I have been working in Azure everyday for the past 12 months (and a bit in Google Cloud too) and looking around at loads of different resources and the Security Center is quite intreguing. Working through a pluralsight track for Azure Administrators, there was mention of the Azure Security Center - which has definitely been upgraded since it first appeared in the navigation list.
What is the Security Center?
Security Center is the single pane of glass that you can use to look at resources within your Azure environment to see how they are doing. While that is a huge oversimplification, it will show you which VMs are in need of patches and which resources could be more secure if certain properties/features/settings were enabled or disabled.
It provides an at a glance view into where attention is needed.
Doesn't Azure Patch and Heal itself?
Wouldn't that be a nice environment to work within? The Azure platform is very much managed by Microsoft and does just appear to patch and heal itself, but the IaaS resources and some of the PaaS resources running in your environment will still need the care and feeding that on premises resources need. Using the Security Center, these items that are needed bubble up to the front and allow remediations.
While Azure and the workforce behind the curtain (maybe the Great and Powerful Az??) is not the end all/be all when your environment needs patching or maintenance, it will suggest the patches or other things that may help remediate the issues at hand. In many cases, clicking a link to or a button for a remediation will kick off the steps to make the fix a reality - not automatic, but pretty close.
The Azure Security Center
As you can see in the above image, the security center pane shows you a good deal of information. Computers in Azure can be monitored by enabling monitoring - that's it any extensions are installed and the service just works.
But Wait!! There's More!
An agent can be installed in an on premises server to allow the Seurity Center in Azure to extend to your datacenter as well. This way the view of remediations needed can be all encompasing.
The list of fixes available
In figure B, the security center highlights the list of remediations for the resources in your subscriptions. This can be per VM or for all VMs, and you can remediate things acorss multiple machines as well.
Note: My Azure subscription and the funding available to use it heavily have gone down considerably since July, which is ok - but there isnt much in there at the moment. This is why the recommendations are sparse.
What about the cost? The only thing free in Azure is a Resource Group?
Security Center has two options - free and not free. The Standard SKU (not free) runs $15/node/month and brings the following additional items to the party:
While the cost of things in the cloud seems "pretty cheap" on the front end, these costs do add up and should be monitored to ensure you are indeed getting things as the cloud intended - pay only for what you use. Remember - it is still up to you to shut the resources off, disable, or remove things you are not using. The meter still runs if the resources or services just hang out with no governance.