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There are four general tool sets for managing Active Directory in Azure: the Azure Web-based portal, Azure PowerShell,...
the Azure command-line interface and Azure Management application programming interfaces. Each option has its own advantages and limitations for Azure administrators or developers.
Azure's Web portal is the principal tool for managing Azure. It allows virtually all management capabilities including new service creation, modifying existing services, database queries, role management and user organization. The portal is designed to have a low-impact look and feel, so detailed information or granular control available may not be apparent until administrators dig into the various options.
PowerShell provides Azure administrators with a powerful scripting language and tool. A rich suite of Azure cmdlets can handle almost any cloud task, such as creating a new service, configuring services, managing users and handling security. As with any data center environment, scripting allows for a level of automation and consistency; administrators can perform repetitive, complex tasks across numerous services while minimizing errors or oversights that could creep into Web portals and other GUI-based interfaces.
While PowerShell is the ideal choice for Windows environments, Azure can also be managed through other command-line interfaces (CLIs). Azure provides its own basic CLI. Administrators can also select from other CLI platforms such as Microsoft Azure Xplat-CLI for Windows, Mac and Linux, and a wealth of other tools available from Microsoft. These non-PowerShell CLIs are usually written in platform-independent languages such as Node.js, PHP or Python, and are intended for cross-platform systems management. Administrators often sacrifice scripting power for cross-platform -- Windows and non-Windows -- versatility when Azure portal use would be too time-consuming or cumbersome.
Azure also exposes rich application programming interfaces (APIs) that can handle many Azure management functions. APIs allow software developers to write custom interfaces, such as creating your own specialized portal for Azure, or implement Azure management features directly into other in-house software products. Developers can use generic representative state transfer APIs or language-specific .NET APIs to craft Azure management software.
But don't forget about higher-level management tools. For example, Microsoft System Center can monitor Azure through a management pack, and more Azure management capabilities should appear for System Center over time. In addition, there are a myriad of third-party tools that can manage Azure such as New Relic Standard or Dell Cloud Manager. Third-party tools can be particularly attractive because they tend to embrace hybrid cloud deployments, supporting private cloud -- in-house -- resources along with public cloud services such as Azure and its Active Directory management.
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