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Azure portal layout


The Azure portal is the primary graphical user interface (GUI) for controlling Microsoft Azure. You can carry out the majority of management actions in the portal, and it is typically the best interface for carrying out single tasks or where you want to look at the configuration options in detail.

The Azure portal

The resources and favorites

Resource Panel

In the left-hand sidebar of the portal is the resource pane, which lists the main resource types. Note that Azure has more resource types than just those shown. The resources listed are part of your favorites.

You can customize this with the specific resource types you tend to create or administer most often.

You can also collapse this pane; with the << caret. This will minimize it to just icons which can be convenient if you are working with limited screen real-estate.

The remainder of the portal view is for the specific elements you are working with. The default (main) page is the dashboard. We’ll cover this a bit later, but this represents a customizable birds-eye-view of your resources. You can use it to jump into specific resources you want to manage, or search for resources with the All resources entry in the resource panel. When you are managing a resource, such as a virtual machine or a web app, you will work with a blade that presents specific information about the resource.

What is a blade?

The Azure portal uses a blades model for navigation. A blade is a slide-out panel containing the UI for a single level in a navigation sequence. For example, each of these elements in this sequence would be represented by a blade: Virtual machines > Compute > Ubuntu Server.

Each blade contains some information and configurable options. Some of these options generate another blade, which reveals itself to the right of any existing blade. On the new blade, any further configurable options will spawn another blade, and so on. Pretty soon, you can end up with several blades open at the same time. You can maximize blades as well so that they fill the entire screen.

Since new blades are always added to the right of the owner, you can use the scrollbar at the bottom of the window to go backwards to see how you got to this spot in the configuration. Alternatively, you can close blades individually by clicking the X button in the top corner of the blade. If you have unsaved changes, Azure will prompt you to let you know that the changes will be lost if you continue.

Configuring settings in the Azure portal

The Azure portal displays several configuration options, mostly in the status bar at the top-right of the screen.

Notifications

Clicking the bell icon displays the Notifications pane. This pane lists the last actions that have been carried out, along with their status.

Cloud Shell

If you click the Cloud Shell icon (>_), you will create a new Azure Cloud Shell session. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work. Linux users can opt for a Bash experience, while Windows users can opt for PowerShell. This browser-based terminal lets you control and administer all of your Azure resources in the current subscription through a command-line interface built right into the portal.

Settings

Click the gear icon to change the Azure portal settings. These settings include:

  • Logout time
  • Color and contrast themes
  • Toast notifications (to a mobile device)
  • Language and regional format

Portal settings

When you have changed settings, click Apply to accept your changes.

Feedback blade

The smiley face icon opens the Send us feedback blade. Here you can send feedback to Microsoft about Azure. Note that you can specify whether Microsoft can respond to your feedback by email.

Help blade

Click the question mark icon to show the Help blade. Here you choose from several options, including:

  • What’s new
  • Azure roadmap
  • Launch guided tour
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Show diagnostics
  • Privacy + terms

Directory and subscription

Click the Book and Filter icon to show the Directory + subscription blade.

Azure allows you to have more than one subscription associated with one directory. On the Directory + subscriptionblade, you can change between subscriptions. Here, you can change your subscription or change to another directory.

Directory

Profile settings

If you click on your name in the top right-hand corner, a menu opens with a few options:

  • Sign in with another account, or sign out entirely
  • View your account profile, where you can change your password
  • Check your permissions
  • View your bill (click the “…” button on the right-hand side)
  • Update your contact information (click the “…” button on the right-hand side)

If you click “…” and then View my bill, Azure takes you to the Cost Management + Billing – Invoices page, which helps you analyze where Azure is generating costs.

Azure is a large product, and the Azure portal user interface (UI) reflects this. The sliding blade approach allows you to navigate back and forth through the various administration tasks with ease. Let’s experiment a bit with this UI so you get some practice.

Azure account options


What is an Azure account?

