This course is a part of the AZ-400 path for the AZ-400: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions certification to become a Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert.
In this course you will be prepared to use Azure Monitor, including Application Insights and Log Analytics to monitor and optimize your web applications.
Also in this course, Microsoft Azure DevOps Engineer: Optimize Feedback Mechanisms, you’ll learn how to monitor and optimize your web applications. First, you’ll learn how to use Application Insights and Log Analytics. Next, you’ll explore analyzing alerts and telemetry data. Finally, you’ll discover how to perform tuning to reduce noise. When you’re finished with this course, you’ll have the foundational knowledge of how to use Azure Monitor to optimize feedback mechanisms and improve your web application.
These days the growth of Kubernetes is on fire! Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Microsoft’s managed Kubernetes offering is one of the fastest-growing products in the Azure portfolio of cloud services with no signs of slowing down. For some time me and two fellow Microsoft MVPs Janaka Rangama (@JanakaRangama) and Ned Bellavance (@Ned1313) have been working hard on an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) book. We are excited that the book has been finished and is currently in production. The publisher Apress plans to publish it on December 28th, 2019.
Besides my co-authors, we had additional rock stars to help with this project. For the Tech Review, we had the honor to work with Mike Pfeiffer (@mike_pfeiffer) Microsoft MVP, Author, Speaker, CloudSkills.fm podcast and Keiko Harada (@keikomsft) Senior Program Manager – Azure Compute – Containers. Shout out to them and huge thanks for being a part of this!
We also had the honor of the foreword being written by Brendan Burns (@brendandburns) Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft and co-founder of Kubernetes. A shout out to him and a world of thanks for taking the time to help with this project!
In this book, we take a journey inside Docker containers, container registries, Kubernetes architecture, Kubernetes components, and core Kubectl commands. We then dive into topics around Azure Container Registry, Rancher for Kubernetes management, deep dive into AKS, package management with HELM, and using AKS in CI/CD with Azure DevOps. The goal of this book is to give the reader just enough theory and lots of practical straightforward knowledge needed to start running your own AKS cluster.
For anyone looking to work with Azure Kubernetes Service or already working with it, this book is for you! We hope you get a copy and it becomes a great tool you can use on your Kubernetes journey.
BITCon is back in Minnesota this year. The event is shaping up to be another great one! This year BIT locked in the mayor of Minneapolis to keynote one of the days!
The conference also has a new website. The new website is https://bitcon.tech. It will be held at multple locations again through Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
I have the honor to speak at the event again. I will be giving one session and will potentially sit on a panel.
Here is the information on my session:
When: Friday, October 11 • 1:45pm – 3:00pm
Title: Azure DevOps + VS Code + Teams = Perfect Match
Description: For anyone getting started with or already working with Azure managing your cloud environments through Infrastructure as Code (IaC) with ARM Templates at some point is guaranteed.
There are many extensions available to optimize VS Code for an enhanced ARM Template authoring experience. Discover how to integrate your Azure DevOps CI/CD pipeline with Teams for enhanced collaboration across your DevOps team. Get updates directly in a Teams channel for commits, pull requests, and learn how to work with an Azure DevOps Kanban board directly from Teams.
Come to this session and see why Azure DevOps + VS Code + Teams = Perfect Match.
What you will learn:
About the various ARM Template related extensions in VS Code
How to integrate Microsoft Teams with Azure DevOps
A few months back I blogged about Azure DevOps and Teams intergration here. It was a popular blog so I decided to turn this into a presentation with demos!
In my day to day I do cloud foundations work helping companies with their Azure governance and management. On projects we will develop a tagging strategy. A tagging strategy is only good if it is actually used. One way to ensure that tags are used is by using Azure Policy to require tags on resource groups or resources.
In the past I have used the deny effect in an Azure Policy to require tags upon resource creation. I basically use the template as previously blogged about here: http://www.buchatech.com/2019/03/requiring-many-tags-on-resource-groups-via-azure-policy. This policy works but can be a problem because the error that is given when denied during deployment is not clear about what tags are required. Also, folks think it is a pain and slows down the provisioning process.
I set out to require tags using a different method. The idea was to use the effect append vs deny so that resources without the proper tags would be flagged as non-compliant and the policy would add the required tags with generic values. Someone from the cloud team could then go put in the proper values for the tags bringing the resources into compliance. Th end result was that the effect append does work remediating with a single tag but falls down when trying to remediate using multiple tags.
I discovered that this behavior was intended and that the append effect only supports one remediation action (i.e. one tag). On 9-20-19 Microsoft updated the modify effect so that Modify can handle multiple ‘operations’ – where each operation specifies what needs to be remediated.
