Azure tagged posts

Azure Stack SQL RP – Need Azure PowerShell with version 1.2.9 Error

I ran into this error when installing the Azure Stack SQL RP on the Azure Stack Development Kit:

Azure Powershell Module with 1.2.10 version found. Need Azure Powershell with version 1.2.9. Please uninstall the “current version and rerun the RP setup

If you look at the SQL RP doc here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-stack/azure-stack-sql-resource-provider-deploy

It says “If you have installed any versions of the AzureRm or AzureStack PowerShell modules other than 1.2.9 or 1.2.10, you will be prompted to remove them or the install will not proceed. This includes versions 1.3 or greater.” on step #6 under Deploy the resource provider.

On my ASDK host I had:

and

The funny part is that in the SQL RP deployment script titled has a line where it installs AzureStack 1.2.10 but this is the version that the SQL RP deployment script is complaining about. Here is the syntax from the SQL deployment script.

# Installs and imports the API Version Profile required by Azure Stack into the current PowerShell session.

Use-AzureRmProfile -Profile 2017-03-09-profile

Install-Module -Name AzureStack -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 -Force

So the next thing I tried to do was run:

Get-Module -ListAvailable | where-Object {$_.Name -like “Azure*”} | Uninstall-Module

It kept throwing these warnings and errors:

WARNING: The version ‘1.0.4.4’ of module ‘Azure.Storage’ is currently in use. Retry the operation after closing the applications.

PackageManagement\Uninstall-Package : Module ‘Azure.Storage’ is in currently in use.

At C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\PowerShellGet\1.0.0.1\PSModule.psm1:2157 char:21

+ …        $null = PackageManagement\Uninstall-Package @PSBoundParameters

+                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (Microsoft.Power…ninstallPackage:UninstallPackage) [Uninstall-Package], Exception

    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : ModuleIsInUse,Uninstall-Package,Microsoft.PowerShell.PackageManagement.Cmdlets.UninstallPackage

So now I was stuck in this endless loop of PowerShell module uninstall and install hell. For a moment I thought I went insane. After recovering from temporary insanity. I ran this:

Get-InstalledModule -Name “AzureStack” -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 | Uninstall-Module

No errors on this. I then ran:

Get-Module  -ListAvailable | where-Object {$_.Name -like “Azure*”}

to see if the module was gone. Boom it was!

I then kicked off the SQL RP deployment script again and this time it worked!

NOTE: If you somehow have AzureRM version 1.2.10 just run Get-InstalledModule -Name “AzureRM” -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 | Uninstall-Module to get rid of that guy.

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Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) Deployment Step by Step

At Microsoft Inspire Microsoft announced the Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) as a replacement to the POC and the general availability of the production Azure Stack named Azure Stack Integrated Systems. The Azure Stack Development Kit is here to stay. This will remain single node and should be used for trying out Azure Stack. You can develop your ARM templates and or applications on it and they will work on a production Azure Stack. The Azure Stack Integrated Systems are the ones that you buy from the OEM partners HP, Lenovo, Dell and soon to be Cisco, Avanade, and Huawei.

The ASDK install has improved 1,000 times over the previous TP’s of Azure Stack. I am going to detail the steps in this blog post. The steps start after you have downloaded the Azure Stack cloudBuilder.vhdx. Here we go:

PREPARE AZURE STACK HOST SERVER:

First off download the Azure Stack tools onto your Azure Stack host server. Just download all the tools as you will need all of them at some point. They can be found here: https://github.com/Azure/AzureStack-Tools

I put these in a folder on the C: drive named ASTools. I extract them and place them in the root.

Open up an elevated PowerShell window, navigate to your Astools folder and run the asdk-installer.ps1 script. Next a GUI wizard will pop-up.

Click on Prepare Environment.

Point it to your cloudBuilder.vhdx and click Next.

Put in the host servers local admin password. Make sure this matches the Azure account you plan to use.

Select the other options as you see fit.

It will run for a while creating the unattended file for Windows Server 2016.

Once it is done click Reboot now.

DEPLOY AZURE STACK DEVELOPMENT KIT:

Next lets deploy Azure Stack. After the server has rebooted log onto your AS server. Use the localhost\administrator account and the password you set.

Once again from PowerShell run asdk-installer.ps1. A GUI wizard will come up. Click on Install.

Select Azure Cloud (Azure Active Directory) or ADFS. Put in your directory and password.

Verify and select the correct NIC.

Select DHCP or put in your static IP settings.

It will verify the network settings.

You will see the PowerShell deployment script that will be run. Click on Deploy!

The PowerShell deployment will kick off in a PowerShell window.

