Productivity Hacks

  • Azure Resource Manager Templates - Getting Started

    Getting Up and Running with Azure

    Once Azure resources are in place with an account, the tasks of establishing components begins. Microsoft included Azure Resource Manager to handle quite a few tasks including monitoring, deployment and management. The single interface allows you to manage your Azure resources together, even if they encompass multiple components across your infrastructure.

    Several components may work together within Azure which require grouping. A VM may include a storage account with virtual networking, a web app, an SQL database and other related pieces. These are not merely individual instances but related components which need to be managed as such. Azure Resource Manager (ARM) portal allows for the best management of resources in a variety of ways.

    Benefits of Azure Resource Manager

    There are a number of benefits to using the Resource Manager in Azure to better manage your virtual infrastructure, including:

    • Deploy components to your resources even within a group while managing and monitoring them from a central portal.
    • Organizational oversight of billing by viewing costs associated by group which can be sorted by custom tags.
    • Address management functions with the use of declarative templates which is probably the most powerful tool within ARM to quickly implement a variety of new virtual components along with storage containers while linking with applications including web and database applications.
    • Since Roll-Based Access Control is a native part of Resource Manager, you can apply access controls to any service by group. Security management is always available within ARM.
    • Deployment state consistency can be achieved throughout the lifecycle of a project, making the processes of development, staging and production implementation achievable in shorter work-cycles.
    • Dependencies can easily be defined so that resources are deployed in a correct order, based on the use of highly valuable templates.
    • Resources can be logically tagged, providing an organized infrastructure by which monitoring of cost, deployment and management is accomplished.

    Azure Resource Manager provides everything that a business needs to effectively manage cloud-based resources. Subscriptions to Azure can be easily managed while implementations within new and existing cloud-based infrastructures can be brought on-line with ease, security and functionality. Templates are a powerful bridge between management and implementation, even saving money due to fast implementation and business consistency management. Corporations are frequently turning to the cloud and Azure's powerful tools with Resource Manager to trust their infrastructure to a high standard of security and performance at reasonable costs.

    Get Started With Azure Resource Manager Templates

    Azure Resource Manager includes access to many templates which can be used for deploying infrastructure resources throughout your subscription in a consistent manner. Through the use of these declarative templates, new components can be created and deployed in an orderly fashion, while adhering to grouping structures you assign for consistent development of resources. Templates are a powerful way to implement an Azure infrastructure while providing cost and security management.

    Once you create a resource group and begin development of your infrastructure, each new component created also has a new template available. Re-use the new templates to create other resources to consistently deploy your latest infrastructure additions. The repetition from template deployments provides assurance of operational consistency across dependent components where templates can be linked (nested).

    Templates are saved in a JSON (Javascript Object Notation) file which will define one or several resources to be deployed to a resource group with a set of configurations which can be as simple or complex as you choose. These templates can also reach across defined types of resources to include a variety of services in the deployment, making it easy to start each resource as a readied component to put into development or production.

    There are four main scripting modes to use to create robust templates in Resource Manager:

    • Azure PowerShell - with this installed module you can create local and external templates (for example on GitHub or an Azure storage account). Templates can also be created and loaded using Cloud Shell. Deployments can even be made across resource groups and subscriptions.
    • Azure CLI - load this module in Azure for this preferred method of accessing and creating templates. As with Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI can also be used to create and load templates from both local and external files or be created in Cloud Shell. Deployments can also reach across resource groups and subscriptions.
    • Azure ARM portal - from the portal, you can use quick-start templates or even a built-in the editor to make changes to JSON files to add your custom commands and configurations. There are also standard templates available from the Marketplace for download and use.
    • Resource Manager REST API - which allows for incremental and complete mode deployments to resources groups from templates you control.

    When creating Azure resources, templates simplify the work and can be stored for organization-wide use. The Azure Resource Manager is the best way to access, create, customize and store your templates to get project deployments running as soon as possible.

    When it comes to learning and using the variety of avenues to create and use custom templates there are any number of available resources to assist in learning, creating and troubleshooting within Azure, all using the Resource Manager. To access the Resource Manager in Azure, create your new account and try out a new subscription of cloud-based resources that can benefit your organization with lower cost and higher business efficiency. To learn more about Microsoft Azure and the benefits of the Resource Manager, contact our experts at your online resource for Microsoft OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • 4 Secrets to Saving Big on Software Costs

    Tips When Buying Discount Software 

    As software has become increasingly more complicated over time, the need for the user to be conscious of their purchases has become increasingly important. Every smart enterprise is undoubtedly looking to save money, and this requires it to remain well-informed. There are indeed a lot of ways in which the uninformed user can be driven to overpay for their software, or driven to purchase a product that simply does not fit their needs, but fortunately, keeping just a few simple tips in mind can help every consumer make the best purchase possible:

    1. Work with a licensed Microsoft partner.

    Though software licensing agreements (SLA) may appear to be uniform for every user, they can actually be adapted and customized to meet the user’s particular needs. Many enterprises can save upwards of thousands of dollars by negotiating more flexible payment schedules, licensing swaps, and by restructuring the terms and agreements of their SLAs. In order to avoid confusion—or in some cases, outright scams—working with a licensed Microsoft partner can assure the most accurate information possible is provided. Only by engaging directly with their software provider can the user discover and negotiate their most workable solutions.

    Learn about Microsoft incentives and licensing factors.

    Many incentive and software licensing programs can be rather complicated, but, fortunately for users, there are many useful resources from which they can acquire information. Microsoft is one of the largest and most diverse software companies in the world, and there are many details of this company that often go unnoticed by its users. The Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) is a good place to begin learning about Microsoft’s intricate licensing program and begin dissecting these details. An organization’s specific licensing agreement will depend on a wide variety of factors, such as the specific number of computers it may use, its desire to enter a perpetual or non-perpetual agreement, its long-term goals, and many others. As a company of its size, Microsoft offers incentives in order to satisfy the niche needs of every user, and these incentives can each offer a tremendous amount of savings.

    3. Avoid questionable retailers.

    Unfortunately, in the modern world of software sales, there are many ways in which even the most cautious users can be harmed or deceived. When shopping for discounts on software—or anything digital, for that matter—it is absolutely vital for users to be conscious of the retailer they are dealing with. A good retailer is one that is willing to present information in an objective manner, assure that their customer’s information will remain protected, and offer continuous support throughout the entire purchase process. Most good retailers ought to have plenty of available reviews and information about themselves online, and if the company seems to be avoidant of consumer’s inquiries or have a generally bad reputation, it may be one that would be better off avoided.


    Discount Software Computer Error

    4. Look for holistic solutions and long term support.

    If any enterprise hopes to remain competitive and survive, it knows it cannot just be thinking about its particular needs in the status quo—it needs to be thinking about the future. With the purchase of any Microsoft software, the license holder is entitled to comprehensive support from the company, and this support can be crucial in the long run. Having support from a team of knowledgeable specialists can save a substantial amount of money over time due to the avoidance of unexpected costs associated with the alternative. Furthermore, holistically integrating all of an enterprise’s technology into a unifying source can avoid costs by avoiding redundant payments and avoiding multi-device incompatibility. The best solutions for any problem are the ones that are the most comprehensive, and holistic planning alongside long term support are necessary for creating real value.

    Ultimately, it seems that thinking with a “big picture” mindset is what will best enable the user to realize big savings. For more information on software licensing, or to speak to a member our staff with questions, contact us here.

  • Work and Play Better with Multiple Monitors

    Dual Monitor Office Productivity
    Sometimes, it seems like you’re spending more time switching between programs as compared to the actual work. Anyone who has attempted to squeeze 2 windows on a single screen or tried to juggle the vertical split screens in Microsoft Word knows how frustrating it is to work on one small screen.

    If you’re looking to improve your computing experience, here’s an idea you might want to consider - set up multiple monitors. This will give you room to spread out and make your computer more comfortable to use.

    Here’s how an extra screen makes your PC better for work or play.

    Advantages of having multiple screens

    Increase in productivity is often touted as the main advantage to running a multi-monitor setup. In fact, studies have shown that dual monitors can increase productivity.

    We live in a multitasking world. Having multiple monitors can be uniquely useful for keeping track of numerous programs simultaneously on your computer. It opens up many possibilities. You can check emails, browse the web and run multiple apps while completing tasks on a second screen.

    With all those screens spread out before you, you’ll suddenly realize that you spend a lot less time flipping through open programs, files, emails, and looking for what you want. Instead of switching between full-screen windows, you have the option to put the second program on the second monitor. Here, you can have one screen dedicated to displaying critical information while the other can be used for your actual work.

    Disadvantages of multiple screens

    A second monitor takes up additional space. So before purchasing additional monitors, consider whether or not they would fit on your desk. While keeping programs open across two or more screens can be advantageous, it can be distracting for some people. For instance, Keeping email, IM or social media window open all the time can be good thing for communication purposes, but it can also be a productivity killer.

    Despite the disadvantages, a multiple-monitor setup offers more advantages in the long run. Weigh the pros and cons and try to look at the big picture so you can make an educated decision for your office. For more office tips, or to browse Office Software, visit us on the web at