Now let’s walk through using the modify effect in an Azure Policy to add multiple tags on a resource group.
You will need to start off by coding your Azure Policy definition template. There are three important parts you need to ensure you have in template. You need to have modify effect for the proper effect, roleDefinitionIds as this is the role that will be used by the managed identity set as contributor, and operations to tell Azure policy what to do when remediation out of compliance resources.
It has been a while since presenting on Azure Stack. On June 26th I will be presenting on “Azure Stack 101 in 45 minutes” at an Azure Virtual Day Camp for a D365 user group. Here is a link to the main site:
In July I will be co-presenting with Kyle Weeks at the Minnesota Azure User Group on Azure Management. The session is titled “Scale Matters: Policy + Azure Management Groups”. Come check out this session if you want to go through what Azure Management Groups are, how they scale to any complexity and the best part… how to do this with policy configurations + Azure blueprints + RBAC. Here is a link to register for the meeting:
I recently read a Career Advice for IT professionals in 2019 article and was reminded again by a friend and fellow MVP’s on his blog that “Change is always constant in IT.
Part of being an IT professional is keeping an eye on and ramping up on new technology. Change in IT is constant and it is critical to explore new technology so you can bring innovation to your organization and ensure you are ready if the business decides they want to use a specific technology to gain an edge in the market.
With all the excitement around Blockchain, I decided to spend time ramping up on Azure’s Blockchain technology specifically Azure Blockchain Workbench. Azure Blockchain Workbench is a way for developers and IT pros to get A blockchain network up and running quickly.
Once Azure Blockchain Workbench is up and running IT pros can administrator the network and developers can dive right into building blockchain apps. Most people that have heard of blockchain are familiar with cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Most people don’t know of or associate blockchain with smart contracts. Azure Blockchain Workbench powers smart contract technology. A smart contract is a self-executing contract between two or more parties involved in a transaction. Getting started with Blockchain can seem intimidating but with Azure Blockchain Workbench it is not hard to get started. I wrote a white paper that you can use to get started and takes you beyond cryptocurrency into the world of smart contracts using Azure Blockchain Workbench.
The white paper covers the following:
Explorers blockchain beyond cryptocurrency
Has an in-depth overview of Ethereum and smart contracts
Helps identify when and what to use blockchain for?
Almost every day when you go to a news website, a news program on the radio or news on the TV you can expect to hear some mention of Cryptocurrency and increasingly something about Blockchain.
Blockchain has a strong buzz and yet it is still misunderstood by many. It is an exciting time for technology and blockchain is one of the many reasons why. Blockchain is a public distributed digital ledger. Transactions between parties are processed in an efficient, verifiable and immutable way using cryptography. Transactions are tracked without a central entity such as a bank processing and keeping a record of the transactions. The ledger in a Blockchain is distributed across many nodes in the Blockchain network. Each time a transaction occurs the ledger is reconciled across all the nodes.
The Blockchain you typically
hear about is related to some cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, or
Ripple. Blockchain goes way beyond this and is a technology that is being
widely explored in use by some enterprises. Here are some examples of
Blockchain in use within the enterprise. Microsoft’s Xbox uses Blockchain to
deliver royalty statements to game publishers, FedEx uses Blockchain for
storing shipping records, and 3M is using Blockchain for a new
label-as-a-service concept. The commonality those examples is that they are
using Blockchain smart contract technology.
A smart contract is a self-executing contract between two or more parties involved in a transaction. A smart contract holds each party in the transaction responsible without the need for a third-party authority. Smart contracts are essentially code running on top of a blockchain that are digitally facilitated, verified, and auto-enforced under the set of terms laid out within the contract.
Opposite of Blockchain used
for cryptocurrency Blockchain used for smart contracts enable more complex
scenarios beyond the exchange of digital currency. To illustrate an example of
a Blockchain smart contract think about being able to buy and sell cars without
a DMV processing the exchange of titles but instead the exchange of the title
being verified and transferred digitally.
In today’s fast-moving world
of technology, it is important to be able to take your solution from idea to
MVP aka 0 to 60 as fast as possible. That is the goal of the Azure Blockchain
Workbench (ABW). As shown in the following image with ABW you can literally go
from idea>consortium blockchain network>code/use pre-built blockchain
app>Blockchain app ready to use in a short amount of time.
