Understand the machine configuration feature of Azure Automanage


Azure Policy Guest Configuration is now called Azure Automanage Machine Configuration. Learn more about the recent renaming of Microsoft configuration management services.

Azure Policy's machine configuration feature provides native capability to audit or configure operating system settings as code, both for machines running in Azure and hybrid Arc-enabled machines. The feature can be used directly per-machine, or at-scale orchestrated by Azure Policy.

Configuration resources in Azure are designed as an extension resource. You can imagine each configuration as an additional set of properties for the machine. Configurations can include settings such as:

  • Operating system settings
  • Application configuration or presence
  • Environment settings

Configurations are distinct from policy definitions. Machine configuration utilizes Azure Policy to dynamically assign configurations to machines. You can also assign configurations to machines manually, or by using other Azure services such as Automanage.

Examples of each scenario are provided in the following table.

Type Description Example story
Configuration management You want a complete representation of a server, as code in source control. The deployment should include properties of the server (size, network, storage) and configuration of operating system and application settings. "This machine should be a web server configured to host my website."
Compliance You want to audit or deploy settings to all machines in scope either reactively to existing machines or proactively to new machines as they are deployed. "All machines should use TLS 1.2. Audit existing machines so I can release change where it is needed, in a controlled way, at scale. For new machines, enforce the setting when they are deployed."

The per-setting results from configurations can be viewed either in the Guest assignments page or if the configuration is orchestrated by an Azure Policy assignment, by clicking on the "Last evaluated resource" link on the "Compliance details" page.

A video walk-through of this document is available. (update coming soon)

Enable machine configuration

To manage the state of machines in your environment, including machines in Azure and Arc-enabled servers, review the following details.

Resource provider

Before you can use the machine configuration feature of Azure Policy, you must register the Microsoft.GuestConfiguration resource provider. If assignment of a machine configuration policy is done through the portal, or if the subscription is enrolled in Microsoft Defender for Cloud, the resource provider is registered automatically. You can manually register through the portal, Azure PowerShell, or Azure CLI.

Deploy requirements for Azure virtual machines

To manage settings inside a machine, a virtual machine extension is enabled and the machine must have a system-managed identity. The extension downloads applicable machine configuration assignment and the corresponding dependencies. The identity is used to authenticate the machine as it reads and writes to the machine configuration service. The extension isn't required for Arc-enabled servers because it's included in the Arc Connected Machine agent.


The machine configuration extension and a managed identity are required to manage Azure virtual machines.

To deploy the extension at scale across many machines, assign the policy initiative Deploy prerequisites to enable guest configuration policies on virtual machines to a management group, subscription, or resource group containing the machines that you plan to manage.

If you prefer to deploy the extension and managed identity to a single machine, follow the guidance for each:

To use machine configuration packages that apply configurations, Azure VM guest configuration extension version 1.29.24 or later is required.

Limits set on the extension

To limit the extension from impacting applications running inside the machine, the machine configuration agent isn't allowed to exceed more than 5% of CPU. This limitation exists for both built-in and custom definitions. The same is true for the machine configuration service in Arc Connected Machine agent.

Validation tools

Inside the machine, the machine configuration agent uses local tools to perform tasks.

The following table shows a list of the local tools used on each supported operating system. For built-in content, machine configuration handles loading these tools automatically.

Operating system Validation tool Notes
Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration v3 Side-loaded to a folder only used by Azure Policy. Won't conflict with Windows PowerShell DSC. PowerShell Core isn't added to system path.
Linux PowerShell Desired State Configuration v3 Side-loaded to a folder only used by Azure Policy. PowerShell Core isn't added to system path.
Linux Chef InSpec Installs Chef InSpec version 2.2.61 in default location and added to system path. Dependencies for the InSpec package including Ruby and Python are installed as well.

Validation frequency

The machine configuration agent checks for new or changed guest assignments every 5 minutes. Once a guest assignment is received, the settings for that configuration are rechecked on a 15-minute interval. If multiple configurations are assigned, each is evaluated sequentially. Long-running configurations impact the interval for all configurations, because the next will not run until the prior configuration has finished.

Results are sent to the machine configuration service when the audit completes. When a policy evaluation trigger occurs, the state of the machine is written to the machine configuration resource provider. This update causes Azure Policy to evaluate the Azure Resource Manager properties. An on-demand Azure Policy evaluation retrieves the latest value from the machine configuration resource provider. However, it doesn't trigger a new activity within the machine. The status is then written to Azure Resource Graph.

Supported client types

Machine configuration policy definitions are inclusive of new versions. Older versions of operating systems available in Azure Marketplace are excluded if the Guest Configuration client isn't compatible. The following table shows a list of supported operating systems on Azure images. The ".x" text is symbolic to represent new minor versions of Linux distributions.

