use the higher level services of Azure
wherever possible. Even though migration to Azure is the goal, retaining core network services
in traditional on-premises datacenters will be necessary for the near future and results in a
Hybrid Cloud.
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This guide is focusing on getting Azure ready to use for PaaS and IaaS and provides best
practices how to migrate, manage, and operate IaaS-based workloads in Azure. For further
details about migration planning, please refer to this free ebook:
Preparing and training IT staff for the cloud
In order for IT staff to function as change agents supporting current and emerging cloud
technologies, their buy-in for the use and integration of these technologies is needed. For this,
staff need three things:
An understanding of their roles and of any changes to their current position
Time and resources to explore the technologies
An understanding of the business case for the technologies
At each evolutionary phase during the history of the IT industry, the most notable industry
changes are often marked by the changes to staff roles. During the transition from mainframes
to the client/server model, the role of the computer operator largely disappeared, replaced by
the system administrator. When the age of virtualization arrived, the requirement for individuals
working with physical servers diminished, replaced with a need for virtualization specialists.
Similarly, as institutions shift to cloud computing, roles will likely change again. For example,
datacenter specialists might be replaced with cloud financial analysts. Even in cases where IT job
titles have not changed, the daily work roles have evolved significantly.
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IT staff members may feel anxious about their roles and positions as they realize that a different
set of skills is needed for the support of cloud solutions. But agile employees who explore and
learn new cloud technologies don’t need to have that fear. They can lead the adoption of cloud
services and help the organization understand and embrace the associated changes. Typical
mappings of roles are:
Microsoft and partners offer a variety of options for all audiences to develop their skills with
Microsoft Azure services.
Microsoft Virtual Academy (
offers training from the people who helped to build Microsoft Azure. From the basic
overview to deep technical training, IT staff will learn how to leverage Microsoft Azure for
their business.
Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials ( is a free annual
subscription that includes cloud services, education, and support benefits. IT Pro Cloud
Essentials provides IT implementers with hands-on experience, targeted educational
opportunities, and access to experts in areas that matter most to increase knowledge
and create a path to career advancement.
The Microsoft IT Pro Career Center ( is a free online
resource to help map your cloud career path. Learn what industry experts suggest for
your cloud role and the skills to get you there. Follow a learning curriculum at your own
pace to build the skills you need most to stay relevant.
We recommend turning knowledge of Microsoft Azure into official recognition with Microsoft
Azure certification training and exams. (
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Recommendations for moving to the cloud
Identify your drivers to move to the cloud and take a systematic approach.
Recommendations for moving to the cloud
Catalog existing
To understand what applications should be moved, when and how, it’s
important to create a well-attributed catalog of applications managed by IT.
Then, the relative importance of each attribute (say, business criticality or
amount of system integration) can be weighted and the prioritized list can
be built.
Define criteria for
You should set priorities within your migration plan based on a combination
moving to or
of business factors, hardware/software factors, and other technical factors.
starting applications
in the cloud
Your business liaison team should work with the operations team and the
business units involved to help establish a priority listing that is widely
agreed upon. For sequencing the migration of your workloads, you should
begin with less-complex projects and gradually increase the complexity
after the less-complex projects have been migrated.
Architect core
You must account for the following elements when planning and
implementing hybrid cloud scenarios.
components for
Networking for hybrid cloud scenarios includes the connectivity to
cloud integration
Microsoft cloud platforms and services and enough bandwidth to be
performant under peak loads.
Identity for SaaS and Azure PaaS hybrid scenarios can include Azure AD as
a common identity provider, which can be synchronized with your onpremises Windows Server AD, or federated with Windows Server AD or
other identity providers. You can also extend your on-premises Identity
infrastructure to Azure IaaS.
Security for hybrid cloud scenarios includes protection and management
for your identities, data protection, administrative privilege management,
threat awareness, and the implementation of governance and security
Acquire cloud
You must develop competencies with cloud technologies and services even
development skills
as those services evolve and change. Practically, this means that staff must
have time to explore new technologies and that you may need to increase
your investment in IT staff training.
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Retool for adoption
Rethink your IT service management and disaster recovery practices, as well
and change
as how a given cloud service integrates with your existing in-house
technology infrastructure. Consider the usage of cloud-based IT service
Take a systematic
Invest in core capabilities within your organization that lead to secure
and disciplined
management solutions.
approach to
Governance & Security Policy
Administrative Privilege Management
Identity Systems and Identity Management
Threat Awareness
Data Protection
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Managing security, compliance and data privacy
Every business has different needs and every business will reap distinct benefits from cloud
solutions. Still, customers of all kinds have the same basic concerns about moving to the cloud.
They want to retain control of their data, and they want that data to be kept secure and private,
all while maintaining transparency and compliance. What customers want from cloud providers
Secure our data
While acknowledging that the cloud can provide increased data security and
administrative control, IT leaders are still concerned that migrating to the cloud will
leave them more vulnerable to hackers than their current in-house solutions.
Keep our data private
Cloud services raise unique privacy challenges for businesses. As companies look to the
cloud to save on infrastructure costs and improve their flexibility, they also worry about
losing control of where their data is stored, who is accessing it, and how it gets used.
Give us control
Even as they take advantage of the cloud to deploy more innovative solutions,
companies are very concerned about losing control of their data. The recent disclosures
of government agencies accessing customer data, through both legal and extra-legal
means, make some CIOs wary of storing their data in the cloud.
Promote transparency
While security, privacy, and control are important to business decision-makers, they also
want the ability to independently verify how their data is being stored, accessed, and
Maintain compliance
As companies expand their use of cloud technologies, the complexity and scope of
standards and regulations continue to evolve. Companies need to know that their
compliance standards will be met, and that compliance will evolve as regulations change
over time.
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Working to keep customer data safe
Security design and operations
Secure cloud solutions are the result of comprehensive planning, innovative design, and efficient
operations. Microsoft makes security a priority at every step, from code development to incident
Design for security from the ground up
Azure code development adheres to Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle (SDL).
The SDL is a software development process that helps developers build more secure
software and addresses security compliance requirements while reducing development
cost. The SDL became central to Microsoft’s development practices a decade ago and is
shared freely with the industry and customers. It embeds security requirements into
systems and software through the planning, design, development, and deployment
Enhancing operational security
Azure adheres to a rigorous set of security controls that governs operations and
support. Microsoft deploys combinations of preventive, defensive, and reactive controls
including the following mechanisms to help protect against unauthorized developer
and/or administrative activity:
Tight access controls on sensitive data, including a requirement for two-factor
smartcard-based authentication to perform sensitive operations.
Combinations of controls that enhance independent detection of malicious
Multiple levels of monitoring, logging, and reporting.
In addition, Microsoft conducts background verification checks of certain operations
personnel and limits access to applications, systems, and network infrastructure in
proportion to the level of background verification.
Assume breach
One key operational best practice that Microsoft uses to harden its cloud services is
known as the “assume breach” strategy. A dedicated “red team” of software security
experts simulates real-world attacks at the network, platform, and application layers,
testing Azure’s ability to detect, protect against, and recover from breaches. By
constantly challenging the security capabilities of the service, Microsoft can stay ahead
of emerging threats.
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Incident management and response
Microsoft follows a five-step incident response process when managing both security
and availability incidents for the Azure services. The goal for both types is to restore
normal service security and operations as quickly as possible after an issue is detected
and an investigation is started. The response is implemented using a five-stage process
illustrated in the figure below, which shows the following activities: Detect, Assess,
Diagnose, Stabilize, and Close. The Security Incident Response Team may move back
and forth between diagnose and stabilize as the investigation progresses.
First indication of an event investigation
An on-call incident response team member assesses the impact and severity of the
event. Based on evidence, the assessment may or may not result in further escalation to
the security response team.
Security response experts conduct the technical or forensic investigation, and identify
containment, mitigation, and workaround strategies. If the security team believes that
customer data may have become exposed to an unlawful or unauthorized individual,
parallel execution of the Customer Incident Notification process begins in parallel.
Stabilize, recover
The incident response team creates a recovery plan to mitigate the issue. Crisis
containment steps such as quarantining impacted systems may occur immediately and
in parallel with diagnosis. Longer term mitigations may be planned, which occur after
the immediate risk has passed.
The incident response team creates a post-mortem that outlines the details of the
incident, with the intention to revise policies, procedures, and processes to prevent a
reoccurrence of the event.
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Infrastructure protection
Azure infrastructure includes hardware, software, networks, administrative and operations staff,
and the physical datacenters that house it all. Azure addresses security risks across its
Physical security
Azure runs in geographically distributed Microsoft facilities, sharing space and utilities
with other Microsoft Online Services. Each facility is designed to run 24x7x365 and
employs various measures to help protect operations from power failure, physical
intrusion, and network outages. These datacenters comply with industry standards (such
as ISO 27001) for physical security and availability. They are managed, monitored, and
administered by Microsoft operations personnel.
Monitoring and logging
Centralized monitoring, correlation, and analysis systems manage the large amount of
information generated by devices within the Azure environment, providing continuous
visibility and timely alerts to the teams that manage the service. Additional monitoring,
logging, and reporting capabilities provide visibility to customers.
Update management
Security update management helps protect systems from known vulnerabilities. Azure
uses integrated deployment systems to manage the distribution and installation of
security updates for Microsoft software. Azure uses a combination of Microsoft and
third-party scanning tools to run OS, web application, and database scans of the Azure
Antivirus and antimalware
Azure software components must go through a virus scan prior to deployment. Code is
not moved to production without a clean and successful virus scan. In addition,
Microsoft provides native antimalware on all Azure VMs. Microsoft recommends that
customers run some form of antimalware or antivirus on all virtual machines (VMs).
Customers can install Microsoft Antimalware for Cloud Services and Virtual Machines or
another antivirus solution on VMs, and VMs can be routinely reimaged to clean out
intrusions that may have gone undetected.
Penetration testing
Microsoft conducts regular penetration testing to improve Azure security controls and
processes. Microsoft understands that security assessment is also an important part of
our customers’ application development and deployment. Therefore, Microsoft has
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established a policy for customers to carry out authorized penetration testing on their
own—and only their own—applications hosted in Azure.
DDoS protection
Azure has a defense system against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on
Azure platform services. It uses standard detection and mitigation techniques. Azure’s
DDoS defense system is designed to withstand attacks generated from outside and
inside the platform.
Network protection
Azure networking provides the infrastructure necessary to securely connect VMs to one another
and to connect on-premises datacenters with Azure VMs. Because Azure’s shared infrastructure
hosts hundreds of millions of active VMs, protecting the security and confidentiality of network
traffic is critical. In the traditional datacenter model, a company’s IT organization controls
networked systems, including physical access to networking equipment. In the cloud service
model, the responsibilities for network protection and management are shared between the
cloud provider and the customer. Customers do not have physical access, but they implement
the logical equivalent within their cloud environment through tools such as Guest operating
system (OS) firewalls, Virtual Network Gateway configuration, and Virtual Private Networks.
Network isolation
Azure is a multitenant service, meaning that multiple customers’ deployments and VMs
are stored on the same physical hardware. Azure uses logical isolation to segregate each
customer’s data from that of others. This provides the scale and economic benefits of
multitenant services while rigorously preventing customers from accessing one
another’s data.
Virtual networks
A customer can assign multiple deployments within a subscription to a virtual network
and allow those deployments to communicate with each other through private IP
addresses. Each virtual network is isolated from other virtual networks.
VPN and ExpressRoute
Microsoft enables connections from customer sites and remote workers to Azure Virtual
Networks using Site-to-Site and Point-to-Site VPNs. For even better performance,
customers can use an optional ExpressRoute, a private fiber link into Azure datacenters
that keeps their traffic off the Internet.
Encrypting communications
Built-in cryptographic technology enables customers to encrypt communications within
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and between deployments, between Azure regions, and from Azure to on-premises
Data protection
Azure allows customers to encrypt data and manage keys, and safeguards customer data for
applications, platform, system, and storage using three specific methods: encryption,
segregation, and destruction.
Data isolation
Azure is a multitenant service, meaning that multiple customers’ deployments and
virtual machines are stored on the same physical hardware.
Protecting data at rest
Azure offers a wide range of encryption capabilities, giving customers the flexibility to
choose the solution that best meets their needs. Azure Disk Encryption is a capability
that lets you encrypt your Windows and Linux IaaS virtual machine disks. Azure Disk
Encryption leverages the industry-standard BitLocker feature of Windows and the DMCrypt feature of Linux to provide volume encryption for the OS and the data disks. The
solution is integrated with Azure Key Vault to help you control and manage the disk
encryption keys and secrets in your key vault subscription, while ensuring that all data in
the virtual machine disks are encrypted at rest in your Azure storage.
SQL Database TDE is based on SQL Server’s TDE technology, which encrypts the storage
of an entire database by using an industry-standard AES-256 symmetric key called the
database encryption key. SQL Database protects this database encryption key with a
service-managed certificate. All key management for database copying, GeoReplication, and database restores anywhere in SQL Database is handled by the service.
Protecting data in transit
For data in transit, customers can enable encryption for traffic between their own VMs
and end users. Azure protects data in transit, such as between two virtual networks.
Azure uses industry-standard transport protocols such as TLS between devices and
Microsoft datacenters, and within datacenters themselves.
Customers can encrypt data in storage and in transit to align with best practices for
protecting confidentiality and data integrity. For data in transit, Azure uses industrystandard transport protocols between devices and Microsoft datacenters and within
datacenters themselves. You can enable encryption for traffic between your own virtual
machines and end users.
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Data redundancy
Customers may opt for in-country storage for compliance or latency considerations or
out-of-country storage for security or disaster recovery purposes. Data may be
replicated within a selected geographic area for redundancy.
Data destruction
When customers delete data or leave Azure, Microsoft follows strict standards for
overwriting storage resources before reuse. As part of our agreements for cloud services
such as Azure Storage, Azure VMs, and Azure Active Directory, we contractually commit
to specific processes for the deletion of data.
Identity and access
Microsoft has strict controls that restrict access to Azure by Microsoft employees. Azure also
enables customers to control access to their environments, data, and applications.
Enterprise cloud directory
Azure Active Directory is a comprehensive identity and access management solution in
the cloud. It combines core directory services, advanced identity governance, security,
and application access management. Azure Active Directory makes it easy for
developers to build policy-based identity management into their applications. Azure
Active Directory Premium includes additional features to meet the advanced identity
and access needs of enterprise organizations. Azure Active Directory enables a single
identity management capability across on-premises, cloud, and mobile solutions.
Multi-Factor Authentication
Microsoft Azure provides Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). This helps safeguard
access to data and applications and enables regulatory compliance while meeting user
demand for a simple sign-in process for both on-premises and cloud applications. It
delivers strong authentication via a range of easy verification options—phone call, text
message, or mobile app notification—allowing users to choose the method they prefer.
Access monitoring and logging
Security reports are used to monitor access patterns and to proactively identify and
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mitigate potential threats. Microsoft administrative operations, including system access,
are logged to provide an audit trail if unauthorized or accidental changes are made.
Customers can turn on additional access monitoring functionality in Azure and use
third-party monitoring tools to detect additional threats. Customers can request reports
from Microsoft that provide information about user access to their environments.
Owning and controlling data
Customers will only use cloud providers in which they have great trust. They must trust that the
privacy of their information will be protected, and that their data will be used in a way that is
consistent with their expectations. Standards and processes that support Privacy by Design
principles include the Microsoft Online Services Privacy Statement and the Microsoft Security
Development Lifecycle. We then back those protections with strong contractual commitments to
safeguard customer data, including offering EU Model Clauses (which provides terms covering
the processing of personal information), and complying with international standards. Microsoft
uses customer data stored in Azure only to provide the service, including purposes compatible
with providing the service. Azure does not use customer data for advertising or similar
commercial purposes.