After a little bit (1-2 minutes) an Azure login window will ask for your Azure account creds. This is the account ASDK will be deployed under.

NOTE: We still have the log folder and files under CloudDeployment on the C drive.

A few hours later and there it is successfully!

Having been involved with Azure Stack since TP1 and losing about a week to deploying Azure Stack TP1 this is a much….much better deployment experience. Nice work Microsoft Azure Stack team!!!

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Speaking at OSCON and MMS May 2017

May is a busy month for me with the opportunity to speak at both OSCON – Open Source Convention (https://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-tx) and MMS – Midwest Management Summit (https://mmsmoa.com)! OSCON is May 8th through the 11th in Austin Texas. MMS is May 15th through the 18th in Minnesota.

At OSCON I will be presenting on “How to Motivate Technical Employees” with friend and fellow Microsoft MVP Samuel Erskine – @samerskine. This will be on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 4:15pm–4:55pm. This session is for CIOs, CTOs, IT directors, and IT managers and will cover how to retain your top talent and give you five ways to motivate technical employees. Come to this session to learn the secret sauce for keeping employee’s engaged!  Here is a link to the session: https://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-tx/public/schedule/detail/57374

At MMS I will be presenting three sessions! These sessions are:

Awesomize your Azure Stack Deployments with Azure Stack Tools” with fellow MVP Mikael Nystrom -@mikael_nystrom.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUae/awesomize-your-azure-stack-deployments-with-azure-stack-tools

Azure Operationalized” with fellow MVP Natascia Heil – @NatasciaHeil.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUbn/azure-operationalized

Backup is Dead! Restore is Born in the Cloud!” with fellow MVP Robert Hedblom -@RobertandDPM.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUaR/backup-is-dead-restore-is-born-in-the-cloud

These conferences will be lots of great community fun! Hope to see you there.

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Sys Admin to Cloud Admin…ITSM to CloudOps…On-Prem to Azure Stack/Azure

A while back I posted a blog titled “Surviving the future of IT as an IT pro”. In that blog post I set out to share my opinion on where IT is headed and what you should focus on as an IT pro going forward. I guess this post could be considered part 2 however in this post I will focus more on where things are heading as a whole.

So what is this blog really about? It is about “the Transition from ITOPS & ITSM to CloudOps via Azure Stack (Hybrid Cloud) powering DevOps and becoming core to the Digital Transformation of business” that is happening. Whew…..Ok, a lot was said in that previous sentence. J Let’s break it down.

Transition from ITOPS & ITSM to CloudOps

There has been this transition in IT for a while to increase the density in data centers. This was started with the wide adoption of the hypervisor (VMWare, Hyper-V, Citrix Xen etc…). The goal is to get more out of existing and less physical hardware. Think about 1 physical server hosting hundreds of virtual servers. Things have since accelerated at a fast pace. We now have containers, PaaS, and serverless. With these newer technologies, the density is even greater.

The real power behind cloud is software defined everything. With software, defined environments AKA cloud a new skillet and a different way of thinking about managing operations is needed. This new skillset and new way of thinking for the operationalization of cloud is known as CloudOps. IT Operations and IT Service Management do not go away with CloudOps. The evolution of ITOPS and ITSM become CloudOps. The best parts of ITOPS and ITSM (ITIL) funnel into CloudOps used for operating clouds.

Hybrid Cloud (Azure Stack)

Hybrid Cloud is going to be a huge part of cloud initiatives in many organizations for years to come. You can see this on the Gartner reports(http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3354117), Right Scale reports (http://www.rightscale.com/blog/cloud-industry-insights/cloud-computing-trends-2017-state-cloud-survey) and based on the investments the major cloud players are making to build the best Hybrid Cloud solutions.

Hybrid Cloud Is the Preferred Enterprise Strategy, but Private Cloud Adoption Fell

From Rightscale “Cloud Computing Trends: 2017 State of the Cloud Survey” Report:

http://www.rightscale.com/blog/cloud-industry-insights/cloud-computing-trends-2017-state-cloud-survey#hybrid-cloud

Recently IBM and Red Hat announced their launch into the Hybrid Cloud space.

(http://www.networkworld.com/article/3182989/cloud-computing/ibm-red-hat-an-open-source-hybrid-cloud.html)

A while back Amazon and VMWare announced their launch into the Hybrid Cloud space.

