The one thing that always keep lingering around is that single Post-It note with the todo: Generate Documentation. When mainting environment and architectre docs, this can be time consuming, troublesome and … well for most of the people kind of annoying, you’ve got to admit.
Well the last mentioned group of people i have some great news . Especially when you’re involved in Azure deployments. There’s a new tool on the market, named Azure Dockit. What this tool can help you accomplish is actually pretty amazing. And i’m not exagerating here.
Let me walk you through this, the capabilities and the end result.
We start of by (after created a subscription, and thus pay for it) selecting a subscription on which you want to generate your documentation. And press Generate Docment. And actually that’s it …..
Now this may look like a little simple, but the devil is in the settings button. As in there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The settings button allows you to configure what your report will look like. First the “Azure Workloads” tab. This allows you to select all the service, so far implemented, you want to generate documentation for.
Now the cool thing is that these guys are awesome when it comes down to implementing these servcies for documentation. When i first started testing this, there was only just 4 or 5 (and that was mid january). As you can tell from the list in the screenshot, these guys haven’t been sitting still thus far. and that’s a general rule of thumb here: they implement new features on a very high tempo! so kudos for that!
So after selecting all the workloads you want to generate docs for , select the “Document”. now depending on the version you’ve bought, this can be used to either upload a custom template or just use the full one provided by Dockit. You can also choose to generate a ToC and even a time constraint for picking up the document.
it’s not only the service itself that can be documented, but also some of the content can be documented through this. as we can tell from the “SQL Server” tab.
This allows you to generate db structure information as also info on SP’s, tables, etc etc …
in the “Storage” tab you can enter the desired level of containers and blobs you whish to be scanned. now this is a useful feature, as you can (so far) not select the storage accounts containers you want to document. This setting will avoid the documentation overload for storage accounts or BLOB’s which could contain diagnostics, logging and monitoring data.
On the part of identity and acces management, you have the choice to document either all or just a select number of AAD Users or all of them (with all the changes accordingly).
One of the more interesting features is the documentation of your VM infrastructure (aka IaaS). a new feature was recently added to this. you can document the internals of your VM by installing and running a custom script extension which uses a Powershell script for internal VM info.
Also from a billing perspective, this proves interesting as this works for both EA as normal subscriptions. Allowing you to get a cost overview.
Th last set of settings is on how you want this report to become available: you can choose to drop it in either an Azure Storage account (enabled by CORS, from their end) or in an O365 tenant storage library. There’s even a capability to engage with UManage to create follow ups int his online Team Management Tool. Also here you can choose to get advanced loggin on all the analysis calls the services does for you.
Once you’ve made your choice of doc generation, you return to the main screen and then press the generate documentation button, to get docs the way you want them. This process might take a while so have some patience here.
when finished you’ll be presented with a downloadable Word Document.
when looking deeper in the document, you’ll actually see that it contains some nice graphs and schema’s:
you get maps on where you’ve deployed, generic overviews in tables and so on. When looking for instance in detail to the VM details you get nice Visio-esque images which are editable in Visio afterwards when having a certain SKU of the product:
Not only that but also the fact that it generates warnings and best practice suggestions is a valuable feature.
it even generates stats on websites :
On schema’s you’ll even get a lay out of your VNET’s incluing gateways and connections.
if you want to check a full demo file, they have one ready for you on their site here : http://www.azuredockit.com/examples/
This product can save you time, period! Seeing that this is a cloud based service only offers you benefits, although you might find this a disadvantage as you need to regenerate the documentation more often as more feature get added. I must say this company made a lot of effort in making this an easy to use tool. With this many features this is a must have tool. The only downside for me is that you need to buy it per subscription, which makes it hard to re-use for multiple customers or in a consulting role. Maybe a version for consultants could be a great addition to their licensing scheme, as i see a lot of business potential.