The end of Year One : #Azure Datamarket

This week I got a peculiar mail regarding an almost forgotten Azure “Service”, although not forgotten by me, namely Azure Datamarket.

datamarket

datamarketsiteA Year One “Service” (there has to be a DC , or even better Batman reference, right?) is being carried to the grave.  As Jen Stirrup (@jenstirrup) also mentioned in her post earlier this week ( https://jenstirrup.com/2016/11/18/whats-next-after-azure-datamarket/ ) that it was due to a lack of customer interest. And secondary, due to the lack of MDM consideration. Azure Datamarket was a market were data could be exchanged, sold or put up as reference data.

Well I can relay to that. Actually Microsoft now even made it harder to themselves to make their own MDM and DQS better, as their own products integrated into the Datamarket, as it can be set as Reference Data “infrastructure”.

But as it now shows it seems somehow dat MSFT is already looking at a full replacement inside of the Azure MarketPlace , as the normal URL http://datamarket.azure.com/ gets rerouted to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/?source=datamarket

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And that makes sense, somehow I guess. the issue was that most services today are moving to new environments. we seeing the convergence, once more , but now in the cloud landscape. ASM went to ARM. multiple portals to one, data to a central place.

Microsoft still realizes that, the expression or quote they made a while ago that Data is the new currency, it is still accurate. only the form the handed out wasn’t maybe the best way,  so time for v2 I guess? and we’ll be seeing impact on that too from other aspects. look at services like Block chain or Project Bletchley (not even to mention LinkedIn). maybe all still comes together now somehow. although these are some mere speculations, it would make sense.

So yes Datamarket failed, but only due to being early and ahead of the curve. I totally agree with Jen: the audience was wrong and the timing was bad. I do, just as she, hope that from the ashes the Phoenix will rise again.

It may seem an insignificant service, but the impact may be big.

Azure Datamarket is dead, Long Live Azure DataMarket.

PS: mostly only an opinion and observation and thus my own, so feel free to do your own interpretation.

 

 

 

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A nice addition to your #Azure Daily hammers : Azure Dockit , a Toolbelt Essential!

azuredockitlogo_whitetextThe one thing that always keep lingering around is that single Post-It note with the todo: Generate Documentation. When mainting environment and architectre docs, this can be time consuming, troublesome and … well for most of the people kind of annoying, you’ve got to admit.

Well the last mentioned group of people i have some great news Smile . Especially when you’re involved in Azure deployments. There’s a new tool on the market, named Azure Dockit. What this tool can help you accomplish is actually pretty amazing. And i’m not exagerating here.

Let me walk you through this, the capabilities and the end result.

 

We start of by (after created a subscription, and thus pay for it) selecting a subscription on which you want to generate your documentation. And press Generate Docment. And actually that’s it …..

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Now this may look like a little simple, but the devil is in the settings button. As in there’s more to it than meets the eye.

 

The settings button allows you to configure what your report will look like. First the “Azure Workloads” tab. This allows you to select all the service, so far implemented, you want to generate documentation for.

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Now the cool thing is that these guys are awesome when it comes down to implementing these servcies for documentation. When i first started testing this, there was only just 4 or 5 (and that was mid january). As you can tell from the list in the screenshot, these guys haven’t been sitting still thus far. and that’s a general rule of thumb here: they implement new features on a very high tempo! so kudos for that!

So after selecting all the workloads you want to generate docs for , select the “Document”. now depending on the version you’ve bought, this can be used to either upload a custom template or just use the full one provided by Dockit. You can also choose to generate a ToC and even a time constraint for picking up the document.

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it’s not only the service itself that can be documented, but also some of the content can be documented through this. as we can tell from the “SQL Server”  tab.

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This allows you to generate db structure information as also info on SP’s, tables, etc etc …

in the “Storage” tab you can enter the desired level of containers and blobs you whish to be scanned. now this is a useful feature, as you can (so far) not select the storage accounts containers you want to document. This setting will avoid the documentation overload for storage accounts or BLOB’s which could contain diagnostics, logging and monitoring data.

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On the part of identity and acces management, you have the choice to document either all or just a select number of AAD Users or all of them (with all the changes accordingly).

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One of the more interesting features is the documentation of your VM infrastructure (aka IaaS). a new feature was recently added to this. you can document the internals of your VM by installing and running a custom script extension which uses a Powershell script for internal VM info.

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Also from a billing perspective, this proves interesting as this works for both EA as normal subscriptions. Allowing you to get a cost overview.

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Th last set of settings is on how you want this report to become available: you can choose to drop it in either an Azure Storage account (enabled by CORS, from their end) or in an O365 tenant storage library. There’s even a capability to engage with UManage to create follow ups int his online Team Management Tool. Also here you can choose to get advanced loggin on all the analysis calls the services does for you.

