Azure Resource Policies Part 1 - Built in Policies

As your Azure usage increased you will inevitably need to grant rights to other users to create and manage resources. Often you need to apply limits to what these user can do with their Azure subscription. Role Based Access Control allows you to put users into roles which grant them access to specific top level resources (virtual machines, storage, SQL etc.), what RBAC doesn’t do however is limit what you can do with those resources. Take VM’s, you can grant a user RBAC rights so they can only create VM’s and not other resource, but you can’t define an RBAC role that stops them creating 20 G5 VM’s and racking up the Azure bill. That is where Resource Policies come in.

Resource policies are JSON based rules that define what can and can’t be created inside either a subscription or a resource group. Resource policies can be be applied to most resource types, however there are some that do not yet support it. Generally if a resource supports tags and locations then it will support resource policies. Policies support re-use, in that a single policy can be applied to many subscriptions or resource groups, and can be parameterised to make them even more flexible.

In this pair of articles we will take a look at resource policies and how you can make use of them, starting with some built in policies and then looking at custom policies in part 2.

Default Stance

Before we look at setting up policies it is good to understand the rules around them. The default stance with policy rights is the opposite to RBAC. In RBAC rights, by default you are denied everything and then explicitly allowed certain roles. In Resource Policies you are by default allowed to do anything in a subscription or RG, and you need to explicitly deny things in a policy.

Required Rights

To be able to apply policies to resource groups or subscriptions you need the “Microsoft.Authorization/policyassignments/write” permission on the required subscription or RG. To be able to create custom policies you also need the “Microsoft.Authorization/policydefinitions/write” permission.

Note that these rights by default are only provided in the RBAC “owner” role. If you want to grant these to someone who is not an owner on a subscription then you will need to create a custom role and apply them.

Built In Policies

Azure provides some ready made policies out of the box, all you need to do is configure these and apply them to your required scope. If your requirement for restrictions is included in these policies then they are very easy to set up.  These built in policies are:

  • Allowed locations
  • Allowed resource types
  • Allowed storage account SKUs
  • Allowed virtual machine SKUs
  • Apply tag and default value
  • Enforce tag and value
  • Not allowed resource types
  • Require SQL Server version 12.0
  • Require storage account encryption

You will note that for some of these there are both “Allowed” and “Not Allowed ” rules. This is helpful if you are looking to whitelist or blacklist, you have the choice to do either. This is especialy useful for the resources policies, where there are a lot of different resources to choose from.

We’ll take the example of restricting VM sizes. We’ll look at doing this in the Azure portal, but this can also be done through PowerShell.

In the portal, we can browse to the subscription (or resource group) we want to apply the restriction to and select the “Policies” blade.

Click add, then in the blade that opens we can see the available policies in the drop down.

We’ll go ahead and select the “Allowed virtual machine SKU’s” option, then in the “Allowed SKUs” section we will select which VM sizes we want to allow.

We will then enter a friendly display name for the policy, as well as an ID. The ID needs to be unique within the scope (subscription or RG) and meet the nameing standard in the the help hover over.

Once we click OK, that policy is now assigned to my subscription. If I attempt to create a VM now that does match those sizes it will let me run through the create VM wizard (would be nice if it stopped you earlier), but once you submit the VM for deployment, it will shortly fail. The one downside to this failing at deployment is that if you are deploying other resources prior to the VM being deployed (Availiblity Sets, storage, Network Cards etc.) then these will still be created and need to be cleaned up

Should you wish to to edit the policy, say to change the VMs that are allowed, then you can go back to the subscription, into policies and you will see the list of your applied policies.

Select the policy you want to change, then select edit.

All of the other built in policies function in a similar manner, with differing parameter options. The simple ones like requiring storage account encyrption don’t really have any parameters to select:

Where as allowing or restricting resource types has a long list of choices:

Next Steps

The built in resource policies provide easy to use options for some very common scenarios, and for some that will do exactly what they want. Where you need more advanced restrictions this where custom policies come into play. With custom policies we can define our own rules using JSON and publish them to then be assigned to our subscriptions. We’ll take a look at how to do this in part 2.

Further Reading

Resource Policy Overview

Use Azure portal to assign and manage resource policies

Assign and manage resource policies