Publisher Name Versions
Amazon Linux 2
Canonical Ubuntu Server 14.04 - 20.x
Credativ Debian 8 - 10.x
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 - 2022
Microsoft Windows Client Windows 10
Oracle Oracle-Linux 7.x-8.x
OpenLogic CentOS 7.3 -8.x
Red Hat Red Hat Enterprise Linux* 7.4 - 8.x
SUSE SLES 12 SP3-SP5, 15.x

* Red Hat CoreOS isn't supported.

Custom virtual machine images are supported by machine configuration policy definitions as long as they're one of the operating systems in the table above.

Network requirements

Azure virtual machines can use either their local virtual network adapter (vNIC) or Azure Private Link to communicate with the machine configuration service.

Azure Arc-enabled machines connect using the on-premises network infrastructure to reach Azure services and report compliance status.

Following is a list of the Azure Storage endpoints required for Azure and Azure Arc-enabled virtual machines to communicate with the machine configuration resource provider in Azure:

  • oaasguestconfigac2s1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigacs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigaes1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigases1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigbrses1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigbrss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigccs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigces1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigcids1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigcuss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigeaps1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigeas1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigeus2s1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigeuss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigfcs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigfss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfiggewcs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfiggns1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfiggwcs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigjiws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigjpes1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigjpws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigkcs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigkss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigncuss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfignes1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfignres1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfignrws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigqacs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigsans1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigscuss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigseas1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigsecs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigsfns1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigsfws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigsids1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigstzns1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigswcs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigswns1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigswss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigswws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfiguaecs1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfiguaens1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigukss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigukws1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwcuss1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwes1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwids1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwus2s1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwus3s1.blob.core.windows.net
  • oaasguestconfigwuss1.blob.core.windows.net

Communicate over virtual networks in Azure

To communicate with the machine configuration resource provider in Azure, machines require outbound access to Azure datacenters on port 443. If a network in Azure doesn't allow outbound traffic, configure exceptions with Network Security Group rules. The service tags "AzureArcInfrastructure" and "Storage" can be used to reference the guest configuration and Storage services rather than manually maintaining the list of IP ranges for Azure datacenters. Both tags are required because machine configuration content packages are hosted by Azure Storage.

Virtual machines can use private link for communication to the machine configuration service. Apply tag with the name EnablePrivateNetworkGC and value TRUE to enable this feature. The tag can be applied before or after machine configuration policy definitions are applied to the machine.

Traffic is routed using the Azure virtual public IP address to establish a secure, authenticated channel with Azure platform resources.

Communicate over public endpoints outside of Azure

Servers located on-premises or in other clouds can be managed with machine configuration by connecting them to Azure Arc.

For Azure Arc-enabled servers, allow traffic using the following patterns:

  • Port: Only TCP 443 required for outbound internet access
  • Global URL: *.guestconfiguration.azure.com

See the Azure Arc-enabled servers network requirements for a full list of all network endpoints required by the Azure Connected Machine Agent for core Azure Arc and machine configuration scenarios.

When using private link with Arc-enabled servers, built-in policy packages will automatically be downloaded over the private link. You do not need to set any tags on the Arc-enabled server to enable this feature.

Assigning policies to machines outside of Azure

The Audit policy definitions available for machine configuration include the Microsoft.HybridCompute/machines resource type. Any machines onboarded to Azure Arc-enabled servers that are in the scope of the policy assignment are automatically included.

Managed identity requirements

Policy definitions in the initiative Deploy prerequisites to enable guest configuration policies on virtual machines enable a system-assigned managed identity, if one doesn't exist. There are two policy definitions in the initiative that manage identity creation. The IF conditions in the policy definitions ensure the correct behavior based on the current state of the machine resource in Azure.


These definitions create a System-Assigned managed identity on the target resources, in addition to existing User-Assigned Identities (if any). For existing applications unless they specify the User-Assigned identity in the request, the machine will default to using System-Assigned Identity instead. Learn More

If the machine doesn't currently have any managed identities, the effective policy is: Add system-assigned managed identity to enable machine configuration assignments on virtual machines with no identities

If the machine currently has a user-assigned system identity, the effective policy is: Add system-assigned managed identity to enable machine configuration assignments on VMs with a user-assigned identity


Customers designing a highly available solution should consider the redundancy planning requirements for virtual machines because guest assignments are extensions of machine resources in Azure. When guest assignment resources are provisioned in to an Azure region that is paired, as long as at least one region in the pair is available, then guest assignment reports are available. If the Azure region isn't paired and it becomes unavailable, then it isn't possible to access reports for a guest assignment until the region is restored.

When you considering an architecture for highly available applications, especially where virtual machines are provisioned in Availability Sets behind a load balancer solution to provide high availability, it's best practice to assign the same policy definitions with the same parameters to all machines in the solution. If possible, a single policy assignment spanning all machines would offer the least administrative overhead.

For machines protected by Azure Site Recovery, ensure that machines in a secondary site are within scope of Azure Policy assignments for the same definitions using the same parameter values as machines in the primary site.

Data residency

Machine configuration stores/processes customer data. By default, customer data is replicated to the paired region. For the regions: Singapore, Brazil South, and East Asia all customer data is stored and processed in the region.