Microsoft was the first major cloud service provider to make contractual privacy commitments
that help ensure the privacy protections built into in-scope Azure services are strong. Among
the many commitments that Microsoft supports are:
EU Model Clauses
US-EU Safe Harbor Framework and the US-Swiss Safe Harbor Program
ISO/IEC 27018
Access to customer data by Microsoft personnel is restricted. Customer data is only accessed
when necessary to support the customer’s use of Azure. This may include troubleshooting aimed
at preventing, detecting, or repairing problems affecting the operation of Azure and the
improvement of features that involve the detection of, and protection against, emerging and
evolving threats to the user (such as malware or spam). When granted, access is controlled and
logged. Strong authentication, including the use of multifactor authentication, helps limit access
to authorized personnel only. Access is revoked as soon as it is no longer needed.
Microsoft believes that customers should control their data whether stored on their premises or
in a cloud service. We will not disclose Azure customer data to law enforcement except as a
customer directs or where required by law. When governments make a lawful demand for Azure
customer data from Microsoft, we strive to be principled, limited in what we disclose, and
committed to transparency. In its commitment to transparency, Microsoft regularly publishes a
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Law Enforcement Requests Report that discloses the scope and number of requests we receive.
Microsoft keeps customers informed about the processes to protect data privacy and security,
including practices and policies. Microsoft also provides the summaries of independent audits of
services, which helps customers pursue their own compliance.
Managing compliance and data privacy regulations
Microsoft invests heavily in the development of robust and innovative compliance processes.
The Microsoft compliance framework for online services maps controls to multiple regulatory
standards. This enables Microsoft to design and build services using a common set of controls,
streamlining compliance across a range of regulations today and as they evolve in the future.
Microsoft compliance processes also make it easier for customers to achieve compliance across
multiple services and meet their changing needs efficiently. Together, security-enhanced
technology and effective compliance processes enable Microsoft to maintain and expand a rich
set of third-party certifications. These help customers demonstrate compliance readiness to their
customers, auditors, and regulators. As part of its commitment to transparency, Microsoft shares
third-party verification results with its customers.
Azure meets a broad set of international as well as regional and industry-specific compliance
standards, such as ISO 27001, FedRAMP, SOC 1, and SOC 2. Azure’s adherence to the strict
security controls contained in these standards is verified by rigorous third-party audits that
demonstrate Azure services work with and meet world-class industry standards, certifications,
attestations, and authorizations.
Azure is designed with a compliance strategy that helps customers address business objectives
and industry standards and regulations. The security compliance framework includes test and
audit phases, security analytics, risk management best practices, and security benchmark
analysis to achieve certificates and attestations. Microsoft Azure offers the following
certifications for all in-scope services.
Content Delivery and Security Association (CDSA)
Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Cloud Controls Matrix
EU Model Clauses
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 P 11
Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2
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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP)
ISO/IEC 27018
ISO/IEC 27001/27002:2013
Multi-Level Protection Scheme (MLPS)
Multi-Tier Cloud Security Standard for Singapore (MTCS SS)
Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS)
Service Organization Control (SOC) reporting framework for both SOC 1 Type 2 and
SOC 2 Type 2.
Trusted Cloud Service certification developed by the China Cloud Computing Promotion
and Policy Forum (CCCPPF)
UK Government G-Cloud
Azure Security Center
Security Center helps you prevent, detect, and respond to threats with increased visibility into
and control over the security of your Azure resources. It provides integrated security monitoring
and policy management across your Azure subscriptions, helps detect threats that might
otherwise go unnoticed, and works with a broad ecosystem of security solutions. Security Center
delivers easy-to-use and effective threat prevention, detection, and response capabilities that
are built in to Azure. Key capabilities are:
Monitors the security state of your Azure resources
Defines policies for your Azure subscriptions and resource groups based on your
company’s security requirements, the types of applications that you use, and the
sensitivity of your data
Uses policy-driven security recommendations to guide service owners through the
process of implementing needed controls
Rapidly deploys security services and appliances from Microsoft and partners
Automatically collects and analyzes security data from your Azure resources, the
network, and partner solutions like antimalware programs and firewalls
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Leverages global threat intelligence from Microsoft products and services, the Microsoft
Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), and external
Applies advanced analytics, including machine learning and behavioral analysis
Provides prioritized security incidents/alerts
Offers insights into the source of the attack and impacted resources
Suggests ways to stop the current attack and help prevent future attacks
Microsoft US government cloud
Azure Government is a government-community cloud (GCC) designed to support strategic
government scenarios that require speed, scale, security, compliance, and economics for US
government organizations. It was developed based on Microsoft’s extensive experience
delivering software, security, compliance, and controls in other Microsoft cloud offerings such as
Azure public, Office 365, Office 365 GCC, Microsoft CRM Online, etc.
In addition, Azure Government is designed to meet the higher level security and compliance
needs for sensitive, dedicated, US Public Sector workloads found in regulations such as United
States Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), Department of
Defense Enterprise Cloud Service Broker (ECSB), Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
Security Policy, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Azure Government includes the core components of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and
Platform as a Service (PaaS). This includes infrastructure, network, storage, data management,
identity management, and many other services.
Microsoft cloud in Germany
Starting in 2016, Microsoft will offer its cloud services Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics
CRM Online from within German datacenters. That alone wouldn’t be really surprising or
innovative, but the unique thing about this is that the keys (physical and logical) that control
access to customer data in this cloud are held by a German company, Deutsche Telekom’s
subsidiary T-Systems, which will act as a Data Trustee. So Microsoft will have no access to
customer data without approval and supervision by the Data Trustee.
All access rights are handled by a role-based access model, better known as RBAC. Those roles
are based on functions (Reader, Owner, etc.) and/or on realms (server, mailboxes, resource
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groups, etc.). Microsoft has—in this new model—no rights at all to access customer data. Only
for a special purpose like a support call from a customer will a temporary access be granted by
the Data Trustee to the Microsoft engineer, and only for the specified area. After that time all
access is revoked automatically. Microsoft has no way to grant that access to itself. And of
course there is a logging of this process to an area where Microsoft has no access, too. In
addition, the Data Trustee is escorting the session and watching the engineer at work.
That RBAC is also in place for physical access to the datacenters. The Data Trustee has to
approve the visit and will escort Microsoft or any of its subcontractors at any time during the
visit. For all those cases where Microsoft could come in contact with customer data, it needs a
reason related to operation of the services (incident, support case), a well-defined area of access,
and a well-defined time period, and only then the trustee will grant access.
Customer data is only stored in the German datacenters. Data exchange between the two Azure
regions in Germany (Germany Central and Germany Northeast) is handled by a dedicated
network line leased from a German provider, just to make sure that no data is accidently routed
outside of Germany. There is no additional replication or backup to other regions; even Azure
Active Directory is only replicated between those two German Azure regions.
For encryption and securing data traffic between client applications and cloud servers, Microsoft
relies on the nationally recognized certification authority of Bundesdruckerei GmbH, D-TRUST.
This ensures customers of Microsoft Cloud Germany that their data is protected by the latest
encryption technologies available in the market. With the safety concepts of Bundesdruckerei,
users and servers can be reliably authenticated to ensure encrypted traffic.
Cloud security recommendations for enterprise architects
Although Microsoft is committed to the privacy and
security of your data and applications in the cloud,
customers must take an active role in the security
partnership. Ever-evolving cybersecurity threats increase
the requirements for security rigor and principles at all
layers for both on-premises and cloud assets. Enterprise
organizations are better able to manage and address
concerns about security in the cloud when they take a
systematic approach. Moving workloads to the cloud
shifts many security responsibilities and costs to
Microsoft, freeing your security resources to focus on
the critically important areas of data, identity, strategy,
and governance.
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Your responsibility for security is based on the type of cloud service. The chart summarizes the
balance of responsibility for both Microsoft and the customer.
Recommendations for security strategy, governance, and operationalization
Develop cloud
Policies enable you to align your security controls with your organization’s
security policies
goals, risks, and culture. Policies should provide clear, unequivocal guidance
to enable good decisions by all practitioners.
Document security policies in enough detail to guide personnel into quick
and accurate decisions while adopting and managing cloud services. Ensure
you have sufficient detail on policy areas that are well-established and
critically important to your security posture.
Balance security and usability. Security controls that overly restrict the
ability of admins and users to accomplish tasks will be worked around. Build
buy-in through both threat education and inclusion in the security design
Document protocols and processes for performing critically important
security tasks such as using administrative credentials, responding to
common security events, and recovering from significant security incidents.
Embrace shadow IT. Identify the unmanaged use of devices, cloud services,
and applications. Identify business requirements that led to their use and
the business risk that they bring. Work with business groups to enable
required capabilities while mitigating risks
Manage continuous
The evolution of security threats and changes requires comprehensive
operational capabilities and ongoing adjustments. Proactively manage this
Establish operational capabilities to monitor alerts, investigate incidents,
initiate remediation actions, and integrate lessons learned.
Build external context of threats using available resources such as threat
intelligence feeds, Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), and
other means.
Validate your security posture by authorized red team and/or penetration
testing activity.
White paper: Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Red Teaming
White paper: Determined Adversaries and Targeted Attacks
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Manage continuous
The rate of capability releases and updates from cloud services requires
proactive management of potential security impacts.
Define a monthly cadence to review and integrate updates of cloud
capabilities, regulatory and compliance requirements, evolving threats, and
organizational objectives.
Prevent configuration drift with periodic reviews to ensure technologies,
configurations, and operational practices stay in compliance with your
policies and protocols.
Contain risk by
When planning security controls and security response processes, assume
assuming breach
an attacker has compromised other internal resources such as user
accounts, workstations, and applications. Assume an attacker will use these
resources as an attack platform. Modernize your containment strategy by:
Identifying your most critical assets such as mission-critical data,
applications, and dependencies. Security for these must be at a higher level
without compromising usability.
Enhancing isolation between security zones by increasing rigor of
exception management. Apply threat modeling techniques to all authorized
exceptions and analysis of these application data flows, including identities
used, data transmitted, application and platform trustworthiness, and ability
to inspect interaction.
Focus containment within a security zone on preserving integrity of the
administrative model rather than on network isolation.
Recommendations for administrative control
Least privilege
admin model
Apply least-privilege approaches to your administrative model, including:
Limit the number of administrators or members of privileged
Delegate fewer privileges to accounts.
Provide privileges on demand.
Have existing administrators perform tasks instead of adding
additional administrators.
Provide processes for emergency access and rare use scenarios.
Harden security
Security dependencies include anything that has administrative control of
an asset. Ensure that you harden all dependencies at or above the security
level of the assets they control. Security dependencies for cloud services
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commonly include identity systems, on-premises management tools,
administrative groups and accounts, and workstations where these accounts
Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics
Use strong
Use credentials secured by hardware or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
for all identities with administrative privileges. This mitigates risk of stolen
credentials being used to abuse privileged accounts.
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication
Use dedicated admin
Separate high-impact assets from highly prevalent Internet browsing and
accounts and
email risks:
Use dedicated accounts for privileged administrative roles for cloud
services and on-premises dependencies.
Use dedicated, hardened workstations for administration of highbusiness impact IT assets.
Do not use high privilege accounts on devices where email and web
browsing take place.
Securing Privileged Access
Enforce stringent
Administrators control significant numbers of organizational assets.
security standards
Rigorously measure and enforce stringent security standards on
administrative accounts and systems. This includes cloud services and onpremises dependencies such as Active Directory, identity systems,
management tools, security tools, administrative workstations, and
associated operating systems.
Monitor admin
Closely monitor the use and activities of administrative accounts. Configure
alerts for activities that are high impact as well as for unusual or rare
White paper: Microsoft Azure Security and Audit Log Management
Educate and
Educate administrative personnel on likely threats and their critical role in
empower admins
protecting their credentials and key business data. Administrators are the
gatekeepers of access to many of your critical assets. Empowering them
with this knowledge will enable them to be better stewards of your assets
and security posture.
Recommendations for data protection
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The first step to protecting information is identifying what to protect.
Develop clear, simple, and well-communicated guidelines to identify,
protection priorities
protect, and monitor the most important data assets anywhere they reside.
Trustworthy Computing: Data governance
Protect High Value
Establish the strongest protection for assets that have a disproportionate
Assets (HVAs)
impact on the organization’s mission or profitability. Perform stringent
analysis of HVA lifecycle and security dependencies, and establish
appropriate security controls and conditions.
Find and protect
Identify and classify sensitive assets. Define the technologies and processes
sensitive assets
to automatically apply security controls.
Azure Rights Management
Azure Key Vault
Always Encrypted (Database Engine)
Set organizational
Establish minimum standards for trusted devices and accounts that access
minimum standards
any data assets belonging to the organization. This can include device
configuration compliance, device wipe, enterprise data protection
capabilities, user authentication strength, and user identity.
Establish user policy
Users play a critical role in information security and should be educated on
and education
your policies and norms for the security aspects of data creation,
classification, compliance, sharing, protection, and monitoring.
Recommendations for user identity and device security
Use strong
Use credentials secured by hardware or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
for all identities to mitigate the risk that stolen credentials can be used to
abuse accounts.
User identities hosted in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).
On-premises accounts whose authentication is federated from onpremises Active Directory.
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication
Manage trusted and
Establish, measure, and enforce modern security standards on devices that
compliant devices
are used to access corporate data and assets. Apply configuration standards
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and rapidly install security updates to lower the risk of compromised
devices being used to access or tamper with data.
Educate, empower,
Users control their own accounts and are on the front line of protecting
and enlist users
many of your critical assets. Empower your users to be good stewards of
organizational and personal data. At the same time, acknowledge that user
activities and errors carry security risks that can be mitigated but never
completely eliminated. Focus on measuring and reducing risks from users.
Educate users on likely threats and their role in protecting business
Increase adversary cost to compromised user accounts.
Explore gamification and other means of increasing user
Monitor for account
One of the most reliable ways to detect abuse of privileges, accounts, or
and credential abuse
data is to detect anomalous activity of an account.
Identify activity that is normal and physically possible. Alert on
unusual activity to enable rapid investigation and response.
For accounts in Azure AD, use the integrated analytics to detect
unusual activity.
White paper: Microsoft Azure Security and Audit Log Management
Recommendations for application security
Secure applications
Review the security development processes and operational
practices of vendors before acquiring applications. Build this into
that you acquire
your acquisition process.
Follow security configuration guidance and recommendations
provided by the vendor for the application.
Apply all vendor security updates as rapidly as your testing
requirements allow. Be sure to update middleware and
dependencies installed with the applications.
Discontinue your use of software before it reaches end of support
Follow the Security
Software applications with source code you develop or control are a
potential attack surface. These include PaaS apps, PaaS apps built from
Lifecycle (SDL)
sample code in Azure (such as WordPress sites), and apps that interface with
Office 365. Follow code security best practices in the Microsoft Security
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Development Lifecycle (SDL) to minimize vulnerabilities and their security
Recommendations for network connectivity
Update your
Ensure your network architecture is ready for the cloud by updating your
network security
current approach or taking the opportunity to start fresh with a modern
strategy and
architecture for
cloud computing
strategy for cloud services and platforms. Align your network strategy with
Overall security strategy and governance
Containment model and identity strategy
Cloud services capabilities and constraints
Your design should address securing communications:
Inbound from the Internet
Between VMs in a subscription
Across subscriptions
To and from on-premises networks
From remote administration hosts
Optimize with cloud
Cloud computing offers uniquely flexible network capabilities as topologies
are defined in software. Evaluate the use of these modern cloud capabilities
to enhance your network security auditability, discoverability, and
operational flexibility.