(http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161013006574/en/VMware-AWS-Announce-Hybrid-Cloud-Service-%E2%80%9CVMware>)

Microsoft was the first to jump into the Hybrid Cloud space and is the only company that has a 100% true Hybrid Cloud solution. Both VMWare/Amazon and IBM/Red Hat have solutions that run private cloud on public cloud. The private cloud solutions are being retrofitted to run in public cloud as the framework for their Hybrid Cloud solutions. These are not consistent cloud platforms running the same exact bits on bare metal on-premises and in the cloud like Microsoft’s Azure Stack solution. Azure Stack is the same bits in the public cloud and on-premises down to the bare metal.

IBM and Amazon jumping into the Hybrid Cloud space is more proof this will be a large area of growth in IT for years to come. I wonder if Google will decide to jump into the Hybrid Cloud space at some point and what their strategy will be.

DevOps powered by Azure Stack and CloudOps

Azure Stack serves as a catalyst to help move DevOps initiatives forward within organizations. With Azure Stack’s comes the native ability to run the environment using Infrastructure as code, continuous integration, continuous delivery, microservices, integration with source control systems, and more. All of the aforementioned are a part of DevOps.

Along with Azure Stack is the need to run the environment using a CloudOps model. Here is a list of concepts that drive CloudOps:

  • Extreme Hardware Standardization
  • Software Defined Everything
  • Extreme Automation
  • Focus on Zero Downtime
  • Self Service
  • Measured Service
  • Multitenancy

CloudOps is overall focused on business applications critical for running the business through the continuous operations of clouds. CloudOps leaves business unit projects to DevOps. CloudOps instead focuses on the delivery of the the cloud infrastructure to support self-service leveraged by DevOps teams.

David Armour of Microsoft often shares great information on CloudOps and what it means. You can follow him on twitter here: https://twitter.com/Darmour_MSFT

CloudOps supports DevOps and DevOps is core to Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is the accelerating transformation of the way businesses do business from traditional ways often brick and mortar to the digital front through the use of digital technologies. Businesses are shifting to meet their customers and employees where they are today on digital platforms. In the business world, today it is well known that you must innovate and grow through the use of technology or become obsolete and left in the wake of disruptive companies that are leveraging technology to meet their customers on the digital front.

Examples of digitally transformed company’s vs non-digitally transformed companies are:

  • Netflix vs Blockbuster
  • Amazon vs Target, Best Buy, Macy’s
  • Airbnb vs Wyndom hotels
  • Uber vs Taxi Companies

Digital Transformation is critical to business and IT departments need to be a core driver to help organizations move forward on the digital transformation front. Digital Transformation is the new Industrial Revolution of business today with CloudOps/DevOps being the Assembly line that will bring innovation to the business.

Through DevOps businesses can bring digital services to the market at very fast rates and can pivot quickly as needed to beat and stay ahead of the competition meeting the customers’ demands in an agile way. CloudOps allows the scale and another point to pivot on at any time to redirect in a new direction as needed by the business in an agile manor.

Through a Hybrid Cloud solution like Azure Stack things IoT, Microservices, extreme automation, hyper-scale, and agility can be realized for the business empowering Digital Transformation from the core.

The transition of the IT Pro to Cloud Pro

Ok. That was a lot of information and background on CloudOps, DevOps, Digital Transformation and Hybrid Cloud. You may be asking yourself at this point where does the IT Pro fit into the picture? Let me answer that for you and take you on a tour of Azure Stack to prove why as an IT Pro you should start working with it today!

The path for an IT Professional when moving from traditional IT into a Hybrid Cloud world consists of:

  A cloud administrator can configure and manage resource providers, tenant offers, plans, services, quotas, and pricing.
A tenant purchases (or acquires) services that the service administrator offers. Tenants can provision, monitor, and manage services that they have subscribed to, such as Web Apps, Storage, and Virtual Machines.

Those cloud roles fit in a new world of CloudOps including Cloud architect, engineer, and administrator. Being a part of CloudOps requires a different mindset. Think about dynamic shifts such as software defined everything and extreme standardization. More concepts and technologies that a cloud role requires an understanding of are:

  • IaaS
  • PaaS
  • Software Defined Data Center technologies
  • Automation
  • Source Control Systems
  • Business Intelligence (Showback/Chargeback)
  • High Availability technologies
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Scaling technologies
  • Containerization
  • Server less technologies
  • Cloud Security
  • Both Linux and Windows
  • Self-Service (Service Catalog)
  • Multitenancy technologies
  • Tenant administration
  • And more

Ok. Now let’s jump into some example of CloudOps tooling in Azure Stack. First off, we as a cloud admin you need to know how to perform management of tenants (customers). Here is an example of a dashboard for doing this in Azure Stack:

In Azure Stack, you will need to know and understand the administration of managing the cloud itself. This includes many things some of them being management of a region/s, resource providers that contain the services you can offer up to tenants, along with monitoring, high availability, and backup of the cloud. Below is an example of administration in Azure Stack at the cloud model layer of CloudOps.

