Azure Resource Manager Portal

What is Microsoft Azure Resource Manager?

Cloud solutions are a combination of many single cloud services, like Azure Active Directory, Virtual Machines, Web Services, Databases and Storage Containers and more. With Azure Resource Manager this solutions can be handled as a group. This means, that the resources for the solution can be deployed, updated or deleted in a single, transactional coordinated operation.

All related resources for a solution are hold in a container and that is called a resource group. The resource group could include all of the resources for a solution, or only those resources that are logically grouped together. How to allocate resources to resource groups is a decision based on what makes the most sense for a organization. Those resource groups are the new concept in Azure that serves as the life-cycle boundary for all of its resources.

Azure Resource Manager Templates can be used for different environments such as testing, staging and production. After the deployment of the resources, Azure Resource Manager provides security, auditing, and tagging features to help with the management of the deployed resources.

If you want to find out more of Azure Resource Manager you can have a look at the Azure Resource Manager Overview by Tom FitzMacken here: Azure Resource Manager Overview

The new Azure Resource Manager Portal, or short the Azure Portal, is that all-in-one work-anywhere experience where to manage the above explained resource groups. It was built from the ground up and some time ago know as the Azure Preview Portal and puts now the applications at the center of the experience.

This unified hub radically simplifies building, deploying and managing cloud resources. Imagine a single, easy-to-use console built just for the user, teams and projects. It brings together all of the cloud resources, team members, and life-cycle stages of applications and provides the user with a centralized place to plan, develop, test, provision, deploy, scale, and monitor those applications. This approach can help teams embrace a BizDevOps culture by bringing all three, business, development and operations capabilities and perspectives together in a meaningful way.

The new portal allows each user to transform the portal home page (called the Startboard) into their own customized dashboard. Stay on top of the things that matter most by pinning them to the Startboard. Resize parts to show more or less data. Drill in for all the details. And see insights (and opportunities) across apps and resources.

oops

How to handle reboot and resume or continue in PowerShell with PowerShell Workflow

While developing a Azure Resource Manager Template with a virtual machine resource and custom script extension, I got the problem, that I have to install a software that needs a reboot and after the reboot, the script should continue to configure these software and install other applications.

The recommended way with custom script extensions is, to have one script, that acts like a start script calling other scripts doing the work. This sounds like a workflow. So I thought I can use PowerShell Workflow to handle this and I gave it a try. With PowerShell Workflow we have all mechanism to handle reboot and resume or continue in a PowerShell script, but it’s anyway a little bit tricky, because we have to use a scheduled task which will be triggered “At startup”.

It was not successful to use it in the Azure Resource Manager virtual machine extension because of other reasons (finally I solved it with Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC)), but in general is PowerShell Workflow a fine technology for task which needs a state, because they might be suspended and resumed and could run in parallel. So I will share my experience with you.

First, lets think about the workflow and the single steps called “Activities”. What must be known in advance is, like I wrote already above, is, that PowerShell Workflow is designed to run activities in parallel and that each activity has it’s own workspace. That means, that results i.e. returned to variables cannot be used from the next activity. Each PowerShell command that runs within a workflow is a single, standalone activity. To run activities parallel, the parallel{} keyword must be used and when activites inside the parallel block should run in a defined order the sequence{} keyword must be defined.

For our purpose, following script snipped can be used:

Workflow New-ServerSetup
{
    parallel {
    "1. activity?"
    "2. activity?"
    "3. activity?"
    "4. activity?"
    "..."
    }
    Restart-Computer -Wait 
    "Last activity"
    "or more activities..."
}
# Run the workflow
New-ServerSetup

When this would be executed, the "Last activity" and "or more activities..." would not be processed, because with the Restart-Computer -Wait activity, the New-ServerSetup job will be suspended and will stay in that state after reboot. This can be checked after the server rebooted with

Get-Job
Check status of current jobs

Check status of current jobs

To manually resume the Job, just type

# In our case the job Id is 3. Check if you put the right Id
Resume-Job -Id 3
PowerShell Workflow Suspended, Running, Completed

PowerShell Workflow Suspended, Running, Completed

But, of course, we don’t have the possibility to start the job manually, when it’s executed from the Azure Resource Manager Template virtual machine extension. So, we have to define a scheduled task, resuming the job “at startup”:

Workflow New-ServerSetup
{
    "First activity"
    "Second activity"
    "..."
    Restart-Computer -Wait 
    "Last activity"
    "or more activities..."
    Unregister-ScheduledJob -Name NewServerSetupResume
}
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------
# Use the New-JobTrigger cmdlet to create an "At startup" trigger
# to resume the suspended job.
# Replace <Password> with a password of a administrator
# on the local machine. 
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------
$adm = "Administrator"
$pwd = ConvertTo-SecureString -String "<Password>" -AsPlainText -Force
$cred = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential($adm, $pwd)
$AtStartup = New-JobTrigger -AtStartup
Register-ScheduledJob -Name NewServerSetupResume `
                      -Credential $cred `
                      -Trigger $AtStartup `
                      -ScriptBlock {Import-Module PSWorkflow; `
                          Get-Job -Name NewSrvSetup -State Suspended `
                          | Resume-Job}

# Run the workflow. It is suspended when the computer restarts.
# We give a defined name for the job, to be able to use the name
# in the scheduled task, otherwise the name would be "Job<n>"
New-ServerSetup -JobName NewSrvSetup

To find out more about Windows PowerShell Workflows use:

Get-Help about_workflows
hashtag

How to put single line and multiline or block comments in Windows PowerShell

This seems to be a topic not worth for a post, but there are people looking with google for that.

