How to Use Azure Arc for Hybrid Cloud Management and Security

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How to Use Azure Arc for Hybrid Cloud Management and Security

Azure Arc is a new hybrid cloud management option announced by Microsoft in November of 2019. This article serves as a single point of reference for all things Azure Arc.

According to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, “Azure Arc really marks the beginning of this new era of hybrid computing where there is a control plane built for multi-cloud, multi-edge” (Microsoft Ignite 2019 Keynote at 14:40). That is a strong statement from one of the industry leaders in cloud computing, especially since hybrid cloud computing has already been around for a decade. Essentially Azure Arc allows organizations to use Azure’s management technologies (“control plane”) to centrally administer public cloud resources along with on-premises servers, virtual machines, and containers. Since Microsoft Azure already manages distributed resources at scale, Microsoft is empowering its users to utilize these same features for all of their hardware, including edge servers. All of Azure’s AI, automation, compliance and security best practices are now available to manage all of their distributed cloud resources, and their underlying infrastructure, which is known as “connected machines.” Additionally, several of Azure’s AI and data services can now be deployed on-premises and centrally managed through Azure Arc, enhancing local and offline management and offering greater data sovereignty. Again, this article will provide an overview of the Azure Arc technology and its key capabilities (currently in Public Preview) and will be updated over time.

Video Preview of Azure Arc

Getting Started with Azure Arc

The Azure Arc public preview was announced in November 2019 at the Microsoft Ignite conference to much fanfare. In its initial release, many fundamental Azure services are supported along with Azure Data Services. Over time, it is expected that a majority of Azure Services will be supported by Azure Arc.

To get started with Azure Arc, check out the following guides and documentation provided by Microsoft.

Additional information will be added once it is made available.

Why use Azure Arc-enabled services?

For organizations that may already be leveraging Microsoft Azure and also have tools and solutions in place for managing on-premises environments, what is the benefit of using Azure Arc?

With Azure Arc, organizations are able to unify the control, management, policies, governance, monitoring, and bring all of these requirements into a single pane-of-glass interface for visibility. Azure Arc helps to abstract the boundaries of compliance and governance so that it no longer matters where a workload runs, you can still control the compliance and governance of the solution.

As we will see a bit later, using Azure Arc allows businesses to actually run Azure services on-premises or in another cloud environment that would not be possible otherwise, unless the workload existed natively in Azure.

Azure Services with Azure Arc

One of the fundamental benefits of Azure Arc is the ability to bring Azure services to a customer’s own datacenter. It can certainly help organizations looking for an application and infrastructure management software for hybrid multi-cloud. In its initial release, Azure Arc includes services for AI, automation, availability, billing, data, DevOps, Kubernetes management, security, and compliance. Over time, additional Azure services will be available through Azure Arc.

Azure Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Azure Arc

Azure Arc leverages Microsoft Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) services, to power some of its advanced decision-making abilities learned from managing millions of devices at scale. Since Azure AI is continually monitoring billions of endpoints, it is able to perform tasks that can only be achieved at scale, such as identifying an emerging malware attack. Azure AI improves security, compliance, scalability and more for all cloud resources managed by Azure Arc. The services which run Azure AI are hosted in Microsoft Azure, and in disconnected environments, much of the AI processing can run on local servers using Azure Stack Edge.

For more information about Azure AI visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/ai-platform.

Azure Automation with Azure Arc

Azure Automation is a service provided by Azure that automates repetitive tasks which can be time-consuming or error-prone. This saves the organization significant time and money while helping them maintain operational consistency. Custom automation scripts can get triggered by a schedule or an event to automate servicing, track changes, collect inventory and much more. Since Azure Automation uses PowerShell, Python, and graphical runbooks, it can manage diverse software and hardware that supports PowerShell or has APIs. With Azure Arc, any on-premises connected machines and the applications they host can be integrated and automated with any Azure Automation workflow. These workflows can also be run locally on disconnected machines.

For more information about Azure Automation visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/services/automation.

Azure Infrastracutre as a service

Azure Cost Management & Billing with Azure Arc

Microsoft Azure and other cloud providers use a consumption-based billing model so that tenants only pay for the resources they consume. Azure Cost Management and Billing provides granular information to understand how cloud storage, network, memory, CPUs and any Azure services are being used. Organizations can set thresholds and get alerts when any consumer or business unit approaches or exceeds their limits. With Azure Arc, organizations can use cloud billing to optimize and manage costs for their on-premises resources also. In addition to Microsoft Azure and Microsoft hybrid cloud workloads, all Amazon AWS spending can be integrated into the same dashboard.

