Microsoft Azure offers a full suite of cloud services for virtually every business application. Users can find solutions for everything from digital marketing to e-commerce, SAP, DevOps, monitoring, business intelligence, analytics, disaster recovery, hybrid integration and data backup. Although Azure makes it easy to subscribe to these services, configuring them to run applications can be a challenge. As part of our Azure consulting service, we help you figure out how to leverage technology to drive business success and leveraging Azure Advisor is one of the tools we use to accomplish this.
What Is Azure Advisor?
Azure Advisor is a new Microsoft Azure service which provides personalized recommendations based on individual user needs. As Microsoft explains:
“Advisor is a personalized cloud consultant that helps you follow best practices to optimize your Azure deployments. It analyzes your resource configuration and usage telemetry and then recommends solutions that can help you improve the cost effectiveness, performance, high availability, and security of your Azure resources.”
What Does Azure Advisor Do for Businesses?
Essentially, Azure Advisor takes the guesswork out of optimizing your Azure deployments. Specifically, Azure will:
- Provide your business with highly-personalized recommendations and best practices which are both actionable and proactive;
- Help you find ways to reduce costs related to your Azure service subscriptions; and
- Improve the performance, security, and availability of resources you use.
What Kinds of Recommendations Does Advisor Provide?
Advisor recommendations are of 4 basic kinds: (1) high availability; (2) security; (3) performance; and (4) cost:
1. High Availability Recommendations
High availability recommendations ensure the continuity of your business-critical applications. Specifically, Advisor will:
- Identify virtual machines not part of an availability set and recommend moving them to an availability set: To ensure redundancy and that at least one virtual machine is available during planned or unplanned maintenance events and outages, Advisor will recommend that you include 2 or more virtual machines in each availability set.
- Identify application gateway instances that are not configured for fault tolerance: this ensures the business continuity of critical applications which are not powered by application gateways, and that your application gateway instances are configured with regard to service level agreement (SLA) requirements.
- Improve the performance of virtual machine disks: Advisor will identify virtual machines associated with standard disks and recommend upgrading them to premium disks. This will ensure high-performance, low-latency disk support for virtual machines that run I/O-intensive workloads.
- Prevent accidental deletion of virtual machine data: specifically, Advisor will identify any virtual machines in which backup is not enabled and recommend enabling backup. This ensures that critical data will be available and protects you from corruption or accidental deletion of these data.
2. Security Recommendations
Advisor integrates with the Azure Security Center to provide critical security recommendations, helping you prevent, detect and respond to security threats. It will periodically analyze the security of all your Azure resources and make recommendations which help you implement whatever controls you need.
3. Performance Recommendations
Performance recommendations are designed to improve the speed and responsiveness of business-critical applications. Specifically, Advisor will:
- Improve database performance: Advisor integrates with SQL Database Advisor. It will assess the performance of the database by analyzing your usage history and make recommendations to optimize running the typical database workload.
- Improve Redis Cache performance: Advisor will find Redis Cache instances in which performance is negatively affected because of server load, network bandwidth or high memory usage and make recommendations to prevent any potential problems.
- Improve App Service performance: Advisor will identify circumstances in which memory or CPU are exhausted by app runtimes, and those in which the collocation of resources can boost performance and reduce costs. Advisor will make appropriate recommendations for improvement.
4. Cost Recommendations
Advisor can find underutilized resources to help you reduce the overall cost of your Azure services. Advisor will:
- Help you reduce virtual machine costs: specifically, Advisor will monitor your virtual machine usage over a 14-day period and designate any virtual machines whose CPU utilization is 5% or less and whose network usage is 7 MB or less for at least 4 days as “low-utilization.” It will then display an estimated cost for continuing to run those virtual machines, providing you with the information you need to decide if you want to shut them down or resize them.
- Identify cost-effective solutions for managing multiple SQL databases: Advisor will find SQL server instances which can benefit from the creation of elastic database pools. This provides cost-effective solutions for managing the performance goals of databases which have different usage patterns.
How to Get Started with Advisor
To get started with Advisor, you’ll need to understand how to (1) access recommendations; (2) implement recommendations; (3)n search for recommendations; and (4) “snooze” or dismiss recommendations:
1. How to Access Advisor Recommendations;
After subscribing to Advisor, you (as subscription owner) will need to register your subscription by launching the Advisor dashboard and clicking on the “get recommendations” button. After this one-time operation is completed, you can access recommendations as owner, contributor or reader.
After you sign into the Azure portal, click on “more services” in the left pane. In the service menu pane, you’ll see “monitoring and management.” Click on “Azure Advisor” to display the Advisor dashboard. Then choose the Azure subscription for which you want recommendations. You can then select the kind of recommendations you want, for example, high availability, security, performance or cost.
Recommendations are presented with either inline actions or links to documentation. When you click on an inline action recommendation, Advisor will present a “guided user journey” which outlines the steps necessary to implement that recommendation. When you click on a documentation link, Advisor will display documentation which explains how you can manually implement the necessary action.
2. How to Implement Advisor Recommendations
Implementing solutions based on Advisor recommendations is straightforward and presented in an intuitive, step-wise fashion. After you sign in to the Azure portal, click on Azure Advisor. On the Advisor recommendations dashboard, you need to click on “get recommendations.” You’ll see a list of recommendations (as either inline actions or documentation links, as noted above), from which you’ll choose the one you want and click on it. Carefully review the relevant information regarding the actions you need to perform either to resolve a particular issue or to take advantage of a cost-saving opportunity.
3. How to Search for Advisor Recommendations
Advisor provides a robust search functionality, making it possible for you to quickly find the specific recommendations you need. Advisor will let you search for recommendations based on a particular subscription, resource group or status. After filtering based on your search criteria, you can display Advisor recommendations by clicking on “get recommendations.”
4. How to Dismiss or “Snooze” Advisor Recommendations
There will be times when you’ll want to dismiss a particular recommendation or delay its implementation. After you start Advisor, click on “get recommendations.” Review listed recommendations and click on the one in which you’re interested. If you want to delay implementation, click on “snooze” and designate a snooze time period. If you want to dismiss the recommendation, click on “never.”
Azure Advisor is one of the many cloud-based business applications which can help you run your business more efficiently and achieve your key objectives. IaaS services such as Azure are an important component of your overall cloud strategy, but they’re only one. To implement a comprehensive and effective cloud strategy, you need to partner with cloud hosting experts with the kind of knowledge and experience that best ensure your success.
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