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Once you’ve made your choice of doc generation, you return to the main screen and then press the generate documentation button, to get docs the way you want them. This process might take a while so have some patience here.

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when finished you’ll be presented with a downloadable Word Document.

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when looking deeper in the document, you’ll actually see that it contains some nice graphs and schema’s:

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you get maps on where you’ve deployed, generic overviews in tables and so on. When looking for instance in detail to the VM details you get nice Visio-esque images which are editable in Visio afterwards when having a certain SKU of the product:

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Not only that but also the fact that it generates warnings and best practice suggestions is a valuable feature.

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it even generates stats on websites :

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On schema’s you’ll even get a lay out of your VNET’s incluing gateways and connections.

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if you want to check a full demo file, they have one ready for you on their site here : http://www.azuredockit.com/examples/

 

Conclusion:

This product can save you time, period! Seeing that this is a cloud based service only offers you benefits, although you might find this a disadvantage as you need to regenerate the documentation more often as more feature get added. I must say this company made a lot of effort in making this an easy to use tool. With this many features this is a must have tool. The only downside for me is that you need to buy it per subscription, which makes it hard to re-use for multiple customers or in a consulting role. Maybe a version for consultants could be a great addition to their licensing scheme, as i see a lot of business potential.

New toys : #Azure Web-Based Server Management Tools , And It’s A Lot!!!!!

The Azure boys keep amazing me, especially the guys who co-operate with the Windows Server boys. As of today there’s a new toolset in Azure available for the Sys admins amongst us. Server Management Tools, a web based Server admin toolbox giving you almost all the necessary basics to manage windows Servers from within the Azure Portal, including PowerShell! It’s like having your own Batman Utility Belt (except maybe for the Shark Repellant Bat Spray). Let’s see what’s in the utility belt and how to enable it! You can find the official announcement here : http://blogs.technet.com/b/nanoserver/archive/2016/02/09/server-management-tools-is-now-live.aspx

as an additional reference and complementary post you should also check out Thomas Maurer’s (@ThomasMaurer) blogpost on how you can leverage this to manage Nano : Manage Nano Server and Windows Server from Azure using Remote Server Management Tools

 

 

First lets localize the thing itself. If you do a browse on the portal capabilities, you will find the 2 new icons almost at the bottom:

It’s Server management tools and Server management tools gateway. As you can see in the image below the Service itself connects over the gateway in a secure manner to the different VM’s you want/need to manage/diagnose:

 

This gateway is something you need to deploy yourself and will be managed from on a Windows Server. Do note that the pre-req is having WMF 5.0 installed, thus amost implying Windows Server 2016, but then again this can be done on Server 2012 R2 too (if the RTM WMF 5.0 is back available that is).

Creating the service itself is fairly easy:

Browse -> Server Management Tools conections -> Add (+) -> and then enter either the FQDN, IPv4 or even the IPv6 address of the machine (pretty neat huh)

Create or reuse a resource group and also create a gateway (if you don’t have one yet) . For now the Location is only from Ceantral an East US.

And then just click ok.

The creation is almost instant

Once created you’ll see the “machine” available.

And the gateway too

Taking a deeper look at the Gateway you can see what version and status exists at that moment

In the machine itself (so the management service blade you’ll see this:

Since I haven’t deployed the Gateway itself yet, let’s get that to work:

On the gateway or the management service blade click either the Setup setting or the Blue Ribbon on the machine itself (see above iage): this will open a blade explaining all the steps necessary:

Click on the “Generate a package link” and immediately download the package zip. This contains an MSI and a .json file and needs to be deployed on the gateways server. Do note that this link is based upon a SAS token with a limited availability period. (btw when unzipping the file, DON’T FORGET TO UNBLOCK THE ZIP FIRST!).

Now upload the json and msi to a machine which will act as the GW. (easiest: just use an Azure File Share ;-) ). Then run the MSI on the machine. It’s just 3 easy steps :

And

Once that’s done you’ll get another tile enable in the gatway blade with all the gateway info

On the server itself (so that other blade/page) , you now need to log in with a user capable of managing the machine

Click Manage As and enter the credentials

Once done you can get started! J immediately you see all the crucial information of the VM appearing in the management tiles. Pretty sleek. Giving you an overview of all the things that you have in a standard process and/or taskmanager.