Manage and monitor Ensure your processes and technology capabilities are able to distinguish
network security
anomalies and variances in configurations and network traffic flow patterns.
Cloud computing utilizes public networks, allowing rapid exploitation of
misconfigurations that should be avoided or rapidly detected and corrected.
Closely monitor and alert on exceptions.
Apply automated means to ensure your network configuration
remains correct and unusual traffic patterns are detected.
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Recommendations for operating system and middleware
Virtual operating
Secure the virtual host operating system (OS) and middleware running on
virtual machines. Ensure that all aspects of the OS and middleware security
meet or exceed the level required for the host, including:
Administrative privileges and practices
Software updates for OS and middleware
Security Configuration Baseline
Use of Group Policy Objects (GPOs)
Installation methods and media
Use of scheduled tasks
Antimalware and intrusion detection/prevention
Host firewall and IPsec configurations
Event log configuration and monitoring
Virtual OS
System management tools have full technical control of the host operating
management tools
systems (including the applications, data, and identities), making these a
security dependency of the cloud service. Secure these tools at or above the
level of the systems they manage. These tools typically include:
Configuration Management
Operations Management and Monitoring
Security Update and Patch Management
Microsoft Cloud Services and Network Security
Microsoft Azure Security blog
Operations Management Suite
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Azure enterprise administration
The Azure Enterprise Agreement portal allows large enterprise customers of Azure to manage
Azure subscriptions and associated licensing information from a central portal. Enterprise
Agreement (EA) customers can add Azure to their EA by making an upfront monetary
commitment to Azure. That commitment is consumed throughout the year by using any
combination of the wide variety of cloud services Azure offers from its global datacenters.
Within a given enterprise enrollment, Microsoft Azure has several roles that individuals play. The
Enterprise Administrator has the ability to add or associate Accounts and Departments to the
Enrollment, can view usage data across all Accounts and Departments, and is able to see the
monetary commitment balance associated to the Enrollment. There is no limit to the number of
Enterprise Administrators on an Enrollment.
Departments can be leveraged if an additional level to structure the Accounts and Subscriptions
is needed. Cost center and Start/End date can be added as an attribute to the Department.
Department Administrators can manage Department properties, manage accounts under the
department they administer, download usage details, and view monthly Usage and Charges
associated to their Department if the Enterprise Administrator has granted permission to do so.
The Account Owner can add Subscriptions for their Account, update the Service Administrator
and Co-Administrator for an individual Subscription, view usage data for their Account, and view
Account charges if the Enterprise Administrator has provided access. Account Owners will not
have visibility of the monetary commitment balance unless they also have Enterprise
Administrator rights. The Service Administrator and up to 200 Co-Administrators per
Subscription have the ability to access and manage Subscriptions and development projects
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within the classic Azure Management Portal. Service Administrators do not have access to the
Enterprise Portal unless they also have one of the other two roles. The Resource Group
Administrators manage a group of resources within a subscription that collectively provide a
service and share a lifecycle: single project or service focused.
The primary tools that are used by these roles are:
Enterprise Administrator
Departmental Administrator
Account Owner
Service Administrator
Resource Group Administrator
Understanding Azure subscriptions
Initially, a subscription was the administrative security boundary of Microsoft Azure. With the
advent of the Azure Resource Management (ARM) model, a subscription now has two
administrative models: Azure Service Management and Azure Resource Management. With
ARM, the subscription is no longer needed as an administrative boundary. ARM provides a more
granular Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) model for assigning administrative privileges at the
resource level. Using RBAC, you can segregate duties within your team and grant only the
amount of access to users that they need to perform their jobs. Access is granted by assigning
the appropriate RBAC role to users, groups, and applications at a certain scope. The scope of a
role assignment can be a subscription, a resource group, or a single resource. A role assigned at
a parent scope also grants access to the children contained within it. For example, a user with
access to a resource group can manage all the resources it contains, like websites, virtual
machines, and subnets.
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The RBAC role that is assigned dictates what resources the user, group, or application can
manage within that scope. Azure RBAC has three basic roles that apply to all resource types:
Owner has full access to all resources including the right to delegate access to others.
Contributor can create and manage all types of Azure resources but can’t grant access
to others.
Reader can view existing Azure resources.
The rest of the RBAC roles in Azure allow management of specific Azure resources. For example,
the Virtual Machine Contributor role allows users to create and manage virtual machines. It does
not give them access to the virtual network or the subnet that the virtual machine connects to.
A subscription additionally forms the billing unit. Services charges are accrued to the
subscription. As part of the new Azure Resource Management model, it is also possible to roll
up costs. A standard naming convention for Azure resource object types can be used to manage
billing across projects teams, business units, or other desired view. See section 9.4 for further
A subscription is also a logical limit of scale by which resources can be allocated. These limits
include hard and soft caps of various resource types (see Scalability is a key element for
understanding how the subscription strategy will account for growth as consumption increases.
If you want to raise the limit above the Default Limit, you can open an online customer support
request at no charge.
Every Azure subscription has a trust relationship with an Azure Active Directory instance (see
section 6 for further details). This means that it trusts that directory to authenticate users,
services, and devices. Multiple subscriptions can trust the same directory, but a subscription
trusts only one directory.
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This trust relationship that a subscription has with a directory is unlike the relationship that a
subscription has with all other resources in Azure (websites, databases, and so on), which are
more like child resources of a subscription. If a subscription expires, then access to those other
resources associated with the subscription also stops. But the directory remains in Azure, and
you can associate another subscription with that directory and continue to manage the directory
As a best practice, you should sign up for Azure as an organization and use a work or school
account to manage resources in Azure. Work or school accounts are preferred because they can
be centrally managed by the organization that issued them, they have more features than
Microsoft accounts, and they are directly authenticated by Azure Active Directory. The same
account provides access to other Microsoft online services that are offered to businesses and
organizations, such as Office 365 or Microsoft Intune. If you already have an account that you
use with those other properties, you likely want to use that same account with Azure.
The important point here is that Azure subscription admins and Azure AD directory admins are
two separate concepts. Azure subscription admins can manage resources in Azure. Directory
admins can manage properties in the directory. A person can be in both roles, but this isn’t
Managing Azure subscriptions
In an Enterprise Environment it is key to set up Azure subscriptions in a way that ensures they
support the requirements and fulfil the needs for reporting, segregation, and management
today and the future. It is also important to minimize migration of resources between
subscriptions because of subscription reorganizations. There are several motivations for using
multiple Azure subscriptions. The most common ones are:
Project-based billing and chargeback
There is a desire that individual projects get their own Azure bills. Today within Azure the
lowest level of cost aggregation is at the subscription level. Overcoming this constraint is
possible by using third-party tools with additional billing and chargeback capabilities or
by creating an individual solution with the APIs described in section 9.
Reuse of shared infrastructure
Some applications and services will be dependent on components of shared
infrastructure. The most popular scenario is sharing a common VPN to on-premises
infrastructure. Today Azure imposes a constraint that a VPN is tied to a specific Virtual
Network, which in turn is allocated to a specific Subscription. It is possible to connect
different Azure Virtual Networks together with additional Site to Site VPNs. The Azure
Virtual Networks can be in the same or in different subscriptions.
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One ExpressRoute circuit can connect multiple Azure Virtual Networks across multiple
subscriptions as long as the location of the Virtual Networks is connected with the
ExpressRoute circuit. These constraints drive project teams in a direction for a shared
subscription model in a lot of cases.
Security least privilege
A subscription is the security boundary such that an administrator on a subscription can
modify any resources within that subscription. If subscriptions are shared across teams,
then these administrators have greater rights than they need to perform their role,
increasing the security risk profile. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) gives the possibility
to assign roles and rights on Resource Group and Resource level. There are currently
more than 20 Built-in roles available that can be assigned to users and groups to allow a
granular assignment of permissions within an Azure subscription. This reduces the
amount of required subscriptions significantly. For creating additional custom RBAC roles
please refer to
One of the most critical items in the process of designing a subscription is assessing your
current environment and needs. Specifically, it is important to have a thorough understanding of
the following aspects:
Identify business requirements
Identify technical requirements
Is network connectivity a shared resource or dedicated to single use or group?
Are there Active Directory requirements?
Do you need to consider clustering, identity, or management tools?
Security requirements
Who are the subscription administrators?
Are the appropriate network connectivity and identity requirements being deployed?
Have you implemented a least privilege administrative model?
Scalability requirements
What are the growth plans?
How will limited resources be allocated?
How will the model evolve over time considering additional users, shared access, and
resource limits?
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Adding network connectivity (whether using a site-to-site VPN or a dedicated ExpressRoute
connection) brings additional considerations to the subscription requirements discussion. For
more information about network design, see
Virtual Network
section 5 in this document.
The subscription is a required container to hold a
virtual network, and often networking is a shared
resource within an enterprise. Site-to-site VPNs
and ExpressRoute circuits require defining IP
address ranges that do not overlap with onpremises ranges. Site-to-site VPN connectivity
requires setting up and configuring a public-facing
gateway and VPN services at the corporate edge.
ExpressRoute connectivity is through a private
connection from an on-premises datacenter to Azure through a service provider’s private
network. Routing and firewall configurations are typically necessary when enabling connectivity.
Virtual Machines
If multiple virtual networks are to share a single enterprise ExpressRoute connection, essentially
there is no network isolation between those networks. In this case, any separation the
subscription design may try to define is eliminated and must be achieved through subnet layer
Network Security Groups (NSGs). When the virtual networks are attached to the same
ExpressRoute circuit, they are essentially a single routing domain. A subscription hosting only
PaaS services could have no virtual network at all, and the design limitations discussed above
would not apply.
The following diagram shows a robust enterprise Azure enrollment. There are multiple
subscriptions, one of which is a “Tier 0” subscription used to host shared resources such as
domain controllers and other sensitive roles when extending an on-premises Active Directory
forest to Azure.
This is configured as a separate subscription to ensure that only administrators with domain
administrator level privileges are able to exert administrative control over these sensitive servers
through Azure subscriptions, while still allowing server administrators to manage virtual
machines in other subscriptions.
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QA and production networks share the same dedicated ExpressRoute circuit to on-premises
resources. They are separated into distinct subscriptions to allow separation of access and to
allow the QA subscription to scale on its own without impacting production.
This model will scale based on need. Second, third, and subsequent QA and production
subscriptions can be added to this design without significant impact on operations. Those
subscriptions can be managed by the project teams they belong to. The same scalability applies
to network bandwidth—the circuit can be used until its limits are reached without any artificial
limitations forcing additional purchases.
A typical subscription model will be based on a mixed model of Shared subscriptions and
Project subscriptions (or business department subscriptions) driven by particular project
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Defining naming conventions
When naming the Microsoft Azure subscription, it is a recommend practice to be verbose. Try
using the following format or a format that has been agreed on by the stakeholders of the
<Company> <Department (optional)> <Product Line (optional)> <Environment>
Company, in most cases, would be the same for each subscription. However, some
companies may have child companies within the organizational structure. These
companies may be managed by a central IT group, in which case they could be
differentiated by having both the parent company name and child company name.
Department is a name within the organization where a group of individuals work. This
item within the namespace is optional. This is because some companies may not need to
drill into such detail due to their size. The company may want to use a different identifier.
Product line is a specific name for a product or function that is performed from within
the department. As with the department namespace, this area is optional and can be
swapped out as needed.
Environment is the name that describes the deployment lifecycle of the applications or
services, such as Dev, Lab, or Prod.
What you are trying to accomplish with a naming convention is to put together a meaningful
name about the particular subscription and how it is represented within the company. Many
organizations will have more than one subscription, which is why it is important to have a
naming convention and use it consistently when creating subscriptions.
Recommendations for Azure enterprise administration
Recommendations for Azure enterprise administration
Limit the number of
Assign a minimum number of users as Subscription Administrators and/or
administrative users
Use Role-Based
Use Azure Resource Management RBAC whenever possible to control the
amount of access that administrators have, and log what changes are made
Use work accounts
You should sign up for Azure as an organization and use a work or school
to the environment.
account to manage resources in Azure. Do not allow the use of existing
personal Microsoft Accounts.
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Define naming
Assign meaningful names to your Azure subscriptions according to defined
naming conventions.
Use Tier 0
Use Tier 0 subscription to host shared resources, such as domain controllers
and other sensitive roles, and limit the privileges to access it.
Use project
Use decentralized project subscriptions. Delegate management of those
subscriptions to the responsible project teams.
Separate production
Separate QA environments into distinct subscriptions to allow separation of
from QA
access and to allow the QA subscription to scale on its own without
impacting production.
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Integrating Azure into the corporate network
Within Azure, there is the concept of virtual networks, subnets within the virtual networks, and
the network gateways that allow connectivity between virtual networks and on-premises
Virtual networks can be used to allow isolated network communication within the Azure
environment or establish cross-premises network communication between an organization’s
network infrastructure and Azure. By default, when virtual machines are created and connected
to Azure Virtual Network, they are allowed to route to any subnet within the virtual network, and
outbound access to the Internet is provided by Azure’s Internet connection.
A fundamental first step in creating services within Microsoft Azure is establishing a Virtual
Network. To establish a virtual private network within Azure, you must create a minimum of one
virtual network. Each virtual network must contain an IP address space and a minimum of one
subnet that leverages all or part of the virtual network address space.
Choosing the right connectivity option
To establish remote network communications to on-premises or other virtual networks, a
gateway subnet must be allocated for the virtual network and a virtual network gateway must be
added to it. To enable cross-premises connectivity, a Virtual Network must attach a virtual
network gateway.
Currently, there are three types of gateways that can be deployed:
Static routing gateway for Site-to-Site (S2S) VPN connections (basic, standard,
and high performance)
Dynamic routing gateway for Site-to-Site (S2S) VPN connections (basic, standard,
and high performance)
Dynamic Routing ExpressRoute gateway (standard and high performance)
The type of gateway determines the cross-premises connectivity capabilities, the performance,
and the features that are offered. Static and dynamic gateways are used when establishing
Point-to-Site (P2S) and Site-to-Site (S2S) VPN connections where the cross-premises
connectivity leverages the Internet for the transport path. ExpressRoute gateways are designed
for high-speed, private, cross-premises connectivity where the traffic flows across dedicated
circuits and not the Internet.
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A static routing gateway uses policy-based VPNs. Policy-based VPNs encrypt and route packets
through an interface based on a customer-defined policy. Static gateways are for establishing
low-cost connections to a single virtual network in Azure.
Dynamic routing gateways use route-based VPNs. Route-based VPNs depend on a tunnel
interface specifically created for forwarding packets. Any packet arriving at the tunnel interface is
forwarded through the VPN connection. Dynamic gateways are used to establish low-cost
connections to an on-premises environment or to connect multiple virtual networks for routing
purposes in Azure. In addition, it supports Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Routing (see
ExpressRoute gateways are always dynamic routing gateways that support BGP routing
protocols. ExpressRoute gateways are used for connecting on-premises environments to Azure
over high-speed private connections.
