Windows Azure SDK for .Net Management API (Preview)

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Up until recently, we’ve had to use the REST API to work with Management objects in Windows Azure. This is great as all the overhead is stripped away, and anything can access it. However a .Net developer has a little extra work around generating the URLs, Authentication, and making requests. The new Management API included in the .Net SDK is a welcome enhancement.  It’s still in preview, and sometimes doesn’t work as expected… Here’s a little code to get you started.

Via Nuget: Install-Package Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Management.Libraries -IncludePrerelease

Ref: Windows Azure Management Libraries

AutoHotkey Where Have You Been All My Life?

 

Maybe I’m just late to the party, but this tool is just awesome! Install it! Run it, and say yes to let it create the default script. AutoHotKey has it’s own “language” and I use that term loosely. Here are a couple of helpful thing to note that should get you started. The semicolon is a comment:

; Basic modifier symbols:
; # Windows key
; ! Alt key
; ^ Control key
; + Shift key
 
^!+b::Run www.bing.com

This above command will launch the default browser and navigate to Bing when you press: ctrl + alt + shift + b. I don’t think that some of these long hotkeys seem that useful and frankly I will not remember them. There are however times, when, say I’m having to modify text by pressing down, over, over, over, backspace, backspace rinse and repeat. You know what I’m talking about… This is where AutoHotkey comes to the rescue. To do just that you would:

^#!f::
Down
Left
Left
Left
Backspace
Backspace
Return

You can even loop and other constructs… just awesome! Go forth and do.

Windows Azure and the Sochi Olympics

In April we, Microsoft, announced we’re teaming up with NBC Sports to deliver digital media using Windows Azure Media Services. I’ve had the pleasure of working on the team at Microsoft that’s making this happen. As you can imagine this has been a very demanding, but exciting project to be apart of. I’ve had many opportunities to learn about Windows Azure and media in general. I hope over the coming weeks to share some of my experiences…

Wednesday I’ll be flying out to Las Vegas to work with the team to insure our users have a great experience…

Windows Azure, Remote PowerShell and the Case of the Unknown Certificate Authority

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Recently the folks over on the Azure team released a bunch of improvements to Azure. One of them caught my eye. They’ve provided us a way to enable PowerShell remoting when provisioning a machine. As someone who tries to automate all things I was extremely happy to see this. Gone are the days or creating images with startup scripts set, but there is a problem…

After you provision a machine with the above check box checked. You’ll probably try something like this…

[gist]https://gist.github.com/adminian/bc3829b74941f405a802[/gist]

And then you’ll see the following exception:

Enter-PSSession : Connecting to remote server psremoter.cloudapp.net failed with the following error message : The server certificate on the destination computer
(psremoter.cloudapp.net:5074) has the following errors:
The SSL certificate is signed by an unknown certificate authority. For more information, see the about_Remote_Troubleshooting Help topic.
At line:11 char:1
+ Enter-PSSession -ComputerName psremoter.cloudapp.net -Port 5074 -Credential $cre …
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo          : InvalidArgument: (psremoter.cloudapp.net:String) [Enter-PSSession], PSRemotingTransportException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CreateRemoteRunspaceFailed

Let’s take a step back and look at what I’m talking about. When you enable this feature, PSRemoting is configured for SSL and uses a self signed certificate. This certificate needs to be added to your root certificate store so that you can access the machine. Let’s do this…

[gist]https://gist.github.com/adminian/eae238a59988f1bf873e[/gist]

This script creates a ServicePoint to get the certificate. Then adds it to your trusted store. Now your free to “Enter-PSSesion” or “Invoke-Command” all you’d like!

How To: Setup Windows Azure PowerShell

A lot of the demos, lab environments, and test I do are in Azure. I try to script everything so that it’s repeatable and I don’t turn into a monkey clicking next. What fun is that? With that said I’ve put together how I setup my environment for communicating with Azure via PowerShell.

First things first you’ll need Microsoft Web Platform Installer. Once this is installed go ahead and open it. You should see a screen that looks like this:

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Click add next to Windows Azure PowerShell and click install.

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You should see the Prerequisites screen, click I Accept.

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This should start the install. Once it’s complete the module for Azure PowerShell should be installed. It also installed some of the Azure SDK libraries, but this is only part of the story. Now that we have the Azure module installed we need to configure it to talk with our Azure Subscription (by the way you should have one for this to work!). Here again this is something I do a little too often, so I keep a script around that handles everything.

Let me explain what’s going on here. First we import the module you just installed. This will need to be done each time you open PowerShell unless you use the Azure PowerShell shell. [*Hint: Put it in your profile.]  Next we have a couple of options. If you don’t have a certifiate you’ll need to create one. This is where the “makecert” command comes in. Once you’ve created it you’ll need to add this to you subscription. You can do this by uploading the CER file by browsing to “Settings” in the management portal. If you already have a cert you can just import it into your certificate store using the “import-pfxcertificate” cmdlet. Once the certificate is in your store you need to save it to a variable for use later. Go to the Azure portal and get your Subscription ID. Set “MySubId” to that value. The subscription name can be anything really. Your storage account name is also in the Azure portal. Go to storage an you will see one or more accounts depending on how you’re setup. Grab the name of the one you want and use it as the value of “myStorageSubscription” variable. The last two commands are where the magic happens… “Set-AzureSubscription” creates the subscription on your machine. The “Select-AzureSubscription” makes it active. You can have multiple subscriptions!

Now just run “get-azurevm” and you should see a list of VMs you have running.

Script: Check BitLocker Status of a Volume

Recently a customer reached out to me with a challenge. They’d just purchased a number of Surface Pro devices. Being good stewards they wanted to ensure these devices had BitLocker enabled. We solved this by using a simple PowerShell script that gathered the information then emails a log.

[gist]https://gist.github.com/adminian/54cccf6386abee7b92f4[/gist]

PowerDNSimple: A PowerShell module for DNSimple.com REST API

dnsimple 

This journey started when I was building a test lab on Windows Azure. The goal was to run two SharePoint instances, one SharePoint 2010 farm and one SharePoint 2013 farm. In keeping with automating this network setup and build… I wanted a good way to lookup my VM’s VIP assigned by Azure and update an A record on DNSimple. It turns out a simple DNS Alias record is really what I needed, but never the less I’ve had a bit of fun and learned a few things along the way.

I’ll come back to working with Azure in a later post, for now let’s focus on DNSimple…

DNSimple.com offers a great service! I first heard about them from Scott Hanselman. I’ve not been disappointed. Not only do they have a robust API, but also 1 click DNS configuration for many popular services (I won’t hold it against them if they don’t have a Office365 configuration yet).

My scripting language of choice is PowerShell. Naturally I turned there first to start automating. Out of this came PowerDNSimple. Drop it in your modules folder and you get a few new functions:

  • Get-SMPLDomains – Get a list of domains hosted at DNSimple.
  • Get-SMPLDomainRecords – Get a list of records for a given domain.
  • Add-SMPLDomainRecord – Create a new record.
  • Update-SMPLDomainRecord – Update an existing record.
  • Remove-SMPLDomainRecord – Delete an existing record.

Here is a sample script…

[gist]https://gist.github.com/adminian/faaf45ca3737ab7f94ab[/gist]