Deploy Rancher on Azure for Kubernetes Management

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 Syslog endpoint.

Recently training 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.

First off you can find the ARM Templates here on my Github here: https://github.com/Buchatech/DeployRanchertoAzure.

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.

Node Deployment

Deploy the 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:

Host Deployment

Deploy the 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:

NameType
RancherVNet Virtual network
RancherHost Virtual machine
RancherNode Virtual machine
RancherHostPublicIP Public IP address
RancherNodePublicIP Public IP address
RancherHostNic Network interface
RancherNodeNic Network interface
RancherHost_OSDisk Disk
RancherNode_OSDisk Disk

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:

https://ranchernode.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com

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 blog post!

Click on Add Cluster

Under “From my own existing nodes” Click on custom, give the cluster a name and click Next.

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:

  1. In the Azure Portal, from within the resource group click on the Rancher Host VM.
  2. On the Overview page click on Connect.
  3. Copy “ssh ranchuser@rancherhost.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com” from the Connect to virtual machine pop up screen.
  4. Open a terminal in either Azure cloud shell or with something like a terminal via VS Code and past the “ssh ranchuser@rancherhost.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com” 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 Kubernetes. 

If you want to add more nodes or need the configuration code again just click the ellipsis button and edit.

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.

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Where to host Docker Containers on Azure (AKS, ASE, or ASF)?

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) service Azure App Service Environment (ASE) Azure Service Fabric (ASF) Comparison

Scenario:

So, your team recently has been tasked with developing a new application and running it. The team made the decision to take a microservices based approach to the application. Your team also has decided to utilize Docker containers and Azure as a cloud platform. Great, now it’s time to move forward right? Not so fast. There is no question that Docker containers will be used, but what is in question is where you will run the containers. In Azure containers can run on Azure’s managed Kubernetes (AKS) service, an App Service Plan on Azure App Service Environment (ASE), or Azure Service Fabric (ASF). Let’s look at each one of these Azure services including an overview, pro’s, cons, and pricing.

This Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.
This Azure App Service Environment (ASE) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.
This Azure Service Fabric (ASF) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.

Conclusion:

Choose Azure Kubernetes Service if you need more control, want to avoid vendor lock-in (can run on Azure, AWS, GCP, on-prem), need features of a full orchestration system, flexibility of auto scale configurations, need deeper monitoring, flexibility with networking, public IP’s, DNS, SSL, need a rich ecosystem of addons, will have many multi-container deployments, and plan to run a large number of containers. Also, this is a low cost.

Choose Azure App Service Environment if don’t need as much control, want a dedicated SLA, don’t need deep monitoring or control of the underlying server infrastructure, want to leverage features such as deployment slots, green/blue deployments, will have simple and a low number of multi-container deployments via Docker compose, and plan to run a smaller number of containers. Regarding cost, running a containerized application in an App Service Plan in ASE tends to be more expensive compared to running in AKS or Service Fabric. The higher cost of running containers on ASE is because with an App Service Plan on ASE, you are paying costs for a combination of resources and the managed service. With AKS and ASF you are only paying for the resources used.

Choose Service Fabric if you want a full micros services platform, need flexibility now or in the future to run in cloud and or on-premises, will run native code in addition to containers, want automatic load balancing, low cost.

A huge thanks to my colleague Sunny Singh (@sunnys101) for giving his input and reviewing this post. Thanks for reading and check back for more Azure and container contents soon.

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2018 Review – Speaking, Blogs, New job, and more…

2018 is almost over and it was an exciting year jam packed full of adventures! In this post I will recap some of the highlights from 2018.

New job

At the start of 2018 I started a new job with Avanade as a Group Manager: Cloud Transformation/DevOps. Who is Avanade? Avanade 35,000 plus employees and is a global consulting firm focused on the Microsoft platform. Avanade is owned by Accenture and Microsoft. I have been at the firm for exactly a year. It has been a fun ride so far working with really smart people on some exciting and very large projects. After I joined Avanade featured me on a Q&A spotlight blog.

You can check out the Q&A post here: https://www.avanade.com/en/blogs/inside-avanade/employee-stories/q-and-a-with-steve-buchanan

Moved from System Center focus to Azure/Azure Stack and DevOps

I moved away from System Center related work to only working on Azure, Azure Stack, and DevOps project. I had been making this shifting in this direction for a couple of years but the new job helped me transition to the type of work I wanted to do. I am a firm believer in change and through change comes growth. I still have my System Center skills but for me it was time to make a change in my career focus to be challenged and keep growing. Looking back I would make the same choice over again. You can see this change reflected in the blog topics I have posted, topics I have presented on this past year. My new role with Avanade has also helped me move my focus to cloud and DevOps.

Certifications/Training

I focused on and completed some Azure and DevOps certifications including: 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions and AZ-400: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions. However the one I am most proud of is the Microsoft Professional Program: DevOps. It took me 2 months to finish the training and all the labs to obtain the certificate. Here is a blog I posted about the training experience for the MPP: DevOps http://www.buchatech.com/2018/04/microsoft-professional-program-for-devops-finished. Here is a link to the my certificate: https://academy.microsoft.com/en-us/certificates/67284e84-8afe-4f13-b477-d7620949fb18.