For more information about Azure Cost Management and Billing visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cost-management.

Azure Data Services with Azure Arc

Azure Data Services is the first major service provided by Azure Arc for on-premises servers. This was the top request of many organizations which want the management capabilities of Microsoft Azure, yet need to keep their data on-premises for data sovereignty. This makes Azure Data Services accessible to companies that must keep their customer’s data onsite, such as those working within regulated industries or those which do not have an Azure datacenter within their country.

In the initial release, both Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale will be available for on-premises deployments. Now organizations can run and offer database as a service (DBaaS) as a platform as a service (PaaS) offering to their tenants. This makes it easier for users to deploy and manage cloud databases on their own infrastructure, without the overhead of setting up and maintaining the infrastructure on a physical server or virtual machine. The Azure Data Services on Azure Arc still require an underlying Kubernetes cluster, but many management frameworks are supported by Microsoft Azure and Azure Arc.

All of the other Azure Arc benefits are included with the data services, such as automation, Azure Arc backup, monitoring, scaling, security, Azure Arc patch management, Azure Arc update management, and cost management. Additionally, Azure Data Services can run on both connected and disconnected machines. The latest features and updates to the data services are automatically pushed down from Microsoft Azure to Azure Arc members so that the infrastructure is always current and consistent.

For more information about Azure Data Services with Azure Arc visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-arc/hybrid-data-services.

Cloud Availability with Azure Arc

One of the main advantages offered by Microsoft Azure is access to its unlimited hardware spread across multiple datacenters which provide business continuity. This gives Azure customers numerous ways to increase service availability, retain more backups, and gain disaster recovery capabilities. With the introduction of Azure Arc, these features provide even greater integration between on-premises servers and Microsoft Azure.

Azure Availability & Resiliency with Azure Arc

With Azure Arc, organizations can leverage Azure’s availability and resiliency features for their on-premises servers. Virtual Machine Scale Sets allow automatic application scaling by rapidly deploying dozens (or thousands) of VMs to quickly increase the processing capabilities of a cloud application. Integrated load-balancing will distribute network traffic, and redundancy is built into the infrastructure to eliminate single points of failure. VM Availability Sets give administrators the ability to select a group of related VMs and force them to distribute themselves across different physical servers. This is recommended for redundant servers or guest clusters where it is important to have each virtualized instance spread out so that the loss of a single host will not take down an entire service. Azure Availability Zones extend this concept across multiple datacenters by letting organizations deploy datacenter-wide protection schemes that distribute applications and their data across multiple sites. Azure’s automated updating solutions are availability-aware so they will keep services online during a patching cycle, serially updating and rebooting a subset of hosts. Azure Arc helps hybrid cloud services take advantage of all of the Azure resiliency features.

For more information about Azure availability and resiliency visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/resiliency.

Azure Backup & Restore with Azure Arc

Many organizations limit their backup plans because of their storage constraints since it can be costly to store large amounts of data which may not need to be accessed again. Azure Backup helps organizations by allowing their data to be backed up and stored on Microsoft Azure. This usually reduces costs as users are only paying for the storage capacity they are using. Additionally storing backups offsite helps minimize data loss as offsite backups provide resiliency to site-wide outages and can protect customers from ransomware. Azure Backup also offers compression, encryption and retention policies to help organizations in regulated industries. Azure Arc manages the backups and recovery of on-premises servers with Microsoft Azure, with the backups being stored in the customer’s own datacenter or in Microsoft Azure.

For more information about Azure Backup visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/backup.

Azure Site Recovery & Geo-Replication with Azure Arc

One of the more popular hybrid cloud features enabled with Microsoft Azure is the ability to replicate data from an on-premises location to Microsoft Azure using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This allows users to have a disaster recovery site without needing to have a second datacenter. ASR is easy to deploy, configure, operate and even test disaster recovery plans. Using Azure Arc it is possible to set up geo-replication to move data and services from a managed datacenter running Windows Server Hyper-V, VMware vCenter or Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud. Destination datacenters can include other datacenters managed by Azure Arc, Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.

For more information about Azure Site Recovery visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/site-recovery.

Cloud Management with Azure Arc

Azure Arc introduces some on-premises management benefits which were previously available only in Microsoft Azure. These help organizations administer legacy hardware and disconnected machines with Azure-consistent features using multiple management tools.