Hitting Settings enables all the capabilities and gives you the tools you want

Properties gives you the machine overview

Computer ID the identity of the machine

You can also add additional local admins on the machine (either Workgroup/local or AD users)

The IP properties also allow you to clear DNS settings / flushing, and manage the IP’s (statc / dynamic)

The goal will also be to configure Windows Update from here in the (near) future

One thing that isn’t enable by default is disk metrics

Enabling it will prompt you If you want to and a warning:

When activated you get a wealth of info :

With details in drilldown

The cool stuff happens when you click on the CPU tile:

It opens a CPU blade, showing you all the metrics per CPU , the number of processors et all. Nothing much special you might say, but when looking at the Metric table you see a small arrow next to the number of processes:

This opens up the process/task manager and you can actually start and stop processes from here. I did this just for fun: opening an RDP and then running the notepad process from wihin the portal as so

When looking at the task manager in the RDP session you could indeed see the process being started and running (of course this will not show up as this is another session and thus background, see the highlighted one)

From the memory perspective you get the basics, giving you enough insights on what’s memory related thus far (although a profile in the portal wouldn’t be bad J )

The Ethernet points you again to the NIC’s

But with bandwidth and network details infoJ.

The tools themselves are the mere basics, but still pretty nice, especially the event viewer which allows you to check all the events generated in your machines

The Device Manager allows you to disable devices (as in windows) and maybe helping you out with bad drivers

The registry editor is exactly that and allows you to add and remove keys (be careful though)

The roles and features gives you the full windows features and roles list, but nothing more at the moment.

The services then again are manageable and could be used to start and stop services. Unfortunately you cannot change the startup type (yet).

You can however specify the query and thus the results, thus enabling you to get a quick overview of all stopped services for instance.

And then last but not least: a PowerShell web gateway J

And they’ve actually added some cool stuff in here. Like the command browser (as you know it from the ISE) and a script editor allowing you to write PowerShell scripts.

The command browser work exactly as in ISE, allowing you to fill out all the parameters and then push back the full command to the host J . so you have NO MORE EXCUSE to NOT use PowerShell J.

As you can see, most basic tools for troubleshooting or at least getting the information are available in here, although I’d like to believe this is only the beginning J.

Hope you found this useful.

TTYL

Techmike2KX:

PS: I found my muze again J, so expect more blogposts J

things to do in Sweden … on a Saturday night … #powerbi quickstart demo with #github

riddlocatBy means of a joke thanks to this tweet (see image below) i created a small start video on how to use PowerBi to get your Github stats of any projects :-). enjoy

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PS: bad sound quality perhaps, since it was shot under a time constraint in a hotel room
watch the video

a quick tip for monitoring : #azure application insights has a plugin for WordPress

azureWhen willing to have monitoring and stats and diagnostics for your sites and you want to use tools like Application Insights you mostly need to add code or scriptlines to all the pages you want tor track. The Redmondians have made it easy for us when using world’s most popular CMS: WordPress (as I do too , yes I’m a fan, so sue me :-) ). This makes monitoring sooooo easy, there’s no more excuse NOT TO DO IT!!

 

 

so … enter your WP site, select the Plugins side menu and click “add new”. Type in “Applications Insights” and there it is. now all you have to do is click “Install Now”.

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Once done it will be in the installed plugins list. Activate it if it didn’t automatically.

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Once actived the only thing left to do is enter the application insights instrumentation key (the green indication) and paste it in the settings pages of the Application Insights settings.

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And that’s it. give it a couple of minutes and all your stats will be dripping onto your beautiful Azure Ibiza portal in no time. Hope this helps :-)

 

Proud JustAzure Collaborator

Just-Azure-collab-Badge-120x120Since September 1st 2014, I’m officially a JustAzure.com collaborator. This site is a collection of well renowned Azure faces (people like Robin Shahan (@robindotnet) , Sandrino Di Mattia (@sandrinodm) , Michael Collier (@MichaelCollier), and so on and so on) and I’m very proud to be part of it! This “Platform” will try to go from the very basics explanation to more complex matters until the entire topic of choice has been handled. And gradually the content will become more complex, just as with any other learning curve

You might ask yourself (not quoting the Talking Heads btw): “Why another series of articles on Windows Microsoft Azure”?

Well there’s a couple of good reasons for it, and here a few to name:

  • There’s not enough articles available which cover all aspects of the topic
  • There’s not enough articles on “Notes from the field”
  • Most articles are for IT Pro’s, I’ll try to address DEVS, IT Pro’s and DevOps in the entire series. (that’s for me specific)
  • There’s not enough fun in these articles
  • We want to do it differently ….

Every journey starts with a single step, namely the first. (Or in IT: step 0, just to get all geeky). Well for my first step in the series of articles (yes series) I’m writing, I’ve chosen to handle Virtual Machines and IaaS capabilities. Hence I even named my first article “Azure Virtual Machines Part 0: A VM Primer” Check this article and site out. We, the collaborators, hope that you find it useful and clear with respect to the content we are trying to offer.

See you there!

Yours truly,

 

The MickeySoft Bunny J

 

PS : Follow @justazure for info when new articles are published