Thursday, October 20, 2016

Azure Automation Agent Force Check In Using PowerShell

Azure Automation is a tool that a System Administrator dreamed of that quickly became reality.  With Azure Automation you can automate jobs. tasks, configurations and deployments against resources in Azure, on-premises, and even in other cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS). DevOps is a word that is being used quite frequently and Azure Automation builds on this culture for an organization's infrastructure.

The reason I am writing this blog post is because I recently worked on a project where the Web Server was not playing nice with the DSC configuration in Azure. The agent was not checking back into the host server to check its configuration. This post shows how to speed this up.

Another Admin removed the Web Server role and DSC normally checks in to put it back. In this case it dd not. See the screenshots below to view the inconsistency with the server.


From within the server or Remote PowerShell running the Update-DscConfiguration -Wait -Verbose command started the pulling of the configuration file from the DSC Node Server.


The Virtual Machine still did not start the configuration even though the Update was initiated. The work around with this is, as I found was to you use the Start-DscConfiguration -UseExisitng -Verbose cmdlet. This will reference the MOF file on the local box and fire off the agent to talk to the DSC node server forcefully. At this point the Web Server started to install the configuration as seen below.


And within a few periodic checks our DSC configuration was again consistent.



I hope this helps someone. Especially if your new with Azure Automation.

If you have not used Azure as yet and want to get started click here

Happy Scripting!!!

Adnan Cartwright

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Deploying Nano Server Using Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4

Nano Server is indeed one of the hot topics moving forward with Server 2016 and its Technical Preview releases. The push for Nano Server and the reason why so much focus is on it, comes down to how better secured the platform is. Microsoft has Nano as an installation option that reduces the footprint of the system thus the attack surface as features that are not necessary to run is not. The GUI is gone and at the time of this writing there is no RDP support or functionality. That means you need to know your Power Shell! WMI is also supported for remote management.

Nano Server is headless, smaller than a Server Core Installation which means less system to patch, a reduced amount of reboots due to patching and only the core services needed for the deployment is running. Think of it as a purposed built system specifically for your deployments. The days of the golden image looks like they will soon fade away. Golden images more than half of the time had services included that are not needed for every deployment.

For example. You create a server image that has the Desktop Experience Role to prevent store access in Group Policy. It is simple to say that we can just remove the role and I agree with you whole heatedly. The question is how many of us do? Hence Nano Server. The Purpose built headless container that packages will have to be added to for each deployment. Can you say job security?

I for one am looking forward to Nano Server and its long term position within our infrastructure. I have included a video in this blog on how to deploy Nano Server so that you to can start exploring the possibilities.



Hope you guys enjoy!

Have any questions about Nano Server? Please leave your comments below.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hi Folks - Just wanted to make sure you all heard the news.  The venue has changed and we Keiser University Jacksonville campus will host the IT Pro Camp Jax 2015.  See you there!

Register:  http://ITProCampJax2015.Eventbrite.com
Website:  http://ITProCampJax.com
Website:  http://ITProCamp.com
Donations:  http://GoFundMe.com/ITProCampJax2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Creating a Azure Remote App Template **** Updated ****

Services in Azure are constantly updated to improve on its performance and overall functionality. In this article we will be covering the new changes in the Azure Remote App Template creation. Before the changes were made ideally you had to meet a long list of perquisites before uploading your virtual hard disk (vhd) into Azure using PowerShell. (Click Here to view old process)

The Azure Remote App Team has indeed heard the customers feedback and reacted to make deploying your custom template not only easier but seamless on our part.

Note: If you do not have an Azure subscription take a moment here and pause. If you have access to Biz Spark, Dream Spark or an MSDN Subscription you have Azure credits allotted to you every month. It is strongly recommended that you use one of these options to continue with the lab. Keep in mind Azure is a pay as you go service.

Another option is if you have not used an Azure trial yet. One can be obtained by visiting http://aka.ms/try-azure This will give you a $200 credit limit or 30 days of Azure. Which ever one comes first. Disclaimer - A credit card is required for the free trial.