In PowerShell single line comments start with a hash symbol and everything to the right of the # will be treated as comment and ignored as scripting code.

# This is a comment

Comments in PowerShell spanning multiple lines came with PowerShell 2.0. They start with "<#" and end with "#>". They can be placed anywhere, except inside strings, and anything between them will be treated as a comment.

<# This is a block comment #> Write-Host "Cmdlet after a block comment"
<# Here starts a
   multi line comment
#>
Write-Host "Cmdlet after a multi-line comment"

But there is more about comments. They can be used from the Get-Help cmdlet when a help keyword is given. This is then called comment-based help. This has to appear in one of three locations when they are used for functions:

  • At the beginning of the function body.
  • At the end of the function body.
  • Before the Function keyword. There cannot be more than one blank line between the last line of the function help and the Function keyword.

When used for scripts, the comments can appear in one of the following two locations in the script:

  • At the beginning of the script file. Script help can be preceded in the script only by comments and blank lines.
  • At the end of the script file. However, if the script is signed, place Comment-based help at the beginning of the script file. The end of the script is occupied by the signature block.
  • If the first item in the script body (after the help) is a function declaration, there must be at least two blank lines between the end of the script help and the function declaration. Otherwise, the help is interpreted as being help for the function, not help for the script.

To find out more, use:

Get-Help about_comment
troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Azure Resource Manager Virtual Machine Extensions

Troubleshooting can be difficult, specially when one don’t know where to find corresponding log files. While I developed a Azure Resource Manager Template, I want to add a Virtual Machine Desired State Configuration Extension and a Virtual Machine Custom Script Extension.

When I tried to deploy the template I got that error:

 
Resource Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines/extensions 'vm01/script4configvm' failed with message 'The resource operation completed with terminal provisioning state 'Failed'.'

Now was the question, where to find more Infos about that. While searching in Azure Resource Manager Portal, I found it:

Troubleshooting VM extensions in Azure Resource Manager Portal

Troubleshooting VM extensions in Azure Resource Manager Portal

At the Azure Resource Manager Portal select the virtual machine resource to troubleshoot and click on “All settings”. On the “Settings” panel click on “Extensions”. In “Extensions” select the extension to troubleshoot and then in the upcoming pane on the right side click “View detailed status”.

This will open a JSON file containing the complete log of the provisioning process.

How to find existing Windows features for Desired State Configuration (DSC)?

Using Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) is the preferred way to configure a Windows Server. The only problem when starting with DSC is, to find out the names of the build in configuration entries, in special the Windows Features.

To get help with that you can use:

Get-DscResource

This will show a list with the build in DSC Resources:

Get-DscResource Result

Get-DscResource Result

To find out more about the Windows Feature type:

Get-WindowsFeature

Which information and variables can I reference in Windows PowerShell?

When creating scripts in Windows PowerShell, there is quickly the need for information about the environment, like the folder from which the script was executed or the version of Windows PowerShell that is running in the current session.

The solution for that are so called “automatic variables”, which are created and maintained by Windows PowerShell.

To find out more about that and which variables exists, use:

Get-Help automatic_variable

Windows PowerShell '#Requires' Statement

The #Requires is a statement that prevents the script or module to run if the prerequisites defined with the requirement isn’t met. The statement can appear on any line in a script but must be the first item on a line. A script can include more than one #Requires statement.

To find out which parameters can be used, type

Get-Help about_requires

in the Windows PowerShell Console.

A cloud for everyone on every device.

Microsoft unveils Azure tweaks before partner conference

SAN FRANCISCO – Microsoft hopes to steer attention away from this week’s layoff news with the kickoff of its Worldwide Partner Conference July 12-16 in Orlando.

While CEO Satya Nadella delivers the keynote July 13, he may have to briefly address the topic of 7,800 Nokia employees who will be let go as the software giant continues to untangle itself from that acquisition. But the focus will be on urging the company’s army of global resellers to guide customers toward its growing cloud business, Azure.

To that end, Microsoft announced Friday that its Power BI business analytics service would be coming out of beta on July 24. The service promises to allow improved, streamlined access to cloud-based data.

“We believe Power BI is, by a very wide margin, the most powerful business analytics SaaS service,” wrote James Phillips, vice president of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Products Group, in a blog post. “And yet even the most non-technical of business users can sign up in five seconds, and gain insights from their business data in less than five minutes with no assistance, from anyone.”

The company promises to unveil other Azure improvements during the conference, which also will feature talks by COO Kevin Turner as well as inspirational speeches by the likes of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. The two mountain climbers recently completed a daunting ascent of one of El Capitan’s toughest routes – the Dawn Wall – this past January in Yosemite National Park.

Original News: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/07/10/microsoft-unveils-azure-tweaks-before-partner-conference/29999107/