We already mentioned monitoring. There is monitoring of the cloud environment itself but there also is a need to monitor the resources being consumed by the tenants. One of the great things about Azure and Azure Stack is the out of the box monitoring and health diagnostics of IaaS virtual machines. I am a SCOM guy and have done a lot of SCOM projects. SCOM works well and serves a purpose but the out of the box monitoring in Azure and Azure Stack is amazing in the ease of turning it on. Once turned on it just works and has very nice visuals to see and work with as shown in the following screenshot. As a cloud administrator, you need technology to be easy so that you can move away from complex setups and troubleshooting the monitoring solution and move to monitoring the resources.

One of the best benefits about Hybrid Cloud is the consistency between public and on-premises cloud. In the following screenshot news updates on Azure and Azure stack are the same. 🙂 Another huge point of consistency between Azure and Azure Stack is the ability to view, deploy and run items from the Azure marketplace in Azure Stack. This is called marketplace syndication.

 

Azure

 

Azure Stack

Azure Stack is set to release in 2017. I want to highlight some of the services already in Azure Stack and more coming to Azure Stack that can be offered in your Service Catalog to tenants.

Already in Azure Stack as of TP3:

  • SQL PaaS
  • MySQL PaaS
  • Web Apps PaaS
  • Computer IaaS
  • Virtual Machines (Linux or Windows)
  • VM Scale Sets
  • Storage
  • Networking
  • PaaS: Storage
  • Key Vault
  • Management of Azure Pack virtual machines
  • Marketplace Syndication

Coming to Azure Stack at some point:

  • Microservices
  • Service Fabric
  • Cloud Foundry
  • Blockchain
  • Container Service
  • IoT

Another big part of CloudOps is being able to measured services that are being consumed. Measured Service can translate to show back or charge back. Measured Service is the ability to track the usage of resources down to the individual resource level. With Azure and Azure Stack resource management (ARM) model resources are carved out and placed into resource groups. In ARM, each resource has an associated cost that is tracked via the usage. There is full role based access around resources and resource groups. Resources and resource groups can be tagged and each resource or resource group’s usage can be tracked and displayed on business intelligence reporting or a dashboard like shown in the following screenshot.

That concludes this blog post. I hope I was able to shed some light on the transition from IT Pro to cloud pro, from IT Ops/ITSM to CloudOps and showcase the power of Hybrid Cloud via Azure Stack. Stay tuned for more exciting stuff coming from Azure Stack.

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IT Unity Community Champ & 25 ITSM Experts Feature

This has been an exciting year so far and an even more exciting week! I want to share that I am humbly honored to be featured twice this week. Once as an IT Community Champ by the highly respected Mary Jo Foley on www.petri.com and added to this years 25 ITSM Experts to watch list by Cherwell. 🙂 Again all of this was an unexpected surprise and I am honored to be included.  For information on both of these check out the links below:

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Azure Stack POC Hardware

I have been asked several times what I use for my Azure Stack rig and where I got the hardware from. I am going to share in this post what I use to run my single node Azure Stack POC. I bought all parts from newegg.com. Here is a list of the parts:

  • Motherboard: MSI X99A SLI KRAIT EDITION LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel
  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce 210 DirectX 10.1 512-P3-1310-LR 512MB 32-Bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile
  • Power Supply: EVGA 750 BQ 110-BQ-0750-V1 80+ BRONZE 750W Semi Modular Includes Power On Self Tester
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3 GHz LGA 2011-v3 140W BX80648I75820K Desktop
    NOTE: I was not paying attention when I bought this. Azure Stack needs 12 cores. I am able to work around this and have not run into problems yet. When I get a chance and $$$ I will upgrade this.
  • 3 SSD Hard Drives: PNY CS1311 2.5″ 960GB SATA-III (6 Gb/s) TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SSD7CS1311-960-RB
    NOTE: I bought a couple of more Kingston brand SSD’s. I use these for the OS and general storage.
  • Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 128GB (8 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2800 (PC4 22400) Intel X99 Platform Extreme Performance Memory Model F4-2800C15Q2-128GRKD
  • Case: Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 CC-9011034-WLED Silver Steel ATX Cube Computer Case

As you can see this is generic hardware. The cost of this hardware was just over $2k USD. I have been running Azure Stack since TP1 on this hardware and I am currently running TP3. This is a personal lab for just me and Azure Stack runs well on my hardware. Don’t let a lack of hardware stop you from diving into Azure Stack. As you can see from this post it does not take much to pick up some parts and get going.