With all of that being said, "Lets get started!"

Within the Azure Portal not the Preview Portal click on New, Compute, Virtual Machine and From Gallery as seen below.


From within the Gallery select the newly added Remote Desktop Session Host Image. This image was per-built by the Azure Remote App team to ease the deployment of your custom images.


Give your virtual machine a name while setting the username and password as normal. The size of the virtual machine does not matter as we will capture an image of it when we install our applications. Note: Selecting the size of the virtual machine can vary from deployment to deployment given the specifications of the need for your application/s. Please review the system requirements for proper installation of your application.



There isn't a need to open any other endpoints. PowerShell and the RDP endpoints are the only one's needed for a successful custom template deployment.


No need to add any custom extensions or security extensions. Azure Remote App within the service itself provides antivirus and security.



With your virtual machine newly created Remote into the server using RDP by selecting your virtual machine from within the portal and selecting connect at the bottom launching the RDP connection. Enter your credentials you set earlier to log into the machine.

Install the applications that are needed by your organizations users.

Within the Azure Remote App Service your application/s can be discovered two ways. The easiest method would be to pin each application shortcut to the start menu. The other is by the applications path (i.e. %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\WINWORD.EXE) if we were publishing Microsoft word to our users. Again pinning the application to the start menu would be the easiest method as seen below. 




With the Image template there is a PowerShell cmdlet called validate remote app image. After the installation of your applications run this cmdlet and then enter the command to sysprep your machine as seen below.



Command to sysprep your machine C:\Windows\System32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown



Upon the sysprep completion the virual machine will shutdown and be stopped within the Azure platform.



Be sure to delete your cloud service as it is no longer needed. This will not affect your custom template. Note: You are deleting the cloud service to prevent additional charges within the Azure platform.

  
In your virtual machine service highlight the virtual machine that has been syspreped and select capture at the bottom of the screen.



Enter a image description that can be easily recognizable to you for future deployments,


The image is registered within your images gallery in the virtual machines service.
 



Head back into the remote app service select template images at the top and then the add button circled in red as seen below.

  

The template image import wizard begins. Select Import an image from your Virtual Machines Library as seen below.


Select your image you captured earlier in the deployment process. Earlier we did sysprep the machine. Check the box that states "Confirm that I followed these steps to create my image"


Give your image a name and a location you would like to deploy it in. Note: Only the region you deploy the template in will have it. If this template needs to be deployed in multiple locations then you will have to add it to each location specifying a unique name for each location.


The upload begins! Told you these method would be easier! :)



With the image now ready to be linked to a collection. Simply select New at the bottom of the Azure portal, App Services, Remote App and then Quick Create. Give your collection a name and select the region. Remember your template image is region specific as shown below between the East Us where we uploaded the template. Versus the West US where we did not.



Your collection will take up to an hour to provision. Once completed you can publish your apps to your users for them to utilize the service.

Ideally if you need to update a collection with a new image please visit the blog article Updating Azure Remote App Template Images found here

By: Adnan Cartwright

Friday, February 13, 2015

It takes a village to eat an elephant

I have been blessed with a multitude of incredibly knowledgeable and gifted individuals from the city of Jacksonville. Last night's conference call came at a time of struggle in my life. A reduction in force was looming over my head at work. Just when we were starting to feel safe, the rug was snatched from under our feet and we lost two team members. A number of emotions were racing through my mind as I tried to focus on my responsibilities.  The human side of me wanted to lash out as I struggled to understand why but the still small voice encouraged me to keep control of myself. 

Emotionally spent, I logged into the conference call and began to address the callers who were already sharing and working. That was a nice boost to hear familiar voices. I gathered my one note document and began greeting all the volunteers as they logged on. One volunteer I had not heard from in several months. As I unveiled the laundry list of task to go over with the group, I felt encouraged by their responses, suggestions and eagerness to help. The list slowly began to look like we were accomplishing something and I felt inspired to keep running. 