For Site-to-Site gateways, an IPsec/IKE VPN tunnel is created between the virtual networks and
the on-premises sites by using Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol handshakes. For
ExpressRoute, the gateways advertise the prefixes by using the BGP in your virtual networks via
the peering circuits. The gateways also forward packets from your ExpressRoute circuits to your
virtual machines inside your virtual networks.
Each gateway has a limited number of other gateway connections that it can establish. The
connection model between gateways dictates how far you can route within Azure. There are
three distinct models that you can leverage to connect multiple virtual networks to one another:
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Hub and Spoke
In the Mesh approach, every virtual network can talk to every other virtual network with a single
hop. Therefore, this approach does not require you to define multiple hop routing. Challenges
with this approach include the rapid consumption of gateway connections, which limits the size
of the virtual network routing capability.
In the Hub and Spoke approach a virtual machine on vNet1 will be able to communicate to a
virtual machine on vNet2, vNet3, vNet4, or vNet5. A virtual machine on vNet2 could talk to
virtual machines on vNet1, but not a virtual machine on vNet3, vNet4, or vNet5. This is due to
the default single hop isolation of the virtual network in this configuration.
In a Daisy-Chain approach, a virtual machine on vNet1 can communicate to a virtual machine on
vNet2, but not vNet3, vNet4, or vNet5. A virtual machine on vNet2 could talk to virtual machines
on vNet1 and vNet3. The same virtual network single hop isolation applies.
Azure supports two types of connectivity options to connect customers’ networks to Azure
virtual networks: Site-to-Site VPN and ExpressRoute. Although Point-to-Site is another viable
connectivity option, it is client-focused and is not specific to this section.
Site-to-Site VPN connections use VPN devices over public Internet connections to create a path
to route traffic to a virtual network in a customer subscription. Traffic to the virtual network
flows across an encrypted VPN connection, while traffic to the Azure public services flows over
the Internet. It is not possible to create a Site-to-Site VPN connection that provides direct
connectivity to the public Azure services via a public peering path. To provide multiple VPN
connections to the virtual network, you must use multiple VPN devices connected to different
sites. These relationships are depicted in the following diagram:
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Customer Network
Azure Public Services
Private Peering
Site One
VPN Device
Site Two
VPN Device
Virtual Network
Cloud Service
Multiple Site VPN
ExpressRoute connections use routers and private network paths to route traffic to Azure Virtual
Network and, optionally, to the Azure public services. Private connections are made through a
network provider by establishing an ExpressRoute circuit with a selected provider. The
customer’s router is connected to the provider’s router, and the provider creates the
ExpressRoute circuit to connect to the Azure Routers.
When the circuit is created, VLANs can be created that allow separate paths to the private
peering network to link to virtual networks and to the public peering network to access Azure
public services.
Customer Network
Azure Public Services
Public Peering
Private Peering
Virtual Network
Cloud Service
The best type of connection is depending on the detailed requirements. Nevertheless, we can
say that enterprise customers tend do use ExpressRoute to fulfill their security and bandwidth
Using ExpressRoute
With an Internet connection, the only part of the traffic path to the Microsoft cloud that you can
control (and have a relationship with the service provider) is the link between your on-premises
network edge and your Internet service provider (ISP). The path between your ISP and the
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Microsoft cloud edge is a best-effort delivery system subject to outages, traffic congestion, and
monitoring by malicious users (shown in yellow).
With an ExpressRoute connection, you now have control, through a relationship with your
service provider, over the entire traffic path from your edge to the Microsoft cloud edge. This
connection can offer predictable performance and a 99.9 percent uptime SLA. With a dedicated
path to the edge of the Microsoft cloud, your performance is not subject to Internet provider
outages and spikes in Internet traffic. You can determine and hold your providers accountable to
a throughput and latency SLA to the Microsoft cloud. Traffic sent over your dedicated
ExpressRoute connection is not subject to Internet monitoring or packet capture and analysis by
malicious users. It is as secure as using Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)-based WAN links.
With wide support for ExpressRoute connections by exchange providers and network service
providers, you can obtain up to a 10 Gbps link to the Microsoft cloud.
Azure ExpressRoute lets you extend your on-premises networks into the Microsoft cloud over a
dedicated private connection facilitated by a connectivity provider. With ExpressRoute, you can
establish connections to Microsoft cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and CRM
Online. Connectivity can be from an any-to-any (IP VPN) network, a point-to-point Ethernet
network, or a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a co-location facility.
You can create a connection between your on-premises network and the Microsoft cloud in
three different ways:
Co-located at a cloud exchange
If you are co-located in a facility with a cloud exchange, you can order virtual crossconnections to the Microsoft cloud through the co-location provider’s Ethernet
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exchange. Co-location providers can offer either Layer 2 cross-connections, or managed
Layer 3 cross-connections between your infrastructure in the co-location facility and the
Microsoft cloud.
Point-to-point Ethernet connections
You can connect your on-premises datacenters/offices to the Microsoft cloud through
point-to-point Ethernet links. Point-to-point Ethernet providers can offer Layer 2
connections, or managed Layer 3 connections between your site and the Microsoft
Any-to-any (IPVPN) networks
You can integrate your WAN with the Microsoft cloud. IPVPN providers (typically MPLS
VPN) offer any-to-any connectivity between your branch offices and datacenters. The
Microsoft cloud can be interconnected to your WAN to make it look just like any other
branch office. WAN providers typically offer managed Layer 3 connectivity. ExpressRoute
capabilities and features are all identical across all of the above connectivity models.
Connectivity providers can offer one or more connectivity models. You can work with your
connectivity provider to pick the model that works best for you.
The connections between the customer’s network edge and the provider’s network edge are
redundant as are the connections from the provider’s edge to the Azure edge.
From the provider to the Azure edge, you can have private peering connections to customer
virtual networks and public peering connections to the Azure PaaS services, such as Azure SQL
Database. Pricing models are MeteredData and UnlimitedData. Any provider can provide speeds
from 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps.
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50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000,
50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000,
5000, 10000 Mbps
5000, 10000 Mbps
Route management
Varies by provider
Varies by provider
Azure circuit costs
Based on consumption
Unlimited ingress and egress
allocation included in monthly
Establishing a connection to the public peering network allows virtual machines on Azure Virtual
Networks and on-premises systems to leverage the ExpressRoute circuit to connect to Azure
PaaS services on the public peering network without traversing the Internet. Establishing a
public peering connection is an optional configuration step for an ExpressRoute circuit. When
the public peering connection is established, the routes for all the Azure datacenters worldwide
are published to the edge router. This directs traffic to the Azure services instead of going out to
the Internet.
ExpressRoute connectivity and pricing is made of two components: the service connection costs
(Azure) and the authorized carrier costs (telco partner). Customers are charged by Azure for the
ExpressRoute monthly access fee, and potentially an egress traffic fee based on the type and
performance of the ExpressRoute connection. Customers also have costs associated with the
selected provider, which is typically composed of the circuit connection and monthly traffic fees.
From an Azure perspective, an UnlimitedData connection is an inclusive plan where customers
are charged a monthly fee and get unlimited ingress and egress traffic. Fees associated with
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MeteredData connections include a monthly service charge and traffic egress charges per each
GB of traffic transferred based on the zone.
ExpressRoute circuits are created within a subscription. In order to allow an ExpressRoute circuit
that was created in one subscription to connect to a virtual network in another subscription, the
circuit owner must authorize the connection. This is influencing the subscription management as
outlined in section 4.
Enterprise customers with a global business should consider ExpressRoute Premium, which is an
add-on package that allows an increase in the number of BGP routes, increases the number of
virtual networks per ExpressRoute circuit, and most important allows global connectivity.
Premium features are:
Increased route limits for public and private peering (from 4,000 routes to 10,000
Global connectivity for services. An ExpressRoute circuit created in any region (excluding
China and government clouds) will have access to resources across any other region in
the world. For example, a virtual network created in West Europe can be accessed
through an ExpressRoute circuit provisioned in the West US region.
Increased number of virtual network links per ExpressRoute circuit (from 10 to a larger
limit, depending on the bandwidth of the circuit).
Using Site-to-Site VPN
Azure Site-to-Site (S2S) connectivity allows low-cost connections from customer locations to
Azure private peering networks. S2S leverages the Internet for transport and IPsec encryption to
protect the data flowing across the connection. Prerequisites are:
Public-facing IPv4 address for the on-premises VPN device that is not behind a NAT
Compatible hardware VPN device or RRAS
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Protecting virtual networks
Azure offers multiple different capabilities that could be combined to protect the network.
Network Security Groups
A Network Security Group is a top-level object that is associated with a subscription. It can be
used to control traffic to one or more virtual machine instances in the virtual network. A
Network Security Group contains access control rules that allow or deny traffic to virtual
machine instances. The rules of a Network Security Group can be changed at any time, and
changes are applied to all associated instances.
Network Security Groups are similar to firewall rules in that they provide the ability to control
the inbound and outbound traffic to a subnet, a virtual machine, or virtual network adapter.
Network Security Groups allow you to define rules that specify the source IP address, source
port, destination address, destination port, priority, and traffic action (Allow or Deny). The rules
can be applied to inbound and outbound traffic independently.
Traditionally, a firewall rule is applied to a port on a router that is connected to a switch. It
affects all traffic flowing inbound and outbound to the switch, but it does not affect any traffic
within the switch. A Network Security Group rule that is applied to a subnet is more like a
firewall rule that is applied at the switch and affects inbound and outbound traffic on every port
in the switch. Any virtual machine connected to the switch port would be affected by the
Network Security Group rule applied to the subnet.
Network Switch
Typical Firewall Rule
applied at the router
affects traffic at the input
port to the switch and
restricts only the traffic
flowing into the switch
NSG Rule applied to the
subnet is like a firewall
rule that is applied to
every port in the switch
and restricts traffic at the
input port and between
every port in the switch
For example, if a Network Security Group is created and a Network Security Group rule is
defined that denies inbound Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) traffic for all addresses over
port 3389, no virtual machine outside the subnet can connect via RDP to a virtual machine that
is connected to the subnet, and no virtual machine connected to the subnet can connect via
RDP to any other connected virtual machine.
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Description Priority
Source Address
Destination Destination Protocol Action
1000 *
for subnet
Network Security Groups can also be applied to the virtual machine or to the network adapter of
a virtual machine. This allows greater flexibility in how traffic is filtered. Using network security is
strongly recommended for all kind of organizations.
Forced tunneling
Forced tunneling allows you to specify the default route for one or more virtual networks to be
the on-premises VPN or ExpressRoute gateway. This results in any packet that is transmitted
from a virtual machine connected to the virtual network that is not destined to another IP
address within the scope of the virtual network to be sent to that default gateway.
When using forced tunneling, any outbound packet that is attempting to go to an Internet
address will be routed to the default gateway and not to the Azure Internet interface. For a
virtual machine that has a public endpoint defined that allows inbound traffic, a packet from the
Internet will be able to enter the virtual machine on the defined port. A response might be sent,
but the reply will not go back out the public endpoint to the Internet. Rather, it will be routed to
the default gateway. If the default gateway does not have a route path to the Internet, the
packets will be dropped, effectively blocking any Internet access.
Please be aware that forced tunneling has different implementation requirements and scope
depending on the type of Azure connectivity of the virtual network. A virtual network that is
connected over a S2S VPN connection requires forced tunneling to be defined and configured
on a per virtual network basis. A virtual network that is connected over an ExpressRoute
connection requires forced tunneling to be defined at the ExpressRoute circuit, and this affects
all virtual networks that are connected to that circuit.
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Virtual Appliances
Virtual Appliances are third-party-based virtual machine solutions that can be selected from the
Azure Gallery or Marketplace to provide services like network firewall, application firewall and
proxy, load balancing, and logging. Appliances are licensed by:
Using a license key that you already own.
Including the licensing cost into the hourly cost of the appliance.
Appliances are available in single network adapter or multiple network adapter configurations
depending on the type of appliance and the required capabilities. The following table lists virtual
appliances types and when to use them:
Virtual Appliance
When to Use
Virtual appliance that leverages a virtual
Network firewall
machine with a multiple network adapter
flow to the Internet from an
configuration and layer 3 routing support
to enable a network firewall between
Control outbound traffic
application tier
multiple subnets in Azure.
Control inbound traffic flow
from the Internet to a UI tier
of an application
Control traffic flow between
two subnets in Azure
Collect detailed packet
captures or network logs of
traffic flowing through the
Load balancer
Provides layer 4 or layer 7 load balancing
A load balancer with more
features that the Azure Load
Balancer is required
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Security appliance
Intrusion detection appliance
Detailed logging is required
SSL termination is required
Attempting to create a
security stack to manage
inbound Internet traffic
Advanced security
monitoring and mitigation
solution is needed
Routing of network traffic
Routing of traffic from a virtual machine is accomplished by using implicit system routing via a
distributed router that is implemented at the virtual network level. Every packet follows a set of
implicit routes that are implemented at the host level. These routes control the flow of traffic
within the virtual network to on-premises networks, and to the Internet.
The following rules are applied to the packet in this scenario:
If the address is within the virtual network address prefix, route to the local virtual
If the address is within the on-premises address prefixes or BGP published routes (BGP
or local site network for S2S), route to the gateway.
If the address is not part of the virtual network, BGP, or local site network routes, route
to Internet via NAT.
If the destination is an Azure datacenter address and ExpressRoute public peering is
enabled, it is routed to the gateway because the gateway has the Azure datacenter
address via BGP.
If the destination is an Azure datacenter with S2S or ExpressRoute without public
peering enabled, it is routed to the host NAT for the Internet path, but it never leaves
the datacenter
User-defined routing allows you to configure and assign routes that override the default implicit
system routes, ExpressRoute BGP advertised routes, or the local-site network-defined routes for
S2S connections. Configuring a user-defined route allows the specification of next-hop
definition rules that control traffic flow within a subnet, between subnets, from a subnet through
an appliance to another subnet, to the Internet, and to on-premises networks.
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When a network firewall virtual appliance is introduced (see previous section), user-defined
routing must be configured to control the traffic routing through the appliance. Without userdefined routing, no traffic will flow through the appliance.
The following diagram shows a virtual appliance inserted into the scenario to control traffic
routing to the Internet via front-end and back-end subnets in Azure:
The following rules are applied to the packet in this scenario:
If the user-defined routing is defined with NextHop Local routing, route to a virtual
machine in the virtual network, based on address.
If the user-defined routing is defined with NextHop VPN Gateway routing, route to a
machine on-premises, based on address.
If the user-defined routing is defined with NextHop Appliance routing, route to the
virtual appliance, based on address.
If the user-defined routing is defined with NextHop Internet routing, route to the
Internet over the host NAT.
Managing public and private IP addresses
IP addresses are assigned to Azure resources to communicate with other Azure resources, in the
on-premises network, and the Internet. There are two types of IP addresses you can use in
Azure: public and private.
Public IP addresses are used for communication with the Internet, including Azure
public-facing services. There are two methods in which an IP address is allocated to a
public IP resource: dynamic or reserved. The default allocation method is dynamic,
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where an IP address is not allocated at the time of its creation. Instead, the public IP
address is allocated when you start (or create) the associated resource (like VM or Load
Balancer). The IP address is released when you stop (or delete) the resource. To ensure
the IP address for the associated resource remains the same, you can set the allocation
method explicitly to reserved. In this case an IP address is assigned immediately. It is
released only when you delete the resource or change its allocation method to dynamic.
A typical scenario that requires reserved public IP addresses are Internet-facing websites
that are hosted on IaaS machines.
