Map Azure Templates Using ARMVIZ

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In today’s Ask the Admin, I’ll show you how to visualize Azure ARM templates using an online tool called ARMVIZ.

Apps in the Azure cloud consist of one or more resources that can be grouped into logical containers (resource groups) and managed using Azure Resource Manager, or ARM as it’s sometimes referred to. Resource groups are automatically created when virtual machines, databases, and other resources are deployed, no matter whether they are added to the cloud fabric using the Azure management portal, PowerShell, or via a Rest API. Additionally, they allow apps to be managed holistically, for the purposes of monitoring, access control, billing, and other administrative operations.

An Azure ARM template visualized using ARMVIZ (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
An Azure ARM template visualized using ARMVIZ (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

For more information on Azure Resource Manager and resource groups, see What are Microsoft Azure Resource Groups? on the Petri IT Knowledgebase.

Although the resources required for an app can be provisioned one-by-one via the management portal, Microsoft provides a series of templates on GitHub for deploying commonly used apps, where all the necessary resources are provisioned in one operation. There are templates for deploying Remote Desktop Services (RDS) farms, SharePoint farms, Active Directory forests, and a host of other configurations. For more information about deploying apps in Azure using templates, see Deploy a Remote Desktop Services Farm in Azure on Petri.

A good JSON editor, such as that included in Visual Studio, will help you understand the component parts of each template and the resulting app that it will deploy, but to map the resources and their dependencies, you’ll need a separate tool called ARMVIZ.

Unfortunately, ARMVIZ doesn’t provide all the features of AWS CloudFormation Designer, which not only maps resources from JSON templates but also can be used to create templates using a drag-and-drop interface. Although it is possible to create templates from existing resource groups in Azure. Nevertheless, ARMVIZ does map ARM templates so that you can see the relationship between resources.

Map an ARM Template

In this example, I’ll map one of Microsoft’s quickstart ARM templates on GitHub.

  • To see the available templates, click here.
  • On the Azure Quickstart Templates website, type ad into the Search box, and then click Create a new AD Domain with 2 Domain Controllers in the list of results.
  • On the Create a new AD Domain with 2 Domain Controllers web page, click Browse on GitHub to open the template in GitHub.
  • On the template’s GitHub page, click Visualize at the bottom of the page.
  • The ARMVIZ app will open and display a map of the template’s resources.
  • You can switch to code view by clicking the code icon at the top left of ARMVIZ.

If you want to view your own custom template in ARMVIZ, there’s the option to load a template from a file by selecting Open Local Template from the File menu. Don’t forget that you can zoom in, using the standard browser controls, if the resources are too small to see on the screen.

In this article, I showed you show to visualize an ARM template using ARMVIZ.