I highly recommend any of the Microsoft Professional Program tracks. It is excellent training!

Changes in user group involvement

I stepped down from the MN System Center user group board after 6 years. The board is filled with great people and is as strong as ever. I will continue to speak at the UG from time to time when it makes sense and may even attend some of the meetings. I needed to step down to step up my Azure community focus. I have been leading the MN Azure user group for the past few years and now I am able to step up my involvement with this UG. More info about the MN Azure user group can be found here: http://mnazureusergroup.com  Some of the key meetings/topics in my opinion from 2018 are

April Azure User Group Meeting: DevOps Best Practices for Azure and VSTS presented by Abel Wang, a Microsoft Cloud Developer Advocate. – https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/kdbbdpyxgbhb

May Azure User Group Meeting: Automate & Configure using Azure presented by Jenny Hunter – Program Manager Azure Management & Eamon O’Reilly – Principal Program Manager Azure Management. – https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/kdbbdpyxhbfb

August Azure User Group: Microsoft APIs presented by Kyle Weeks, an IT professional for the University of Minnesota. – https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/dtbmtpyxlbdb

September Azure User Group: Azure Bots with Node.js presented by Kamran Ayub, a software engineer for Target corporation & Pluralsight author. – https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/dtbmtpyxmbjb

October Azure User Group: Azure Resource Manager Concepts – Simplified presented by Brian Moore, a Program Manager on the Azure Resource Manager Team. – https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/dtbmtpyxnbgb

As you can see we had some really great speakers both from the community and Microsoft. We do our best to collect the slides from presenters and upload them on the UG site. Past meeting info is here: http://mnazureusergroup.com/category/past-meetings

Key blog posts

With everything else going on I did my best to keep up with new blogs over the year. Same theme with my blog topics being focused on Azure and DevOps. Some of my key blogs from 2018 are:

ARCHITECT YOUR CLOUD WITH AZURE BLUEPRINTS

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/09/architect-your-cloud-with-azure-blueprints

SETUP CI/CD PIPELINE WITH VSTS & AZURE STACK

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/02/setup-ci-cd-pipeline-with-vsts-azure-stack

NATIVE CLOUD MANAGEMENT IN AZURE

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/03/native-cloud-management-in-azure

AZURE MANAGEMENT GROUPS

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/03/azure-management-groups

AZURE COST MANAGEMENT (CLOUDYN)

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/03/azure-cost-management-cloudyn

AZURE POLICY

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/03/azure-policy

CLOUD SECURITY VIA SECURITY CENTER

http://www.buchatech.com/2018/09/cloud-security-via-security-center

In 2018 I had a really cool opportunity to write a blog for the official Azure blog on Azure Stack and DevOps. Here is the title and link.

The importance of Azure Stack for DevOps” on the official Azure blog:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/the-importance-of-azure-stack-for-devops

Speaking

2018 was full of speaking opportunities from speaking at Azure events for Avanade, user groups, conferences and even on another continent. Here are highlights from where I presented in 2018.

MN Azure User Group

I was honored to kick of the MN Azure User group meetings last year with a session on Azure Stack. It was the February Azure User Group where I presented on Azure Stack Unleashed in 45 minutes to 131 attendees. Here is the link to the past meeting:  https://www.meetup.com/Minneapolis-Azure-Cloud-Computing-Meetup/events/245935696

MMS 2018  – https://mmsmoa.com

I was a speaker at MMS again in 2018. This time I delivered “5” sessions. Whoa! That was a whirlwind. Here is my MMS 2018 profile: https://mms2018.sched.com/steve_buchanan.1sw4e0n3. Here is a list of the 5 sessions:

Hybrid Cloud Unleashed with Azure Stack and Azure – With Microsoft MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Florent Appointaire

https://mms2018.sched.com/event/EeQy/hybrid-cloud-unleashed-with-azure-stack-and-azure

Insight into the Micro-Service & Container Technology that Powers Microsoft’s Cloud – With Microsoft MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Lee Berg

https://mms2018.sched.com/event/EeR3/insight-into-the-micro-service-container-technology-that-powers-microsofts-cloud

Monitoring Azure PaaS – With Microsoft MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Cameron Fuller

https://mms2018.sched.com/event/EeTC/monitoring-azure-paas

Soup to Nuts of Azure Site Recovery – With Microsoft MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Robert Hedblom

https://mms2018.sched.com/event/EeR4/soup-to-nuts-of-azure-site-recovery

ITSM Tools and Log Analytics: The Perfect Integration – With Microsoft MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Florent Appointaire

https://mms2018.sched.com/event/EeR1/itsm-tools-and-log-analytics-the-perfect-integration

Note you can download the decks from any of the sessions on the previous links.

BITCon 2018   – https://www.bitcon2018.com

This was the Inaugural conference for Blacks in Technology. BITCon brought together all walks of life in tech such as professionals, entrepreneurs, influencers, subject matter experts, students, and thought leaders.

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Setup CI/CD pipeline with VSTS & Azure Stack

We all know that DevOps brings together people, processes, and technology. In the Microsoft DevOps world A large part of the technology piece is utilizing Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) for continuous deployment of workloads to Azure.