I do also run another Azure Stack POC on much better hardware at work. I can’t wait to get a multi-node environment on one of the hardware providers (Cisco, Dell, Lenovo, or HP) platform.

Here is what my rig looks like complete with Azure Stack and other stickers :-).

Before it was built:

After it was built and running:

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Azure or Azure Stack “Write Once, Deploy Anywhere” Update

A while back I wrote a blog post about being able to take one IaaS VM Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template and deploy it to both Azure or Azure Stack. This blog post included a JSON file and the PowerShell to do this. The idea for that came from needing to set up a cool and working demo for MMS 2016 and the need to showcase the power of Microsoft’s HybridCloud. Here is a link to that original blog post:

Write once, deploy anywhere (Azure or Azure Stack)

Today I have finished updating the PowerShell and ARM template/JSON file to be more streamlined and to work with TP2. Here is the link to download these:Here are the updates:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Create-VM-on-Azure-or-3c6d0420

Here are the updates:

  • The JSON and PowerShell script have been modified to work with Azure Stack TP2.
  • This script now utilizes the connection PowerShell module AzureStack.Connect.psm1 from Azure Stack tools.
  • This is included with the download of this script and JSON file on TechNet Gallery.
  • The script is hard coded to look locally to import the AzureStack.Connect.psm1 module.
  • Streamlined the JSON file and PowerShell script.
  • The script no longer prompts for the publicDNS name. It is now automatically set to the same as the vmname.
  • The script no longer prompts for the storage account name. It is automatically set to vmnamestorage.
  • The script no longer prompts for the resourcegroup name. This is now automatically set to vmname-RG.
  • By default this script now uses a JSON file hosted on Github. This is set in the $templateFilePath variable as shown on the next line.
  • To keep it to the local directory just use the JSON file name.

GITHUB: $templateFilePath = “https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Buchatech/Azure-AzureStackVM/master/AzureandAzureStack.json”
LOCAL: $templateFilePath = “AzureandAzureStack.json

This will be my last blog post of 2016. See you next year folks…..

Happy Stacking!

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Resource Group Clean-up in Azure Stack

If you are like me, you end up creating a ton of resource groups in Azure Stack when testing things out. I needed a way to delete them without having to click one each one via the portal. The best option of course is to leverage PowerShell. I threw together some PowerShell to handle this. I came up with two options #1 can be used to delete a bunch of RG’s that have a common name. For example, I had a bunch of VM00* resource groups. I use the script to go loop through and delete all resource groups with VMO in the name. Option #2 pop’s up a GUI window so I could select the RG’s I wanted to delete. It put them in an array and then looped through to delete them in one shot.

This is great because I can kick this off and go do something else. I will share both below in this blog post along with some screenshots. I won’t have a download for the PowerShell syntax so just copy from this post if you want to use it. Be sure to use AzureStack.Connect.psm1 for connecting to your Azure Stack environment before running any of the following code.

Code:
#1

#Create Variable of RG’s with common name
$Resourcegroups = Get-AzureRmResourceGroup | where {$_.ResourceGroupName -like (‘*VM0*’)}

#Create array of RG’s
$RGLIST = $Resourcegroups.ResourceGroupName

#Loop to remove each resource group in the array
ForEach(
$rg in $RGLIST
)
{
Get-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name $rg -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | Remove-AzureRmResourceGroup -Force -Verbose
}

This image shows the array of RG’s that will be looped through. I highlighted vm003rg in the array and in the PowerShell status message.

rgcleanup-1

The following screenshot shows VM003RG being deleted in the Azure Stack portal.

rgcleanup-2

#2

#Create Variable of RG’s from GUI selection
$selectedrgs = (Get-AzureRmResourceGroup | Out-GridView ` -Title “Select ResouceGroups you want to remove.”` -PassThru).ResourceGroupName

#Loop to remove each resource group in the array
ForEach(
$rg in $selectedrgs
)
{
Get-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name $rg -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | Remove-AzureRmResourceGroup -Force -Verbose
}

After running the Create Variable of RG’s from GUI selection part of the code a window as shown in the following screenshot will pop up. Select the RG’s you want to remove, click Ok and they will be placed into an array.

rgcleanup-3

Below if the output of the array. Run the Loop to remove each resource group in the array part of the code and each of the RG’s will be removed.

rgcleanup-4

I have also used this when a resource group would not delete from the portal. On some stubborn resource groups I have had to run this a couple of times. This is a short post. I hope this helps someone out!

