What is Azure Arc?

Cloud computing has revolutionised the way we store, manage, and process data. However, as more organisations move their workloads to the cloud, managing and monitoring these environments has become increasingly complex.

Azure Arc is a game-changing solution that simplifies multi-cloud management, enabling businesses to manage their cloud resources seamlessly across multiple environments. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Azure Arc is, its features and capabilities, and how it can help organisations manage and monitor their cloud environments more efficiently.

Whether you’re new to cloud computing or looking to streamline your multi-cloud operations, this post will provide you with the information you need to get started with Azure Arc.

What is Azure Arc?

Announced in 2019 Azure Arc is a management tool that allows you to extend Azure management features to resources not hosted within Azure.  

Want to use Azure Policy to control settings on an on-premises server?  Azure Arc can help you do that.

Are you using Azure Update Management to patch your Azure servers and want to use that on servers in another cloud providers environment? Azure Arc can help you do that.

Azure Arc helps to simplify your tool set.

Allowing you to use the tools within Azure to manage resources that reside on-premises or in another cloud provider’s environment.

Azure Arc
Azure Arc

Azure Arc can help you manage the following infrastructure:

  • Servers
  • Kubernetes clusters
  • SQL Server
  • VMware vSphere
  • System Center VMM
  • Azure Stack HCI

Azure Arc enabled Servers

Azure Arc enabled servers allow you to manage Windows and Linux machines hosted outside of Azure, in a similar way to how you manage native Azure servers.

An agent is installed on the server you wish to manage, creating a connection and the server is then visible inside the Azure portal.  The server will be included inside a resource group.

Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes

You can attach and configure Kubernetes clusters inside or outside of Azure using Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes.

Any clusters registered with Azure Arc can participate in GitOps through the cluster configuration agent.  This is based on the open source flux continuous deployment tool.

Azure Arce enabled Kubernetes is certified against a number of distributions, you can check the latest versions here.

Azure Arc enabled Data Services

With Azure Arc enabled Data servers it brings the possibility of running Azure data servers on-premises, at the edge or in public clouds using a combination of Kubernetes and the infrastructure of our choice.

Currently you can run SQL Managed Instance and Azure arc-enabled PostgreSQL through Azure Arc enabled Data services.

Azure Arc enabled SQL Server

Using Azure Arc on your SQL servers outside of Azure gives you a single point of control.  You can look at details for your given SQL server in Azure, and see information like version, edition.

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You can run best practice assessments across your SQL estate to help improve your confirmation and match best practices either from Microsoft or your organisation.

Azure Arc VM Management (Preview)

With Azure Arc VM management you can use the Azure portal to create and manage virtual machines that are running on top of Azure Stack HCI environments, VMware vSphere and SCVMM.

Benefits of Azure Arc

The biggest benefit of Azure Arc is management.  Bringing your non-Azure resources into Azure via Azure Arc allows you to simplify management.  Everything is available to you within a single control plane.

You can simplify the tools you need.  You can extend Azure Update Management to non-Azure servers.  

Azure security products and governance products can be used to help manage those non-Azure resources.

Information is consolidated inside Azure.  You can create queries through Azure Resource Graph Explorer to help you answer questions like “What are the names of all the SQL Servers that are running on Linux?” quickly.

It also allows you to run Azure services outside of Azure.  Need to run an SQL Managed Instance on-premises closer to other resources you are running there, Azure Arc can enable that scenario for you.

Conclusion

Azure Arc is a fantastic addition to the Azure portfolio.  It can help you extend the power of Azure to any infrastructure, whether it’s on-premises, in multiple clouds or at the edge.

It can also provide a unified management experience, allowing you to gain great control, flexibility, and scalability across your entire estate.

In conclusion, Azure Arc really represents a great shift in hybrid and multi-cloud management.

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About the Author

Senior Cloud Solution Architect | International Speaker | LinkedIn Learning Instructor | Technical Writer | Founder of the Glasgow Azure User Group

Reference

Lean, S., 2023, What is Azure Arc?, Techielass.com, Available at: https://www.techielass.com/what-is-azure-arc/ [Accessed on 3 July 2023]

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