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The Virtues of Azure Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Azure Operations Management Suite (OMS) is an advanced, comprehensive offering that brings together four complementary Azure services: BackupSite RecoveryLog Analytics and Automation and is one of the tools we leverage when providing managed Azure consulting services. As a robust service suite, OMS features quick deployment, cloud scaling, automatic updates, an intuitive interface, and hybrid-cloud reach. To help streamline the OMS experience, management solutions are ready-made scenarios primarily built around Log Analytics and Automation to tackle specific tasks, such as update management, that accelerate your workflows. Azure OMS comes in four packages available individually or in bundles: Insights & Analytics, Automation & Control, Security & Compliance, and Protection & Recovery.

The components of OMS

Let’s quickly review the key features and strengths of the four component services of Azure OMS before exploring how the suite brings them all together:

Azure Backup

This widely used enterprise-grade service is far more advanced than a typical cloud backup solution. Azure Backup utilizes incremental back-ups to minimize storage and bandwidth requirements. It is a sophisticated, feature-rich service with options for adjusting backup frequency, encryption, retention duration, compression, bandwidth and other key variables. To ease any concerns over potential data loss, the service maintains no less than six copies of your backed up data and distributes them over two separate Azure datacenters. Azure Backup also comes with enterprise-grade reliability backed by a 99.9% SLA.

Azure Site Recovery (ASR)

ASR is designed to ensure that enterprises running applications on-premises can deliver continuous, resilient and practically seamless operations, business processes and user experiences regardless of any disruptions or outages to their on-premises servers. ASR accomplishes this feat with state-of-the-art replication and recovery features.

Log Analytics

Azure Log Analytics collects log data from all of your cloud and on-premises resources. To view the data collected, the services provides a dashboard with rich analytics that offer penetrating insights into your workflows. Azure’s new query language for the Log Analytics service supports highly sophisticated queries of your log data to deepen insights still further.

Azure Automation

This robust Azure service automates management of cloud workloads and resources to reduce human error; create predictability and standardization; reduce operational costs; and greatly improve configuration management. At the core of the Azure Automation offering is the widely used Runbooks feature, which allows you to easily run and monitor automated jobs, such as stopping and starting VMs, according to a specified schedule.

Features and benefits of OMS

Often viewed as a robust, cloud counterpart to System Center, Azure OMS provides many of the same familiar services within the Azure portal.

Quick deployment

Because Azure OMS is cloud-based, there is no hardware to configure or software to install. Consequently, OMS is far easier to setup than an on-premises offering. In fact, OMS setup can happen “in a matter of minutes.”

Cloud-scale services

Because Azure OMS fully leverages cloud-scaling, you don’t need to invest heavily in hardware as your workloads grow. Nor do you need to move all your on-premises resources to the cloud right away. OMS can help you ease your way into the cloud at your own pace.

Automatic updates

Because all OMS services are hosted in the Azure cloud, they update automatically with the latest features. There are no deployment requirements on your part. OMS also serves as a self-updating knowledge base that automatically draws upon the very latest information on potential security threats. This will help keep you well ahead of any looming security concerns on the horizon.

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Intuitive interface

As a cloud-hosted solution, you can easily access the OMS portal from any major browser, anywhere in the world. When you’re not in front of your computer, there is an OMS app to help you monitor your data from practically any device.

Hybrid cloud reach

Azure OMS has a wide scope that encompasses not only your Azure resources, but your resources hosted on-premises and on other cloud hosts.

Management solutions

Available from the OMS portal, Azure management solutions provide streamlined, ready-made scenarios that address common resource management and workflow problems. With the help of management solutions, there is no need to work through all the ins and outs of integrating services to perform specific tasks on your own. Rather, you can simply choose from a gallery of pre-existing management solutions.

Getting started

Two OMS services, Log Analytics and Azure Automation, lie at the foundation of most OMS management solutions. Yet you will need slightly more than simply a Log Analytics account and an Automation account to get started. First, ensure that the two accounts reside in the same resource group and region (with one notable exception). Next, ensure that the two accounts are linked to each other, but not to any other Log Analytics or Automation accounts.

