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.

Cool Windows 10 update.. and there goes my network … NOW WHAT? #lifehack

windowslogoFor those also a edgy as me, and thus living on the Windows Insiders Fast Ring might come to a surprise from time to time. Today i was passed on the latest build (14279), and of course very happy with it Smile (geek as I am). Unfortunately that wasn’t counted on networkadapters, Hyper-V and the update itself.

 

So what happened: I had a full setup of Hyper-V active on the machine, with a couple of vAdapters and a vSwitch belonging to that. After the update and the reboot, i all of a sudden could no longer connect to the internet. What happened? I don’t get it… i checked the Wi-Fi connection … seemed connected.. although now i was getting a 169.x.x.x loopback address (you know,  the ones that come for free Sad smile )

 

I went to check out the adapters … and guess what , my network bridge was gone …. weird … So i decided to remove it from the adapters .. but … COMPUTER SAYS NO ..

All of a sudden my adapters start misbehaving and havig an attitude against me.  Luckily i remembered someting from the old day … netcfg …. Smile

 

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so what do you need to do:

  1. open a command prompt in Admin Mode
  2. run netcfg /? to get you all the netfcg help info. The key lies in the netcfg –d, as this will reset and remove all adapters and put them back in zero configuration
  3. run the command with netcfg –d
  4. reboot the device

The only thing now of course is to re-create the vSwitch and all should be back to normal.

 

It’s not the best solution around (it shouldn’t be happeneing at first), but still it does the trick.

I hope i could save you all some time here

M.

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”.

installtheplugin

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

instaledplugin

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.

appinsights

settings

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 :-)

 

Little free gem … #windowsazure SQL Reporting Succinctly

051313_0924_Didyouknowh1.pngEvery once in a while you bump in to some free stuff that’s more than totally worthwhile taking a look at (but then again isn’t free stuff always worthwhile #statingtheobvious?). Last year I got to learn to know a component company named Syncfusion and this through their wonderful free tool named Metro Studio, an icon and graphics generation tool to generate Windows 8 style icons and graphics for tiles. It so happens that Syncfusion also have an extensive library of free ebooks on a varia of subjects, ranging from git, to TypeScript over to Lightswitch (an excellent one btw written by a friend named Jan Van der Haegen ) and many more.

The goal of Succinctly series ebooks is simple: a series of concise technical books that targeted at developers working on the Microsoft platform. Syncfusion believes, given the background knowledge such developers have, that most topics can be translated into books that are between 50 and 100 pages. Just to get on the road fast and furious (no pun intended) with new tech.

It so happens to be that, since a short while, there’s one released on Windows Azure. And more specifically on Windows Azure SQL Reporting. The author is Stacia Misner, a Microsoft SQL Server MVP and an expert in Microsoft BI-related technologies (read mostly SQL Server and all of it’s components).

Windows Azure SQL Reporting by Stacia Misner

So what’s this book all about?
Well for starters the author the author nailed it from the beginning, by kicking off with the main differences between Windows Azure SQL Reporting (WASR) and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). From there out she gradually moves on to the configuration and usage of WASR, by guiding you step by step through the process. Next to that she also explains you some important other features that you might need while using WASR. Also on the list is the security factor and how you can integrate with everything else.

I’ve included the table of contents for your convenience:

  • Chapter 1 Introduction to SQL Reporting
    • What Is SQL Reporting?
    • How Does SQL Reporting Compare to Reporting Services?
    • Why Use SQL Reporting?
      • Small Company
      • Large Company
      • Limited Project Lifespan
      • Cloud Application Developer
  • Chapter 2 Getting Started
    • Windows Azure Setup
    • SQL Database Setup
    • Data Migration Options
      • Deploy Database Wizard
      • Database Script
      • Windows Azure Data Sync
      • Data-Tier Application Export and Import
      • Windows Azure Blob Storage Account
    • BACPAC Export
    • Migration into SQL Database
    • SQL Server Integration Services
      • Bulk Copy Utility
    • SQL Reporting Setup
  • Chapter 3 Report Development
    • Tools
    • Report Development Fundamentals
      • Report Projects
      • Report Items
      • Expressions
      • Report Parameters
      • Filters
      • Query Parameters
      • Subreports and Drillthrough
      • Interactivity
      • Pagination
    • Report Builder
      • Getting Started Wizard
      • Report Development in Report Builder
    • ReportViewer Control
      • On-Premises Application
      • Windows Azure Application
  • Chapter 4 Report Management
    • Report Deployment
    • Redeployment
    • Data Source Management
    • Execution Log
    • Server Usage Statistics
    • Report Server Properties
      • General Properties
      • Execution Properties
  • Chapter 5 Report Parts
    • Benefits of Report Parts
    • Report Part Creation
      • Report Part Deployment
      • Deployment from Report Designer
      • Deployment from Report Builder
      • Report Part Redeployment
    • Report Part Management
    • Report Part Gallery
    • Update Notification
  • Chapter 6 Security
    • Role-Based Security
      • Item Roles
      • System Roles
    • Users
    • Report Server Item Permissions
  • Chapter 7 Report Access
    • Web Service URL
    • Rendering Formats
      • Excel
      • Word
      • MHTML
      • PDF
      • TIFF
      • CSV
      • XML
    • My Reports Folder
    • URL Access
    • Report URL
    • URL Access Parameters

I know WASR and this book really show you how to act on every aspect. It’s written in a very comprehensive way and lives up to the statement of the 100 pages maximum accomplishment.

You can get the ebook here: https://www.syncfusion.com/resources/techportal/ebooks/windowsazure?UTM_medium=mikeblogreview all you need to do is register and then download. Have fun reading!!!!

interesting Official #windowsazure posters at your disposal … and some free ebooks

050313_1311_Didyouknowh1.pngJust a quick Windows Azure post on some nice posters available at you disposal and some great books too:

UPDATE 24-10-2013 :

Since a couple of weeks the Windows Azure Product page has got it’s own little poster corner available, check the link here

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/documentation/infographics/

There’s one in there on SQL SERVER ALWAYSON now too!!

Posters:

Windows Azure Overview :
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35473
Windows Azure Media Services :
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38195
Scaling Applications Using Windows Azure Cloud Services :
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36837
Windows Azure SQL Database Federations :
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29213
Microsoft Business Intelligence at a Glance containing Windows Azure Components :
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35586
Identity and Authentication in the cloud: Office 2013 and Office 365 (and Windows Azure):
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=38193

an additional one :
Windows Azure SQL Database Permissions:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/11842.sql-server-database-engine-permission-posters.aspx

And a brand new one

Windows Azure Infrastructure Services Poster
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39074

MS Integration Platform Poster
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39077

* Update 08/08/2013

a new additional poster has been released: Windows Azure Mobile Services

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39283

* Update 03/09/2013

a poster has been released, which has references to all available .Net libraries for Windows Azure: .NET Universe 2013 Poster

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39952

* Update 13/11/2013

it’s not an “official” MSFT poster, but comes close: fellow Azure MVP Alexandre Brisebois (@Brisebois) Jouni Heikniemi  ( @jouniheikniemi ) (my bad!!) created a nice component overview poster on the platform and it is really worth the mention

http://www.redmond-recap.com/2013/11/07/windows-azure-poster-november-2013-edition/

Books :

Autoscaling Application Block and Transient Fault Handling Application Block Reference
Building Elastic and Resilient Cloud Applications – Developer’s Guide to the Enterprise Library 5.0 Integration Pack for Windows Azure
Building Hybrid Applications in the Cloud on Windows Azure
Create Your First Application – Node.js and Windows Azure
Drupal on Windows Azure
Migrating Data-Centric Applications to Windows Azure
Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition

Developing  Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your iOS Apps
Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Phone 8 Apps
Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your Windows Store Apps in C#
Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Store Apps in JavaScript
Windows Azure and SQL Database Tutorials
Windows Azure Prescriptive Guidance
Windows Azure Service Bus Reference

UPDATE 04/09/2013

A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control, Second Edition

Did you know … Nifty #windowsazure tips and things you perhaps didn’t know …

That the Windows Azure eco system is vast, needs no explanation. But sometimes there’s these little thing you don’t know about or might miss when using the system. Here’s a couple of tips which might be useful when doing Windows Azure related things. Or even just fun to know :-).