Troubleshooting machine configuration

For more information about troubleshooting machine configuration, see Azure Policy troubleshooting.

Multiple assignments

At this time, only some built-in Guest Configuration policy definitions support multiple assignments. However, all custom policies support multiple assignments by default if you used the latest version of the GuestConfiguration PowerShell module to create Guest Configuration packages and policies.

Following is the list of built-in Guest Configuration policy definitions that support multiple assignments:

ID DisplayName
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/5fe81c49-16b6-4870-9cee-45d13bf902ce Local authentication methods should be disabled on Windows Servers
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/fad40cac-a972-4db0-b204-f1b15cced89a Local authentication methods should be disabled on Linux machines
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/f40c7c00-b4e3-4068-a315-5fe81347a904 [Preview]: Add user-assigned managed identity to enable Guest Configuration assignments on virtual machines
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/63594bb8-43bb-4bf0-bbf8-c67e5c28cb65 [Preview]: Linux machines should meet STIG compliance requirement for Azure compute
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/50c52fc9-cb21-4d99-9031-d6a0c613361c [Preview]: Windows machines should meet STIG compliance requirements for Azure compute
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/e79ffbda-ff85-465d-ab8e-7e58a557660f [Preview]: Linux machines with OMI installed should have version 1.6.8-1 or later
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/934345e1-4dfb-4c70-90d7-41990dc9608b Audit Windows machines that do not contain the specified certificates in Trusted Root
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/08a2f2d2-94b2-4a7b-aa3b-bb3f523ee6fd Audit Windows machines on which the DSC configuration is not compliant
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/c648fbbb-591c-4acd-b465-ce9b176ca173 Audit Windows machines that do not have the specified Windows PowerShell execution policy
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/3e4e2bd5-15a2-4628-b3e1-58977e9793f3 Audit Windows machines that do not have the specified Windows PowerShell modules installed
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/58c460e9-7573-4bb2-9676-339c2f2486bb Audit Windows machines on which Windows Serial Console is not enabled
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/e6ebf138-3d71-4935-a13b-9c7fdddd94df Audit Windows machines on which the specified services are not installed and 'Running'
/providers/Microsoft.Authorization/policyDefinitions/c633f6a2-7f8b-4d9e-9456-02f0f04f5505 Audit Windows machines that are not set to the specified time zone


Please check this page periodically for updates to the list of built-in Guest Configuration policy definitions that support multiple assignments.

Assignments to Azure management groups

Azure Policy definitions in the category Guest Configuration can be assigned to management groups when the effect is AuditIfNotExists or DeployIfNotExists.

Client log files

The machine configuration extension writes log files to the following locations:


  • Azure VM: C:\ProgramData\GuestConfig\gc_agent_logs\gc_agent.log
  • Arc-enabled server: C:\ProgramData\GuestConfig\arc_policy_logs\gc_agent.log


  • Azure VM: /var/lib/GuestConfig/gc_agent_logs/gc_agent.log
  • Arc-enabled server: /var/lib/GuestConfig/arc_policy_logs/gc_agent.log

Collecting logs remotely

The first step in troubleshooting machine configurations or modules should be to use the cmdlets following the steps in How to test machine configuration package artifacts. If that isn't successful, collecting client logs can help diagnose issues.


Capture information from log files using Azure VM Run Command, the following example PowerShell script can be helpful.

$linesToIncludeBeforeMatch = 0
$linesToIncludeAfterMatch = 10
$logPath = 'C:\ProgramData\GuestConfig\gc_agent_logs\gc_agent.log'
Select-String -Path $logPath -pattern 'DSCEngine','DSCManagedEngine' -CaseSensitive -Context $linesToIncludeBeforeMatch,$linesToIncludeAfterMatch | Select-Object -Last 10


Capture information from log files using Azure VM Run Command, the following example Bash script can be helpful.

egrep -B $linesToIncludeBeforeMatch -A $linesToIncludeAfterMatch 'DSCEngine|DSCManagedEngine' $logPath | tail

Agent files

The machine configuration agent downloads content packages to a machine and extracts the contents. To verify what content has been downloaded and stored, view the folder locations given below.

Windows: c:\programdata\guestconfig\configuration

Linux: /var/lib/GuestConfig/Configuration

Open-source nxtools module functionality

A new open-source nxtools module has been released to help make managing Linux systems easier for PowerShell users.

The module will help in managing common tasks such as these:

  • User and group management
  • File system operations (changing mode, owner, listing, set/replace content)
  • Service management (start, stop, restart, remove, add)
  • Archive operations (compress, extract)
  • Package management (list, search, install, uninstall packages)

The module includes class-based DSC resources for Linux, as well as built-in machine-configuration packages.

To provide feedback about this functionality, open an issue on the documentation. We currently don't accept PRs for this project, and support is best effort.

Machine configuration samples

Machine configuration built-in policy samples are available in the following locations:

Next steps