As with any elephant, you can only make it disappear one bite at a time. Here's my list for today. 

Thanks all who could attend.  The ITProCamp will be held June 13, 2015 at ITT Technical Institute at 7011 A C Skinner Parkway.  Conference will be held from 8am - 5pm.

8 - 8:30           Continental Breakfast / networking - 5 volunteers
8:30 - 9            Welcome / Keynote -
9 - 9:50            Sessions 1
10 - 10:50       Sessions 2
11 - 11:50       Session 3
12 - 12:50        Lunch - 5 volunteers 
1pm - 1:50      Sessions 4
2pm - 2:50      Sessions 5
3pm - 3:50      Sessions 6
4pm - 4:30      Closing Ceremony - 5 volunteers

As stated in the meeting, one of the speakers has confirmed attendance, Ed Wilson - The Scripting Guy and his wife Teresa - The Scripting Wife.  We need to accommodate our guest in a hotel such as the Aloft or similar facility.  It will help if we can secure a nice place for them to stay at a nice price. 

A few names were assigned to events and responsibilities that need attention.  Please take a look at the titles below.  If you see a ( ?? ), please let me know if you have expertise in that area and can assist. 

Assign / discuss social media tactics and planning  ( Hector http://workingthewebtowin.com )
  • Youtube ( Kasie )
  • Hootsuite ( Sid / Josh )
  • Instagram ( Sid )
  • Pintrests ( ?? )
  • City of Jacksonville ( Josh )
  • Clay County ( Richard )
  • Chamber ( Josh )
  • Folio Magazine ( Josh )
  • VOID Magazine ( Elizabeth )
  • Jax Business Journal ( Elizabeth )
  • Mission statement / press release ( Sid )
  • Mayor candidates (  Barbara Vick / Josh )
HOTELS ( Richard )
  • Aloft
  • Adnan's hotel
Assign / discuss tracks, sessions and speakers
  • Speaker IDOL ( to criqutte speakers )
  • IT Trends Track
  • Security ( Bill )
  • Professional Dev ( TEKsystems / Josh wife)
    • Speaker ( Mark Vickers mark@speakingisselling.com ) CONFIRMED 3 sessions
      • Certificate of English Proficient
      • Certified English Business Proficient
  • MTA ( Sid / Mike ) split  the cost of the MTAs (100 MTA = $5000)
  • PowerShell ( Lynx User-ask Jess who did the powershell session )
  • Cloud &Virtualization ( Adnan - Azure / Blain (2) Public Cloud & BizSpark / Starke (??) / EJ-VirtualBox )
  • DBA / DevOps ( CiCiBrendan, Sean )
    • Ken (teaches C# & .NET) - Keith
  • Infrastructure / Networking ( Herb / John)
  • Exchange / Messaging Track ( ?? )
Assign / discuss user group & educational institution involvement
  • Keiser ( Richard )
  • Virginia College ( Sid )
  • St Johns ( Adam )
  • UNF ( Sherif  )
  • FSCJ ( Norfleet )
  • ISACA ( Bill ) (confirmed)
  • MDUG ( Mark ) (confirmed)
  • Arcsig ( JaxTechMeetup.com/ Joti )
  • JSUG & JaxDUG ( Jon & Tom ) (confirmed)
  • Tech on Tap ( Mike / Paul ) (confirmed)
  • CoWorkJax ( Keith )
  • BigData ( Katie / Matt / Ted )
  • JaxWIT ( Rebecca & BofA)
  • UI / UX - ( Natasha  & Keith ) (lunch)
  • Military ( Mary & Beth sending to Terenace )
Assign / discuss t-shirts & giveaways (300 giveaways)
  • SNI Tech ( Brandi / Jon / Tom )
  • Add t-shirt size to eventbrite
  • Keiser University bags ( confirmed )
  • Plural sight sponsorship cards or additional raffle  tickets
  • StormTroopers ( Keith )
  • ISACA
  • WorkingtheWebtoWin.com (Hector)
  • ITT Tech (Mike)
  • Microsoft Store ( ? )
Assign / discuss MTA Test Fest ( Sid )
  • Certiport
  • 150 vouchers
  • Award top achievers ( Top scorer / Fastest Pass - AWARD )
Assign / discuss Pre & Post events ( ?? )
  • Speaker / Volunteer Dinner ( The Taste- Touchton road )
  • Networking / Social after party ( Seven Bridges )
Assign / discuss Vendors ( Richard )
  • Vendors should bring an item to raffle
  • Enterprise Integration ( Keith / Jon / Jason )
  • Feature 23 ( Jeremy )
  • Microsoft Store - ( Josh )
  • $350, $500, $1000, $2000 ( Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum )
  • Kapersky ( Chris  )
  • Vormetric ( Steve )
  • Bit9 ( Dave )
  • Walmart ( Water )
  • Publix ( Water )
  • Winn Dixie ( local sponsor )
  • Host Solutions ( Starke )
  • Aruba Networks ( )
  • Comcast ( Richard )
  • EMC ( Richard )
  • Avaya ( Richard )
  • Cisco ( Richard )
  • Aruba Networks ( Richard )
  • Kaspersky ( Sid )
  • Volmetric ( Sid )
Job Fair ( Mike )
  • Room # ?
  • Room for job opportunities
  • next to the professional development track
Donations
  • Publix ( Water & assorted mix drinks )
  • Winn Dixie ( cups, Plates, forks & knives, spoons  Napkins )
  • Walmart (  )
  • Food drive ( Marc )
Budget Items
  • Travel & Expenses Reimbursement ( $2,000 )
    • Continental Breakfast - HostingSolutions
      • Coffee & Doughnuts/ Bagels ( $350 )
    • Lunch  - ISACA ( $500 ) ( confirmed )
    • T-shirts - SNI ( $1500  )
    • Polo shirts ( ? )
    • 2pm - Ice cream social ( Ice Cream Sponsor )
    • AD Booklet sponsor ( Sid ) Keith knows a lady that does LOGOs
    • Name badges
    • Conferencing app ( currently working )
    Miscellaneous
    • Contest
    • Video Recordings - Deborah
    • Podcast
    • Welcome board
    • Wireless network ( Scott )


