Category: Infrastructure


Ignite 2017 Preview: Coming Azure Changes

Microsoft Ignite 2017 is less than a week away. Microsoft has already been busy making changes to Microsoft Azure ahead of time. While it’s unclear what all the announcements for Azure will be at Ignite 2017, it’s clear there are certain “smaller” changes / updates that will be announced / discussed. This article highlights a few Microsoft Azure service updates and Preview features that are publicly available today; that we will likely learn much more about at Ignite next week.

Web Apps for Windows or Linux

The Azure Web Apps for Linux service has been Generally Available (GA) for some time now. Initially it has a different provisioning wizard within the Azure Portal from the “Web Apps on Windows”. However, recently Microsoft updated the Azure Portal to include UI to choose either Windows or Linux when provisioning an Azure Web App. This helps to better streamline the UI/UX.

Web Apps for Containers

There a “new” Web Apps service within Azure App Service. The new Web Apps for Containers enables you to spin up a Web App on Linux using any Docker container. It allows you to specify the Image source for the container to pull from an Azure Container Registry service, Docker Hub, or any Private Registry.

The Web Apps for Containers is not a Preview feature. It’s actually a new Azure Portal UI wizard around the Azure Web Apps for Linux service that’s been Generally Available (GA) for some time now. The Web Apps for Linux make you pick a “built-in” Docker container template, then after provisioning you can setup your own Image source. The Web Apps for Containers enable you to specify your custom Docker container image source from the time of provisioning the service through the Azure Portal.

Azure Web Apps Analytics (Preview)

Azure Web Apps Analytics is a new Preview feature of OMS and Log Analytics. The “learn more” and “documentation” links displayed in the Azure Portal for it just link to the Log Analytics information for now. I presume we’ll see more specific documentation coming soon.

As the Azure Portal informations states, “The Azure Web Apps Analytics Solution provides insights into your Web Apps by collecting different metrics across all your Azure Web App resources.

It goes on to list the following bullet points as to what it will enable you to see for your Web Apps:

  • Top Web Apps with highest response time
  • Number of requests including successful and failed requests across your Web Apps
  • Top Web Apps with highest ingoing/outgoing traffic
  • Top Service Plans with high CPU/memory utilization

It’s a little unclear what the full difference it between what Application Insights offers and Azure Web Apps Analytics. However, we should see more documentation / information soon.

Azure Table Storage is Now Part of Azure Cosmos DB

Azure Table Storage is no longer a service of Azure Storage, but is now part of Cosmos DB. Here’s a short quote from the documentation on this:

“Standard Azure Table Storage is now part of Cosmos DB. Also available is Premium Tables for Azure Table storage, offering throughput-optimized tables, global distribution, and automatic secondary indexes.”

We all knew from the Build 2017 announcements that Azure Table Storage was going to be somehow migrated to or included in Azure Cosmos DB somehow. Microsoft just said they would announce further details on this later. Well, it appears that Ignite 2017 is when Microsoft will announce the full specifics of the Azure Table Storage to Cosmos DB migration / transition. However, we can see plenty of information within the Azure Documentation already that states much of the detail on how this will be done.

It seems that the “old” Azure Table Storage will be known as “Standard Table Storage” and the newer Cosmos DB Table API will be known as “Azure Cosmos DB Premium Table”. Here’s a screenshot from the documentation that lists out differences between these two Table Storage offerings / price points:

How did you find this information?

While I am a Microsoft MVP, that did NOT help me learn any of this information. I learned it through normal use and observation of Microsoft Azure through the Azure Portal and Documentation published by Microsoft. You can reference the screenshots and documentation link in the above information for the sources to these “Previews of what’s coming to Azure”.

Microsoft has a habit of publishing and releasing services and documentation in Microsoft Azure ahead of the release. If you are familiar with things and work with it a lot, then you’ll likely notice these changes too. Most times they are subtle, but other times they aren’t so much. For example, when Microsoft announced the renaming of DocumentDB to Cosmos DB and the associated service changes, they actually published everything in the Azure Portal a few hours in advance of the announcement. This is how I was able to blog about Cosmos DB before the announcement.

If you find any additional new features, service previews, and documentation I haven’t listed here, please post a comment to share it with us. It’s always fun to look at the new, shiny stuff as it’s published / released.


More Affordable Azure VMs with “Burstable” B-Series

One of the most common complaints about Azure Virtual Machine (VM) pricing is that it’s too expensive for small workloads. For custom web applications you could share an App Service Plan, which is great if the app can be hosted within Azure App Service. However, if your workload needs a full VM, then there wasn’t really a great option unless you were willing to share a VM with multiple applications. This can pose many management difficulties. Thankfully, Microsoft has been listening to feedback of wanting an even more cost effective and affordable cloud for smaller workloads too. The Azure B-Series VM sizes are the answer to this, and instead being “just cheaper VMs” they offer an innovative advancement to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Read More

ArchitectureInfrastructureserverlessService Bus

A Tour of Azure Messaging Services (Queues, Event Grid, IoT Hub, and More)

In the early days of Microsoft Azure, there was a single Message Queue service; the Azure Storage Queue. This was way back in early 2010, however, soon after that Microsoft introduced another messaging service called Service Bus; then soon after another, and another! Over the years, there have been a few different messaging and message queue services introduced into the Microsoft Azure platform. Each of these messaging services are a little different than each other and offer a pretty wide range of messaging offerings to choose from. This article walks through the primary features of each of the Microsoft Azure messaging services, and will help give you an understanding of when to use each for your own applications and enterprise scenarios. Read More