Management Tools with Azure Arc

One of the fundamental design concepts of Microsoft Azure is to have centralized management layers (“planes”) that support diverse hardware, data, and administrative tools. The fabric plane controls the hardware through a standard set of interfaces and APIs. The data plane allows unified management of structured and unstructured data. And the control plane offers centralized management through various interfaces, including the GUI-based Azure Portal, Azure PowerShell, and other APIs. Each of these layers interfaces with each other through a standard set of controls, so that the operational steps will be identical whether a user deploys a VM via the Azure Portal or via Azure PowerShell. Azure Arc can manage cloud resources with the following Azure Developer Tools:

    • Third-party management tools which call the Azure APIs

At the time of this writing, the documentation for Azure Arc is not yet available, but some examples can be found in the quick start guides which are linked in the Getting Started with Azure Arc section.

Managing Legacy Hardware with Azure Arc

Azure Arc is hardware-agnostic, allowing Azure to manage a customer’s diverse or legacy hardware just like an Azure datacenter server. The hardware must meet certain requirements so that a virtualized Kubernetes cluster can be deployed on it, as Azure services run on this virtualized infrastructure. The following WIndows and Linux operating systems are supported:

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022
    • Both Desktop and Server Core experiences are supported
    • Azure Editions are supported when running as a virtual machine on Azure Stack HCI
    • Azure Stack HCI
    • Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04, and 20.04 LTS (x64)
    • CentOS Linux 7 and 8 (x64)
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12 and 15 (x64)
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 and 8 (x64)
    • Amazon Linux 2 (x64)
    • Oracle Linux 7 and 8 (x64)

Offline Management with Azure Arc

Azure Arc will even be able to manage servers that are not regularly connected to the Internet, as is common with the military, emergency services, and sea vessels. Azure Arc has a concept of “connected” and “disconnected” machines. Connected servers have an Azure Resource ID and are part of an Azure Resource group. If a server does not sync with Microsoft Azure every 5 minutes, it is considered disconnected yet it can continue to run its local resources. Microsoft Arc allows these organizations to use the latest Azure services when they are connected, yet still use many of these features if the servers do not maintain an active connection, including Azure Data Services. Even some services which run Azure AI and are hosted in Microsoft Azure can work in disconnected environments while running on Azure Stack Edge.

Always Up-To-Date Tools with Azure Arc

One of the advantages of using Microsoft Azure is that all the services are kept current by Microsoft. The latest features, best practices, and AI learning are automatically available to all users in real-time as soon as they are released. When an admin logs into the Azure Portal through a web browser, they are immediately exposed to the latest technology to manage their distributed infrastructure. By ensuring that all users have the same management interface and APIs, Microsoft can guarantee consistency of behavior for all users across all hardware, including on-premises infrastructure when using Azure Arc. However, if the hardware is in a disconnected environment (such as on a sea vessel), there could be some configuration drift as older versions of Azure data services and Azure management tools may still be used until they are reconnected and synced.

Cloud Security & Compliance with Azure Arc

Public cloud services like Microsoft Azure are able to offer industry-leading security and compliance due to their scale and expertise. Microsoft employs more than 3,500 of the world’s leading security engineers who have been collaborating for decades to build the industry’s safest infrastructure. Through its billions of endpoints, Microsoft Azure leverages Azure AI to identify anomalies and detect threats before they become widespread. Azure Arc extends all of the security features offered in Microsoft Azure to on-premises infrastructure, including key vaults, monitoring, policies, security, threat protection, and update management.

Azure Key Vault with Azure Arc

When working in a distributed computing environment, managing credentials, passwords, and user access can become complicated. Azure Key Vault is a service that helps enhance data protection and compliance by securely protecting all keys and monitoring access. Azure Key Vault is supported by Azure Arc, allowing credentials for on-premises services and hybrid clouds to be centrally managed through Azure.

For more information about Azure Key Vault visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/key-vault.

Azure Monitor with Azure Arc

Azure Monitor is a service that collects and analyzes telemetry data from Azure infrastructure, networks, and applications. The logs from managed services are sent to Azure Monitor where they are aggregated and analyzed. If a problem is identified, such as an offline server, it can trigger alerts or use Azure Automation to launch recovery workflows. Azure Arc can now monitor on-premises servers, networks, virtualization infrastructure, and applications, just like they were running in Azure. It even leverages Azure AI and Azure Automation to make recommendations and fixes to hybrid cloud infrastructure.