You can find management solutions in the Azure Marketplace or the OMS Portal. To find management solutions through the OMS portal, simply click the Solutions Gallery tile and begin browsing. Once you’ve found a solution you’d like to try out, simply click the Add button on the corresponding page. Log Analytics will proceed to process your data. Then you will be free to use your chosen management solution.

Example: Update Management

To illustrate how well Log Analytics and Automation integrate in OMS, the Azure team provides the example of using these two complementary services to implement the popular Update Management solution. Log Analytics collects update-related information on your systems that you can view through the analytics-rich dashboard in the Azure portal. Once you’ve made a decision to deploy a particular update, a runbook in Azure Automation performs the update itself. It’s that simple.

OMS packages

Each OMS package addresses a separate, but complementary aspect of operations management. You may find that you need just one, more than one, or even all four packages, to address the full scope of your operations management needs. As you explore your options, keep in mind that OMS packages do more than provide access to a subset of the complete OMS suite of Azure services. Three of the four OMS packages make extensive use of management solutions that extend well beyond what the individual services can do alone or in simple combination.

Insights & Analytics

Although centered around Log Analytics, Insights & Analytics also includes Service Map and Network Performance Monitor. Service Map provides a sophisticated visualization of the interconnections and dependencies between your servers. Network Performance Monitor is a robust tool that helps you monitor your hybrid networks’ performance, while helping you troubleshoot problems, such as routing errors.

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Automation & Control

Built around the Azure Automation service, this package also includes three key operations management solutions: Configuration ManagementChange Tracking and Update Management. Configuration Management provides for “responsive IT environments” and encompasses both on-premises and cloud resources. Change Tracking provides a clear window into changes in your environment. And Update Management is a comprehensive solution for managing OS updates across all your cloud-hosted or on-premises resources.

Security & Compliance

This package includes three complementary services: Security and AuditMalware Assessment, and Security Center. Security and Audit provides an intuitive dashboard with rich insights into the security of your resources. Malware Assessment is an anti-malware solution that utilizes Log Analytics to assess the status of malware protection across your infrastructure. And Security Center offers a unified view of the security status across your cloud and on-premises workloads and resources, including any potential threats.

Protection & Recovery

For those new to the Azure ecosystem, the Protection & Recovery package is likely to be the most familiar starting point. Backup and Site Recovery, two of Azure’s most widely used services, complement one another and provide your on-premises digital assets with an impressive, comprehensive business continuity and disaster recover (BCDR) solution.

Because Azure OMS is a suite and not a service, it doesn’t follow the most common Azure service pricing structure (i.e. Basic, Standard, Premium). Rather, Azure OMS pricing follows two possible paths. If you prefer to pay for individual OMS packages, you can easily do so on a per node per month basis. Alternatively, you can leverage bundled OMS packages through a subscription. Azure offers two OMS subscriptions levels: E1 and E2. Both come with access to all features in System Center 2016. However, while E1 encompasses only two packages (Insights & Analytics and Automation & Control) E2 encompass all four of the packages above.

The full scope of Azure OMS

As shown above, Azure Backup, ASR, Log Analytics and Automation all come together in a single, far reaching offering that is Azure OMS. Each of the four services provide a complementary component of the overall offering. Azure Backup delivers an advanced, feature-rich cloud backup solution. ASR delivers a state-of-the-art replication and recovery process. Log Analytics collects your hybrid cloud data while offering penetrating insights into your workflows. And Azure Automation makes management of cloud workloads and resources a far easier enterprise. Together the OMS suite of services feature quick deployment, cloud scaling, automatic updates, an intuitive interface, and hybrid-cloud reach. Available from the OMS portal, Azure management solutions provide streamlined, ready-made scenarios that weave Log Analytics and Automation together to address common resource management and workflow problems, such as update management.

Each OMS package addresses a separate, but complementary aspect of operations management: Insights & Analytics, Automation & Control, Security & Compliance, and Protection & Recovery. You can purchase packages individually on a per month per node basis, or leverage the wider scope of the E1 or E2 bundles through a subscription.

For more on Azure services and our Azure support services that are streamlining cloud and hybrid computing, contact us.

About Jeff Collins

Experience and Expertise make the difference when searching for top cloud providers. Appliedi has provided managed cloud services since 1999.