Category: PowerShell

Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell

Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell

There are multiple ways to interact and manage resources in Microsoft Azure. You can use the Azure Portal or command line tools like the Azure PowerShell module or the Azure CLI, which you can install on your local machine. However, to set up a cloud management workstation for administrators and developers can be quite a lot of work. Especially if you have multiple machines, keeping consistency between these machines can be challenging. Another challenge is keeping the environment secure and all the tools up to date. This any many more things are addressed by the Cloud Shell.

Cloud Shell is not brand new, Microsoft announced Cloud Shell at Build 2017. This blog post is about how you can master Azure with Cloud Shell and to give you an overview about the possibilities of Cloud Shell.

What is Cloud Shell

Cloud Shell Azure Portal

Cloud Shell offers a browser-accessible, pre-configured shell experience for managing Azure resources without the overhead of installing, versioning, and maintaining a machine yourself. Azure Cloud Shell is assigned per unique user account and automatically authenticated with each session. This makes it a private and secure environment.

You get a modern web-based command line experience which can be accessed from several end points like the Azure Portal, shell.azure.com and the Azure mobile app, Visual Studio Code or directly in the Azure docs.

In the backend Azure uses containers and automatically attaches an Azure File Share to the container. You can store the data on it, so your data is persistent. This persist your data across different Cloud Shell sessions.

Cloud Shell Bash and PowerShell

You can choose your preferred shell experience. Cloud Shell supports Bash and PowerShell and included your favorite third party tools and common tools and languages. If something like a module is missing, you can simply add it.



Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will both be out of extended support within the  next 12 months (detailed dates below). This means if you have these versions, you’ll need to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server or Windows Server or buy Extended Support soon to maintain support and receive security updates and fixes. Buying Extended Support is not cheap. Customers with active Software Assurance or subscription licenses can purchase Extended Security Updates annually for 75 percent of the full license cost of the latest version of SQL Server or Windows Server. A lot of customer should start migrating to newer versions of these products to avoid these extra costs.

Extended Support dates

  • Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.
  • Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020.

However, in mid-2018 Microsoft announced a new option for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 End of Support. Customers running 2008 or 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server in Azure virtual machines will get Extended Security Updates for free. This will give customers some extra time to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. Or even better, to Azure PaaS and serverless computing like Azure Functions.

The great thing about this, is that you can also combine this with your Azure Hybrid benefits, to use your SQL Server and Windows Server on Azure with your on-premise licenses.

Extended Security Updates on Azure Stack

If you are thinking to migrate to the cloud, this new option will bring down costs for you. However, not everyone is fully ready to move all their servers to the public cloud. You might still need or want to run some servers on-premise in your datacenter. This will leave you with buying Extended Support or what a lot of people don’t know, you can also run your SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack and get Extended Security Updates for free, since it is basically Azure!

This is great, especially since Azure Stack also comes with great IaaS capabilities. And if you are thinking about using Azure in the mid-term, Azure Stack provides you with Azure capabilities, but still allows you to stay in your own datacenter.



Azure Stack Tenant Portal

Considerations for deploying apps and services on Azure Stack

I work with a couple of customers on different Azure Stack projects. One of the main topics that always comes up, is what are the differences between Azure and Azure Stack when deploying applications and services. Obviously there are the high level differences, which I have written about it here: Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter. However, there are also small differences in features and services between Azure and Azure Stack. These differences can block customers form deploying and automating workloads. I tried to summarize the most common differences and considerations you should know, in a single blog post.

High-level differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Some of the high-level differences between the to platforms are:

  • An Azure Stack does not have the same SLA and physical security in place, since the Azure Stack does not run in a Microsoft operated location.
  • Azure Stack provides only a subset of the Azure services and features.
  • Azure Stack is not operated by Microsoft. Azure Stack backend is operated by the operators in your company or by a service provider.
  • The Azure Stack operator, which can be your company or a service provider, chooses which services, features and marketplace items he wants to make available on Azure Stack.
  • Azure Stack comes with its own portal. It has the same look and feel, but it will be another URL and endpoints for the portal as well as for the APIs.
  • Azure Stack will have different PowerShell and API versions available. If you are building a hybrid cloud app, which should work on Azure and Azure Stack, make sure you are using the versions supported by Azure Stack.

Considerations and differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Obviously, there is much more to this. I put a list of links together, where you can find the differences between Azure and Azure Stack and more considerations you should think of when deploying on Azure Stack.

Setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment

Install Azure Stack PowerShell

To connect to Azure Stack using PowerShell, Visual Studio, the Azure CLI or other Azure Stack tooling, you have to setup a few things. I recommend that you read my blog post about how to setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment. This is not only helpful for operators, but also for people who want to deploy and develop solutions on Azure Stack.

Check API versions available on Azure Stack

Azure Stack API Verions PowerShell

If you are an Azure Stack tenant and you want to check which API versions are available on your Azure Stack, you can run the following PowerShell command against Azure Stack. This does not need any administrator rights, you will just need a tenant account on Azure Stack to access it. If your Azure Stack is running at a service provider, it is very likely that you won’t have access to the Administrator portal to check the version.

Check Azure Stack version release notes

Azure Stack Version Release Notes

Another good thing to check if you are running in any issues deploying applications or services, is to check the Azure Stack version release notes. They document very well the new features added, fixed as well as known issues with that release.

You can find the links to the latest Azure Stack release notes here. I also recommend that you read my article about Updating Azure Stack.

I hope this gives you a quick overview and help you to successfully deploy applications and services on Azure Stack. You can find most of this information on the documentation site, but I decided to consolidate this information in one post.