Private IP addresses are used for communication within an Azure virtual network, and
the on-premises network when you use a VPN gateway or ExpressRoute circuit to
extend the network to Azure. A private IP address is allocated from the address range of
the subnet to which the resource is attached. The address range of the subnet itself is a
part of the VNet’s address range. There are two methods in which a private IP address is
allocated: dynamic or static. The default allocation method is dynamic, where the IP
address is automatically allocated from the resource's subnet (using DHCP). This IP
address can change when you stop and start the resource. You can set the allocation
method to static to ensure the IP address remains the same. In this case, you also need
to provide a valid IP address that is part of the resource’s subnet. A typical scenario for
static private IP addresses are Active Directory Domain Controllers hosted on Azure.
Recommendations for cloud connectivity
Enterprise organizations benefit from taking a methodical approach to optimizing network
throughput across your intranet and to the Internet.
Recommendations for cloud connectivity
Optimize intranet
Over the years, many organizations have optimized intranet connectivity
connectivity to your
and performance to applications running in on-premises datacenters. With
edge network
productivity and IT workloads running in the Microsoft cloud, additional
investment must ensure high-connectivity availability and that traffic
performance between your edge network and your intranet users is optimal.
As more of your day-to-day productivity traffic travels to the cloud, you
throughput at your
should closely examine the set of systems at your edge network to ensure
edge network
that they are current, provide high availability, and have sufficient capacity
to meet peak loads.
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For a high SLA use
Although you can utilize your current Internet connection from your edge
network, traffic to and from Microsoft cloud services must share the pipe
with other intranet traffic going to the Internet. In addition, your traffic to
Microsoft cloud services is subject to Internet traffic congestion. For a high
SLA and the best performance, use ExpressRoute, a dedicated WAN
connection between your network and Azure. ExpressRoute can leverage
your existing network provider for a dedicated connection. Resources
connected by ExpressRoute appear as if they are on your WAN, even for
geographically distributed organizations
Analyze your current
Analyze your client computers and optimize for network hardware,
software drivers, protocol settings, and Internet browsers.
Analyze your on-premises network for traffic latency and optimal
routing to the Internet edge device.
Analyze the capacity and performance of your Internet edge device
and optimize for higher levels of traffic.
Analyze the latency between your Internet edge device (such as
your external firewall) and the regional locations of the Microsoft
cloud service to which you are connecting.
Analyze the capacity and utilization of your current Internet
connection and add capacity if needed. Alternately, add an
ExpressRoute connection.
Plan and design
Prepare your intranet for Microsoft cloud services.
networking for
Optimize your Internet bandwidth.
Determine the type of VNet (cloud-only or cross-premises).
Determine the address space of the VNet.
Determine the subnets within the VNet and the address spaces
assigned to each.
Determine the DNS server configuration and the addresses of the
DNS servers to assign to VMs in the VNet.
Determine the load balancing configuration (Internet-facing or
Determine the use of virtual appliances and user-defined routes.
Determine how computers from the Internet will connect to virtual
For multiple VNets, determine the VNet-to-VNet connection
Determine the on-premises connection to the VNet (S2S VPN or
Determine the on-premises VPN device or router.
Add routes to make the address space of the VNet reachable.
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For ExpressRoute, plan for the new connection with your provider.
Determine the Local Network address space for the Azure gateway.
Configure on-premises DNS servers for DNS replication with DNS
servers hosted in Azure.
Determine the use of forced tunneling and user-defined routes.
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Extending Active Directory to Azure
The existence of an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenant is a requirement for any Azure
subscription. Therefore, each Azure tenant has at least one Azure AD tenant associated with it.
This directory is used for signing in to and accessing Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft cloud
services through their corresponding portals, through PowerShell and command line tools, as
well as through Graph and Rest APIs.
Azure AD interacts with the cloud in two ways:
An enabler of the cloud
A consumer of the cloud
IT professionals will mostly be concerned with Azure AD as an enabler of the cloud because they
are often tasked with integrating the enterprise identity and access management platform into
the cloud. On the other hand, developers will mostly be concerned with the identity services that
Azure AD provides as a consumer of the cloud. Most often, they are looking to understand how
their applications can leverage the cloud identity service. The following picture provides an
overview of Azure Active Directory.
See Microsoft Cloud Identity for Enterprise Architects.
When a directory is created, the default name of the directory is <something>
The <something> is chosen by the directory administrator during the creation of the directory.
Usually, customers want to use their own domain name, such as This can be
achieved by using a custom domain name.
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Synchronizing/federating Active Directory Domain Services
with Azure AD
When you create a new Azure AD tenant, the contents of the directory will be managed
independently from the on-premises Active Directory forest. This means that when a new user
comes in to the organization, an administrator must create an on-premises Active Directory
account and an Azure Active Directory account for the employee. Because these two accounts
are separate by default, they also may have different user names and passwords, and they need
to be managed separately.
However, an organization can use Azure AD Connect to connect the on-premises Active
Directory to Azure AD. When this is in place, users who are added or removed from the onpremises Active Directory are automatically added to Azure AD. The user names and passwords
are also kept synchronized between the two directories, so end users do not have different
credentials for cloud and on-premises systems. With password hash synchronization, the
Azure AD Connect service will synchronize one-way SHA256 hashes of Active Directory
password hashes into Azure AD. This allows a user that signs into Azure AD to use the same
password that is used to sign in to the on-premises Active Directory.
Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) can be used to add an identity federation trust
between on-premises Active Directory and Azure AD. This enables users to have a desktop
single sign-on experience when accessing resources that are integrated with Azure AD. With this
experience, an end user would sign in to a domain-joined workstation and not be prompted
again for a password throughout the entire session, regardless of which applications are used.
When a federation trust is in place, Azure AD defers to the on-premises identity provider to
collect the user’s credentials and perform the authentication. After authenticating the user, the
on-premises identity provider creates a signed security token to serve as proof that the user was
successfully authenticated. This security token may also contain data about the user (called
claims), which can then be provided to Azure AD for various purposes. The security token is
given to Azure AD, which then verifies the signature on the token and uses it to provide access
to the applications. The following diagram illustrates this behavior:
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Federation Trust
Active Directory
Federation Service (AD FS)
Azure AD
Security Token
Enterprise customers tend to use AD FS to have better control of the authentication of users.
Working with multiple forests and domains
Most customers do not have simple single-forest Active Directory environments, and dealing
with multiple forests can be a challenge when integrating with Azure AD.
Single forest with multiple domains
Some customers have a single forest environment with multiple domains. Azure AD
Connect natively handles this scenario when the following conditions need to be met:
Users need to exist uniquely across the forest. A user cannot have an active
account in more than one domain, because both accounts will be synchronized
as separate identities in Azure AD.
If the domains in the forest use different User Principal Name (UPN) suffixes, each
UPN suffix needs to be added to the Azure AD tenant as a custom domain name.
Account and resource forest model
Another common scenario is to have an account and resource forest model. There is a
dedicated forest where all of the user identities reside (the account forest) and a
dedicated forest for some or all of the applications (the resource forest). A one-way trust
(often a forest trust) is in place so that the resource forest trusts the account forest. This
relationship is depicted in the following diagram.
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One-Way Trust
Account Forest
Resource Forest
This is most commonly seen with complex Exchange Server deployments. Often, there
needs to be a representation of the user in the resource forest’s Active Directory for the
application to use. This is sometimes referred to this as a shadow account. In most cases,
it’s a duplicate of the user’s account from the Account forest, but it is put into a disabled
state. Thereby, users are prevented from signing in to it.
Azure AD Connect natively handles this scenario. If the resource forest contains data that
needs to be added to Azure AD (such as mailbox information for an Exchange user), the
synchronization engine detects the presence of disabled accounts with linked mailboxes.
The appropriate data is then contributed to the Azure AD user account.
Multiple forests with unique users
In this scenario, there are multiple independent forests in the environment, which may
or may not have Active Directory trust relationships between them. This situation is
encountered in highly segmented organizations or companies that acquired other
companies via mergers and acquisitions. The following diagram depicts what this
architecture might look like.
Two-Way Trust
Two-Way Trust
Users in this scenario have only a single account in one of the forests (they do not have
multiple user accounts across forests). Because of this, there is no need for the
synchronization tool to match a user to multiple accounts.
However, one decision that needs to be made is whether the accounts will be migrated
into a single forest at some point. This is an important thing to consider, because it will
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determine whether you can use the objectGUID of the user accounts as the source
anchor (which is used to match the Active Directory accounts to the Azure AD accounts).
If the users will be migrated to a single forest at some point, you’ll need to use a
different source anchor, such as the user’s email address or UPN. The reason is that the
objectGUID can’t be migrated with the user. After migration, there would be multiple
accounts in Azure AD for migrated users—one for the old forest and another for the new
Multiple forests with duplicate users
This scenario is the same as the previous scenario (multiple forests with unique users)
with the exception that a single user has multiple user accounts in different forests in
the environment. These accounts are either:
Enabled (users likely have a password and sign in to these accounts)
Disabled (a shadow account is used to store attributes for an application, such as
Even though there are multiple user accounts in the organization, there should be only a
single account for the user in Azure AD. To enable this, the synchronization service needs
to be able to match user accounts across the forests to a single person. For this to
happen, the accounts in each forest need to have an attribute that contains the same,
unique value for a user.
When enabling a federated identity relationship between Azure AD and an on-premises identity
provider, an entire domain name in Azure AD is converted from a standard domain to a
federated domain. This impacts all of the users that have UPNs under the domain name. You
cannot have a mix of federated and nonfederated users in a domain name. Any subdomains
under a domain namespace will have the same configuration as the parent domain.
After the domain name is converted to federated, all users who attempt to sign in to Azure AD
with a UPN from the converted domain (or one of its child domains) will be redirected to the
on-premises identity provider for authentication. If the user does not have a valid account in the
on-premises identity provider, the user will not be able to authenticate to Azure AD or to any of
the connected applications.
AD FS can support a multiple forest configuration, but only if all the forests have two-way Active
Directory trust relationships between them. If there are no forest trusts between the multiple
Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) forests, you must have multiple AD FS deployments
(one for each forest that is untrusted). If possible, we recommend that customers have trusts
between their multiple Active Directory forests, so that only a single AD FS farm is needed for
Azure AD.
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Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a method of authentication that requires the use of more
than one verification method and adds a critical second layer of security to user sign-ins and
transactions. It works by requiring any two or more of the following verification methods:
Something you know (typically a password)
Something you have (a trusted device that is not easily duplicated, like a phone)
Something you are (biometrics)
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is a method of verifying who you are that requires the use of
more than just a username and password. It provides a second layer of security to user sign-ins
and transactions. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication helps safeguard access to data and
applications while meeting user demand for a simple sign-in process. It delivers strong
authentication via a range of easy verification options—phone call, text message, or mobile app
notification or verification code and third-party OAuth tokens.
The security of Multi-Factor Authentication lies in its layered approach. Compromising multiple
authentication factors presents a significant challenge for attackers. Even if an attacker manages
to learn the user's password, it is useless without also having possession of the trusted device.
Should the user lose the device, the person who finds it won't be able to use it unless he or she
also knows the user's password. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is available in three different
Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365
This version works exclusively with Office 365 applications and is managed from the
Office 365 portal. So administrators can now help secure their Office 365 resources by
using Multi-Factor Authentication. This version comes with an Office 365 subscription.
Multi-Factor Authentication for Azure Administrators
The same subset of Multi-Factor Authentication capabilities for Office 365 will be
available at no cost to all Azure administrators. Every administrative account of an Azure
subscription can get additional protection by enabling this core Multi-Factor
Authentication functionality. So administrators who want to access the Azure portal to
create a VM, a website, manage storage, mobile services or any other Azure Service can
add Multi-Factor Authentication to their administrator account. It is best practice that all
Azure administrator accounts should be configured for MFA.
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication offers the richest set of capabilities. It provides
additional configuration options via the Azure Management portal, advanced reporting,
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and support for a range of on-premises and cloud applications. Azure Multi-Factor
Authentication comes as part of Azure Active Directory Premium and is also available as
a stand-alone service with per user and per authentication billing (see
Hosting Active Directory domain services
When working with virtual machines in an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) environment, the
virtual machines most often need to be joined to an Active Directory domain. This is required so
the operating system can be properly managed and the software running on the virtual
machines can function properly. Many customers who move virtual machines to Azure have
come to the conclusion that extending Active Directory into Azure IaaS is a recommended
course of action.
One of the questions we are often asked is whether a customer should deploy Active Directory
domain controllers into IaaS. The alternative option is to keep them on-premises and provide a
VPN connection. There are various considerations to be made when answering this question.
Whether the domain controllers are on-premises or deployed in Azure, there needs to be
connectivity between the Azure virtual network and the on-premises network. If you want to
keep domain controllers on-premises, you need an ExpressRoute connection or a Site-to-Site
VPN connection to Azure. Every time a virtual machine in Azure needs to access a domain
controller, it will traverse this connection over the WAN. Depending on the stability,
performance, and latency of the connection, this may cause issues.
Most customers will strongly consider placing domain controllers in Azure because they will
want the applications they place in Azure IaaS to have reliable and low latency access to the
domain controllers. Domain controllers are highly sensitive roles. If someone compromises a
domain controller, they can gain access to virtually everything in a customer’s environment. The
best way to handle the situation is to use the Tier 0 subscription to host the domain controllers
as described in section 4.2. It allows you to manage who has explicit control over the domain
controllers and their security equivalents in Tier 0.
When deploying domain controllers in Azure, there are some specific things to consider for your
Active Directory design.
It is generally recommended to consider the Azure datacenter as a separate Active
Directory site, because it will have its own IP address space and routing considerations.
For many applications and services, it is preferable to have a domain controller available
within the site, and it’s typically preferable to have a local connection instead of
traversing the WAN.
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More important is the need to consider what happens to a virtual machine in Azure if it
can’t reach a domain controller. The standard recommendation is to place two domain
controllers within an availability set in each Azure region where virtual machines reside.
It is important to note that a resource domain or forest is not recommended given the
additional overhead, and these do not represent an effective security boundary.
In addition, there should be an Active Directory site created for each Azure region, and
all of the virtual networks in that region should be associated with that site. Standard
guidance applies for the definition of Active Directory site links.
In modern Active Directory deployment there’s little reason to not make every domain
controller a Global Catalog server. The standard guidance for Global Catalogs also
applies to domain controllers in Azure. As a recommended practice, make all of the
domain controllers in Azure Global Catalog servers.
DNS is instrumental to the operation of Active Directory. There should always be DNS
servers located alongside the domain controllers, and most of the time we recommend
that DNS be Active Directory-integrated. This does not change with Azure. The domain
controllers in Azure should run the DNS Server service, if possible. If you are not using
DNS in Windows, there should be a DNS appliance in Azure for the domain controllers
to use. Otherwise, a VPN outage will render DNS unavailable and prevent the domain
controllers in Azure from operating correctly. DNS Servers need to be registered in the
Azure virtual networks.
Azure provides a default DNS service to virtual machines if you don’t specify a DNS
server. The Azure name resolution services do not support the complex name resolution
needs of Active Directory, so do not attempt to use Azure DNS servers on domain
Organizational units (OUs) in an Active Directory design are important for operational
and security management of Azure assets, especially when extending existing onpremises forests into the Azure cloud. OUs, security groups, and Group Policy Objects
(GPOs) provide key administrative controls that can provide containment boundaries
within a security zone.