Microsoft launched their Hybrid Cloud on July 10th 2017. Azure Stack is the secret sauce of Microsoft’s the Hybrid Cloud. Microsoft’s offering is the only one true Hybrid Cloud in the market bringing Azure to on-premises data centers.

As Microsoft continues to move their Hybrid Cloud forward the DevOps integration and capabilities we have for Azure extend to Azure Stack. Again I was fortunate to participate in a preview of the VSTS integration with Azure Stack. I was happy to see Microsoft putting a priority on this functionality because DevOps on Azure Stack is a HUGE need. Cloud is often the catalyst to helping organizations adopt a DevOps culture fostering digital transformation. Some organizations not being able to put all workloads in public cloud Azure Stack is a good way for them to get the same cloud capabilities on-premises DevOps integration being one of them. The setup and integration between VSTS and Azure Stack is working nicely. The team at Microsoft has given me permission to share about this topic via my blog.

In this blog post I am going to cover setting up VSTS to work with Azure and setting up a continuous-integration and-continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to Azure Stack. With Microsoft DevOps you can utilize the pieces of VSTS that make sense for you to use leaving the control up to you. Through VSTS you can use many other DevOps tools such as Jenkins, Octopus deploy, GitHub, Bitbucket etc into your pipeline making Azure Stack just as flexible as Azure is. Let’s Jump in!

Steps to prep Azure Stack for Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)

#1 Ensure you have installed the Azure Stack PowerShell and Azure PowerShell modules.

Details can be found here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-stack/azure-stack-powershell-install

#2 Add the Azure Stack environment using the following syntax

# Navigate to the downloaded folder and import the **Connect** PowerShell module

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Import-Module PATH\AzureStack.Connect.psm1

# Register an AzureRM environment that targets your Azure Stack instance

Add-AzureRMEnvironment `

-Name “AzureStackAdmin” `

-ArmEndpoint “https://adminmanagement.local.azurestack.external

# Set the GraphEndpointResourceId value

Set-AzureRmEnvironment `

-Name “AzureStackAdmin” `

-GraphAudience “https://graph.windows.net/

# Get the Active Directory tenantId that is used to deploy Azure Stack

$TenantID = Get-AzsDirectoryTenantId `

-AADTenantName “YOURDOMAIN.onmicrosoft.com” `

-EnvironmentName “AzureStackAdmin”

# Sign in to your environment

Login-AzureRmAccount `

-EnvironmentName “AzureStackAdmin” `

-TenantId $TenantID

NOTE: You will need the environment name and the tenant ID for the next script.

#3 Create SPN

Original SPN creation script can be found here:

https://github.com/Microsoft/vsts-rm-documentation/blob/master/Azure/SPNCreation.ps1

Documentation on creating an SPN can be found here:

https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/build/concepts/library/service-endpoints#sep-azure-rm

Below I will display the script I used. Note that you will need the following parameters for the script:

$subscriptionName

“Enter Azure Stack Subscription name. You need to be Subscription Admin to execute the script”)]

$password

“Provide a password for SPN application that you would create”

$environmentName

“Provide Azure Stack environment name for your subscription”

$AzureStackTenantID

“Provide tenant ID from when Azure Stack enviroment was added”

EXAMPLE:

.\CreateSPN.ps1 -subscriptionName “Default Provider Subscription” -password PASSWORDHERE -environmentName AzureStackAdmin -AzureStackTenantID ID HERE

Here is the script I used that you can run:

param

(

[Parameter(Mandatory=$true, HelpMessage=”Enter Azure Stack Subscription name. You need to be Subscription Admin to execute the script”)]

[string] $subscriptionName,

[Parameter(Mandatory=$true, HelpMessage=”Provide a password for SPN application that you would create”)]

[string] $password,

[Parameter(Mandatory=$false, HelpMessage=”Provide a SPN role assignment”)]

[string] $spnRole = “owner”,

[Parameter(Mandatory=$false, HelpMessage=”Provide Azure Stack environment name for your subscription”)]

[string] $environmentName,

[Parameter(Mandatory=$false, HelpMessage=”Provide tenant ID from when Azure Stack enviroment was added”)]

[string] $AzureStackTenantID

)

#Initialize

$ErrorActionPreference = “Stop”

$VerbosePreference = “SilentlyContinue”

$userName = $env:USERNAME

$newguid = [guid]::NewGuid()

$displayName = [String]::Format(“VSO.{0}.{1}”, $userName, $newguid)

$homePage = “http://” + $displayName

$identifierUri = $homePage

#Initialize subscription

$isAzureModulePresent = Get-Module -Name AzureRM* -ListAvailable

if ([String]::IsNullOrEmpty($isAzureModulePresent) -eq $true)

{

Write-Output “Script requires AzureRM modules to be present. Obtain AzureRM from https://github.com/Azure/azure-powershell/releases. Please refer https://github.com/Microsoft/vsts-tasks/blob/master/Tasks/DeployAzureResourceGroup/README.md for recommended AzureRM versions.” -Verbose

return

}

Import-Module -Name AzureRM.Profile

Write-Output “Provide your credentials to access Azure subscription $subscriptionName” -Verbose

Login-AzureRmAccount -SubscriptionName $subscriptionName -EnvironmentName $environmentName -TenantId $AzureStackTenantID

$azureSubscription = Get-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionName $subscriptionName

