Getting Started with Azure Blueprints [With Step-by-Step Demo]

Getting Started with Azure Blueprints [With Step-by-Step Demo]

In this article, you’ll learn how to get started with Azure Blueprints, what it’s for, and how it can help you become efficient in deploying resources in Azure. By the end of this article, you will have designed a blueprint and deployed resources based on it.

Imagine deploying the same Azure resources repeatedly, like resource groups, policies, and virtual networks. Humans are not efficient in repeating tasks without failing. What if you can package these resources so that you can deploy them in one go? Azure Blueprints is the way to go.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get started with Azure Blueprints, what it’s for, and how it can help you become efficient in deploying resources in Azure. By the end of this article, you will have designed a blueprint and deployed resources based on it.

Table of Contents

What Are Azure Blueprints?

Think of Azure Blueprints in the same sense as a building’s blueprint. A blueprint helps architects, engineers, and workers ensure that what they are building follows the set standards and the final result will be up to specifications.

In the same manner, Azure Blueprints are templates or a predefined set of configurations based on use cases. They contain components that help organizations implement best practices and policies when deploying new architectures. They help remove the guesswork out of configuring systems.

Blueprints are consist of components called artifacts, which are essentially Azure resources. As of this writing, there are four artifact types available which include:

  • Resource group – Serves as a container where you can organize Azure resources.
  • Role assignment – Adds existing users or groups to a built-in role to ensure that only intended users have the right access to Azure resources.
  • Policy assignment – Defines which existing Azure Policy will apply to the resources you intend to deploy.
  • Azure Resource Manager Template – Allows for adding existing Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates to the blueprint.

Companies can customize their blueprints to conform to internal compliance and company standards.

Why Blueprints?

The goal of cloud infrastructures is to help companies manage their technology resources more efficiently. But, the cloud encompasses many different types of components that add complications to the architecture.

The cloud architects at Microsoft understand how these base-level components should be assembled, which is the motivation for creating blueprints. Companies can piggyback on the knowledge of these architects by using blueprints.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars and months of trial-and-error for configuring systems, IT teams can use and customize blueprints to suit their needs. These blueprints will help configure the environments with the proper components and even the appropriate access via security measures.

Blueprints vs ARM Templates

Users familiar with Azure Resource Management (ARM) templates may wonder why they should use Blueprints to accomplish most of the same functionalities using ARM templates. What’s the difference?

ARM templates are documents typically stored locally or in source control outside of Azure. After deploying resources using an ARM template, there is no longer a connection or relationship between the template and the deployed resources.

On the other hand, Azure Blueprints maintains the relationship or connection between the blueprint definition (what should be deployed) and the blueprint assignment (what was deployed) even after deploying resources. This connection improves tracking and auditing the changes in deployment.

Also, blueprints natively exist in Azure and are globally distributed via the Azure Cosmos DB in the backend without user intervention. As a result, blueprints replicate automatically across Azure regions, which takes the responsibility of maintaining copies away from administrators.

After all that, do you need to choose between blueprints and ARM Templates? Not necessarily. Blueprints can contain one or more ARM template artifacts if needed, which means existing ARM templates are reusable, and the efforts that went into developing these templates will not go to waste.

Blueprints and Azure Regions

Microsoft Azure is composed of data centers distributed around the globe. These data centers are organized for geography and available to end-users by region. These regions are a fundamental piece when talking about governance and deployment on the cloud.

Regional Pairs in Azure

When considering regions for deployment, companies may choose to take advantage of Microsoft’s regional pairs for disaster recovery purposes. A regional pair consists of two Azure regions within the same geography.

Microsoft provides planned maintenance on servers and equipment across regional pairs, ensuring that only one region in each pair updates at a time. With the regional pairs, Microsoft will not perform maintenance on both data centers defined as a pair at the same time.

Using Azure Blueprints, you can deploy resources in regional pairs to ensure that downtime is minimized if not totally eliminated.

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