Infrastructuremachine learning

OpenAI Wins Dota 2 Tournament using Microsoft Azure

On August 11, 2017, it was announced that OpenAI beat the world’s top professionals at 1v1 matches of Dota 2 tournament under standard rules. The bot’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) learned the game from scratch through self-play. This is a feat of achievement for AI as Elon Musk states this is “vastly more complex than traditional board games like chess & Go.” Shortly after it was announced that the AI bot won the tournament, Elon Musk also tweeted out his appreciation and thanks to Microsoft for using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform and it’s “massive processing power” to win the tournament. This is a really great example of how the massive computing power of Microsoft Azure can be used, in addition to yet another stepping stone in the path towards much more advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI). Read More

Azure StackHardwareInfrastructure

Microsoft Azure Stack is ready to Purchase!

In the early days of Microsoft Azure, back in 2010 when it was called Windows Azure, Microsoft had announced plans to make the Azure services available to be run / hosted in on-premises datacenter. Shortly after the announcement they released Azure Pack which wasn’t quite what we had all hoped for. Then about 2 years ago, Microsoft started talking about “Azure in your datacenter” again! The started talking about this new product offering called Azure Stack. We’ve seen a couple technical previews of Azure Stack so far, but not much in the way of a GA (Generally Available) release. That is until now. This week, Microsoft announced that in coordination with hardware OEMs you can now order Azure Stack integrated system hardware, with the first systems beginning to ship in September. There is also some pricing information, and an Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) being made available.

This is an exciting time for Azure Stack, now that we can finally see it all coming together where we’ll finally be able to run Azure services natively in on-premises datacenter or absolutely anywhere else. Read More


Azure Subscription Resource Limits and Quotas

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) imposes limits and quotas on how many resources of each type you can provision per Azure Subscription, and even per Azure Region. Some limits are a hard maximum, while others are a soft limit that can be increases upon request. When working with Virtual Machines (VMs), Storage Accounts, Databases, and other resources in the Microsoft Azure cloud you can easily hit up against these limits, so it’s important to know they exist and how to work around them. This article will explain the details around the Limits and Quotas on resources within Microsoft Azure; including tips on how to work around these limits to scale as high as your organization needs. Read More

Azure CLIInfrastructure

Azure CLI 2.0: Quickly Start / Stop ALL VMs

You can easily Start and Stop Virtual Machines (VMs)¬†through the Azure Portal. Previously, I’ve written about the importance of Stopping unused VMs to save money and place them in a “Stopped (Deallocated)” state. While it’s easy and simple to do through the Azure Portal, it’s also time consuming if you have multiple VMs; especially if you have a dozen or more VMs. The following Azure CLI 2.0 tip will show you how you can easily use the Azure CLI to Start and Stop multiple VMs with a single command!

Before we get into how to Start, Stop and Deallocate Virtual Machines (VMs) in batches, we must first cover the basics of Starting, Stopping and Deallocating VMs one at a time. After those commands are defined and demonstrated, then you’ll have the foundation necessary to extend on that to do the batching. Please be patient as you read through as you’ll need to step through this to fully understand the end result. And, you’ll be glad you did once you get there as this will really enable you to be immensely more productive in your management of Azure Virtual Machines when it comes to Starting, Stopping, and Deallocating them. Read More

Azure CLIInfrastructure

Azure CLI 2.0: Reset / Change Azure VM Password

It’s very easy to spin up a Virtual Machine (VM) in Microsoft Azure. You can do it through the Azure Portal or with scripting tools such as the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell cmdlets, and even ARM Templates. When you provision the new VM you need to set an Administrator username and password for the VM. You will use these login credentials to connect to and manage the VM. However, there are time when you either need to 1) change the password periodically, or 2) reset the password if you may have forgotten what it was. Thankfully, Azure makes the task of changing the password for a VM extremely easy to do from the management of your Azure Subscription. It can be done easily enough through the UI of the Azure Portal, however there are times when scripting and automation are necessary to fit your workflow best. Below you’ll find the simple, easy to use command to change / reset the password for a VM running in Azure. Both Windows and Linux VMs work the same way!
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Azure CLIInfrastructure

Azure CLI 2.0: Generate SAS Token for Blob in Azure Storage

Azure Storage is a cloud service at the very center of Microsoft Azure. It provides the foundations for storing data in many services and systems within the Azure cloud platform. You can use Azure Blob Storage to store any binary data such as files, images, backups, .vhd’s, videos, and pretty much any other file. The Azure Blob Storage will secure all blobs / files by default where they can’t be access without a key. You can configure the service to allow anonymous access to blobs, however, there are many circumstances that you want to securely share a file with Azure Blob Storage.
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Azure CLIInfrastructure

Azure CLI 2.0: Reset Azure SQL Database Password

The Azure SQL Database service allows you to set an Admin login and password when you provision a database server in the service. However, if you happen to forget the password for the Azure SQL Database server, it can be problematic. There is an option in the UI of the Azure Portal to reset this admin password. However, there may be times when you want to update the password from the command-line or in an automated fashion. Perhaps, you may want to automate the updating of the admin password for your Azure SQL Database servers periodically. Thankfully, there is a command in the Azure CLI 2.0 that does support updating or changing the password. Read More