10 tips

10.    Copy blobs between subscriptions

Since the spring release of 2012 in the API, and a couple of weeks later in the SDK, the windows Azure Platform gives you the ability to copy blob storage from subscription to another. So if you want to move from one account to another, then you don’t need to download your storage locally anymore when mirgrating!

Ps: the same applies for copying stored blob from regular lob storage accounts to Media Services Storage Accounts. See these MSDN links on how it works.

09.    Move content by support

Sometimes you have it that you want to move your cheese (funny expression actually J). Only sometimes this really can be a hassle in downloading, prepping and re-uploading to another subscription … well there’s actually for some things an easier way in Windows Azure … Did you know you could actually do this through support? open a ticket

08.    The Easter egg

Not known by many but fun to know: the background of the Management Portal can be changed by double clicking on the background (not useful but fun to do, although I like Maarten Balliauw’s Version during his AzureConf talk much more … J #sharkswithfreakinglasers

07.    Microsoft Endpoint Security for Windows Azure

Did you know that Windows Azure supports some security mechanisms you can deploy yourself? Although still in CTP, you do have the opportunity to have an anti-virus and anti-malware solution in place for you Cloud Services deployments.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This plugin is compatible with Windows Azure SDK 1.7 only. It will not work properly with other versions of the Azure SDK. And I don’t know what will be next up for this.
get it here : http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29209

Install Instructions

  1. Download Microsoft Endpoint Protection for Windows Azure (eppplugin.msi) and install it.
  2. Enable the “Antimalware” import in your Windows Azure service definition.
  3. Deploy your service.

06.    Know but mostly forgotten: BEWARE: Stop is still charged

Maybe not to unknown but mostly forgotten … if you stop something in Windows Azure this may still incur some charges!

But some good news for the future, as announced by Scott Guthrie during AzureConf 2013, MSFT is working on this! So this could imply stopped VM’s and Cloud services without charges in the near or distant future.

05.    Storage is directly accessible

Did you know that Windows Azure is actually the best and cheapest Skydrive solution available ;-) Azure Storage is directly accessible when the security is changed on the containers (through means of SAS).

That way you can easily share files with your peers in a cheap way J

if you want some good info on storage then do check out these interesting links by other Windows Azure MVP’s:

04.    cloud cloud click away

cloudjeMost people don’t realize it but did you know that on every item in the management portal there’s a little cloud symbol? and by clicking on that you get different walktrhoughs, guides, code samples, direct download links for tools/sdk’s or even next steps in what to do with you current state of that type of Windows Azure asset. It has a ton of information immediately at your disposals

03.    Traffic Manager and VIP leases

Did you know : An additional advantage of Traffic Manager (yes another one!!! J) is that when you are failing over your cloud services your Publlic Facing IP doesn’t change .. (talking about a nice side effect)

02.    fun fact :

Instead of the sharks with freaking lasers (the most requested feature ever for the platform) we now have Barracudas protecting our valuable cloud platform. https://www.barracuda.com/blogs/pmblog?bid=2016. This proves that Microsoft puts a lot of effort in the safety of the platform. But don’t forget … it’s not because there’s an initial layer of security present that you don’t need to make sure that your assets are secure. Because YOU are still responsible for the safety and security of your Azure assets (as goes with everything else!)

01.    Get your SQL DB connection strings from within the portal.

Always have issues with connection strings? Well then the portal manages this for you: if you click the little cloud symbol you’ll find a “Connect to your database” item on there, which generates connection strings for your db/server on Azure SQL databases. Only thing you need to do is fill out the user and password.