Using additional Azure Active Directory elements
Azure AD B2B Collaboration
Azure AD B2B Collaboration enables secure collaboration between business-to-business
partners. These new capabilities make it easy for organizations to create advanced trust
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relationships between Azure AD tenants so they can easily share business applications across
companies without the hassle of managing additional directories or the overhead of managing
partner identities. With 6 million organizations already using Azure AD, chances are good that
your partner organization already has an Azure AD tenant, so you can start collaborating
instantly. But even if it doesn't, Azure AD’s B2B capabilities make it easy for you to send it an
automated invitation that will get it up and running with Azure AD in a matter of minutes.
Azure AD B2C Collaboration
Azure Active Directory B2C is a highly available, global, identity management service for
consumer-facing applications that scales to hundreds of millions of identities. It can be easily
integrated across mobile and web platforms. Your consumers can log on to all your applications
through fully customizable experiences by using their existing social accounts or by creating
new credentials.
Azure AD Domain Services
Azure AD Domain Services provides managed cloud-based domain services such as domain join,
group policy, LDAP, and Kerberos/NTLM authentication in Azure IaaS that are fully compatible
with Windows Server AD. You can join Azure virtual machines to this domain without the need
to deploy domain controllers. Because Azure AD Domain Services is part of your existing Azure
AD tenant, users can login using the same credentials they use for Azure AD. This managed
domain is a standalone domain and is not an extension of an organization’s on-premises
domain or forest infrastructure. However, all user accounts, group memberships, and credentials
from the on-premises directory are available in this managed domain.
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Azure Application Proxy
Microsoft Azure Active Directory Application Proxy lets you publish applications, such as
SharePoint sites, Outlook Web Access, and IIS-based apps, inside your private network and
provides secure access to users outside your network. Employees can log into your apps from
home on their own devices and authenticate through this cloud-based proxy. By using Azure AD
Proxy you can protect on-premises applications with the same requirements as other cloudbased applications with MFA, device requirements, and other conditional access requirements.
You also benefit from the built-in security, usage, and administration reports. Application Proxy
works by installing a slim Windows service called a Connector inside your network. The
Connector maintains an outbound connection from within your network to the proxy service.
When users access a published application, the proxy uses this connection to provide access to
the application.
Recommendations for using Azure Active Directory
Recommendations for using Azure Active Directory
Follow best practices
where virtual machines reside, and associate all of the virtual
for setting up Active
Directory Domain
Services in Azure
Create a unique Active Directory site object for each Azure region
networks in that region with the Active Directory site.
Place two domain controllers within an availability set in all Azure
regions where virtual machines reside.
Make all domain controllers in Azure Global Catalog servers.
Make sure that domain controllers are pointing to a DNS server in
Windows that hosts the Active Directory zones, rather than the
default DNS servers in Azure.
Do not set a static IP address on the network adapter in the
operating system for virtual domain controllers in Azure. Doing so
will isolate the virtual machines and prevent them from
communicating on the virtual network.
To give a domain controller the IP address that you want and
prevent it from changing if the virtual machine is de-provisioned,
provide the virtual machine with a static virtual network IP address.
Make sure that you place the Active Directory database and SYSVOL
on a data disk. If you use the operating system disk or a temporary
disk, the database may get corrupted or purged during an outage.
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Enable password
Enable password hash synchronization so that the Azure AD password for
hash synchronization
users is the same as the on-premises Active Directory password. Even if all
of a customer’s users are signing in to Azure AD with AD FS, it is
recommended to enable password synchronization. Doing so provides a
good fallback method for user authentication if AD FS goes offline
Prepare your Active
If users from the additional forests will be migrated into a single
forest in the future, you must choose something other than the
objectGUID as the source anchor attribute (such as the mail
If a single person has multiple user accounts in different forests, you
must choose a common attribute to match the accounts together.
If user certificates use the UPN in the Subject Name field, the
certificates need to be reissued during the UPN rationalization.
Plan your AD FS
Otherwise, you’ll have to manage multiple instances of the Identity
Use a single identity provider for the organization, if possible.
Federation Service on-premises.
If possible, we recommend that you have trusts between each
Active Directory forest and use a single AD FS instance with
Azure AD. This simplifies the architecture and prevents you from
having to manage multiple AD FS farms.
Use Web Application Proxy servers in the AD FS deployment for
Azure AD. As a general rule, we recommend starting with an equal
number of Web Application Proxy servers and AD FS servers.
If AD FS is used in a multiple forest configuration with trusts
between the Active Directory forests, the UPN suffixes for each
domain must be unique.
If using AD FS in a multiple forest configuration with no forest trusts
between Active Directory forests, you must have multiple
deployments of AD FS (one for each untrusted forest).
Use Multi-Factor
Multi-Factor Authentication is an optional service that increases the security
of Azure AD.
Use self-service
We recommend that you create an end-user communication plan to
password reset
provide the users with the details about how to register for self-service
password reset, reset their password, and know what to expect.
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Operating Azure IaaS Services
As enterprise IT teams broaden their server deployments on-premises, in the cloud, or in a
hybrid-model, these bring forth many management challenges. To overcome these IT
management challenges, organizations are utilizing today disjointed solutions for individual
management needs. However, customers can now take advantage of cloud scale infrastructure
and increase ease of deployment through a unified “IT Management as a Service,” which is
called Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS). Management capabilities such as
monitoring, backup, automation, and so forth are delivered as a service from the cloud that
connects all of the servers in all environments (on-premises, Azure, and other clouds such as
AWS) and allows IT staff to centrally manage operations. OMS consists of the following 4
Log Analytics  Gain visibility across your Hybrid Enterprise Cloud
Automation  Orchestrate complex and repetitive operations
Availability  Increase data protection and application availability
Security  Help secure your workloads, servers, and users
It is not intended that OMS is replacing Microsoft System Center. It extends the capabilities of
Systems Center to deliver a full hybrid management experience. This guide is focusing on OMS.
Gaining operational insights
Today traditional IT is usually using multiple different tools for platform and application
monitoring, network monitoring, and Security Analysis. Extending those tools to the cloud is
challenging in various aspects: connectivity, agility, and data volume. Furthermore, it is more and
more necessary to combine and analyze information from various sources to gain operational
insights. With OMS Log Analytics, organizations can collect, store, and analyze log data from
virtually any Windows Server and Linux source and get unparalleled insights across their
datacenters and clouds, including Azure and AWS.
Getting started with Log Analytics
Log Analytics is new to most enterprises and thus it might be helpful to get a quick introduction.
To get started with Log Analytics you need to perform the following steps:
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The first step is the deployment of an OMS workspace in the Azure Portal. Thereby you can
choose from various editions defining the volume and retention of your data. Secondly you are
selecting the solutions that you want to use. Solutions are a collection of logic, visualization, and
data acquisition rules that address key customer challenges. They allow deeper insights to help
investigate and resolve operational issues faster, collect and correlate various types of machine
data, and help you be proactive with activities such as Change Tracking, Patch status reporting,
and security auditing.
The following picture shows the available solutions at the time of this writing. The gallery is
continuously extended with additional solutions. Those can be added at any point in time.
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Afterward you are connecting your servers to Log Analytics by deploying the Windows or Linux
agent on your machines. For Azure virtual machines it is an automated process; for virtual
machines in other clouds or on-premises it could be done by downloading and installing the
agent or by using automation tools therefore. The connectivity between the agent and Log
Analytics is established by using outbound Internet connectivity with or without a proxy. Thus
there is no need to open any on-premises firewalls for establishing inbound connectivity.
For those machines that don’t have Internet connectivity you can use the Log Analytics
Forwarder (Gateway), which is currently in preview. The OMS Log Analytics Forwarder enables
you to send data to a central server on your premises, which has access to the Internet and acts
as an http forward proxy. This allows you to collect log files from any machine in your network
without having the need for Internet access. In addition, you can grab logs that are stored from
other Azure services in Azure storage accounts and include them into the repository.
Next you define the data that you want to collect from your virtual machines. You can choose to
add any Windows Event log, Windows Performance Counters, Linux Performance Counters, IIS
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logs, Custom fields, Custom logs, and Syslog. All of those log files are transferred with low
latency and stored in a central repository for further analysis. User Accounts can be added to
OMS Log analytics according to the RBAC model to define granular access for various users and
user groups.
Creating log searches and raising of alerts
At the core of OMS is the log search feature, which allows you to combine and correlate any
machine data from multiple sources within a hybrid environment. Solutions are also powered by
log search to bring you metrics pivoted around a particular problem area. Throughout the OMS
console, you can click tiles or drill in to other items to view details about the item by using log
Log search provides a rich set of functions such as:
Basic and advanced filters
Measure commands to apply statistical functions to your data and aggregate results
Max and Min, average, and sum functions
Searches and Sub-searches
The following screenshot shows a custom query and its results. A complete tutorial to create
your own queries can be found here:
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Queries can be saved and added to favorites and their history is kept in OMS. Result sets can be
displayed in different styles and exported in different formats. Furthermore, queries are the
foundation to create custom dashboards to highlight those data that are relevant for your
One of the most important capabilities of Log Analytics is Alert Rules. Alert rules are based on
log searches that you create. They can automatically inform you by sending an email
notification, and OMS can remediate issues with Automation runbooks. Alert rules in OMS are
based on saved log search queries, the frequency that the alert rule runs, the time range of the
alert rule, and a condition based on the number of results for the query. Since an alert rule is
based on a search query, you can use some saved search queries before you create an alert rule,
or you can use an active search query to get started with a new alert rule. For example, you can
create an alert rule to notify you when more than 10 warning events were generated over the
past hour on a specific virtual machine and to run the alert rule every 30 minutes. The usefulness
of OMS alerts is that after you create them, you don’t have to manually check when those
important events occur—instead, OMS continuously looks for those important events and can
immediately inform you when they occur. And, OMS can run any runbook job from your
Automation account to remediate the problem in an automated fashion wherever possible.
The email notification of an alert contains all relevant information that is required to create an
Incident in your Service Management tool of choice that you are using for your Information
Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) operations.
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Securing data
Microsoft is committed to protecting your privacy and securing your data, while delivering
software and services that help you manage the IT infrastructure of your organization. We
recognize that when you entrust your data to others, that trust requires rigorous security.
Microsoft adheres to strict compliance and security guidelines—from coding to operating a
service. Further details are outlined in section 3.
The OMS service manages your cloud-based data securely by using the following methods:
Data segregation
Customer data is kept logically separate on each component throughout the OMS
service. All data is tagged per organization. This tagging persists throughout the data
lifecycle, and it is enforced at each layer of the service. Each customer has a dedicated
Azure blob that houses the long-term data.
Data retention
Aggregated metrics for some of the solutions such as Capacity Management are stored
in a SQL Database hosted by Microsoft Azure. This data is stored for 390 days. Indexed
log search data is stored and retained according to the pricing plan.
Physical security
The OMS service is manned by Microsoft personnel, and all activities are logged and can
be audited. The OMS service runs completely in Azure and complies with the Azure
common engineering criteria.
Compliance and certifications
The OMS software development and service team is actively working with the Microsoft
Legal and Compliance teams and other industry partners to acquire a variety of
OMS Log Analytics currently meet the following security standards:
Windows Common Engineering Criteria
Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Certification
ISO/IEC 27001 compliant
Service Organization Controls (SOC) 1 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 1 compliant
Backing up and restoring data
Backing up and restoring data are key for any production and most nonproduction workloads.
The relevant scenarios are:
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Backup and restore a virtual machine
Backup and restore files and folders
Backup and restore application data
Instead of investing in a new or extending an on-premises backup solution, which needs to be
engineered, operated, and maintained, customers can take advantage of Azure Backup, a cloud
scale backup infrastructure that is easy to use and managed by Microsoft. Some of the key
benefits of a cloud-based backup are:
No capital expenditure is needed for on-premises storage devices
Pay-as-you-use consumption model
Unlimited scaling
Multiple storage options
Data encryption
Application consistent backup
Long-term retention
Azure virtual machines
Backing up and restoring business-critical data is complicated by the fact that it needs to be
backed up while the applications that produce the data are running. To address this, Azure
Backup provides application-consistent virtual machine backups for Microsoft workloads by
using VSS to ensure that data is written correctly to storage. For Linux virtual machines, fileconsistent backups are possible, since Linux does not have an equivalent platform to VSS.
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The foundation of every Azure Backup is the Recovery Services Vault. The vault could be based
on Geo-Redundant Storage (GRS) or Locally-Redundant Storage (LRS). GRS provides three
copies of your backup data in the primary region and three more copies in another region to be
protected from regional disasters. A best practice is to use Geo-Redundant-Storage, especially
for any production workloads. The storage type needs to be configured before you start
protecting machines.
Azure Backup discovers all machines in a subscription and allows you to add new machines to a
backup schedule. The backup schedule is defined by backup policies. There is a default policy,
representing a typical schedule along with the option to create multiple different custom backup
policies. The backup policy defines the backup frequency, as well as the daily, weekly, monthly,
and yearly retention period.
The most time-consuming operation in backup is the copying of data from the primary storage
to the backup storage, and the time taken is dependent on a host of factors like network
latency, available IOPS on the primary storage account, and available IOPS on the backup
storage account. Azure Backup implements an optimized blob copy that ensures constant,
predictable IO and backup times. Azure Backup does additional processing to determine the
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incremental changes between the last recovery point and the current VM state. By transferring
and storing only the incremental changes, Azure Backup is highly storage efficient.
For enterprises looking to encrypt their VM data in Azure, the solution is to use BitLocker on
Windows or dmcrypt on Linux machines. Both of these are volume-level encryption solutions.
The entire encryption of data happens transparently and seamlessly in the VM layer. Thus the
data written to the page blobs attached to the VM is encrypted data. When Azure Backup takes
a snapshot of the VM’s disks and transfers data, it copies the encrypted data present on the
page blobs.
Azure backup provides auditing capabilities for backup operations triggered by the customer,
making it easy to see exactly what management operations were performed on the backup
vault. Operations logs enable great post-mortem and audit support for the backup operations.
The following operations are logged:
Register and Unregister
Configure protection
Backup and Restore
Stop protection
Delete backup data
Add, delete, update policy
Cancel job
Even more important than backing up your virtual machines is the ability to restore the entire
virtual machine. You protect your data with the Backup service by taking snapshots of your data
at defined intervals. These snapshots are known as recovery points, and they are stored in
recovery services vaults. If or when it is necessary to repair or rebuild a VM, you can restore the
VM from any of the saved recovery points. When you restore a recovery point, you return or
revert the VM to the state when the recovery point was taken. The restore configuration allows
you to specify the name, resource group, network, and subnet for the virtual machine.
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Complex restore scenarios such as VMs under load balancer, VMs with multiple reserved IPs,
and VMs with multiple NICs require usage of PowerShell commands as described here:
Files and folders
This backup option is designed to back up files and folders from any Windows machine. The
machine can run in Azure, on-premises, or in any other cloud; it can be physical or virtual. You
cannot use this option to back up the system state, or to create a Bare-Metal-Restore (BMR)
backup. The Recovery Services Vault could be the one that is mentioned in the previous section,
or it could be any other Recovery Services Vault.
Azure Backup for files and folders requires the installation of an Azure Backup Agent on the
server, which can be downloaded from the Azure Recovery Services Vault. After installing the
agent, it is necessary to connect the server to the Recovery Services Vault by downloading the
vault credential files from the Recovery Services Vault. The vault credentials file is used only
during the registration workflow and expires after 48 hours. Ensure that the vault credential file
is available in a location that can be accessed by the setup application.