$connectionName = $azureSubscription.SubscriptionName

$tenantId = $azureSubscription.TenantId

$id = $azureSubscription.SubscriptionId

#Create a new AD Application

Write-Output “Creating a new Application in AAD (App URI – $identifierUri)” -Verbose

$azureAdApplication = New-AzureRmADApplication -DisplayName $displayName -HomePage $homePage -IdentifierUris $identifierUri -Password $password -Verbose

$appId = $azureAdApplication.ApplicationId

Write-Output “Azure AAD Application creation completed successfully (Application Id: $appId)” -Verbose

#Create new SPN

Write-Output “Creating a new SPN” -Verbose

$spn = New-AzureRmADServicePrincipal -ApplicationId $appId

$spnName = $spn.ServicePrincipalName

Write-Output “SPN creation completed successfully (SPN Name: $spnName)” -Verbose

#Assign role to SPN

Write-Output “Waiting for SPN creation to reflect in Directory before Role assignment”

Start-Sleep 20

Write-Output “Assigning role ($spnRole) to SPN App ($appId)” -Verbose

New-AzureRmRoleAssignment -RoleDefinitionName $spnRole -ServicePrincipalName $appId

Write-Output “SPN role assignment completed successfully” -Verbose

#Print the values

Write-Output “`nCopy and Paste below values for Service Connection” -Verbose

Write-Output “***************************************************************************”

Write-Output “Connection Name: $connectionName(SPN)”

Write-Output “Subscription Id: $id”

Write-Output “Subscription Name: $connectionName”

Write-Output “Service Principal Id: $appId”

Write-Output “Service Principal key: <Password that you typed in>”

Write-Output “Tenant Id: $tenantId”

Write-Output “***************************************************************************”

Output should be similar to this:

You will use information from the Service Connection output in the next step.

Steps to configure Azure Stack as a Service Endpoint in VSTS

Log into your VSTS account at visalstudio.com

Navigate to one of your projects.

Go into Settings.

Click on Services.

Click on New Service Endpoint

A window will pop up. Click on “use full version of the endpoint dialog.”

Next input the needed data. This data comes from the Service Connection info that you copied.

You can put whatever you want in the Connection name and the Subscription Name. Note do not verify the connection. It will not succeed as VSTS cannot access your private Azure Stack yet. Click OK when done.

Setup build agent on Azure Stack host

Next you need to setup the build agent on the Azure Stack host. (Note: In this post I am using the ASDK.) From within VSTS download the Windows agent. Extract the download to a local folder.

Go to Security under your profile in VSTS.

Next add a Personal access token (PAT) for Azure Stack.

Copy the token. Note it will not be shown again ever after you leave this screen.

In the folder with the extracted build agent you will see the following. We need to run the run.cmd file from an elevated command prompt.

Here is a screenshot of running the run.cmd. I recommend deploying the build agent as a service. You will use your personal access token (PAT) here and the azure stack admin account.

After the run.cmd finished the folder with the extracted contents should look like the following:

You can now see the agent in VSTS.

That’s it for the setup for connecting VSTS to Azure Stack. Next let’s look at setting up a continuous-integration and-continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline for VM-deployment to Azure Stack.

 

THE BUILD

What I cover here is focused on infrastructure as code (IaC) using ARM templates. If you need to set up CI/CD to Azure Stack for Web Apps, Mobile Apps, Containers, etc the process is the same as it is on Azure with the only difference being that you point to Azure Stack. Also note that in this post I am using the ASDK not multi-node.

Within VSTS create a new repository and place your ARM template in it.

Next click on Build and Release. Create a new Build Definition.

In the build definition. Point the Get sources to the repository you just created. Add 2 tasks under Phase 1. The first task will copy the ARM template to the build staging directory. The second task will publish the ARM template so that a release definition can pick it up. Both tasks are shown in the following screenshots.

Copy Files to task

Publish Artifact task

OPTIONAL: To setup continuous integration click on Triggers. Here you can set a schedule to run the builds or you can click on the repository as shown in the screenshot and then check Enable continuous integration. By checking the box next to Enable continuous integration it tells VSTS that anytime content in the repo is changed to run a build.

Click on Save & queue. This will start the build.

The build will start. As long as everything is setup properly within your build it will succeed as shown in the following Screenshot.

That’s all for our build. Next up we need to create a release definition (RD) pipeline. The RD will take the build artifacts and deploy to an environment/s you specify.

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Monitor Azure WebJobs Status with Application Insights

Within the Azure App Service is something called WebJobs that enables developers to run a script or program in the background within the same context as a web app, API app, or mobile app. Wejobs are included in app service with no extra cost. Webjobs are often used to run regular jobs and batch work as background services. Webjobs exist to make it easier to develop, run background tasks, and scale your web applications.

Webjobs have been around for a while and are considered a part of the serverless computing available on Azure. Today Azure Functions another newer and improved serveless technology service the evolution of WebJobs. When developers need serverless today Azure Functions is typically chosen over webjobs. There are certain cases and scenarios when webjobs are still used instead of Azure Functions and I will not be diving into that topic in this blog post. For more information on when to use what serverless technology on Azure check out the following links:

– A comparison between WebJobs and Functions: Choose between Flow, Logic Apps, Functions, and WebJobs.

