A comprehensive guide to Azure Bicep: structure and use

In our time, cloud infrastructure is an inseparable part of IT environments, and with its Azure service Microsoft ranks as one of the most popular public cloud providers for business. Popular as cloud solutions may be, however, the task of configuring and managing cloud-based resources can often prove complex and time-consuming. Fortunately, Microsoft has also created Azure Bicep, a dedicated service aimed at making the process much easier.

Read on to learn more about the Azure Bicep language and its key functions, advantages and best deployment practices.

A comprehensive guide to Azure Bicep: structure and use

What is Azure Bicep?

Azure Bicep is a declarative language that will help you create and modify your Azure cloud resources.

Building upon JSON and Azure ARM (Azure Resource Manager) templates, it allows programmers and admins to create advanced scripts and automate the process of cloud resource configuration, while being very clear and easy to understand.

Key features

Bicep has several key features that make it particularly attractive for programmers and admins:

  • Clarity and simplicity: Bicep is clearer than JSON or other declarative languages, which means it is easier to understand and maintain;
  • Extensibility: Bicep supports extensibility via “modules”, which makes an extensive cloud environment easier to manage;
  • Integration with Azure: Bicep is fully integrated with the Azure platform, which facilitates resource deployment and management;
  • Easy access: Bicep is supported by various platforms, such as Windows, Linux and macOS, as well as many code editors, to ensure greater flexibility;
  • Declarativity: Bicep is a declarative language, which means code elements may appear in any order;
  • Universality: The same Bicep code can be used in many cloud environments at the same time.

As you can see, Azure Bicep can considerably improve your Azure cloud resource configuration and management processes.

Bicep templates

Bicep templates are a basic element of the IaC practice based on Azure Bicep. They are text files with a bicep extension, containing declarative definitions of cloud resources or Azure Bicep modules. In comparison with traditional scripts, Bicep templates are clearer and easier to maintain, and they allow programmers and admins to define resources in a clear and consistent manner. 

Before you start using Azure Bicep, it is worth trying to understand the structure of the language. To grasp how basic templates work, you can start by creating simple resources, such as resource groups.

Bicep template example

resource LocalResourceName 'Microsoft.Resources/resourceGroups@2022-09-01' = { 
   name: 'TestResourceGroup' 
   location: 'NorthEurope' 

Aboce code shows a simple example of a resource declaration in Azure Bicep. Here is an explanation of its structure:

  • Resource – a marker that indicates a resource declaration (an alternative marker would be “module”, used to indicate a declaration of an Azure Bicep module);
  • LocalResourceName – the local name in the bicep file (not available in a text environment);
  • Microsoft.Resources/resourceGroups@2022-09-01 – information about the type of resource and the API version. In this case, what is declared is a resource group, or a basic “container” of resources in the Azure infrastructure;
  • Name – information about the name given to the resource when it is created;
  • Location – information about where exactly the resource is to be created. It refers to Azure Data Centres in given geographical locations.

Bicep as a language

The basic elements of Bicep are resources, variables, parameters and modules. Resources represent different elements of the cloud infrastructure, such as virtual machines, resource groups or storage accounts. Variables and parameters allow the values to be used in templates to be defined. Lastly, modules make it possible to reuse the code and facilitate resource management.

Bicep template deployment

Bicep templates are relatively easy to deploy: Bicep files are simply transferred to the Azure ARM interpreter by running a relevant Azure CLI or Azure Powershell command, e.g.:

  • Azure CLI: az deployment group create
  • Azure Powershell: New-AzResourceGroupDeployment

Importantly, there are also other ways to implement Azure Bicep templates, such as the Azure DevOps service, which enables Git code versioning and allows you to deploy a CI/CD practice in Azure Pipelines.

Azure Bicep good practices

Azure Bicep comes with a set of good practices you should abide by to make sure your cloud resource deployment is effective and secure:

  • Versioning: Remember about the proper versioning of your Bicep templates to be able to track changes and ensure consistency;
  • Testing: Before you deploy Bicep templates, perform tests to make sure they work correctly and comply with all the requirements;
  • Safeguarding: Use appropriate safeguards, such as authentication and permissions, to protect your cloud resources;
  • Monitoring: Monitor your cloud resources so as to quickly respond to possible issues and optimise performance.