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Azure & RRAS Site to Site VPN Setup (Azure Resource Manager)

Background

I have not seen a lot of posts out there on setting up Azure Site to Site VPN Setup Azure Resource Manager. The ones I did follow had some missing steps. Setting up the AS2S is a pretty detailed process so I wanted to put the steps I had to follow in a blog post.

What you will need:

On-Premises

  • RRAS installed on an on-premises server.
  • At least 1 NIC on your RRAS server.
  • Your public IP. This will not work with dynamic DNS. You have to have a public IP. If you don’t own a public IP you can still use the dynamic public IP your ISP has assigned to you. You will need to just watch it and manually update it in Azure when it changes.
  • UDP Ports 500, 4500, and 1701 forwarded to your RRAS server. This is if your RRAS server is behind a NAT device.
  • Either your servers pointed to RRAS for their gateway or static routes setup on the VM’s you want to be able to communicate with Azure.

Azure:

Addressing:

For on-premises you can use whatever you want. I use 192.168.0.x/24.

For Azure we will use 10.121.0.x/16 and 10.121.0.0/24 and 10.121.1.0/24.

Steps:

~ AZURE CONFIGURATION FIRST! ~

First we will start off with configuring the network components we need up in Azure. Start by going to the Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com.

STEP 1: I would setup a resource group. You will put all of your resources for the site to site VPN in here for better tracking and management. As an example I named mine: “S2SVPN-Buchatech-LabRG“.

as2svpn-29

NOTE: Our resource group is empty at this point.

STEP 2:  Let’s start off by creating a virtual network. Go to:

Virtual networks>Create virtual network and click on Add. Let’s name this “S2SVPN-RRAS-Vnet“.

Give it “10.121.0.0/16” for the address space. This has to have enough room to place two subnets into it.

For the first subnet make the Subnet Name “Azure-VMs“. Make the Subnet address range “10.121.0.0/24“. Set it to the resource group you created in the previous step.

NOTE: I recommend placing all resources that will be a part of your site to site VPN in the same region. I used North Central US.

as2svpn-1

STEP 3:

We will be creating a virtual network gateway. This network gateway will contain the second subnet.

Go to Virtual networks>S2SVPN-RRAS-Vnet>Settings>Subnets.

Click on + Gateway subnet. For the Address Range use “10.121.1.0/24“. This address range is the IP range for your RRAS server to use.

So in your virtual network you should now have the two following Subnets:

as2svpn-2

STEP 4:

Now navigate to Virtual network gateways and click on Add. Name the gateway “S2SVPN-RRAS-VnetGW“. For the virtual network select our existing one named S2SVPN-RRAS-Vnet. Leave the gateway type to VPN, and leave VPN type to Route-based. For the public IP we don’t have one so we will need to create one here. Click on Choose a public IP address and a blade will fly out. Click on Create New.

as2svpn-3

I give it a name of “S2SVPN-RRAS-VnetGW-IP“. Your settings should look like this:

as2svpn-4

After the Virtual network gateways is created go and get the public IP addresses. We will need to plug this into RRAS later. You can get this by going here: Virtual network gateways>S2SVPN-RRAS-VnetGW>S2SVPN-RRAS-VnetGW-IP>Settings.

as2svpn-5

NOTE: It may take some time to provision the public IP so be patient here.

STEP 5:

Next up we need to configure a Local network gateway. Go to:

Local network gateways and click on +Add.  On Create local network gateway name it

S2SVPN-RRAS-LocalNetGW“, enter the public IP of your RRAS server, In the address space enter an IP range or ranges for your on-premises network , and select your RG.

as2svpn-6

NOTE: If you do not know what the public IP is on your RRAS server’s network just visit http://ipchicken.com and it will display it.

Now we need to create a connection in our local gateway. To do this navigate to the settings>connections and click on + Add. Name this “S2SVPN-RRAS-LocalNetGW-Connection“.

The Connection type will default to Site-to-site (IPsec). Leave this. Set the Virtual network gateway to “S2SVPN-RRAS-VnetGW“. Set a Shared key (PSK) to be used and remember this will also be used on the RRAS server so document this somewhere.

as2svpn-7

That’s it for the network configuration up in Azure. As long as everything was followed in these steps you should now have the following in your resource group.

as2svpn-8

~ RRAS CONFIGURATION! ~

STEP 7:

Install RRAS on your on-premises server. I used Server 2012 R2. Follow this to install it:

On your on-premises server launch Server Manager. In server manager click on Manage -> Add Roles and Features.

