Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

The Azure Arc multicloud and on-premises management platform

Cloud Bridge

Article from ADMIN 77/2023
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The Azure Arc cloud service supports centralized management of Windows and Linux servers, Kubernetes clusters, and SQL servers that are not themselves running in Azure, extending Azure management capabilities to servers in traditional data centers or any other cloud environment. We show you how to get Azure Arc up and running and look at its key features.

One benefit of using Azure Management Services is that servers managed with Azure Arc are displayed as objects on the Azure portal. These servers can therefore be inventoried, updated, and monitored by a consolidated approach along with the servers that reside in Azure. Azure Arc also offers other features that help you manage databases and Kubernetes clusters, but in this article we focus on managing what Microsoft refers to as Azure Arc-enabled servers.

Fortunately, Microsoft offers the features of the Azure Arc control plane free of charge. The feature set includes tag-based server management, Azure management groups, the ability to find and index servers with Azure Resource Graph, access rights management with the help of Azure role-based access control (RBAC), template- and extension-based automation, and update orchestration. However, Azure Arc resources currently incur a cost of $6 per server per month if you want to use Azure Policy guest configuration (free for traditional Azure resources). Other services such as Azure Monitor or Azure Defender also incur charges if used for Azure Arc-enabled servers.

Agents Get the Job Done

The Azure Connected Machine Agent (ACMA) lets you manage Windows and Linux machines running outside of Azure in a traditional data center or hosted by another cloud provider with Azure. Microsoft provides a diagram of all the Azure Arc components online [1], which also shows the agent's tasks and its communication relationships with the Azure services.

Three components in ACMA handle communication with Azure and management tasks on the local machine. The Hybrid Instance Metadata Service (HIMDS) is responsible for establishing the connection with Azure and provides the identity of the connected machine. The Guest Configuration agent verifies that the server complies with the Azure configuration

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