When I first started
with Blockchain I was able to go from nothing to a fully functional Blockchain
app in a couple of hours using ABW. As seen in the previous image ABW is made
up of a combination of Azure services and capabilities. The main services
An App Service Plan with two web apps and two web APIs
An Application Insights instance
An Event Grid Topic
A couple of Key Vaults
A Service Bus Namespace
A SQL Server with a SQL Databases
A couple of Azure Storage accounts
Two Virtual Machine scale sets that consist of the ledger
nodes and workbench microservices
A couple of virtual Network
resource groups that contain Load Balancers, Network Security Groups, Public IP
Address, and Virtual Network, VNet peering, and Subnets
Other components leveraged by
ABW are Azure Active Directory for identity, Azure Monitor (optional), and log
analytics workspace for logging (deployed with Azure Monitor), a mobile app for
both iOS and Android along with a REST-based gateway service API to integrate
to blockchain apps. Workbench provides the infrastructure needed to build and
deploy blockchain applications so when you deploy ABW it includes everything
you need. As of now ABW only supports Ethereum as its target blockchain.
Microsoft has plans to add Hyperledger and Corda Blockchains in the future.
ABW is designed to make it
easy for developers to bring Blockchain to the enterprise. ABW is deployed in
the Azure Portal via a solution template. You can deploy Ethereum or attach to
an existing one. After the Blockchain Workbench is deployed developers have the
option to either create a Blockchain app or use one of the Applications
and Smart Contract Samples from a repository maintained by
These Blockchain apps consist of a configuration metadata and smart contract. The configuration metadata file is in JSON format and determines the multi-party workflow the smart contract is in a language named Solidity and determines the business logic of the Blockchain application itself. The configuration and smart contract together make up the Blockchain application user experience. The Applications and Smart Contract Samples can be used as is to take Blockchain for a test run or can be modified to fit an organization’s specific need. As an example, some of the information you can modify with the configuration is application name, display name, state, and application roles.
As you can see it is relatively easy to get a Blockchain application up and going. Another real benefit to running a Blockchain application on Azure is the integration points with many of the other services available on Azure. Here are a few examples. ABW writes a copy of the Blockchains on-chain data from the Blockchain distributed ledgers to an off-chain SQL database. Developers can connect to this database to work with the Blockchain data for any number of scenarios one of them could be reporting in Power BI. The Workbench has a REST API, Service Bus, IoT Hub, and Event Grid that could be used for integration with other technology such as IoT devices, other systems, and Azure Streaming Analytics to further expand the possibilities. With the Blockchain workbench developers also have access to one of Azures automation tools called Logic Apps opening the door to a world of further automation scenarios.
There is much more to the Azure Blockchain Workbench then can be covered in a single blog. The main point of this post is to show how a developer can go from 0 to 60 within a short amount of time with minimal effort to stand up the scaffolding needed to support a Blockchain app. For a deeper dive into the Azure Workbench it is recommended to download my Blockchain Beyond Cryptocurrency whitepaper once it is released. Thanks for reading. To get started with the Azure Blockchain Workbench visit this link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/blockchain-workbench
CloudSkills.fm is a podcast by fellow Microsoft MVP Mike Pfeiffer and veteran in the tech space with 5 books under his belt and numerous courses on Pluralsight. The podcast can be found here: cloudskills.fm. Mike is an all around good guy and I was honored to be a featured guest on one of his podcast episodes. The podcast is weekly with technical tips and career advice for people working in the cloud computing industry. The podcast is geared for developers, IT pros, those making move into cloud.
On this episode Mike
and I talked about managing both the technical and non-technical aspects of
your career in the cloud computing industry. We also discuss DevOps stuff
around Docker, Azure Kubernetes Service, Terraform and cloud stuff around Azure
management including my 5 points to success with cloud. You can listen to the
I’m very excited
Opsgility recently published a new Azure course by me titled: “Deploy and
Configure Infrastructure”. This course is part of the AZ 300 certification
learning path for Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies. More about the AZ 300
certification can be found here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-az-300.aspx.
The course is over 4 hours of Azure content!
Description of the course:
In the course learn
how to analyze resource utilization and consumption, create and configure
storage accounts, create and configure a VM for Windows and Linux, create
connectivity between virtual networks, implement and manage virtual networking,
manage Azure Active Directory, and implement and manage hybrid identities.
Lately I have been hearing a lot about a solution named Rancher in the Kubernetes space. Rancher is an open source Kubernetes Multi-Cluster Operations and Workload Management solution. You can learn more about Rancher here: https://www.rancher.com.