In the Add Roles and Features Wizard do the following:

  • Before You Begin: Click Next
  • Installation Type: Role-based > Click Next
  • Server Selection: Select a server from the server pool > RRAS-Server > Click Next
  • Server Roles: Check Remote Access > Click Next
  • Features: Click Next
  • Remote Access: Click Next
    • Role Services:
      • Direct Access and VPN (RAS)
        • Click Add Features on the pop-up window
      • Routing
      • Click Next
  • Web Server Role (IIS): Click Next
    • Role Services
      • Accept Defaults: Click Next
  • Confirmation: Click Install

Done!

STEP 8:

Open Routing and Remote Access.

as2svpn-9

as2svpn-10

as2svpn-11

as2svpn-12

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STEP 9:

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Click Next.

Give the Interface a name...

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WordPress as front-end for Azure Automation

With Azure Automation there are cases where you will need to have a form that end users can go fill out to kick off an automation runbook. Back with System Center Orchestrator we could use Service Manager’s self-service portal as the front end for our automations. This was a solution that worked well. With Azure Automation we do not have that luxury at least not yet we don’t. There is a community based Azure automation webhook Service Manager (SCSM) connector in the works. One of my colleagues Rob Plank is a part of this project and says it should ready to release very soon. This connector will allow you to use the SCSM portal as the frontend of Azure Automation via webhooks, know when a webhook expires, and see a runbooks job status. Here are some teaser screenshots of the  connector.

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There also are a few posts out there on how to leverage other platforms as the frontend for Azure Automation these are “how to use SharePoint as the frontend of Azure Automation” by Anders Bengtsson and “how to use an ASP website as the frontend to Azure Automation” by a friend of mine and fellow Microsoft MVP Florent Appointaire. Well in this post I am going to show you how to use the popular platform WordPress as the frontend for Azure Automation. The cool thing here is that this is another instance of showcasing the ability to utilize Microsoft and Open Source technologies together. 🙂

Here are the steps at a high level

  • Have an Azure Automation account on Azure
  • Setup your runbook/s in Azure Automation
  • Setup a webhook on your runbook/s in Azure Automation
  • Have a WordPress instance
  • Install Ninja Forms plugin in the WordPress instance
  • Install the Webhooks add on for Ninja Forms
  • Setup your runbook frontend form/s
  • Configure the runbook frontend form/s to connect to the Azure Automation webhook

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Have an Azure Automation account on Azure

To get started with Azure Automation go here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/automation-intro. I am not going to cover this within this blog post.

Step 2: Setup your runbook/s in Azure Automation

For this testing this scenario and this post I grabbed a couple of Azure Automation runbooks built by the Microsoft AzureAutomationTeam and made available in the Azure Automation Runbook Gallery. These runbooks start and stop Azure virtual machines.

Runbook #1 Name:

Start-AzureV2VMs

Description:

This runbook connects to Azure and starts all VMs in an Azure subscription or resource group.

Runbook #2 Name:

Stop-AzureV2VMs

Description:

This runbook connects to Azure and stops all VMs in an Azure subscription or resource group.

Both runbooks have two parameters they need. These are:

param (

[Parameter(Mandatory=$false)]

[String]  $AzureConnectionAssetName = “AzureRunAsConnection”,

[Parameter(Mandatory=$false)]

[String] $ResourceGroupName

We need to pay attention to these when setting up the webhooks and these often become your fields on your front end form.

Step 3: Setup a webhook on your runbook/s in Azure Automation

Here are the steps to setup a webhook for an Azure Automation Runbook.

First off make sure your runbook/s are in a published authoring status.

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Within https://portal.azure.com Navigate to

YOURAZUREAUTOMATIONACCOUNT

Runbooks

YOURRUNBOOK (Start-AzureV2VMs)

Webhooks

From here click on the Add Webhook button.

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The Add Webhook blade will fly out. Here you will want to click on Create new webhook to make the next blade flyout.

Here you need to give your webhook a name, set to enabled, set when it will expire and COPY THE URL TO A SAFE PLACE.

NOTE: You will not be able to access the webhook URL after this.

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Click OK.

Next you need to click on Configure parameters and run settings. This is where you set the parameters from the runbook.

If your parameters are required you have to set them here. If they are optional you can leave them blank here and pass the data into the runbook from the frontend form via a $WebhookData object.

In my case I put AzureRunAsConnection directly in the webhook. I created a credentials asset in Azure Automation with the account containing the needed permissions to perform the actions from the runbook in my Azure account (Start/Stop VM’s).

I left the resourcegroupname blank as I will pass this in from the front end form. I left the Run Settings to run on Azure as I do not have a Hybrid Worker setup.

NOTE: A Hybrid Worker lets you run automation runbooks on premises in your data center.

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One you have the Webhook and parameters configured click on the Create button to actually create the webhook.

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You will now see your new webhook in the webhooks blade.

