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Why Do You Need to Document Your Microsoft Azure Usage?

Last updated on: August 5, 2021

As the adoption to cloud expand, subscribing and provisioning resources increases day by day. Enterprises have multiple strategies to implement their cloud deployments: single cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud. There is a need to analyse and assess on regular basis to keep a watch on the usage to ensure expenditure on the cloud resources are efficient and there is no wastage.

There are various possibilities but will need some level of technical competence and regular maintenance:

  1. Use Azure portal capabilities to configure asset management and monitoring
  2. Build custom tools using APIs exposed by Microsoft Azure support
  3. Use 3rd party tools and services

Not all stake holders will have access and the necessity to check through these tools, but it will be easy for the decision-makers to investigate the reports, summaries, comparison assessments, and useful charts or diagrammatic representations. This will help them to assess the usage briefly and take strategic decisions.

A well designed and articulated documentation of your Microsoft Azure environment can help in comprehending the usage easily without accessing too many tools and configurations.

Azure documentation generator

Azure Documenter in Serverless360 helps you to document your Microsoft Azure Subscription. It comes with the capability to aggregate data from disparate resource providers in Microsoft Azure in a single report.

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This allows for the creation of comprehensive technical documentation across resources enabling richer insights that would otherwise be impossible. Interpreting your cost and resource information on Microsoft Azure subscription into legible documentation is what Azure Documenter is for.

Microsoft Azure usage is constantly evolving

Microsoft Azure like any other cloud service provider makes it easy to instantiate and deploy resources at ease on a subscription basis. Though limits on usage and restricted user permissions could be set, the resource deployment and usage grow day by day due to the nature of the business demands for various purposes.

  1. Resources could be deployed manually or through automated processes
  2. Resources are deployed across geographical locations
  3. Resources and environments are managed by different teams
  4. Configurations are set or automated to support different workloads/demands
  5. Resources are billed across subscriptions and business units
  6. There is a need for different environments like Development, QA, Staging, Production, etc

Isn’t it necessary to have utmost clarity on Resource usage and their deployments, type, Configuration, SKU of these resources?

Deployment of resources in Microsoft Azure is made so simple that, without proper auditing and governance, this may lead to situations where resource management becomes uncontrollable.

Challenges in maintaining the documentation on your Microsoft Azure Subscriptions

It is very difficult to keep the document up to date with the changes that happen so frequently in the environment/infrastructure. Eventually, the documentation becomes stale. Getting the complete picture of how well Microsoft Azure is being used can be complicated.

It can be quite challenging to consolidate all resource providers, their instances, locations, and cost details into comprehensive documentation.

Subsequently, the reports or documents shared with respective stakeholders and their effectiveness can become too cumbersome. It can also be hard for your team and partners to access and understand them. Many customers experience challenges in documenting the resources deployed to Azure, their configuration, and settings.

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How to document Microsoft Azure usage?

It is very helpful to document the whole environment in a way that can be easily exported to a standard format like having the ability to look at what exactly is going on in your Azure environment.

The quantity and quality of the documentation should meet the stakeholders’ needs. Only this can create accurate and just enough documentation.

There are certain aspects to the documentation:

  1. What is to be documented?
  2. How do we document?
  3. Relating the documentation to the deployment and usage?
  4. Keeping the documentation up to date?
  5. Making it transparent and accessible to the relevant stakeholders?

Azure Documenter in Serverless360

The solution is to use a documentation generator tool like Serverless360 Azure Documenter that helps to document the Azure resources that are running, regardless of how/why they were provisioned, the Azure region and subscription in which they are located.

Azure documentation tool

We have made the configuration simple to get started with generating the documentation with few steps.

There is no separate installation or configuration change required in your Azure subscriptions. Serverless360 Azure Documenter requires Service Principal identity with ‘Reader’ permission to your Azure subscription. After you have configured your account, you can easily generate documentation of your cloud environment.

The tool will automatically extract information about all the resources in your Microsoft Azure subscription through standard APIs and publish them.

Depending upon the size of your Azure deployment, the time taken for generating the document may differ.

What are the benefits of using Serverless360 Azure Documenter?

  1. Azure Documenter saves a lot of time by automating up-to-date documentation of your Microsoft Azure environments. It generates a report on your assets and reduces manual effort.
  2. Being able to easily document your Azure infrastructure will be most valuable to understand the usage.

  3. It will provide stakeholders at all levels, confidence, and clarity of the adoption to Microsoft Azure cloud.
  4. It aggregates inventory of all your Resource groups. It eliminates manual activity to search and collect data about different resources and deployments.
  5. It eliminates the need for a dedicated documentation team will save you a lot of time considering how little it costs.

