Editor's note: This post is the fourth in ‘The Azure Bakery’ series: this part is about resource groups. Click here for the introduction to the series.

Welcome back for the fourth layer of our cake. The third layer was subscriptions. Today, we’ll look at resource groups, regions, a naming convention, and tagging strategy.

Azure consists of numerous regions; going through them helps you solidify your Azure understanding. Having a naming convention and tagging strategy in place allows you to identify resources and their details quickly, and it is crucial for the governance of your Azure environment.


Resource groups

Resource groups are containers for resources; they give you a way to group them. Resources in a resource group share the same lifecycle and can only exist in one resource group at a time. You can move, add or remove resources at any time.

An Azure cake

When you create a resource group, you need to provide a location, a region. We’ll go through the details of the regions later in this post. The resource group contains metadata about its resources. By specifying the resource group’s location, you’re selecting where the metadata is stored, which can be essential for compliance reasons.

If you delete a resource group, you’ll delete the resources located in that resource group. Just as with subscriptions and most other services, there are limits in place. You can deploy up to 800 resources in a single resource group.

Resources in a resource group share the same lifecycle and can only exist in one resource group at a time.

Resource groups and resources can have a lock, so-called delete and read-only locks, which gives you the option to lock down workloads for deletion or modification.

A delete lock means that you can still modify the resource group and its resources but not delete it. In comparison, the read-only lock means that you can’t alter or delete the resource group and its resources.


Regions

Azure is a global cloud service platform and comprises two key components — the physical infrastructure and the network. The physical infrastructure consists of 160+ data centers, divided across 54 regions, connected through the global Azure network.

The Azure regions
Image by Microsoft on Azure

A region is a set of data centers to ensure high availability. Each region has a pair. This pair is another region, preferably located at least 300 miles (482 kilometers) apart, which is sometimes impossible. Most of the pairs are directly connected. It’s recommended to utilize a regional pair when replicating data or building and deploying multi-regional workloads. For example, the regional pair for ‘West Europe’ is ‘North Europe’. You can find the regional pairs here.

When Microsoft updates the Azure infrastructure, only one of the pairs will be updated simultaneously to prevent a complete geographic outage if something goes wrong. When an unplanned outage affects multiple regions, at least one of the regional pairs is prioritized to recover service.


Naming convention

A good and solid naming convention is essential to identify resources. Adding the most critical information makes it possible to quickly determine the resource’s type, workload, and deployment environment. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; the naming convention can differ per organization.

It’s not possible to rename resources after you’ve deployed them. Therefore, it’s essential to establish a naming convention before deploying resources and migrating production workloads.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; the naming convention can differ per organization.

All resource types have a naming scope that defines the scope in which the name should be unique; the naming scopes are:

  • The resource attributes scope, where the name must be unique within the resource — for example, a subnet within a virtual network.
  • The resource group scope, where the name has to be unique within the resource group.
  • The global scope, where the name has to be unique throughout Azure.

Microsoft advises a naming convention that starts with the resource type and ends with an instance number. There are recommended naming components, abbreviations per resource type, and limits to take into account. I’ll take you through these recommendations from left to right and my take on this.

A naming convention
Image by Microsoft on Microsoft Docs

Resource type: This abbreviation represents the resource type and is used as a prefix (beginning) or suffix (ending). There’s a recommended abbreviations overview available here.

Workload or application: The name or identifier of the application or workload that the resource belongs to. Try to keep this as short as possible. A great option is to use a four or five-digit identifier representing the application — for example, ‘0281’ instead of ‘sharepoint’. When you’re using numbers, it’s essential to keep track of them and their application. Tags can help by adding the full application name as a tag.

Deployment environment: This represents the stage of the development lifecycle. Try to keep this as short as possible by using letters — for example, ‘p’ instead of ‘prod’, or ‘d’ instead of ‘dev’.

Region: The geographical Azure region where the resource is deployed. Use this only when you’re utilizing multiple regions. And even then, maybe only for network resources. Try to keep this as short as possible by using abbreviations — for example, ‘weu’ instead of ‘westeurope’, or ‘wus’ instead of ‘westus’.

Instance: A two or three-digit number is used to differentiate multiple instances of the same resource. Determine for which resource types this is appropriate. Is there a chance I have numerous instances of the same resource?

There are recommended naming components, abbreviations per resource type, and limits to take into account.

There are naming limitations in place, and these limits can differ per resource type. For example, the name of a virtual machine (Windows) can not have more than 15 characters. In comparison, a storage account can have up to 24 characters but can only include lowercase letters and numbers. You can find the limits here.


Tagging strategy

Having a tagging policy in place is crucial for the governance of your Azure environment. Tags allow you to include more details (metadata) of your workloads on top of the naming convention’s information. You can filter and create reports based on this information.

Tags consist of key-value pairs and can, for example, include information about the resource’s workload name, data classification, business criticality and unit, cost center, owner, or who’s responsible for the workload. Just like the naming convention, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach; the tagging strategy can differ per organization.

Your tags can, for example, look like this:

  • WorkloadName: Web Application
  • DataClassification: Public
  • Criticality: Medium
  • BusinessUnit: Marketing
  • CostCenter: 7629
  • Owner: john.doe@robino.io

There are limits for tags in place as well. Each subscription, resource group, and resource can have up to 50 tags. Generally, the tag name (key) can have 512 characters, whereas the information (value) is limited to 256 characters. Not all the resource types support tagging; you can find the support information here.


Up next

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I’d love to hear what you think, and I hope to see you next week when we’re going through the last layer of our cake, resources. With the last layer, we’ll add resources to the ingredients of all previous layers. With these resources, the layers of the cake really come together, making it ready to serve! Bye for now!