For more information about Azure Monitor visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/monitor.

Azure Policy with Azure Arc

Most enterprises have certain compliance requirements for the IT infrastructure, especially those organizations within regulated industries. Azure Policy uses Microsoft Azure to audit an environment and aggregate all the compliance data into a single location. Administrators can get alerted about misconfigurations or configuration drifts and even trigger automated remediation using Azure Automation. Azure Policy can be used with Azure Arc to apply policies on all connect machines, providing the benefits of cloud compliance to on-premises infrastructure.

For more information about Azure Policy visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-policy.

Azure Security Center with Azure Arc

The Azure Security Center centralizes all security policies and protects the entire managed environment. When Security Center is enabled, the Azure monitoring agents will report data back from the servers, networks, virtual machines, databases, and applications. The Azure Security Center analytics engines will ingest the data and use AI to provide guidance. It will recommend a broad set of improvements to enhance security, such as closing unnecessary ports or encrypting disks. Perhaps most importantly it will scan all the managed servers and identify updates that are missing, and it can use Azure Automation and Azure Update Management to patch those vulnerabilities. Azure Arc extends these security features to connected machines and services to protect all registered resources.

For more information about Azure Security Center visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/security-center

Defender for Cloud with Azure Arc

Defender for Cloud protects your Azure, AWS and GCP cloud resources, both with cloud security posture management (CSPM) and cloud workload protection (CWP). Azure Arc extends this protection to any Arc connected workload.

Azure Update Management with Azure Arc

Microsoft Azure automates the process of applying patches, updates and security hotfixes to the cloud resources it manages. With Update Management, a series of updates can be scheduled and deployed on non-compliant servers using Azure Automation. Update management is aware of clusters and availability sets, ensuring that a distributed workload remains online while its infrastructure is patched by live migrating running VMs or containers between hosts. Azure will centrally manage updates, assessment reports, deployment results, and can create alerts for failures or other conditions. Organizations can use Azure Arc to automatically analyze and patch their on-premises and connected servers, virtual machines, and applications.

For more information about Azure Update Management visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/hybrid/azure-update-mgmt

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) with Azure Arc

Controlling access to different resources is a critical function for any organization to enforce security and compliance. Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) allows its customers to define granular access control for every user or user role based on different types of permissions (read, modify, delete, copy, sharing, etc.). There are also over 70 user roles provided by Azure, such as a Global Administrator, Virtual Machine Contributor or Billing Administrator. Azure Arc lets businesses extend role-based access control (RBAC) managed by Azure to on-premises environments. This means that any groups, policies, settings, security principles and managed identities that were deployed by Azure AD can now access all managed cloud resources. Azure AD also provides auditing so it is easy to track any changes made by users or security principals across the hybrid cloud.

For more information about Role-Based Access Control visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/role-based-access-control/overview.

DevOps and Application Management with Azure Arc

Over the past few years, containers have become more commonplace as they provide certain advantages over VMs, allowing the virtualized applications and services to be abstracted from their underlying virtualized infrastructure. This means that containerized applications can be uniformly deployed anywhere with any tools so that users do not have to worry about the hardware configuration. This technology has become popular amongst application developers, enabling them to manage their entire application development lifecycle without having a dependency on the IT department to set up the physical or virtual infrastructure. This development methodology is often called DevOps. One of the key design requirements with Azure Arc was to make it hardware agnostic, so with Azure Arc, developers can manage their containerized applications the same way whether they are running in Azure, on-premises or in a hybrid configuration.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) & Kubernetes App Management with Azure Arc

Kubernetes is a management tool that allows developers to deploy, manage and update their containers. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is Microsoft’s Kubernetes service and this can be integrated with Azure Arc. This means that AKS can be used to manage on-premises servers running containers. In addition to Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure Arc can be integrated with other Kubernetes management platforms, including Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, and IBM Kubernetes Service.

Azure Arc Kubernetes also allows organizations with Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters to deploy Azure services that are otherwise reserved for native Azure resources, such as Azure Functions. In this way, organizations can have native Azure solutions existing on-premises and only be charged for these “as-a-Service” with Azure Arc. These Azure ARc for Kubernetes solutions allow businesses to deploy modern workloads across the hybrid and multi-cloud with the benefits of a single cloud-based control plane and hybrid cloud management.

For more information about Azure Container Services visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/containers and for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/kubernetes-service.