– Minnesota’s Azure user group meeting from December 2017 covered comparing the various serverless technologies in Azure. It was presented by Joe Koletar. The meeting notes and PowerPoint download can be found here:

http://www.mnazureusergroup.com/2017/12/22/december-2017-meeting-serverless-computing-notes-and-download

For more information on Azure WebJobs check out these two links:

– Run Background tasks with WebJobs in Azure App Service

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/web-sites-create-web-jobs

– Develop and deploy WebJobs using Visual Studio – Azure App Service

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/websites-dotnet-deploy-webjobs

I recently needed to setup monitoring for Azure webjobs status. In this environment there was a mix of continuous webjobs along with some triggered webjobs. Monitoring WebJobs is different compared to monitoring other Azure App Services such as web apps. Web apps can easily be monitored for up/down status and performance for things like in/out traffic, usage, and errors. Background services like WebJobs does not have a defined start or end to the work they do. WebJobs either run continuously or for short amounts of time to perform a task. In this case performance was not a concern but the status of the WebJobs was needed. You can see the status of the WebJobs in the Azure portal as shown in the following screenshot.

The problem here is this is not on a monitoring dashboard, you have to navigate here to see it, you need to click the refresh button for an update, and there is no alert setup when the status is in a non-desired state.

WebJobs does come with a logs website that shows the status of all of your WebJobs and more. This logs site is shown in the following screenshot:

The logs site is nice but the issue with it is that you have to be on the site to see the status of the WebJobs along with the previously mentioned issues viewing the status in the Azure portal. A good solution for monitoring the WebJobs would be a way to check the heartbeat of the WebJobs, the status, and alert you if one of the WebJobs is in a non-desired state. The good news is that this can be accomplished utilizing Application Insights. This is not new but does take some effort to setup.  I am going to detail how to set this up. Here is a summary of what needs to be done.

  1. Need an instance of Application Insights
  2. Need an authorization header from the WebJobs REST API.
  3. Need to create a webtest manually or using Visual Studio enterprise.
  4. Create a multi-step availability test in the Application Insights instance utilizing the webtest file.
  5. Create an alert on the availability test to notify when a WebJob is in a non-desired state.
  6. Add the results of the WebJobs availability test to a dashboard in Azure.

Let’s get started.

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5th Book Published! Azure Stack Book!

The latest book project I have be a part of has completed and recently published. Back in August in this blog post (http://www.buchatech.com/2017/08/azure-stack-book-coming-soon-training) I mentioned this book was on its way. It is a book about Azure Stack that was officially published on December 21, 2017 by Pearson publishing. This book release has been very exciting as it is a part of the Unleashed series and this one marks the 5th book I have published. Here is a screenshot of all 5 from my Amazon author page:

In total I have published 2 books on System Center Data Protection Manager, 2 books on System Center Service Manager, and now this book covering Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud with Azure and Azure Stack. This book also comes at the right time as I recently made a transition to a new company (Avanade) with a new focus on Cloud (Azure/Azure Stack) and DevOps. 2018 and beyond look to be exciting times as I “Hit Refresh” on my career focus.

Books like this require a team effort. On this book I was honored to work with an expert team of authors. All of the authors are fellow Microsoft MVP’s. The other authors are: Kerrie Meyler,‎ Mark Scholman,‎ Jakob Gottlieb Svendsen,‎ Janaka Rangama. Me and the other authors are pictured below + a former Microsoft MVP Nirmal.

A part of the books team also included some members of the Azure Stack product group and Azure CAT team. We lucked out having Daniel Savage Principal PM Manager from the Azure Stack team write the foreword and Marc van Eijk Senior Program Manager from the Azure CAT team serve as our technical reviewer keeping us authors in line. 🙂

Each of us authors had so much to contribute and added much value across a variety of topics for Azure Stack. In this book I focused on bringing the readers into the cloud journey, showing the value of ITIL applied to cloud as well as the value of DevOps and then bringing ITIL and DevOps together applying them to Hybrid Cloud, took a deep dive into resource providers and management of Azure Stack through a CloudOps perspective.

Other topics covered in the book consist of preparing for Azure Stack deployments both with the development kit and integrated system, deep dive into the architecture of Azure Stack including the development kit and integrated system, data center integration with Azure Stack, configuring Azure Stack including delegation and for tenants, provisioning in Azure Stack, using OMS/DSC/VM extensions with Azure Stack, Customizing Azure Stack, automating in Azure Stack, and much more.

This book gives you the information you need around Azure Stack single and multi-node. It is a great place to start as you venture into the world of Microsoft Hybrid Cloud. The plan is to update this book as Microsoft continues to mature Azure Stack so this book will continue to be relevant.

Here is the book cover:

Here is the official description for the book:

“Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Unleashed brings together comprehensive and practical insights into hybrid cloud technologies, complete CloudOps and DevOps implementation strategies, and detailed guidance for deploying Microsoft Azure Stack in your environment.

Written by five Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVPs, this book is built on real-world scenarios and the authors’ extraordinary hands-on experiences as early adopters. Step by step, the authors help you integrate your optimal mix of private and public cloud, with a unified management experience that lets you move workloads at will, achieving unprecedented flexibility.

