If you're just getting started with Microsoft Azure, it's a good idea to get familiar with the tools used to interact with the Azure cloud environment. They may seem a little complex, but each one has its own unique use to help you achieve what you want to do.
System administrators, developers, and managers can use these tools to perform different kinds of tasks in Azure, such as provisioning or creating new resources, configuring cloud services, monitoring Azure services, and checking the costs and health status of resources. Let's explore what these tools do and how you use them.
The Different Categories of Tools in Microsoft Azure
The management tools that Azure provides are broadly grouped into two main categories.
- Visual tools: Provide you with visually intuitive access to all Azure functionality.
- Code-based tools: Usually accessed via a terminal window, provide you with an easy way to provision infrastructure on a large scale.
Azure provides you with all these tools to help you get the job done. It's up to you to choose the right tools depending on your needs, the task at hand, and your professional background.
1. The Azure Portal
The Azure portal is a web-based tool that gives you an interactive and intuitive way to manage Azure resources from your web browser. It gives you access to all the resources, functionality, and features in Azure. Use the Azure portal to create and configure a one-time infrastructure; for example, creating and configuring a virtual machine.
Most users use the Azure portal as the primary way to interact with Azure initially. You can use the Azure portal to create services and view status reports in a graph format. Non-IT managers and other executives can use the Azure portal to view costs and other status reports.
2. Azure CLI
The Azure CLI is a command-line tool for provisioning and managing Azure resources from the terminal.
If you use Azure extensively to provision and manage resources, you will soon realize that the Azure portal can be cumbersome. For example, if you want to find and create resources, you have to click around the Azure portal's UI until you get where you want to be.
Most developers, system administrators, DevOps engineers, and other IT professionals use the Azure CLI to create and automate the creation and management of resources easily. For example, you can use the Azure CLI to run single commands or create scripts to simultaneously execute a collection of commands.
Azure CLI is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS. You can also access it from your web browser as a cloud shell in the Azure portal.
3. The Azure Mobile App
Microsoft Azure also has a mobile app available on both Android and iOS. The official app is a handy tool to have on hand when away from your PC or office. For example, you can use the mobile app to monitor your resources or run CLI commands for managing resources from your smartphone or tablet.
Download: Microsoft Azure for Android | iOS (Free)
4. Azure PowerShell
Like the Azure CLI, the Azure PowerShell is a command-line tool for creating and managing Azure resources.
Azure CLI's syntax is similar to PowerShell. If you have a background in Windows and are familiar with PowerShell, then the Azure PowerShell might be a probable choice for you.
You can run single commands in cmdlets (pronounced command-lets) or create scripts for performing administrative tasks in Azure.
The Azure PowerShell is available on macOS, Linux, and Windows. You can also access it from your web browser.
5. Azure ARM Templates
The Azure Resource Manager templates (ARM templates) are a great tool for automating and provisioning Azure infrastructure on a large scale.
ARM templates are JSON files that declare how you want to provision or manage Azure resources. Some of the advantages of ARM templates include:
- Very efficient for creating multiple resources in parallel.
- Good at creating and specifying dependencies in the correct order.
- They can be rolled back, so you need not have to worry if a deployment fails in the middle of provisioning the necessary infrastructure.
- You can easily share templates with team members, which encourages collaboration.
You can also run PowerShell or Bash scripts within ARM templates, which makes them very versatile.
Boost Your Azure Skills
This guide has shown you the different tools that Azure provides for provisioning and managing resources. Now, it's down to you to choose the tools that best meet your needs and competencies.
As more enterprises move their on-prem IT infrastructure to the cloud, the demand for Azure engineers, administrators, and architects is huge and shows no signs of slowing down. As such, earning an Azure certification is a good way to prove yourself in the IT industry.