Other DevOps Tools with Azure Arc

For container management on Azure Arc developers can use any of the common Kubernetes management platforms, including Azure Kubernetes Service, Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, and IBM Kubernetes Service. All standard deployment and management operations are supported on Azure Arc hardware enabling cross-cloud management.

More information about the non-Azure management tools is provided in the section on Third-Party Management Tools.

DevOps On-Premises with Azure Arc

Many developers prefer to work on their own hardware and some are required to develop applications in a private environment to keep their data secure. Azure Arc allows developers to build and deploy their applications anywhere utilizing Azure’s cloud-based AI, security and other cloud features while retaining their data, IP or other valuable assets within their own private cloud. Additionally, Azure Active Directory can use role-based access control (RBAC) and Azure Policies to manage developer access to sensitive company resources.

Elastic Scalability & Rapid Deployment with Azure Arc

Containerized applications are designed to start quickly when running on a highly-available Kubernetes cluster. The app will bypass the underlying operating system, allowing it to be rapidly deployed and scaled. These applications can quickly grow to an unlimited capacity when deployed on Microsoft Azure. When using Azure Arc, the applications can be managed across public and private clouds. Applications will usually contain several container types that can be deployed in different locations based on their requirements. A common deployment configuration for a two-tiered application is to deploy the web frontend on Microsoft Azure for scalability and the database in a secure private cloud backend.

Hybrid Cloud Integration with Azure Arc

Microsoft’s hybrid cloud initiatives over the past few years have included certifying on-premises software and hardware configurations known as Azure Stack. Azure Stack allows organizations to run Azure-like services on their own hardware in their datacenter. It allows organizations that may be restricted from using public cloud services to utilize the best parts of Azure within their own datacenter. Azure Stack is most commonly deployed by organizations that have requirements to keep their customer’s datacenter in-house (or within their territory) for data sovereignty, making it popular for customers who could not adopt the Microsoft Azure public cloud. Azure Arc easily integrates with Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and all the Azure Stack HCI configurations, allowing these services to be managed from Azure.

For more information about Azure Stack visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack.

Azure Stack Hub with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hub (formerly Microsoft Azure Stack) offers organizations a way to run Azure services from their own datacenter, from a service provider’s site, or from within an isolated environment. This cloud platform allows users to deploy Windows VMs, Linux VMs and Kubernetes containers on hardware that they operate. This offering is popular with developers who want to run services locally, organizations that need to retain their customer’s data onsite, and groups that are regularly disconnected from the Internet, as is common with sea vessels or emergency response personnel. Azure Arc allows Azure Stack Hub nodes to run supported Azure services (like Azure Data Services) while being centrally managed and optimized via Azure. These applications can be distributed across public, private or hybrid clouds.

For more information about Azure Stack Hub, visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-stack/user/?view=azs-1908.

Azure Stack Edge with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Edge (previously Azure Data Box Edge) is a virtual appliance that can run on any hardware in a datacenter, branch office, remote site or disconnected environment. It is designed to run edge computing workloads on Hyper-V VMs, VMware VMs, containers and Azure services. These edge servers will be optimized to run IoT, AI and business workloads so that processing can happen onsite, rather than being sent across a network to a cloud datacenter for processing. When the Azure Stack Edge appliance is (re)connected to the network it transfers any data at high speed, and data use can be optimized to run during off-hours. It supports machine learning capabilities through GPGA or GPU. Azure Arc can centrally manage Azure Stack Edge, its virtual appliances and physical hardware.

For more information about Azure Stack Edge, visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/databox/edge.

Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is a program that provides preconfigured hyperconverged hardware from validated OEM partners which are optimized to run Azure Stack. For businesses that want to run Azure-like services on-premises, they can purchase or rent hardware that has been standardized to Microsoft’s requirements. VMs, containers, Azure services, AI, IOT and more can run consistently on the Microsoft Azure public cloud or Azure Stack HCI hardware in a datacenter. Cloud services can be distributed across multiple datacenters or clouds and centrally managed using Azure Arc.

For more information about Azure Stack HCI, visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/hci.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) with Azure Arc

Azure Lighthouse Integration with Azure Arc

Azure Lighthouse is a technology designed for managed service providers (MSPs), ISVs or distributed organizations which need to centrally manage their tenants’ resources. Azure Lighthouse allows service providers and tenants to create a two-way trust to allow unified management of cloud resources. Tenants will grant specific permissions for approved user roles on particular cloud resources so that they can offload the management to their service provider. Now service providers can add their tenants’ private cloud environments under Azure Arc management so that they can take advantage of the new capabilities which Azure Arc provides.