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The backup agent provides a user interface to schedule multiple backups per day/week, to
define retention policies (according to the previous section). The Azure Backup agent is
establishing connectivity to the Recovery Services Vault by using https over the Internet with or
without a proxy server. Furthermore, it is possible to use ExpressRoute Public peering to
establish the connection over a private WAN link. The Backup agent provides network throttling.
Throttling controls how network bandwidth is used during data transfer. This control can be
helpful if you need to back up data during work hours but do not want the backup process to
interfere with other Internet traffic. Throttling applies to backup and restore activities.
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A key to overcoming concerns about security in the cloud is encryption. Azure Backup requires a
passphrase for encrypting data to be backed up. The agent performs encryption prior to
transmission to Azure, and decryption after performing a restore operation back to the local
system. Microsoft advises that it does not keep a copy of the passphrase. Azure Backup uses
compression to reduce transmission time and storage requirements. Once the compression and
encryption is applied, the data in the backup vault is usually 30 to 40 percent smaller. Azure
Backup also uses block-level incremental backup methods so that only modified blocks are
backed up in subsequent backups of the same set of files and folders.
When restoring data to the same server from which it was backed up, you don't have to supply
the passphrase, but when restoring to a different server, you do. Azure Backup can generate a
passphrase for you, or you can create your own; in either case, you can change it in the
console’s Properties page later.
Enterprise applications
Besides the need of backing up virtual machines and files/folders, it is also required to back up
enterprise applications in a consistent way and to restore parts of the protected application in a
granular way. A lot of Systems Center customers are using Data Protection Manger for
enterprise application backup on-premises and in the cloud. Large customers, who have another
backup strategy for their on-premises applications, struggle to introduce Data Protection
Manager due to the required Systems Center licenses.
Microsoft Azure Backup server (MABS) is a new tool that provides disk to disk to cloud backup
with centralized local management and economic cloud-based offsite storage. It supports to
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protect application workloads such as Virtual Machines (on-premises), Microsoft SQL Server,
SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange, and Windows clients from a single console. Azure
Backup Server inherits the functionality of Data Protection Manager (DPM) for workload backup.
The main differences between DPM and MABS are:
DPM offers tape protection, which is not available in MABS.
DPM can protect one datacenter’s DPM installation with a secondary DPM server in
another datacenter (and vice versa), which MABS doesn’t offer.
Many DPM servers can be managed in a single, central console in Operations Manager.
DPM can act as a conduit for Azure Site Recovery services with Hyper-V replica, whereas
MABS only does backup.
MABS requires an Azure Backup Subscription.
This document is focusing on using MABS for application consistent backups of enterprise
applications that are running on Azure or on-premises.
Microsoft Azure Backup Server requires an instance of Windows Server 2012 R2 that can run on
Azure or on-premises. The preferred location depends on the scenario that you want to protect.
After the installation of Azure Backup Server, it needs to be registered with an Azure backup
vault. The Azure Backup agent needs to be installed on the workload server that should be
protected. Application-specific backups/restores can be configured afterward by using the
MABS user interface. All backup data are encrypted with an encryption passphrase, similar to the
approach in the previous section. Further details how to configure MABS are described here:
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Establishing secure remote access
Business Application operations require remote access for system administrators in order to fix
operational issues or to extend, update, or reconfigure an application. Customers are facing the
problem that desktops of the system administrators are not necessarily in the same virtual
network as the servers that they have to administrate, and gaining remote access via public IP
addresses is not appropriate for a lot of enterprises due to security reasons. Enterprises have
different solutions in place such as dedicated administration networks that require an additional
network interface card on every machine, jump servers with web-based RDP capabilities, or
remote desktop services with Internet gateways and Multi-Factor Authentication that are
difficult to set up, configure, and maintain.
Sometimes, especially in enterprise environments, firewalls prevent connecting via RDP to Azure
Windows VMs over port 3389. Quite often, the only outgoing ports being open in the network
are 80 and 443 for HTTP(S). Customers that have no explicit demand for securing remote access
with Multi-Factor Authentication could consider web-based RDP clients that are offered by
various third-party solutions. Customers with a demand for Multi-Factor Authentication should
consider using Azure RemoteApp for gaining secure remote access.
Azure RemoteApp brings the functionality of the on-premises Microsoft RemoteApp program,
backed by Remote Desktop Services, to Azure. Azure RemoteApp helps you provide secure,
remote access to applications from many different user devices. Azure RemoteApp basically
hosts nonpersistent Terminal Server sessions in the cloud, and you get to use them and share
them with your users. With Azure RemoteApp you can share apps and resources with users on
almost any device. Remote Apps uses corporate credentials from Azure AD, letting you ensure
the security of apps and data, and you can combine it with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.
The focus of this section is the usage of Azure Remote App to get remote access to a Windows
or Linux virtual machine in a secure way. For this scenario it is best practice to use MFA for all
Remote App users.
Azure RemoteApp lets you share apps and resources with users on any device. You do this by
creating collections to hold the apps and resources, and then you share those collections with
users. There are two different collection options, with different network and authentication
Cloud collections
This type of collection is very quick to create. You can use one of the default images
(Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server with Office Professional Plus 2013, or
Windows Server with Office 365 Pro Plus) or you can use a custom image built from an
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premises environment for data sharing or to use non-Windows authentication into
resources. Authentication of users is done by using Azure Active Directory.
Hybrid collections
These collections provide full access to on-premises network and Azure VNET. They
include domain join access for apps and data. Remote applications can authentication
against your on-premises Active Directory—they can then access resources in your
After you create your RemoteApp collection, you need to publish the apps or resources that you
want to make available for your users. The template images provided with your subscription
only have a few apps published by default—to share the other apps, you need to publish them.
For the remote access scenario, it is sufficient to publish the remote desktop connection for
windows and a command line interface or other preferred tooling for Linux. You can publish a
remote desktop connection in a generic manner, without using any command line parameter or
you can publish it multiple times with command line parameters that are pointing directly to the
servers that you want to grant access to. Due to the connectivity into the virtual network, it is
not required to access any of the servers via a public IP address.
Before your users can see and use the apps in Azure RemoteApp, you have to grant them access
to your collection. The different collection types support using different user identities for access
to applications. For a hybrid collection of RemoteApp, you need to set up an Active Directory
domain infrastructure on-premises and an Azure Active Directory tenant with Directory
Integration and optionally single sign-on. In addition, you need to create some Active Directory
objects in the on-premises directory.
For a cloud collection of RemoteApp, any user that has Azure Active Directory support identities
can be granted user access to RemoteApp.
User accounts
Microsoft Account
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Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
Azure AD cloud only
AD Sync with password sync
AD Sync without password sync
AD Sync with AD FS
Third-party Azure-supported identity providers (for example, Ping)
Multi-Factor Authentication
One of the beauties of Azure RemoteApp is that you can access apps from any of your devices.
The following operating systems are supported:
Windows 7 Service Packs 1, 8, 8.1, 10
Windows Phone 8.1
Mac OS X
The following Windows Embedded thin clients are supported:
Windows Embedded Standard 7
Windows Embedded 8 Standard
Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
The Azure Remote App Client can be downloaded here:
After logging in to the remote app client you will see the apps that have been published for you.
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Automating operational procedures
Microsoft Azure Automation provides a way for users to automate the manual, long-running,
error-prone, and frequently repeated tasks that are commonly performed in a cloud and
enterprise environment. It saves time and increases the reliability of regular administrative tasks
and even schedules them to be automatically performed at regular intervals. You can automate
processes using runbooks or automate configuration management using Desired State
Configuration. A runbook is a set of tasks that performs some automated process in Azure
Automation. It may be a simple process such as starting a virtual machine and creating a log
entry, or you may have a complex runbook that combines other smaller runbooks to perform a
complex process across multiple resources or even multiple clouds and on-premises
Runbooks in Azure Automation are based on Windows PowerShell or Windows PowerShell
Workflow, so they do anything that PowerShell can do. If an application or service has an API,
then a runbook can work with it. If you have a PowerShell module for the application, then you
can load that module into Azure Automation and include those cmdlets in your runbook. Azure
Automation runbooks run in the Azure cloud and can access any cloud resources or external
resources that can be accessed from the cloud. Using Hybrid Runbook Worker, runbooks can
run in your local datacenter to manage local resources. The Runbook Gallery contains runbooks
from Microsoft and the community that you can either use unchanged in your environment or
customize for your own purposes. They are also useful as references to learn how to create your
own runbooks
Especially interesting in regard to this guide is the integration of Azure Automation into the
Alerting of the Log Analytics Service. This allows an automated remediation of some issues that
are typically coming up. For example, if you are running out of disk space you can add
additional data disks or increase the size of the disks of your Azure VM in an automated fashion.
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Managing IT services according to ITIL
The main focus of the operations layer is to carry out the business requirements that are defined
at the service delivery layer (see section 9). Cloud service attributes for Azure IaaS cannot be
achieved through technology alone; mature IT service management is still required.
The components of the operations layer include:
Change management
Responsible for controlling the lifecycle of all changes. The primary objective is to
implement beneficial changes with minimum disruption to the perception of continuous
Service asset and configuration management
Maintains information about the assets, components, and infrastructure needed to
provide a service. Accurate configuration data for each component and its relationship to
other components must be captured and maintained.
Release and deployment management
Ensures that changes to a service are built, tested, and deployed with minimal disruption
to the service or production environment. Change management provides the approval
mechanism (determining what will be changed and why), but release and deployment
management is the mechanism for determining how changes are implemented.
Knowledge management
Involves gathering, analyzing, storing, and sharing information within an organization.
Mature knowledge management processes are necessary to achieve a service provider’s
approach, and they are a key element of IT service management.
Incident and problem management
Resolves disruptive, or potentially disruptive, events with maximum speed and minimum
disruption. Problem management also identifies root causes of past incidents and seeks
to identify and prevent, or minimize the impact of, future ones.
Request fulfillment
Manages user requests for services. As the IT department adopts a service provider’s
approach, it should define available services in a service catalog based on business
Access management
Denies access to unauthorized users while making sure that authorized users have access
to needed services. Access management implements security policies that are defined by
information security management at the service delivery layer.
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Systems administration
Performs the daily, weekly, monthly, and as-needed tasks that are required for system
health. A mature approach to systems administration is required for achieving a service
provider’s approach and for driving predictability. The vast majority of systems
administration tasks should be automated.
Azure doesn’t provide a cloud-based Service Management tool that is comparable to the
approach that was taken with the Operations Management Suite (OMS). System Center 2012 R2
Service Manager is the product in the System Center suite that covers the service management
processes. The goal of System Center 2012 R2 Service Manager is to support IT service
management in a broad sense. This includes implementing the Information Technology
Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) processes such as
change and incident management. Customers with another ITSM tooling will most likely
continue with it and integrate it with OMS.
Recommendations for operating Azure IaaS Services
Recommendations for operating Azure IaaS Services
Use nonpeak hours
Schedule backups during nonpeak hours for VMs so that backup service
for backups
gets IOPS for transferring data from customer storage account to backup
Spread VMs into
Please make sure that in a policy VMs are spread from different storage
different backup
accounts. We suggest that if the total number of disks stored in a single
storage account from VMs is more than 20, spread the VMs into different
Back up critical data
Ensuring all applications and mission-critical data is backed up at a separate
to separate location
secondary location other than the primary datacenter
backup schedules to get required IOPS during transfer phase of the backup.
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Migrating existing services to Azure
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is primarily a solution for disaster recovery from on-premises to Azure
or from one on-premises location to another. ASR allows organizations to replicate their onpremises systems into Azure and keep them synchronized at all times. ASR is cross-compatible
with all types of on-premises environments including Hyper-V, VMware, and physical servers, so
no matter the source, ASR will be able to replicate it into Azure, and ASR will take care of any
conversion that is required. Once the systems are replicated to Azure, you can schedule how
often they synchronize with the on-premises environment so that the copy of the VM in Azure is
always up to date.
Since the Azure Site Recovery replica is always up to date, there is always a complete, ready-togo copy of the environment sitting in Azure. Instead of having to do a lengthy migration with
long downtime windows, or having to rebuild servers from scratch, Azure allows you to perform
a migration where you can use your ASR replica and perform a failover.
Just as you would want in a DR scenario, initiating a failover ASR means you can turn off the onpremises server and bring the cloud server online to replace it within a short period of time. The
cloud replica will have all of the same settings and configurations, so with a quick DNS change,
your system will now be running completely from the cloud. If you want to test the migration
ahead of time, the test failover option allows you to perform the full failover process without
disabling the production system. There is, of course, some configuration that is required ahead
of time to ensure the networking, storage, and performance is all configured properly. However,
all of this can be staged in advance for an easy transition.
As an added incentive to use ASR for migrations, Microsoft is providing Azure Site Recovery for
free for the first 31 days. If you can complete the migration within that time, you will not pay
anything for the replication software. You will only be charged for any compute and storage
used during replication and after cutover.
Configuring virtual machine and application migrations
The configuration of virtual machine migrations is done in the Azure Portal by using the
Recovery Services Vault. The detailed configuration is depending on the source infrastructure:
Hyper-V site to Azure, Virtual Machine Manager to Azure, VMware to Azure. The recovery
service vault needs to register the source site for the migration. Depending on the business
continuity requirements, it is necessary to define settings for the copy frequency, recovery point
retention, app consistent snapshot frequency, replication start time, and data encryption. It is
not necessary to migrate all virtual machine from the source infrastructure. Virtual machines can
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be selected. Furthermore, it is required to map source and target networks, choose the
appropriate storage category for the migrated workload, and assign the compute power that is
required for the migrated workload.
Once all settings have been configured it is recommended to perform a test migration before
the planned migration will be executed.
It doesn’t matter whether your virtual machines are Windows- or Linux-based, or running on
VMware or Hyper-V VMs. Site Recovery integrates with Microsoft applications, including
SharePoint, Exchange, Dynamics, SQL Server, and Active Directory. Microsoft also works closely
with leading vendors including Oracle, SAP, IBM, and Red Hat to ensure their applications and
services work well with ASR and Azure.
Mapping of networks and subnets
When customers are planning to migrate workloads, one of the key questions in their minds is
how the virtual machine would be reachable after the failover is completed. ASR allows the
administrator to choose the network to which a virtual machine would be connected to after
failover. There are two choices for designing the network for the migrated VMs:
Use a different IP address range for the network at the Azure site.
In this scenario the virtual machine will get a new IP address after failover, and the
administrator would have to do a DNS update. This approach seems to be the most
prevalent based on what we have seen. It takes the form of changing the IP address of
every VM that is involved in the migration. A drawback of this approach requires the
incoming network to “learn” that the application that was at IPx is now at IPy. Even if IPx
and IPy are logical names, DNS entries typically have to be changed or flushed
throughout the network, and cached entries in network tables have to be updated or
flushed, therefore a downtime could be seen depending on how the DNS infrastructure
has been set up.
Use same IP address range for the network at the Azure site.
In a lot of scenarios administrators prefer to retain the IP addresses that they have on the
primary site even after the migration. From a migration perspective, using fixed IP
addresses appears to be the easiest method to implement, but it has a number of
potential challenges that in practice make it the least popular approach. For the
migration of virtual machines to Azure it is required to use subnet failover. In order to
maintain the IP address space for the migration, it is possible to programmatically
arrange for the router infrastructure to move the subnets from one site to another. In a
migration scenario the subnets would move with the associated protected VMs. The
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main drawback to this approach is that you have to move the whole subnet, which may
be OK but it may affect the migration granularity considerations.