Capabilities of Azure Documenter

You would be spending days creating and updating documentation but now you can spend time doing other important activities. Serverless360 Azure Documenter provides capabilities to generate:

Executive Summary

Key decision-makers may not need all the intricate details of the cloud implementation and technical aspects. All they need is a summary at a high level:

  1. What is the usage?
  2. Where are the wastages?
  3. Are the compliance and security guidelines met?
  4. What is the cost associated?
  5. Advisory and guidelines

Billing & Metrics

Generate documentation with vital information like billing and metrics for the overall/group-wise resources in the subscription. Provides a graphical representation of cost incurred resource wise, resource type-wise, location-wise and, resource group-wise. It also provides a split-up of cost consumed at the individual resource level.

Change tracking reports

As the business grows, Azure cloud implementations could expand vastly with thousands of resources and groups cutting across multiple subscriptions and environments. Due to changes in architecture, infrastructure, business logic, upgrades, and migrations, there will be a lot of changes in the resource configuration, addition, and removal, etc on a day-to-day basis. Not all these are done manually, most of them are directed through DevOps and are automated. Also, there are number of teams and people involved.

Keeping a track of all these changes, interpreting the need, etc becomes very important. This will help to understand and check if there were any potential modifications that will impact the application and eventually the business.

Azure Security Compliance reports

Primary need for any infrastructure deployment is to ensure security and compliance of data, practices, access, and use. Adopting to Microsoft Azure is no different. From time to time, it is important to have absolute knowledge and control of data security, data losses due to storage, migration and archives, any security breaches.

These reports provide tracking of implementation of compliance rules, following organisation standards and practices, and for auditing purposes.

Azure cost analysis

Businesses across the world are embracing cloud computing than ever before. They look at migrations, new implementations, and hence the interest towards cloud implementations is only increasing day by day.

“Our commercial cloud revenue grew 36% year over year to $19.5 billion.” said Microsoft Corp. announced the results for the quarter ended June 30, 2021.

This means a lot of enterprises are spending more on the cloud. There could be an overspend if there are no periodic assessments on the expenses. Though cloud vendors promote pay-as-you-go models and various other cost control practices, in reality, the expenditure pattern is different. There are platform costs, most of which are fixed based on the configuration, some cost spiral up exponentially based on usage unless controlled, there are hidden costs as well.

You may also want to compare and analyse cost between two different months.

Cloud documentation tool Mid cta

It is not always easy to use tools like Azure cost calculators for your production loads or interpreting the azure billing data. It becomes imperative to understand the expenses, estimate the growth in future expenditure, determine the wastage, with proper classification and deeper insights.

Schedule documentation and notify stake holders

Generating documentation for an established and evolving Azure estate with thousands of resources may take so long due to data collection, computation, and analysis. It is not practical to manually initiate documentation at the intended time and for many subscriptions and configurations. Relevant stakeholders may have to be notified once the documentation is complete. Azure Documenter provides automation to address these requirements. Notifications are sent to widely used channels like emails, Microsoft Teams etc.

Documentation templates

Documentation needs range from quick summaries and reports that provide high-level overview to comprehensive documentation that covers in-depth details. Create documents that represent not only the Azure resources but its expenses, the exact location of resources, the resource groups, the resource types, and a lot more.

For eg: Executive team may need an expenditure summary, auditing team may be interested in security reports, IT management team may need deeper insights.

Azure Documenter provides default templates to start with easy and insightful documentation and to configure custom templates that will meet your needs.

Publishing options – pdf, online & manage documentation history

The generated documentation can be published and shared with stake holders. Azure Documenter provides two different publishing options:

  1. Publish as PDF

The documents can be published as PDF files and can be stored in default storage provided by Serverless360 or at Azure Storage of your choice. Once the PDF file is created and stored, a unique link for the document will be provided within the portal.

  1. Publish to online platform – Document360

Managing PDF files and maintaining the versions may become difficult after a stage when you deal with multiple environments and too many documents generated over time. There are lot of content publishing tools available online. One such, software-as-a-service is Document360, an online knowledge base authoring and publishing platform.

With Azure Documenter integration to Document360 – Generate, publish and authorize access to documents online hassle free

Archive Documents – PDF of online publishing, Azure Documenter provides document history management for you to access old documents for future reference and comparison.

What are the benefits of integrating Azure Documenter with Document360?

You could of course read any data from your Azure environment and document it to Word or PDF. Once you create the documents you might want to share it with the wider community. You may want to review the document to keep track of the environments and send it to a colleague to review. Though you have SharePoint, office365, or other online platforms to share your files, they demand manual efforts and resources to store, maintain versions, distribute, and access control.

Maintaining versions on word or PDF and sharing them with stakeholders through shared folder access becomes too difficult to manage. As teams grow, managing access control of documents to a wider audience is tedious.

Cloud documentation tool

Document360, an online Knowledge Base authoring, and publishing platform is used to publish the documentation generated by Azure Documenter. It provides online publishing, restricted access to the documentation, and archiving capabilities.

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