For more information about Azure Lighthouse, visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-lighthouse.

Third-Party Integration with Azure Arc

Within the Azure management layer (control plane) exists Azure Resource Manager (ARM). ARM provides a way to easily create, manage, monitor and delete any Azure resource. Every native and third-party Azure resource uses ARM to ensure that it can be centrally managed through Azure management tools. Azure Arc now allows non-Azure resources to be managed by Azure. This can include third-party clouds (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform), Windows and Linux VMs, VMs on non-Microsoft hypervisors (VMware vSphere, Google Compute Engine, Amazon EC2), Kubernetes containers and clusters (including IMB Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine and Amazon EKS). At the time of this writing, limited information is available about third-party integration, but it will be added over time.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Integration with Azure Arc

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Amazon’s public cloud platform. Some services from AWS can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating virtual machines running on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and containers running on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Azure Arc also lets an AWS site be used as a geo-replicated disaster recovery location. AWS billing can also be integrated with Azure Cost Management & Billing so that expenses from both cloud providers can be viewed in a single location.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Integration with Azure Arc

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is Google’s public cloud platform. Some services from GCP can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating virtual machines running on Google Compute Engine (GCE) and containers running on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

IBM Kubernetes Service Integration with Azure Arc

IBM Cloud is IBM’s public cloud platform. Some services from IBM Cloud can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating containers running on IBM Kubernetes Service (Kube).

Linux VM Integration with Azure Arc

In 2014 Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella declared, “Microsoft loves Linux”. Since then the company has embraced Linux integration, making Linux a first-class citizen in its ecosystem. Microsoft even contributes code to the Linux kernel so that it operates efficiently when running as a VM or container on Microsoft’s operating systems. Virtually all management features for Windows VMs are available to supported Linux distributions, and this extends to Azure Arc. Azure Arc admins can use Azure to centrally create, manage and optimize Linux VMs running on-premises, just like any standard Windows VM.

VMware Cloud Solution Integration with Azure Arc

VMware offers a popular virtualization platform and management studio (vSphere) which runs on VMware’s hypervisor. Microsoft has acknowledged that many customers are running legacy on-premises hardware are using VMware, so they provide numerous integration points to Azure and Azure Arc along with many guides available to migrate vmware vm to azure step by step.

Organizations can even virtualize and deploy their entire VMware infrastructure on Azure, rather than in their own datacenter. Microsoft makes it easy to deploy, manage, monitor and migrate VMware systems and with Azure Arc, businesses can now centrally operate their on-premises VMware infrastructure too.

For more information about VMware Management with Azure visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-vmware.

Azure Arc Enabled VMware vSphere

In November 2021, Microsoft announced the availability of Azure Arc-enabled VMware vSphere (Preview), bringing the Azure Arc VMware solution to the masses. With Azure Arc-enabled VMware vSphere, organizations have many great benefits, including:

    • Allowing developers the Azure management tools needed to perform lifecycle operations in VMware vSphere. These operations include starting, stopping, resetting, configuring, and deleting virtual machines. Developers can carry out these tasks in a self-service operation.
    • Provides access to Azure services, including Azure Monitor Log Analytics, and Azure Policy Guest Configuration
    • Self-service VMware vSphere infrastructure – Developers, DevOps engineers, and others can perform various operations on the VMware vSphere environment using self-service workflows that help to increase the speed of the development pipeline and, by extension, the agility of application development.
    • Integration with cloud-native development tools, including Azure DevOps CI/CD pipeline solutions

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Conclusion

Organizations today must find a way to meet the growing challenge of sprawling infrastructure and hybrid cloud resources. Businesses today are often leveraging multiple cloud environments along with on-premises infrastructure, applications, and solutions. This can create compliance, governance, and overall management complexities and challenges.

Azure Arc is a unified cloud-based control plane that extends the control plane of the Azure Resource Manager (ARM) to resources, no matter where these exist, on-premises or even in other cloud environments. With Azure Arc, businesses can achieve a unified control plane that allows configuring, managing, monitoring, and applying policies for compliance and governance requirements

With Azure Arc, organizations can manage traditional resources, such as virtual machines, but also manage and control data services, SQL Servers, VMware vSphere, and modern workloads running inside Kubernetes to name a few. Azure Arc is easily provisioned using a lightweight Azure Arc management agent that integrates the resource into Azure, allowing the resource to become a native member of Azure-managed resources.

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