Planning and testing failover
Once the VMs are ready to be included in a failover strategy, Site Recovery can be used to
monitor for failover events and then automate the process based on steps detailed in a failover
plan. This can be as simple as bringing up a single server that has been migrated to Azure to
orchestrating an entire environment transition that includes shutting down servers in the
primary datacenter and bringing the migrated servers up in Azure. The startup sequence can
even be specified.
Of course a failover plan is only useful if it actually works, and the only way to ensure it works is
to test it. Site Recovery makes this step possible by leveraging the flexibility of Azure Virtual
Networks. The testing can even be put on a schedule. When a test is started, Site Recovery will
spin up the failover VMs in an isolated network so they can be running at the same time as
production. Users can then connect to the recovered servers and verify everything is working.
When the test is complete, Site Recovery will tear down the VMs so there is no manual cleanup
required. Depending on the workloads being tested, there may be some additional steps
Recommendations for migrating existing services to Azure
Recommendations for migrating existing services to Azure
Test before you
Test applications in Azure before migration.
Automate the
If you're failing over to Azure, for the best RTO we recommend that you
migration process
automate all manual actions by integrating with Azure automation and
Check network
Site Recovery supports a near-synchronous recovery point objective (RPO)
when you replicate to Azure. Make sure that you have sufficient bandwidth
recovery plans.
between your datacenter and Azure.
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Offering management for cloud-based services
All large IT organizations have some processes in place to enable their internal customers (for
example, business departments) to obtain IT services and products that are available in the
organization. These processes may vary based on the service needed, the department that
provides it, or even the worker’s location. A common vision is to have a unified service catalog
for delivering services across the organization—some kind of a one-stop-shopping approach
that enables customers to efficiently submit their requests. The typical logical layers for such an
approach are as follows:
The consumption layer presents a service catalog to the consumer, with various configuration
options (Application, Compute, RAM, Storage, Location, Network, SLA, etc.), including pricing
information. Approval workflows are sometimes used to control costs and to govern the
consumption of services.
The service layer is used for managing the service catalog, defining the SLAs (Availability,
Performance, Time to React, etc.) that are associated with the provided services, and designing
the service itself. A service consists not only of a virtual machine with an operating system.
Enterprise IT departments are usually offering managed services for operating systems,
databases, middleware products, webservers, or complex business applications that are based
on multiple of these components. The services need to be connected to the monitoring, backup,
and antivirus and managed according to ITIL standards.
The service provisioning as well as the integration with the operational support systems and the
IT service management tooling is part of the service delivery layer. Those processes could be
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automated, semi-automated, or executed manually with a defined service level for delivering the
service to the consumer.
Finally, there is Resource Provider Layer that with IaaS-, PaaS-, and SaaS-based services is used
as a foundation to create managed services. A large portion of enterprise IT is still focused on
IaaS, but the obvious benefits of PaaS and SaaS are leading to a higher adoption of those
We observe that customers are sometimes aiming for a multivendor strategy on the resource
provider layer called multicloud support or cloud brokerage. But there are a lot of caveats with
such an approach:
Each cloud provider has its own standards and technology. Adopting a multicloud
approach will actually reduce the agility and the capabilities that customers get from the
cloud services they are paying for. Higher level services like PaaS and SaaS differ heavily
between the various providers, and on IaaS there is also a significant discrepancy in
regards to network, security and resilience, operations, and lifecycle management. Using
the lowest common denominator between the clouds has significant disadvantages for
the business.
The speed of innovation in Azure and the frequency or releasing new services is very
challenging for any integration layer. Business departments want to benefit from the new
capabilities, but the cloud brokering platform isn’t supporting it in a timely manner.
The complexity and lock that is introduced with such an integration layer is enormous.
Customers should rate for themselves the pros and cons of multicloud support. In the majority
of situations, we feel that the selection of a trusted partner, with a cloud service offering that fits
well into the enterprise architecture and with strong support for hybrid scenarios, might be the
better approach.
Consuming services
The user self-service capability is an essential characteristic of cloud computing, and it must be
present in any implementation. The intent is to permit users to approach a self-service capability
and be presented with options available for provisioning. The capability may be basic (such as
provisioning of a virtual machine with a predefined configuration), more advanced (such as
allowing configuration options to the base configuration), or complex (such as implementing a
platform capability or service).
The self-service capability is a critical business driver that allows members of an organization to
become more agile in responding to business needs with IT capabilities that align and conform
to internal business and IT requirements. The interface between IT and the business should be
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abstracted to a well-defined, simple, and approved set of service options. The options should be
presented as a menu in a portal or available from the command line. Businesses can select these
services from the catalog, start the provisioning process, and be notified upon completion. They
are charged only for the services they actually used.
The challenge is to find the right balance between the required configuration options to fulfil
the business needs and the complexity to implement those options and provision the services
accordingly. Adding all configuration options that Azure provides for a service to the service
catalog doesn’t make sense. It would end up in re-creating the Azure Portal, which isn’t
achievable for any organization. A common approach is to add the most important parameters
that allow a basic automated provisioning of the service to the service catalog. Detailed
configuration settings could be requested by the customer in a separate service request and
could be performed by IT staff within a defined service level.
Provisioning of cloud services
The infrastructure for an application is typically made up of many components—maybe a virtual
machine, storage and virtual network, or a web app, database, database server, and probably
third-party services from the marketplace. These components are not considered as separate
entities; instead you see them as related and interdependent parts of a single entity. The goal is
to deploy, manage, and monitor them as a group. Azure Resource Manager enables customers
to work with the resources in a solution as a group. You can deploy, update, or delete all of the
resources of an application in a single, coordinated operation. Templates could be used for
deployment and that template can work for different environments such as testing, staging, and
production. Resource Manager also provides security, auditing, and tagging features to help you
manage your resources after deployment.
A resource group is a container that holds related resources for an application. The resource
group could include all of the resources for an application, or only those resources that are
logically grouped together. The service designer decides how to allocate resources to resource
groups based on what makes the most sense for the organization.
With Resource Manager, application designers can create a simple template (in JSON format)
that defines deployment and configuration of entire application. This template is known as a
Resource Manager template and provides a declarative way to define deployment. By using a
template, you can repeatedly deploy the application throughout the app lifecycle and have
confidence that resources are deployed in a consistent state.
Within the template, you define the infrastructure for your app, how to configure that
infrastructure, and how to publish your app code to that infrastructure. You do not need to
worry about the order for deployment because Azure Resource Manager analyzes dependencies
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to ensure resources are created in the correct order. There is no need to define your entire
infrastructure in a single template. Often, it makes sense to divide the deployment requirements
into a set of targeted, purpose-specific templates that are linked together.
Templates allow the specification of parameters for customization and flexibility in deployments.
Those parameters should fit to the configuration options in the service catalog. The fact that
resource manager orchestrates the deployment of multiple components supports a definition of
application-specific instead of infrastructure-specific parameters. Example: For a deployment of
a Big Data Service you may ask the customer for parameters such as the amount of master and
data nodes, the required performance, and the amount of data that should be handled. All the
logic for provisioning multiple virtual machines, load balancers, network settings, application
installation, and configuration, etc., could be baked into the template.
There are a huge number of templates available on GitHub,, which provides a real productivity boost for any IT organization.
Many enterprises might choose to keep some applications on-premises. Perhaps they are based
on nonstandard systems or legal constraints don’t allow to move it to the cloud. This results in
the situation where most enterprise customers are running a hybrid cloud scenario.
Microsoft Azure Stack is designed for this approach and allows customers to run the majority of
Azure services within their own datacenter. Azure Stack brings with it a huge innovation to the
hybrid-cloud ecosystem. Before the evolution of Azure Stack, the Azure cloud resource and onpremises resource management were different, requiring separate deployment scripts and
potentially significant code changes to move systems either from Azure to on-premises or onpremises to Azure. With the release of Microsoft Azure Stack, it is now possible to use the same
deployment and development tools to build and deploy applications and infrastructure that
reside either in the Azure Cloud or within the enterprise on-premises datacenter.
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Metering consumption per application
Customers require the ability to accurately predict and manage their application costs. As they
move from a Capex to an Opex model, they also need the ability to do Showback versus
Chargeback analysis, as well as provide mode fidelity in estimation and billing, especially for
large deployments. The Azure Resource Usage and Rate Card APIs address these needs, by
enabling new insights into the consumption of Azure resources.
The Azure Usage API allows subscribers to programmatically pull in usage data to gain insights
into their consumption. The granularity (hourly usage information) and resource metadata
information available through the API provides the necessary dataset to support flexible
Showback or Chargeback models. Supported features are:
Azure Role-Based Access Control
Customers can configure their access policies on the Azure Portal or through Azure
PowerShell cmdlets to specify which users or applications can get access to the
subscription’s usage data.
Hourly or daily aggregations
Callers can specify whether they want their Azure usage data in hourly buckets or daily
buckets. The default is daily.
Instance metadata provided
Instance-level details such as the fully qualified resource uri along with the resource
group information and resource tags will be provided in the response. This will help
customers deterministically and programmatically allocate usage by the tags, for use
cases like cross-charging.
Resource metadata provided
Resource details such as the meter name, meter category, meter subcategory, unit, and
region will also be passed in the response, to give the callers a better understanding of
what was consumed.
Usage for all offer types
Usage data will be accessible for all offer types, including Pay-as-you-go, MSDN,
Monetary commitment, Monetary credit, and Enterprise Agreement, among others.
The data available through the Azure Usage API includes not only consumption information but
also resource metadata including any tags associated with it. Tags provide an easy way to
organize application resources, but in order to be effective you need to ensure that:
Tags are correctly applied to the application resources at provisioning time.
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Tags are properly used on the Showback/Chargeback process to tie the usage to the
organization’s account structure.
Billing and price prediction
A proper price prediction for a potentially consumed service from the service catalog is a
common demand in most organizations. Managers require this information to approve large
cloud application deployments. Price prediction requires detailed knowledge about the Azure
elements that a service consists of (defined at design time) along with estimated pricing
information for each.
The Azure Resource RateCard API delivers a list of available Azure resources and pricing
information. Features include:
Azure Role-Based Access Control
Customers can configure their access policies on the Azure Portal or through Azure
PowerShell cmdlets to specify which users or applications can get access to the RateCard
Support for Pay-as-you-go, MSDN, Monetary commitment, and Monetary credit
offers (EA not supported)
This API provides Azure offer-level rate information versus subscription-level. The caller
of this API must pass in the offer information to get resource details and rates. As EA
offers have customized rates per enrollment, we are unable to provide the EA rates at
this time.
Enterprise Agreement customers can use another API that allows usage access price sheet and
other billing information in format of CSV and JSON from API. Enterprise Administrators control
access to the API through access keys. Available reports through the API are:
Enrollment Summary CSV/JSON File
This report contains information regarding the enrollment summary for the month. The
report will have the same data content as the Balance and Charge report available on the
EA portal under the Download Usage Data section.
Usage and Billing Details CSV/JSON File
This report will have detailed information regarding service usage and billing. The report
will have the same data content as the Usage Detail report available in the EA portal
under the Download Usage Data section.
Marketplace StoreCharge CSV/JSON File
This report contains the same data content as the StoreCharge downloaded from EA
portal under the Download Usage Data section.
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Price Sheet CSV/JSON File
The report contains the same data content as the Price sheet downloaded from the EA
portal under the Download Usage Data section.
There are also partner solutions available that make use of those APIs and provide an integrated
Microsoft Azure Usage and RateCard APIs Enable Cloudyn to Provide ITFM for Customers
describes the integration experience offered by Azure Billing API partner Cloudyn. This
article provides detailed coverage of its experiences, including a short video that shows
how Azure customers can use Cloudyn and the Azure Billing APIs to gains insights from
their Azure consumption data.
Cloud Cruiser and Microsoft Azure Billing API Integration describes how Cloud Cruiser's
Express for Azure Pack works directly from the WAP portal, enabling customers to
seamlessly manage both the operational and financial aspects of their Microsoft Azure
private or hosted public cloud from a single user interface.
Managing the lifecycle
After a service has been provisioned it needs to be managed along the entire lifecycle. This
includes configuration changes, applying updates, performing actions, and decommissioning
the service.
Maintenance of solutions in Azure is largely dependent on the services that are consumed
within Azure (PaaS or IaaS). PaaS Services are fully managed by Microsoft, but Azure IaaS virtual
machines have the requirement to be maintained by the customer. Microsoft does not provide a
centralized patch management offering for the guest operating system of IaaS virtual machine
outside of currently shipping patch management solutions such as Windows Server Update
Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager. The underlying fabric hardware,
virtualization, and service layers are managed by Azure. Keeping up-to-date with Microsoft
updates for Windows-based virtual machines is critical to ensure that a proper security posture
is maintained for these systems. Microsoft updates should be applied to Azure IaaS virtual
machines in a similar way that updates are applied to other customer environments.
When updating from on-premises or public Microsoft update servers, the updates source
location is largely driven by the Azure network design decisions and customer configurations—
like any other Windows-based virtual machine.
For organizations with small environments, or organizations that have not invested in a patching
infrastructure (such as System Center Configuration Manager or a similar third-party tool), WSUS
can provide a basic-level patch management infrastructure. However, the virtual machines need
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to be configured to utilize the WSUS instance like any other Windows-based system in the
Like Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) can be utilized to patch Azure
IaaS virtual machines for customers who want to have a higher degree of control over patch
distribution, release, and reporting. If an organization has an existing WSUS topology, a
recommended approach is to deploy an additional WSUS server within the organization’s Azure
subscription and joined to the WSUS hierarchy. Optionally, this additional server can be
configured to be a content store, such that Azure virtual machines download content from this
new server.
System Center Configuration 2012 R2 Manager can provide services including installing
applications and updating management, and other system configuration tasks. This is
particularly attractive in hybrid scenarios where customers may have significant existing
investments in Configuration Manager packaging, software update groups, and so on. Microsoft
Azure presents additional configurations that should be considered, such as updating location
settings, boundaries, and client authentication.
If Configuration Manager is going to be used, we recommend that organizations leverage an
existing Configuration Manager infrastructure, if available. The Configuration Manager
architecture (such as primary sites and distribution points) can be an involved and generally a
separate engagement beyond an Azure scope of work.
Besides the above-mentioned maintenance tasks, we see demands from the business to support
typical lifecycle actions in the service catalog such as:
Start the service
Stop the service
Restart the service
Create an ad-hoc backup of the service
Decommission the service
Organizations have to make up their minds whether those actions might be executed in an
automated fashion by using the Azure APIs or be performed manually within a defined service
Recommendations for cloud service provisioning
Recommendations for cloud service provisioning
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Use Resource
Azure has two different deployment models: Resource Manager and Classic.
Microsoft recommends using Resource Manager for new deployments.
Follow reference
Running a Single Windows VM on Azure
Running multiple Windows VM instances on Azure (single tier,
Running Windows VMs for an N-tier architecture on Azure
Adding reliability to an N-tier architecture on Azure (Windows VMs)
Running Windows VMs in multiple datacenters on Azure
Extending an on-premises network to Azure using a site-to-site
virtual private network
Implementing a highly available hybrid network architecture in Azure
by using failover between ExpressRoute and VPN gateway
Implementing a hybrid network architecture with Azure ExpressRoute
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About the Author
Joachim Hafner is a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft Germany
helping clients to integrate the Azure platform into their enterprise
architecture and provides guidance for architecting modern cloud
applications based on Azure technologies. Before he joined Microsoft he
was working as a Senior Enterprise Architect for one of the largest IT
service providers with a strong focus on hybrid cloud strategies.
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