The authors also guide you through all aspects of building your own secure, high-performance hybrid cloud infrastructure. You’ll discover how Azure Stack enables you to run data centers with the same scalability, redundancy, and reliability as Microsoft’s Azure data centers; how to integrate Azure infrastructure and platform services with internal operations; and how to manage crucial external dependencies. The book concludes with a deep dive into automating and customizing Azure Stack for maximum reliability, productivity, and cost savings.

Detailed information on how to

  •     Run a private/hybrid cloud on your hardware in your data center, using APIs and code identical to public Azure
  •     Apply ITIL and DevOps lifecycles to your hybrid cloud implementation
  •     Gain a deep understanding of Azure Stack architecture, components, and internals
  •     Install and configure Azure Stack and master the Azure Stack Portal
  •     Integrate and utilize infrastructure, core, and custom resource providers
  •     Effectively provision, secure, and manage tenants
  •     Manage, monitor, troubleshoot, and back up Azure Stack with CloudOps
  •     Automate resource provisioning with PowerShell, the Azure CLI, templates, and Azure Stack’s API
  •     Write your own Azure Resource Manager templates
  •     Centrally automate cloud management and complex tasks connected to external systems
  •     Develop customized, production-ready Azure Stack marketplace items”

Here is a link to the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Hybrid-Cloud-Unleashed-Azure/dp/0672338505

Happy Azure Stacking!

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Monitoring Azure PaaS

I recently had the opportunity to present at the annual SCOM/OMS Day held by the MN System Center user group. Here is a link to the past event https://mnscug.org/meetings/499-october-2017-mnscug-meeting. Other presenters during this event included Microsoft MVP Cameron Fuller, Microsoft MVP Bob Corenelissen, and Nathan Foreman, another Minnesota local. I chose to present on Monitoring Azure PaaS. In this blog post I will cover the information from my presentation and dive deeper into the topic.

Defining PaaS

Before you can monitor something you need a full understanding of what it is that you will be monitoring. Let’s start out by clarifying what PaaS is. There are many facets to cloud and the services that are available in cloud. You also can utilize public cloud, run your own private cloud or utilize a combination of the two known as hybrid cloud. Regardless if you have public, private, or hybrid cloud you can leverage Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service.  Below is an image that has been around for a while that visually explains the main differences between running your own data centers and utilizing cloud.

After viewing the previous image lets dive a little bit deeper into what it is explaining. When you run your own data center/s you are responsible for EVERYTHING all the way down to the networking and storage including monitoring all of that. As you move to the cloud you reduce your administrative overhead releasing that to the cloud vendor.

Most organizations first foray into cloud is to utilize IaaS. With IaaS you take a lift and shift approach of essentially running your existing servers and or new servers in cloud as virtual machines. At this layer you no longer have to worry about and manage the hypervisor, servers, physical storage, and physical networking. At the IaaS layer you still need to manage and monitor what is running on the servers that power workload and applications consisting of things like the OS, middleware, data and the applications. You also manage and monitor software defined storage and networking.

As organizations move to PaaS in cloud you release even more to the cloud vendor reducing even more administrative overhead. Also with PaaS the cost of the cloud services decreases. With PaaS you are responsible for the applications and data. You no longer need to worry about maintaining the administrative tasks of the applications, middleware or the OS.

Examples of some Azure PaaS services are Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Media Services, CDN, Search, Event Hubs, Notification Hubs, Service Bus, Batch service, Azure AD, B2B/B2C, Azure DNS, Storage, SQL/MySQL/Postgres databases, CosmosDB, Service Fabric, IoT, Azure Functions, Logic Apps, Azure Container Service, Redis Cache, HD Insight, Key Vault, Azure Bot service, and much more.

Let’s zero in on SQL as a service in the cloud. With traditional SQL you had to properly scope and size the server properly, ensure you have enough storage space, split data, logs etc. After that you would need to plan and make SQL highly available, tune a SQL server for performance, maintain it and more. With PaaS the majority of this goes away. In fact with PaaS there is no SQL server/s to manage anymore. With PaaS when developers or anyone in IT need a SQL database they simply go spin it up. IT can still put controls in place such as policy and governance standards that are essentially boundaries that the consumer of the service needs to stay within however it is all self-service.

Now even though SQL databases can be spun up by consumers on their own and the SQL servers are managed by the cloud vendor (Microsoft). Now you would think in a cloud PaaS model you no longer need to monitor as there is no SQL server/s to administer. This is simply not true and we will get more into the monitoring aspect more later on in this post.

Applications running in Azure are typically made up of multiple PaaS services and sometimes a PaaS service itself will have dependencies on other PaaS services. An example of this can be seen in the following Application Map.  This shows that PaaS services have many moving parts across multiple parts and can be complex.

With PaaS components that make up applications it is important not to just monitor the components but also the application itself.

Why Monitor PaaS?

Most folks automatically think that they don’t need monitoring of PaaS because they assume without servers and high availability they don’t need to. This simply is not true. Below is a list of reasons of why it is important to monitor PaaS.

Overall when it comes to PaaS best practice is to move away from the old ways of thinking and methods for monitoring servers and on-premises infrastructure and move to a focus of monitoring the business applications.

