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Azure Policy: A user’s guide

by Jeff Christman
Senior Consultant, Cloud Security

Azure Policy offers a robust framework for dictating the configuration and deployment guidelines within your Azure tenant. It simplifies governance through pre-defined settings, such as designating allowed regions for deployment activities. For instance, it enables the limitation of VM deployment to specific regions like the West or Central. Interestingly, policies can be assigned not only at the subscription or management group levels but also directly to resource groups, enhancing flexibility in governance application.

Central to Azure Policy is its operation via JSON files, akin to ARM or Bicep templates, allowing for precise control over resource configurations. This system facilitates the governance of resources, such as VMs, by ensuring deployments adhere to pre-set regional configurations within specified subnets. Policies can be crafted to be as detailed or as broad as necessary, acting as the blueprint for deployment and configuration processes. Initiatives, which group together policies with shared goals, further aid in achieving specific compliance or regulatory objectives. For example, a bank might establish initiatives to ensure adherence to financial regulations, integrating rules around password complexity, encryption key rotation schedules, and data retention periods.

Microsoft has made available around 300 built-in policies derived from best practices. These serve as a starting point from which custom policies can be developed to meet unique industry-specific regulatory requirements.

The journey into Azure Policy begins with an understanding of the compliance and regulatory standards relevant to the organization. This foundational knowledge allows for the creation of a base set of policies. For instance, designating the East Coast as the primary region with the West Coast as a backup could be a policy. Due to the JSON nature of these policies, they can seem complex, requiring careful consideration to ensure adherence to various federal or state regulations and specific industry mandates, such as HIPAA for healthcare.

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About Jeff Christman

Jeff Christman is a distinguished Navy Veteran boasting more than two decades of expertise in the Information Technology sector. He possesses a specialized focus on cloud migration projects, having contributed his skills to prestigious organizations including Raytheon, AT&T, and NASA. Presently, he holds the position of Senior Cloud Security Consultant at a prominent consulting firm. Beyond his professional endeavors, Jeff is an accomplished author and educator, developing and publishing content and courses for renowned platforms such as,, and

Outside of his professional pursuits, Jeff enjoys engaging in fantasy football, exploring advancements in technology, and playfully teasing his teenage daughters.

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