In short you can use
Rancher to deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters deployed to Azure, AWS, GCP
their managed Kubernetes offerings like GCE, EKS, AKS or even if you rolled
your own. Rancher also integrates with a bunch of 3rd party solutions for
things like authentication such as Active Directory, Azure Active Directory,
Github, and Ping and logging solutions such as Splunk, Elasticsearch, or a
opened up for some Rancher/Kubernetes/Docker training so I decided to go. The
primary focus was on Rancher while also covering some good info on Docker and
Kubernetes. This was really good training with a lot of hands on time, however
there was one problem with the labs. The labs had instructions and setup
scripts ready to go to run Rancher local on your laptop or on AWS via
Terraform. There was nothing for Azure.
I ended up getting
my Rancher environment running on Azure but it would have been nice to have
some scripts or templates ready to go to spin up Rancher on Azure. I did find
some ARM templates to spin up Rancher but they deployed an old version and it
was not clear in the templates on where they could be updated to deploy the new
version of Rancher. I decided to spend some time building out a couple of ARM
templates that can be used to quickly deploy Rancher on Azure and add a
Kubernetes host to Rancher. In the ARM template I pulled together it pulls the
Rancher container from Docker Hub so it will always deploy the latest version.
In this blog post I will spell out the steps to get your Rancher up and running
in under 15 minutes.
The repository consists of ARM templates for deploying Rancher and a host VM for Kubernetes. NOTE: These templates are intended for labs to learn Rancher. They are not intended for use in production.
In the repo ARM Template #1 named RancherNode.JSON will deploy an Ubuntu VM with Docker and the latest version of Rancher (https://hub.docker.com/r/rancher/rancher) from Docker Hub. ARM Template #2 named RancherHost.JSON will deploy an Ubuntu VM with Docker to be used as a Kubernetes host in Rancher.
RancherNode.JSON ARM template to your Azure subscription through “Template
Deployment” or other deployment method. You will be prompted for the
following info shown in the screenshot:
RancherHost.JSON ARM template to your Azure subscription through “Template
Deployment” or other deployment method. Note that that should deploy this
into the same Resource Group that you deployed the Rancher Node ARM template
into. You will be prompted for the following info shown in the screenshot:
After the Rancher
Node and Rancher Host ARM templates are deployed you should see the following
resources in the new Resource Group:
Next navigate the
Rancher portal in the web browser. The URL is the DNS name of the Rancher Node
VM. You can find the DNS name by clicking on the Rancher Node VM in the Azure
portal on the overview page. Here is an example of the URL:
The Rancher portal
will prompt you to set a password. This is shown in the following screenshot.
After setting the
password the Rancher portal will prompt you for the correct Rancher Server URL.
This will automatically be the Rancher Node VM DNS name. Click Save URL.
You will then be
logged into the Rancher portal. You will see the cluster page. From here you
will want to add a cluster. Doing this is how you add a new Kubernetes cluster
to Rancher. In this post I will show you how to add a cluster to the Rancher
Host VM. When it’s all said and done Rancher will have successfully deployed
Kubernetes to the Rancher Host VM. Note that you could add a managed Kubernetes
such as AKS but we won’t do that in this blog. I will save that for a future
Click on Add Cluster
Under “From my
own existing nodes” Click on custom, give the cluster a name and click
Next check all the
boxes for the Node Options since all the roles will be on a single Kubernetes
cluster. Copy the code shown at the bottom of the page, click done and run the
code on the Rancher Host.
In order to run the
code on the Rancher Host you need to SSH in and run it from there. To do this
follow these steps:
In the Azure Portal, from within the resource group click on the Rancher Host VM.
On the Overview page click on Connect.
Copy “ssh email@example.com” from the Connect to virtual machine pop up screen.
Open a terminal in either Azure cloud shell or with something like a terminal via VS Code and past the “ssh firstname.lastname@example.org” in.
Running the code
will look like this:
When done you can
run Docker PS to see that the Rancher agent containers are running.
In the Rancher
portal under clusters you will see the Rancher host being provisioned
The status will
change as Kubernetes is deployed.
Once it’s done
provisioning you will see your Kubernetes cluster as Active.
From here you can
see a bunch of info about your new Kubernetes cluster. Also notice that you
could even launch Kubectl right from hereand start running commands! Take some
time to click around to see all the familiar stuff you are used to working with
in Kubernetes. This is pretty cool and simplifies the management experience for
If you want to add
more nodes or need the configuration code again just click the ellipsis button
In Edit Cluster you
can change the cluster name, get and change settings and copy the code to add
more VMs to the cluster.
That’s the end of
this post. Thanks for reading. Check back for more Azure, Kubernetes, and
Rancher blog posts.