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Note that if you click on a webhook you will not see the URL. You can enable or disable the webhook, see when it expires, and access the parameters. This is shown in the following screenshot.

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Step 4: Have a WordPress instance

You can host WordPress on WordPress.org on a hosting account, internally or even on Azure. Here is a link to a tutorial on how to run WordPress on Azure. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/app-service-web-create-web-app-from-marketplace.  I am not going to cover how to setup a WordPress instance within this blog post.

Step 5: Install Ninja Forms plugin in the WordPress instance

Here are the steps to install Ninja Forms WordPress plugin.

From within the WordPress admin dashboard click on Plugins.

Click on Add New.

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Search for Ninja Forms. Click on the Install button to add the plugin. Make sure you activate the plugin.

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You also could manually download and upload the plugin or load it directly into the plugins directory. I have shown you the steps for the easiest way to install it.

The Ninja Forms plugin page can be found here:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/ninja-forms

Step 6: Install the Webhooks add on for Ninja Forms

The Webhooks for Ninja Forms add on can be found here:

https://ninjaforms.com/webhooks-for-ninja-forms

This add on has to be purchased. It is $39 by itself for 1 WordPress instance.

After you buy it you will get the files for download. Again from within the WordPress admin dashboard click on Plugins.

Click on Add New. This time click on the Upload Plugin button and browse to your downloaded Webhooks for Ninja Forms zip folder.

After it is uploaded be sure to activate it.

The final step is to install the license for the add on. To do this Click on Forms>Settings>Licenses and input the key that Ninja Forms sent in the Webhooks Key field. Click on Save & Activate.

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Step 7: Setup your runbook frontend form/s

Next we need to build the actual form. To do this follow the list of steps.

Click on Forms>Add New. Give your form a Title.

Add a Textbox and put in the label of ResourceGroupName.

I like to make it Required.

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Add a Submit button to your form. I labeled it Start.

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In the following screenshot is what the form looks like. Note that I have both forms loaded on the same page.

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Step 8: Configure the runbook frontend form/s to connect to the Azure Automation webhook

Now is the last step. This is the step in which we configure the form to send data to the Auzre Automation webhook upon submission. This is doing it via POST method.

When editing the form click on the Email & Actions tab. Click on the Add New button.

Give this Action a name.

In the Type dropdown select Webhook.

Enter the Azure Automation webhook URL in the Remote Url field.

Select Post for the Remote Method.

For Args select enter the name of and select the field from your form of the parameters you need to send to the Azure Automation runbook.

You can see this all represented in the following screenshot.

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One of the cool things about this solution is we can test the webhook action before actually submitting it to make sure it will work as expected. This testing can be turned on by checking the Run in Debug Mode field. I have highlighted this in the screenshot in green. Checking this box and submitting the form will show debugging information like data sent and response.

Here is an example of what the result in Debug mode will look like:

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Make sure you uncheck the Run in Debug Mode field when you are ready to actually start your runbook/s.

Now let’s see what this looks like in Azure Automation when we submit the form.

I have a resource group named 6716vm with one VM in it named 6716vm. So I will enter 6716vm on the form. 6716vm will be passed to the runbook as the resourcegroupname.

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You can see the job running in Azure now.

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Within the job if you click on Input you can see it has 2 inputs. One is Webhookdata. This is where the 6716vm is located. The other is the Azureconnectionassetname. Remember we hardcoded this into the webhook itself. We can also see in the following screenshot that the job completed.

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If we look further at the webhookdata we can see several interesting things. We can see exactly where it put the 6716vm parameter for the resourcegroupname and we can see that this request came from my blog at www.buchatech.com.

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{“WebhookName”:”WPhook1″,”RequestBody”:”ResourceGroupName=6716vm”,”RequestHeader”:{“Accept”:”*/*”,”Accept-Encoding”:”deflate; q=1.0″,”Host”:”s1events.azure-automation.net”,”User-Agent”:”WordPress/4.5.3; http://www.buchatech.com”,”x-ms-request-id”:”0ae47ca6-46a4-4ba7-902e-6d33840add75“}}

Pretty cool right? Check out the VM now running:

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Now to shut it down I can go back to my WordPress and use the Stop Azure VM form. The possibilities here are endless. I know some of you may be thinking this is great but what if I want to control who can login to see this form and will it work with Active Directory. The answer is YES. WordPress has several plugins that integrate with Active Directly and even have SSO. A couple of these are Active Directory/LDAP Login for Intranet sites and Active Directory Integration. 

You can see that WordPress can make a great frontend for your Azure Automation runbooks. That is the end of the post. Happy automating!

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