Understanding the monitoring framework in Azure

Next up let’s take a look at the framework of monitoring in Azure. This will help you to better understand what is possible and how the monitoring tools plug into this framework. There are three main areas of data that is generated by Azure services that can be leveraged in monitoring. These sit across IaaS and PaaS services. These areas are:

  • Diagnostic
  • Logs emitted by an Azure resource that provide rich, frequent data about the operation of that resource.
  • Resource-level diagnostic logs require no agent and capture resource-specific data from the Azure platform itself.
  • Can send these to OMS Log Analytics, Event Hubs, or an Azure Storage account.

_______________________________

  • Metrics
  • Gain near real-time visibility into the performance and health of Azure workloads.
  • Performance counters are emitted by most Azure resources.

_______________________________

  • Activity Log
  • Insight into subscription-level events that have occurred in Azure.
  • Determine the ‘what, who, and when’ for any write operations (PUT, POST, DELETE) taken on an Azure resource in a subscription.
  • Categories of data: Administrative, Service Health, Alert, Autoscale, and Recommendation. (Policy, Security, and Resource Health coming…)

The types of monitoring data sit at different layers on IaaS and PaaS. On IaaS the application logs and metrics come directly out of the application. Diagnostic logging sits across the application and OS layer while metrics sit across the OS layer and VM layer. The activity logging sits at the Azure infrastructure layer.

On PaaS both the diagnostic logging and metrics come from the Azure resources directly. The activity logs again are at the Azure infrastructure layer.

With the diagnostic logs and metrics you can access and configure these via the Azure portal, PowerShell, Azure CLI and many have API.

Diagnostic logs can be sent to OMS log analytics, Event Hubs or Azure storage for other consumption. Metrics can also be sent to OMS log analytics, Event Hubs, Azure storage, and Application Insights. With Metrics you can also fire off alerts and autoscale a service. Alerts can kick off emails, webhooks, and Azure Automation runbooks. The following diagrams visually breakdown what can be done with metric and diagnostic log data.

Options for monitoring Azure PaaS

When it comes to monitoring PaaS Microsoft has many options available. There also are options available from a ton of 3rd party vendors. In this blog post I will only talk about the Microsoft options. Majority of the monitoring tools from Microsoft that can monitor PaaS are cloud based but you also can do some PaaS monitoring via System Center Operations Manager. The cloud options are much faster, easier to onboard and have been built from the ground up with cloud in mind. With Azure you also have out of the box monitoring capabilities on most of the Azure services. For example with a web app in Azure on the overview blade you can see things like data in and out and the Azure Response Time as shown in the following screenshot.

It is great that we get some monitoring out of the box for PaaS services, however this does not help when you are running hundreds+ of services. To handle enterprise scale monitoring of PaaS services you need to centralize the monitoring and that is where the monitoring solutions come in. Microsoft has 4 cloud based monitoring tools to help centralize your Azure monitoring. These tools are able to scale as needed without any hard limits. SCOM is a 5th monitoring tool that can monitor Azure. SCOM is on-premises only though. Here is a screenshot of the various tools minus SCOM:

Here is an example custom PaaS monitoring dashboard in Azure combining widgets from the various monitoring tools:

Now let’s dive into what each tool is and an example of when and how you would use them to help monitor Azure PaaS services.

Application Insights is a Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution used to monitor applications all the way down to the code. Application Insights is typically used for web apps and other Azure PaaS services to detect, triage, and diagnose the root cause of issues. Application Insights gives you the ability to monitor many things about your applications such as availability, metrics like data coming in and out, dependency mappings through application map, performance data, and even live streams of data points. The following screenshot is an example of a web app in Application Insights.

The following screenshot is an example of an availability test summary chart in Application Insights. It is a ping test pointed to a URL. It gives you the % of the apps availability, the successful tests and failures.

With the availability ping test you have control over a bunch of options such as the frequency, success criteria, any needed alerts upon failures, and the ability to select the locations the test runs from.

Here is an Example use case for Application Insights:

  • Debug a multi-tier Azure .NET web application for errors and performance issues.
  • Utilize Application Map in Application Insights to discover visually which parts of the application are unhealthy. For the parts that are not healthy drill down using Application Insights to pinpoint the root cause of the errors.

OMS stands for Operations Management Suite. OMS is goes beyond just a tool that can be used for monitoring. It is a suite that also provides, backup, DR, automation and security. It extends to on-premises and it can monitor both IaaS and PaaS. OMS is a platform and has something called solutions. Solutions are used to extend the functionality of OMS. The solutions are packaged management scenarios. I am not going to list out or dive into all of the solutions available for OMS here. Solutions can be found directly in OMS or from the Azure Marketplace. There are a bunch of OMS solutions that can be used to help monitor and gain insight into your Azure PaaS services. The following screenshot has some of the PaaS related solutions that are available for OMS.

In the previous screenshot the OMS solutions with the white background can be found in the Azure Marketplace while the other OMS solutions will be found directly in OMS. More and more solutions are being added to OMS and the Azure Marketplace all the time.

Below is a screenshot of the Azure Web Apps Analytics OMS solution used to gain insight into an Azure web app/s.

Below is a screenshot of Azure Storage Analytics OMS solution from the Azure Marketplace used to monitor and gain insight into Azure storage.