Sticking to these practices will help you tap the full potential of Azure Bicep and effectively manage your cloud resources. 

Azure Bicep vs ARM templates

Azure Bicep is often compared with ARM templates, a more traditional method of defining Azure cloud resources. Here are some of the differences between Azure Bicep and ARM templates:

  • Clarity: Bicep has a clearer syntax, so it’s easier to understand and makes code maintenance easier;
  • Easy use: Bicep is easier to learn and use than ARM templates, especially for beginners;
  • Extensibility: Bicep allows easy extensibility via modules and facilitates cloud resource management;
  • Performance: Bicep templates can be deployed faster than ARM templates, which helps save time and resources.

Both services have their own advantages and applications, so understanding the differences between them will help you to pick the solution that best meets your needs

Bicep and (JSON) ARM templates used to create the same Azure resource

Creating a Storage Account with a Bicep template

param location string = resourceGroup().location
param storageAccountName string = 'toylaunch${uniqueString(resourceGroup().id)}'resource

storageAccount 'Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts@2021-06-01' = {
name: storageAccountName
location: location
sku: {
name: 'Standard_LRS'
kind: 'StorageV2'
properties: {
accessTier: 'Hot'

Creating a Storage Account with a JSON template

   "$schema": "https://schema.management.azure.com/schemas/2019-04-01/deploymentTemplate.json#"
   "contentVersion": "", 
   "parameters": { 
     "location": { 
       "type": "string", 
       "defaultValue": "[resourceGroup().location]" 
     "storageAccountName": { 
       "type": "string", 
       "defaultValue": "[format('toylaunch{0}', uniqueString(resourceGroup().id))]" 
   "resources": [ 
       "type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts", 
       "apiVersion": "2021-06-01", 
       "name": "[parameters('storageAccountName')]", 
       "location": "[parameters('location')]", 
       "sku": { 
         "name": "Standard_LRS" 
       "kind": "StorageV2", 
       "properties": { 
         "accessTier": "Hot" 

Azure Bicep applications

Application 1: Creating a cloud-based infrastructure

One of the most common applications of Azure Bicep is to create an environment in the cloud infrastructure. Bicep allows you to define and deploy Azure resources such as virtual machines, storage accounts, virtual networks and so on. 

Application 2: Cloud infrastructure – IaC (Infrastructure as Code) management

Azure Bicep can also be used for infrastructure as code (IaC) management. Traditionally, cloud infrastructure was configured based on ARM scripts and templates (Azure Resource Manager), which did not support IaC technology (i.e., provided no support for modules and were not very universal or easy to share with other users). 

Azure Bicep is clearer and easier to maintain. Most importantly, it supports the IaC methodology thanks to its extensibility, universality and modularity, and allows you to manage your cloud infrastructure, enabling the easy scaling, versioning and sharing of your infrastructure configurations. 

Application 3: Deploying apps in the Azure cloud

Azure Bicep can also be used to deploy apps in the Azure cloud. You can use Bicep files to define resources such as: online apps, Azure SQL accounts or App Service plans. Once you have defined these resources, you can draw on dedicated tools to deploy them as resources in the Azure cloud. This makes the app deployment process more automated and easier to repeat.

Azure Bicep resources and documents

Microsoft offers many resources and documents to help users understand and apply Azure Bicep. Here are some useful sources:

Use these resources to delve deeper into Azure Bicep and easily put it into practice. 

Tapping the potential of Azure Bicep

Azure Bicep is a tool that allows programmers and engineers to define, deploy and manage Azure cloud resources in a simple and scalable manner.

Thanks to Bicep, you can create a cloud-based infrastructure, manage it as a code and deploy apps. Above, we have discussed several applications of Azure Bicep that show just some of benefits of this tool. 

If you would like to deploy Azure Bicep in your organisation, contact us today.