Azure Advisor: Getting started with this powerful built-in tool

Azure Advisor is a built-in tool available on your Azure tenant that provides recommendations based on priorities to your environment and gives you the information on how to improve, save costs, availability, and secure your environment. The tool has five core areas where the recommendations will be listed, including reliability, security, performance, cost, and operational excellence. As part of providing a list of the recommendations organized by priority, the tool offers alerting, export in several formats. The recommendations come with additional information to address the items reported and can be easily addressed by the cloud administrator manually or through automation.

Getting started with Azure Advisor

Log in to the Azure Portal, type in Advisor in the search box on the main page, and select Advisor. Then, on the Overview page, we will view the key recommendation areas with some room for improvements (including cost, security, reliability, operational excellence, and performance areas.

The recommendations can be downloaded as CSV or as PDF files (Item 1), and we will try the new Advisor Score (Item 2) in an upcoming section of this article.

The other great feature is that the Advisor information is based on the subscriptions that you select from the list (Item 3), so in a single pane of glass, you can see the recommendations of all your subscriptions divided by the key areas.

Azure Advisor

When we click on a specific area, for example, Security, we will see a descriptive list of all recommendations. In addition, they will be listed in priority order, making our lives much easier when planning to address the issues in that given area.

We can see the total number of recommendations (42) and how they are dispersed based on their priorities (nine high-impact, 10 medium-impact, and 23 low-impact). We can see also how many Azure resources are being impacted by the recommendations described on this page.

Azure Advisor

When we check recommendations from the Security area, they share the same look and feel from Azure Security Center.

The recommendation will have a description (Item 1), a step by step on how to fix the issue manually (Item 2), and a view of all resources on the given recommendation that are not compliant (Item 3) and the ones that are good from the recommendation perspective (Item 4).In addition, some recommendations can be addressed through the Trigger Logic App button, which will automatically execute the steps described in the manual steps when requested.

When using another type of recommendation, Cost, we will have the recommended value and a different interface to understand the impact, but it follows the same general idea.

In Azure Advisor, we can postpone or dismiss a recommendation. The postponement can be for a day, week, month, or three months. The dismiss doesn’t have options — just clear that entry from the recommendation.

Azure Advisor

Using Azure Advisor at the resource level

In the previous section, we saw a full view of the entire subscription, and it works great to address critical issues impacting, or that could be improved in any given subscription. However, there are cases where we hear that infamous question, how about recommendations related to my server?

Azure engineering team thought about that, and we do have an item called Advisor Recommendations on several Azure resources. That specific blade will provide all the recommendations for that given resource. The blade already uses some of the preview features, and we can see detailed information (total recommendations and recommendations by impact).

Azure Advisor

Using the new Advisor and the Advisor Score

Azure is constantly evolving, and Azure Advisor is not different. A new preview was released to have something even better to analyze your subscriptions from a 5,000-foot view, but with the ability to look at a specific component with just a few clicks away.

The new Advisor Score will provide an overall status (score) that will be refreshed every 24 hours, we can see how the score is doing throughout the time, and the same score divided by categories. Like the other blades, we can still narrow down per subscription and see the active vs. the postponed/missed recommendations.

Managing alerts and recommendation digest

The tool has tons of fantastic features to offer, and some may be overlooked during the daily tasks, but they will save a lot of time to fix and improve your environment.

I want to explore two features in this section: creating alerts and recommendation digest using the Azure Advisor. They are usually available as part of the recommendations for the vast majority of categories (security is not included because we have Azure Security Center for that).

The Advisor Alerts can be triggered when a specific category and impact level is reported, or even a particular type of recommendation. But, first, we need to define which subscription/resource group where we are going to be identifying.

The recommendation digest is a fantastic feature that helps the cloud administrator receive constant information about their Azure environment and organize the next steps related to best practices. The configuration is simple — we need to select one of the subscriptions (yes, just one per digest), and the frequency (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), the recommendation category (cost, operational excellence, performance, security, and reliability). After that, we need to configure the action groups and a name for the digest.

Configuring Azure Advisor

The tool is ready to roll, and it has just a few settings that require administration. First, we can define which subscription will be covered by the tool, as depicted in the image below.

In the rules tab, we have a single rule that allows the tool to check VMs running low CPU utilization (20%, 15%, 10%, and 5%, where default is 5%).

Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor: Use it and make your job easier

We reviewed some of the Azure Advisor features available to all customers using Microsoft Azure. The offering does not require configuration. It provides recommendations, the ability to export files, be alerted in specific areas, and helps the cloud administrator to tackle some keys areas of their environment.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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