5 Azure Services You Should Know About

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App Dev Managers Priti Kalani and John Abele share a list of Azure services and offerings you may have overlooked, but definitely should know about.


Microsoft Azure consists of over 100 services to build, deploy, and manage your applications and solutions. With innovative new services and features being added constantly, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the goodness available to you in Azure. Here are five awesome services and features you should know about:

Azure Cosmos DB Free Tier

With its industry leading features and highly accessible engineering team, Azure Cosmos DB remains one of the most popular services in Microsoft’s cloud. What could be better? How about a free tier! Azure Cosmos DB Free Tier gives you 400 RUs and 5 GB of storage, making it perfect for dev/test environments, proof-of-concepts, and even smaller production workloads. The free tier is fully featured but limited to one instance per subscription and any overages of RUs or storage are billed at normal rates. To get started with your own completely free Cosmos DB instance, check out this link.

Azure Resource Health Alerts

Embedded within the Azure Service Health suite of services you’ll find Azure Resource Health Alerts. This service provides a near real-time availability signal representing the health of your deployed Azure resources. Over 42 resource types are supporting including all of the most common types like virtual machines, storage accounts, web apps, and SQL databases. These alerts, along with action groups, make sending production down SMS/email notifications or building a near real-time availability dashboard trivial. At the time of this writing, Azure Resource Health is in preview and requires programmatic use of an ARM template and powershell command to create them with in subscription or resource group.

Azure Private Link

For enterprise customers, particularly banks, insurance, healthcare and government agencies, Azure PaaS services are often a non-starter due to public IP addresses. Azure Private Link solves this problem keeping data over Azure networking backbone by providing a private IP address from your VNet, effectively bringing the PaaS service into your VNet. Private link works across Azure regions and is now generally available to work with PaaS services such as AKS, Cosmos DB, SQL Database, KeyVault and more.

Azure Advisor Recommendations

Azure Advisor is a free service that analyzes Azure resources in the subscription and provides recommendations to optimize resources in areas of cost, security, availability, performance and operational excellence. The recommendations have been growing and help to –

  • Lower the Azure spend by identifying underutilized resources, recommending purchase of Reserved Instances, right tiers for your Azure blob storage etc.
  • Improve the availability by identifying virtual machines, availability sets, application gateway that do not have fault tolerance configured, providing recommendations against accidental deletion of virtual machines, storage account, identifying non-partitioned collections that are reaching their provisioned storage quota
  • Secure Azure resources by acting on recommendations provided by Azure Security Center on any vulnerabilities identified. Azure Security Center Free Tier helps you protect your Azure VMs and VMSS, providing continuous assessment and security recommendations. To protect on-prem resources, and also enable threat protection for Azure VMs, non-Azure Servers, and PaaS services, you can upgrade to Standard Tier.
  • Improve the speed and performance of your applications by getting recommendations on performance for Storage accounts SQL Azure Database, Azure My SQL, Azure PostgreSQL, Azure MariaDB, and Cosmos DB, scaling caching, and improving app service performance and availability.
  • Achieve operational excellence through recommendation focused on creating Azure Service Health alerts, best practices using Azure Policy.

To better manage recommendations, add Advisor recommendation digests so that you can get a summary of active recommendations across different categories for a subscription periodically through email or other ways by configuring Action Groups.

Azure Arc

For your Azure deployments, you already use Azure portal, Azure Cloud shell, Azure API to manage your resources. Now with Azure Arc, you can extend these capabilities to manage resources in hybrid environments such as datacenters, private, public clouds and the edge. Azure Arc can help with management and governance of servers and Kubernetes clusters across environments with a unified view in Azure Portal and API. Azure Arc also enables you to enforce compliance by centrally managing access and security policies with standardized Role Based Access Control. Azure Arc is in preview now, so there is no cost to trying it out!

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