Forecast Cloudy–Azure Resource Manager Templates

Azure originally provided only the classic deployment model. In this model, each resource existed independently; there was no way to group related resources together. Instead, you had to manually track which resources made up your solution or application, and remember to manage them in a coordinated approach. To deploy a solution, you had to either create each resource individually through the classic portal or create a script that deployed all of the resources in the correct order. To delete a solution, you had to delete each resource individually. You could not easily apply and update access control policies for related resources. Finally, you could not apply tags to resources to label them with terms that help you monitor your resources and manage billing.

With the introduction of the new Azure Portal  its possible to view resources (such as websites, virtual machines and databases) as a single logical unit. This logical unit is called a resource group. The following screenshot shows a resource group called ecommerce-westus which contains a website, SQL database and an Application Insights instance.

resource_group

 

Resource groups aren’t visible in the old portal, but almost everything within your Azure subscription exists within a set of resource groups that were created by default when the preview portal opened for business. If you access the new portal, press the Browse button on the jump bar (the icons down the left hand side of the screen) and navigate to resource groups you should see a whole bunch listed.

The benefit of resource groups is that they allow an Azure administrator to roll-up billing and monitoring information for resources within a resource group and manage access to those resources as a set. This can be extremely useful when you have a single subscription but you need to do cost recovery on the resources used by a customer or internal department.

For more on Azure Resource Manager see  docs – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/resource-group-overview/ , https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Edge/Edge-Show-121-Azure-Resource-Manager , http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/854592/Using-Azure-Resource-Manager

As an example I created a template in Visual Studio 2015 , this sample with ARM Template and parameters file that creates two Windows Server 2012R2 VM(s) with IIS configured using DSC. It also installs one SQL Server 2014 standard edition VM, a VNET with two subnets, NSG, loader balancer, NATing and probing rules.

resources_geroup2

To start I used one of the open source templates available on GitHub and just added\modified resource.

So how does one author these templates in VS 2015?

Prerequisites: You will need Visual Studio 2015 installed.  In my case I have VS 2015 Update 1 and Azure Tools SDK V2.8.2.

Create Azure Resource Group  Project.

When you first create an Azure Resource Group Project in Visual Studio you are presented with a list of common templates you can use to start defining your desired infrastructure. For example, if you wanted a set of Virtual Machines that could be used to run a scalable web server workload.

RG3

Project structure for Resource Group Project.

Using blank template project results in a project that contains everything you need to begin authoring and eventually deploy your template. As shown below, the project structure contains three folders; Scripts, Templates, and Tools.

rg4

The Scripts folder contains the PowerShell script that is used to deploy the environment you describe in the project. This is a fully functional script that essentially requires no editing. It just works! However, if you have a need to modify the script to support some advanced deployment scenarios you can do so.

The Templates folder contains the JSON files that describe the environment you want to create. The azuredeploy.json file is where you describe the resources you want in your environment, such as the storage account, virtual machine, and other required resources. The azuredeploy.parameters.json file is where you can provide parameter values that you want passed into the template during deployment, such as the type of storage account, size of the virtual machine, credentials to use to sign into the virtual machine, and so on.

The Tools folder contains AzCopy.exe and is used in scenarios where your deployment template needs to copy files to a storage account used for deploying application and configuration files into a resource. For a virtual machine, this typically would be Desired State Configuration (DSC) and DSC resources that you want pushed into the virtual machine after the virtual machine is provisioned to do things like configure Active Directory or IIS Web Server roles in the virtual machine. The script in the Scripts folder uses AzCopy in the Tools folder to copy these kinds of artifacts to a storage account so that ARM can then copy them from storage into the virtual machine after the instance is fully provisioned

More information available here – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/vs-azure-tools-resource-groups-deployment-projects-create-deploy/ , https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-resource-manager-2-5-for-visual-studio/

In my case finished VS project structure looks like this

Capture

Note that AzureDeploy.json is a JSON template that describes all of the above mentioned infrastructure that I want to deploy in Azure, Deploy-AzureResourceGroup.ps1 is a PowerShell script to connect and deploy it to Azure, there is also parameters files with passwords, subscription names, etc, and finally test project to test such deploy in VS, all part of my test solution in Visual Studio.

So using my test template project  I created all of the above resources in resource group test in Central US data center:

rg5

Obviously this is just first baby steps, but should show you what is possible with this technology.  For more on Azure ARM Templates see – https://blogs.perficient.com/microsoft/2016/03/azure-arm-template-define-web-app-application-settings/, https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-resource-manager/resource-manager-create-first-template, https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/kaevans/2015/11/22/creating-arm-templates-with-azure-resource-explorer/, https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/templates/

Hope this helps.

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