OMS example use case for monitoring Azure PaaS:

  • Front end application can sometimes connect to a SQL database; and sometimes it cannot. Suspected cause is SQL timeout.
  • Utilize the Azure SQL Analytics to drill-down into SQL timeouts that have occurred on databases.

Azure Monitor provides a consolidated place for monitoring data from Azure services and base-level infrastructure metrics/logs from Azure services. It is typically used to track performance, security, and identify trends on Azure services. Azure Monitor brings (OMS) log analytics, application insights, and even network watcher into one place. Azure Monitor is still a relatively new service in Azure and it is still taking shape. Azure Monitor does offer some data that (Application Insights and OMS do not). The data you cannot get in OMS and Application Insights includes the history of Azure service issues, planned maintenance, health advisories, health history, and Azure activity logs.

An example use case for using Azure Monitor to help monitor Azure PaaS is:

  • Need a report of all services issues for a specific region for the past 3 months.
  • Utilize health history in Azure Monitor to pull a list of all service issues for a specific region from the past 3 months. This example can be seen in the following screenshot.

The following screenshot shows the following areas in Azure Monitor that have important Azure monitoring data.

Azure Monitor also has the ability to integrate with many 3rd party solutions that are used by DevOps folks today. The following screenshot is a group of 3rd party integrations that are available for Azure Monitor.

SCOM can be utilized if you want to monitor Azure resources from on-premises you can utilize SCOM for this. There is a management for Azure. There also is a SCOM management pack for Azure Stack. The SCOM management pack for Azure Stack is used to monitor Azure Stack’s fabric. In order to monitor Azure Stack’s IaaS and PaaS you would use the Azure management pack pointing it to your Azure Stack enviroment. The Azure management pack can monitor the availability and performance of Azure resources that are running on Microsoft Azure via Azure REST APIs.

Azure services that can be discovered and monitored with the Azure SCOM management pack.

Below is a diagram of how the health rolls up in the Azure SCOM management pack.

Where to get the Azure Management Packs

Azure Management Pack:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50013

Azure Stack Management Pack:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=55184

But what about security?

This is where Azure Security Center comes into play. Security Center is a unified security management and advanced threat protection for workloads running in Azure, on-premises, and in other clouds.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blogs on Azure and Azure Stack.

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Azure Stack book (coming soon) & training

It has been a long time coming but I recently have wrapped up a couple projects around Azure Stack. The first is a course on Azure Stack for Opsgility the second is a book on Azure Stack in the Unleashed Series.

For the first project I was fortunate enough to help build some Azure Stack training for the folks at Opsgility. It was great working with Azure MVP’s Michael Washam (@mwashamtx)  and  Dan Patrick (@deltadan) on this.

Here is an overview of the course:

This course is designed for cloud architects, cloud administrators, DevOps engineers, and IT professionals that have experience with Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS) and Platform Services (PaaS). This course focuses on architecting, deploying, and managing Microsoft’s enterprise hybrid cloud solution Azure Stack. This course covers scenarios such as Azure Stack Architecture, deploying and configuring Azure Stack to be enterprise ready, configuring Azure Stack for tenants, region management, monitoring, backup and disaster recovery.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the online training:


Be sure to check out the course here:

https://www.opsgility.com/courses/player/implementing-azure-stack


The second project is a book on Azure Stack in the Pearson Unleashed Series. It is not published yet but all the chapters are in and the book will be published in the near future! This book has a solid team of authors who are all Microsoft MVP’s. I was honored to work with them. The authors are: Kerrie Meyler (@kerriemeyler), Jakob Svendsen (@JakobGSvendsen), Mark Scholman (@markscholman), and Janaka Rangama (@JanakaRangama). Here is a picture of the Azure Stack book author team:

Also thanks to Marc van Eijk (@_marcvaneijk) of the Azure CAT team for doing the technical review and Daniel Savage (@dsavageatms) PM on the Azure Stack team for writting the foreword.

Here is the cover for the book:

Here is the book description:  “Microsoft Hybrid Cloud with Azure Stack and Azure Unleashed cuts through the hype to explain exactly what hybrid cloud is, presents complete CloudOps- & DevOps-based implementation strategies, guides you through deploying the brand-new Microsoft Azure Stack, and helps you maximize the value of your hybrid cloud investment.

Written by an expert team of Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVPs, it covers all-new material included in no othe book, and thoroughly illuminates Microsoft Azure Stack, one of Microsoft’s most eagerly awaited cloud technologies.

This book is built on real-world scenarios and the authors’ extraordinary early adopter, hands-on experience. Leading System Center expert Kerrie Meyler and her colleagues guide you through every step and technique you’ll need to build your own secure, high-performance hybrid cloud infrastructure.

You’ll discover how Azure Stack enables you to run your datacenters with the same scalability, redundancy, and reliability for computer, network, and storage as Microsoft’s own Azure datacenters; how to integrate Azure infrastructure and platform services for use in your internal operations; how to manage virtualized instances of Microsoft software; and how to manage key dependencies with other products and technologies that Microsoft’s hybrid cloud solution depends upon.”

Here is the link to the books page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Hybrid-Unleashed-Kerrie-Meyler/dp/0672338505  This is the link you want to watch for the publish date.

Happy Azure Stacking!

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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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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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