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Starting to use Azure for the Data Platform professional

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A lot of Data Platform professionals already use the Azure Portal and take the knowledge how to use it for granted. So, you might ask yourself why I write about starting to use Azure?

Well I found out that using the Azure Portal is not as common as you might think. I ran the below Twitter poll and got some interesting responses.

Like a lot of new things, it can be daunting. Especially when there are others talking about Azure so casually. This post covers the essentials and therefore will help the people who are new to this.

For those of you with Azure experience, consider this a primer for a future post. In addition, you may find some things in this post interesting as well.

Subsequently, I will talk about the below main points. Feel free to click on a link to jump to a section.

I must stress this is purely an introduction about the Azure Portal. Therefore, for more detailed ways to use the Azure Portal search for more detailed videos online.

In addition, some seasoned Azure users may find some things in this post interesting as well.

Paying for Azure

Before we start talking about the tools I better discuss the ways you can pay for using Azure. You can of course just jump in and start using it if you are able to sign up for the free trial. However, just in case you have used all your credit up there are a few methods to get more.

For instance, if you have a Visual Studio subscription you probably have some Azure credit. You should have got an email about it previously. If you did and you have yet to set it up, now would be a good time to reclaim it.

In addition, if you have been awarded the MVP award by Microsoft you will have credit you can use. So, check your emails.

If you are lucky you may find that work already has an Azure environment in place and will allocate credit for you to create things. For example, a good indication is that you can use Azure DevOps in the workplace.

A good way to test is to go to the Azure Portal here. You can then see if your account authenticates within the portal.

Another way would be to create your own Visual Studio subscription. Whether you pay for it yourself or you get to claim it back from your employer is probably a discussion you should have with your boss.

If you are looking to pay for Azure for your whole organisation I recommend further discussions with Microsoft. That way they can guide you and introduce you to offers.

Since we have discussed how you can get Azure credit we should also discuss the place where you may need to go to sort it out. And where you might look to check your credit. Which is the Azure Portal.

Introduction to Azure Portal

Basically, the Azure Portal is an application you access from your web. Hence, you can access it here. It is important because it is the first place you will probably go when you first start looking into Azure or explore new services.

Some of you might think it looks different from what you saw a few years back. That’s probably because you are thinking of the old Windows Azure portal which luckily appears to have been removed to avoid any confusion.

The Azure Portal has recently added a new feature called Azure Home. Which is an alternative to using the traditional dashboard you might have seen in the past. Now when you go into Azure you can select to either use the new Home look or the traditional dashboard view.

When getting started I recommend exploring the portal in depth to get a good feel for how to use it and its available services.

Beginners Tips

Firstly, when you first start using Azure always try and keep anything you create in the same Resource Group. This will make deleting objects a lot easier.

Secondly, if you are just starting out make sure you delete anything you are purely testing as a one off. Especially if they are high performing SQL Server virtual machines as they cost a lot.

In addition, delete anything that can easily be recreated if you are going to leave it for a while. For example, a test environment with no data in it.

If you don’t you can end up either running up a huge bill on your subscription, or have your account suspended until the following month if you have a fixed limit.

Finally, as I said previously, you might be able to access the Azure Portal already using your existing network credentials. Doing this can be really useful.

For instance, you can use it to discover where your Azure DevOps site is if you have forgotten its URL. You can do this quickly by going into the portal and looking for the Azure DevOps service. Then you can just click on the link for your site.

Mobile Apps

Now I did have a more amusing title for this section based on a TV advert. However, a very well know company has trademarked the phrase.

Those of you who are keen on using the Azure Portal on your Android or iPhone devices will be interested to know there is an app available. It is called Microsoft Azure. You can use this to view your resources in Azure

In addition, you can also run a command line called Cloud Shell within it for more powerful needs.

As an iPhone owner you also can use other apps like DevOps Manager. With this app you can manage your Azure DevOps projects in Azure.

I’m an Android user so I will admit I have not used this DevOps app. Hence, if you have please feel free to comment about how useful you think it is below.

Final word

I hope some of you have found this post useful. I know for seasoned Azure users some of this is taken for granted but I felt there was a lot of people who still needed to know this.

Still, if you have any questions about this post, feel free to ask me about it.

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