    Thursday, February 5, 2015

    Plans of the Diligent

    Last night's tech conference was successful. It is possible to get more done with only a few people, than to have a multitude of chatter. We were few in number, but accomplished setting up the schedule for the conference, finalized thoughts on the flyer, setup a meeting to start the podcast and established the group's videographer and goals.

    I want each break out session recorded with a laptop/webcam through Google hangouts and saved to the ITPROCAMP YouTube channel. This will encourage viewers to attend and sponsors can take advantage of this exposure. Speakers can critique and improve their own sessions and view other sessions they could not attend.  I also want to interview attendees and speakers.

    Next week I plan to meet with some app developers to discuss how we can support the conference from a mobile perspective. Should we create a new app or purchase an existing conferencing app? One thing is for sure, the plans of the diligent lead to profit, and I'm so glad we started planning early.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015

    The High road to ITPROCAMP

    The HIGH road to IT Pro Camp.

    The idea here is to simply blog about thoughts that encourage me through this journey as much as possible.  I won't bore you with the details but I am a system administrator for large financial company.

    And so the journey begins.  There will be a conference bridge tonight at 5pm.  The goal is to discuss and disseminate as much as I can.  Running a conference is like no other job.  It is as exciting as you make it and volunteers love to listen for opportunities to give.

    BTW, the conference I keep referring to is June 13, 2015, about 4 months away.  So why am I blogging at a time like this ??  Because if I don't I will wish that I did.

    Before I continue, I feel I need to post a flyer I created to promote the camp.  This will give you some background on what we are going to do.



    Well next time we may get more done.  I mean how much I give is not important..not right now.  But it's that I give and it will be given back in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.