An Azure account is tied to a specific identity and holds information like:

  • Name, email, and contact preferences
  • Billing information such as a credit card

An Azure account is what you use to log in to the Azure portal or the Azure CLI. Every Azure account is associated with one or more subscriptions.

What is an Azure subscription?

An Azure subscription is a logical container used to provision resources in Microsoft Azure. It holds the details of all your resources like virtual machines, databases, etc.

Billing occurs at the subscription level — one bill is generated for every Azure subscription on a monthly basis. You can set spending limits on each subscription to ensure you aren’t surprised at the end of the month.

What is an Azure AD tenant?

Azure AD (Azure Active Directory) is a modern identity provider that supports multiple authentication protocols to secure applications and services in the cloud. It’s not the same as Windows Active Directory, which is focused on securing Windows desktops and servers. Instead, Azure AD is all about web-based authentication standards such as OpenID and OAuth.

Users, applications and other entities registered in Azure AD aren’t all lumped into a single global service. Instead, Azure AD is partitioned into separate tenants. A tenant is a dedicated, isolated instance of the Azure Active Directory service, owned and managed by an organization.

When it comes to Azure AD tenants, there is no concrete definition of “organization” — tenants can be owned by individuals, teams, companies, or any other group of people. Tenants are commonly associated with companies. If you sign up for Azure with an email address that’s not associated with an existing tenant, the sign-up process will walk you through creating your own tenant, owned entirely by you.

Note

The email address you use to sign in to Azure can be associated with more than one tenant. You might see this if you have your own Azure account and you use Microsoft Learn’s Azure sandbox to complete exercises. In the Azure portal, you can only view resources belonging to one tenant at a time. To switch the tenant you’re viewing resources for select the Book and filter icon at the top of the portal and choose a different tenant in the Switch directorysection.

Azure AD tenants and subscriptions have a many-to-one trust relationship: A tenant can be associated with multiple Azure subscriptions, but every subscription is associated with only one tenant. This structure allows organizations to manage multiple subscriptions and set security rules across all the resources contained within them.

Here’s a simple representation of accounts, subscriptions, tenants, and resources.

Diagram of how accounts, tenants, subscriptions, and resources work together

Notice that each Azure AD tenant has an account owner. This is the original Azure account that is responsible for billing. You can add additional users to the tenant, and even invite guests from other Azure AD tenants to access resources in subscriptions.

Azure account types

Azure has several account types that cater to different customer types. The most commonly used accounts are:

  • Free
  • Pay-As-You-Go
  • Enterprise Agreement

Azure free account

An Azure free account includes a $200 credit to spend for the first 30 days, free access to the most popular Azure products for 12 months, and access to more than 25 products that are always free. This is an excellent way for new users to get started. To set up a free account, you need a phone number, a credit card, and a Microsoft account.

Note

Credit card information is used for identity verification only. You won’t be charged for any services until you upgrade.

Azure Pay-As-You-Go account

A Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) account bills you monthly for the services you used. This account type is appropriate for a wide range of users, from individuals to small businesses and many large organizations as well.

Azure Enterprise Agreement

An Enterprise Agreement provides flexibility to buy cloud services and software licenses under one agreement, with discounts for new licenses and Software Assurance. It is targeted at enterprise-scale organizations.

Summary

Whether you are an individual, a small business, or an enterprise, you need an account to use Azure services. The typical sequence is to start with a free account so that you can evaluate Azure services. When your trial period expires, you will convert from the free account to Pay-As-You-Go.

Azure services


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the more commonly-used features:

  • Compute
  • Networking
  • Storage
  • Mobile
  • Databases
  • Web

Compute

Compute services are one of the primary reasons why companies move to the Azure platform. Azure provides a range of options for hosting applications and services including:

An illustration showing three types of Azure compute services: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Functions as a Service. It also shows the components that you manage and the components managed by Azure under each type service.

Here are some examples of IaaS, PaaS, and FaaS in Azure.