WLinux WSL Setup Wizard for Windows 10

WLinux – The best WSL for Windows 10

A couple of Windows 10 releases back, Microsoft delivered the Windows Subsystem for Linux. The Windows Subsystem for Linux allows you to run Linux distros, like Ubuntu, Debian, Suse and others, on Windows 10. Around the Microsoft Ignite 2018 timeframe another distro was released to the Windows Store called WLinux. WLinux is a Linux environment for Windows 10 built on work by Microsoft Research and the Debian project. WLinux is a custom Linux distro built from Debian specifically for use on the WSL. While other distros are available for WSL, WLinux is the first optimized for use by users of WSL for WSL. It helps developer run Linux tooling on Windows and integrates into perfectly into Windows.

WLinux Setup

WLinux WSL Setup Wizard for Windows 10

WLinux comes with a custom setup, to prepare your environment in a very simple and easy wizard. It lets you setup some predefined software and settings and configure integration into Windows.

WLinux WSL Docker Bridge to Windows

WLinux Docker Bridge

If you want to run Docker in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, you can bring the Docker Client to the Windows Docker Engine. This allows you to run Docker directly from WSL and from PowerShell at the same time.

Microsoft Tooling

WLinux Installing Azure CLI

Of course WLinux brings the usual Linux development tools and easy setup for Ruby, NodeJS, Go, Java, Python, editors like emacs and even different shells. You can also easily add Microsoft tooling by adding Azure CLI, PowerShell Core and even Visual Studio Code.

Windows Explorer Integration and WSL Utilities (wslu)

It easily lets you to setup Windows Explorer integration and brings wslu, a collection of utilities for WSL, preinstalled. Wslu bringt the following features to the WSL

  • wslusc This is a WSL shortcut creator to create a shortcut on your Windows 10 Desktop.
  • wslsys This is a WSL system information printer to print out some basic system information.
  • wslfetch This is a WSL Screenshoot Information Tool to print information in an elegant way.
  • wslupath This is a WSL Windows path Converter that can convert Windows path to other styles of path.
  • wslview This is a fake WSL browser that can help you open link in default Windows browser.

WSLfetch

If you want to know more about WLinux, check out the website Whitewater Foundry.

Or download WLinux from the Microsoft Store.

You can also contribute on the project on GitHub.



netsh wireless password

Show Wireless Network Password on Windows 10

Today I have a simple blog post, which is more less just a note for myself. If you are join your Windows 10 device to a Wireless Network and you can’t remember the Wireless Password or Key you can recover this using the netsh command. Simply run this command to show the network key of the wireless network:

To list the wireless networks you have access to, you can use the following command:



Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn – A Great Place To Learn!

In a world with always evolving and fast changing technology, it can be hard to keep up with the latest innovation. However, in our just we need to keep learning and be more efficient. It can be difficult to find the right resources and the right content. This is why Microsoft launched Microsoft Learn, a new platform to learn technology and keep up with the fast pace of our industry.

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft recently switch the certification programs for Azure to role-based certifications, for example Azure Administrators, Azure Developers and Azure Architects. The new Microsoft Learn platform also gives you a training and modules based on your role selection.

Microsoft Learn Guide

Microsoft Learn Guide

The platform has a guided experience, explaining you the technology with text, videos, control questions, but also with hands-on training using sandboxes in Azure for free.

Microsoft Learn Sandbox and Hands-on

Microsoft Learn Sandbox

You cannot only read and watch videos, you also have a hands-on expierence. You can get a sandbox environment to live try code or even the portal experience to work with Azure or other Microsoft technology. In this example, I have the Microsoft Learn Guide on one site and Azure Cloud Shell on the other. I don’t even need to jump out of the learning experience, I just simply can try out the code.

Get started with Microsoft Learn

The Microsoft Learning platform is much more than I just explained. And Microsoft is working hard on adding even more content for more products and services to the page. If you want to get startet with Azure Certifications or just Azure in general, Microsoft Learn is the place to be!

And the best thing, it is free. You get amazing content guide and explained with labs to even try it out by yourself. The only thing you need is time and the willingness to learn. To try it out, just visit the Microsoft Learn homepage and let me know what you think!



Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate

Passed Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator

After the announcement of the new Microsoft Azure certifications at Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas, I decided to take the beta exam which was available to upgrade my current Azure certifications. Since I had already passed Exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, I needed exam AZ-102 to do the transition. Today I got confirmation that I passed the Microsoft exam AZ-102 and earned the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate certification.

I already took the new available beta Exam for the Microsoft Certified Azure Architect at Microsoft Ignite, however for the results I still need to wait a bit.

What is Exam AZ-102 Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

The new certifications are based on different job roles, like Azure Administrator, Azure Developer and Azure Architect. You can read more about the new Azure Certifications here on my blog.

Earning Azure Administrator Associate certification demonstrates understanding of services across the IT lifecycle, and ability to take requests for infrastructure services, applications, and environments. Candidates for this certification are typically Azure Administrators who manage cloud services spanning storage, security, networking, and compute cloud capabilities. They recommend services to use for optimal performance and scale, as well as provision, size, monitor, and adjust resources.

This is great news to start in the day while I am flying to a customer in Paris today for some more Azure work.

Exam Preparation

The skills measured in AZ-102 are a mix from AZ-100 and AZ-101 and will focus on Azure Infrastructure and deployment, Azure Integration and Azure Security.

I often get asked how I prepared for exams such as this. Obviously it makes sense to certify the knowledge you already have. I usually use Microsoft free online courses on Channel 9, Virtual Academy and now the new Microsoft Learn. However, I realized that also the Azure Documentation is a great resource to learn. I recommend you check the skills needed for the exam, in this case AZ-102 and read the specific Azure Documentation for these topics, and also try it out.