Type Service name Service function
IaaS Azure Virtual Machines Windows or Linux virtual machines (VMs) hosted in Azure
IaaS Azure Kubernetes Service Enables management of a cluster of VMs that run containerized services
PaaS Azure Service Fabric Distributed systems platform. Runs in Azure or on-premises
PaaS Azure Batch Managed service for parallel and high-performance computing applications
PaaS Azure Cloud Services Managed service for running cloud applications
FaaS Azure Container Instances Provides containers without requiring VM provision or higher services
FaaS Azure Functions Managed FaaS service

Networking

Linking compute resources and providing access to applications is the key function of Azure networking. Networking functionality in Azure includes a range of options to connect the outside world to services and features in the global Microsoft Azure datacenters.

Azure networking facilities have the following features:

Service name Service function
Azure Virtual Network Connects VMs to incoming Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections
Azure Load Balancer Balances inbound and outbound connections to applications or service endpoints
Azure Application Gateway Optimizes app server farm delivery while increasing application security
Azure VPN Gateway Accesses Azure Virtual Networks through high-performance VPN gateways
Azure DNS Provides ultra-fast DNS responses and ultra-high domain availability
Azure Content Delivery Network Delivers high-bandwidth content to customers globally
Azure DDoS Protection Protects Azure-hosted applications from distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks
Azure Traffic Manager Distributes network traffic across Azure regions worldwide
Azure ExpressRoute Connects to Azure over high-bandwidth dedicated secure connections
Azure Network Watcher Monitors and diagnoses network issues using scenario-based analysis
Azure Firewall Implements high-security, high-availability firewall with unlimited scalability
Azure Virtual WAN Creates a unified wide area network (WAN), connecting local and remote sites

Storage

Azure provides four main types of storage services. These services are:

  • Azure Blob storage – provides storage for very large objects, such as video files or bitmaps
  • Azure File storage – creates file shares that you can access and manage like a file server
  • Azure Queue storage – implements a store for queuing and reliably delivering messages between applications
  • Azure Table storage – consists of a NoSQL store that hosts unstructured data independent of any schema

Each of these services shares common characteristics, which are:

  • Durable and highly available with redundancy and replication.
  • Secure through automatic encryption and role-based access control.
  • Scalable with virtually unlimited storage.
  • Managed, handling maintenance and any critical problems for you.
  • Accessible from anywhere in the world over HTTP or HTTPS.

Mobile

Azure enables developers to create engaging iOS, Android, and Windows apps quickly and easily in a wide range of languages using their choice of development environment. Features that used to take time and increase project risks, such as adding corporate sign-in and then connecting to on-premises resources such as SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, and SharePoint, are now simple to include.

Other features of this service include:

  • Offline data synchronization.
  • Connectivity to on-premises data.
  • Broadcasting push notifications.
  • Autoscaling to match business needs.

Databases

Azure provides multiple database services to store a wide variety of data types and volumes. And with global connectivity, this data is available to users instantly.

Service name Service function
Azure Cosmos DB Globally distributed database that supports NoSQL options
Azure SQL Database Fully managed relational database with auto-scale, integral intelligence, and robust security
Azure Database for MySQL Fully managed and scalable MySQL relational database with high availability and security
Azure Database for PostgreSQL Fully managed and scalable PostgreSQL relational database with high availability and security
SQL Server on VMs Host enterprise SQL Server apps in the cloud
Azure SQL Data Warehouse Fully managed data warehouse with integral security at every level of scale at no extra cost
Azure Database Migration Service Migrates your databases to the cloud with no application code changes
Azure Redis Cache Caches frequently used and static data to reduce data and application latency
Azure Database for MariaDB Fully managed and scalable MySQL relational database with high availability and security

Web

Web services in Azure include the following facilities:

Service Name Description
Azure App Service Quickly create powerful cloud apps for web and mobile.
Azure Notification Hubs Send push notifications to any platform from any back end.
Azure API Management Publish APIs to developers, partners, and employees securely and at scale.
Azure Search Fully managed search as a service.
Web Apps feature of Azure App Service Create and deploy mission-critical web apps at scale.
Azure SignalR Service Add real-time web functionalities easily.

 

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