How to Download an Azure Automation Connection Certificate Locally

Written by Freddy Mora Silva on Tuesday, November 27th 2018 — Categories: Datacenter Automation, Azure

When you work with Azure Automation — and especially if you use Hybrid Worker machines — sometimes you need to use the certificates that are part of the connections created by the automation account on a local VM or server.

Runbooks that use these kinds of certificates work fine in the Azure environment, but if you need to run it in your local environment, using Hybrid Worker machines, this represents a challenge. Here's how to get those connection certificates on your Hybrid Worker.

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How to Extend Your Azure Automation Library Modules

Written by Freddy Mora Silva on Wednesday, October 31st 2018 — Categories: Datacenter Automation, Azure

Azure Automation is a cloud-based configuration service that automatically manages your Azure and non-Azure environments based on your runbooks, update management features, and shared capabilities like access controls, global storage of credentials/certificates/etc, tags, and more.

Included in Azure Automation is the option to extend your libraries. You can import a set of libraries called Modules to your automation account from a preexisting list that can be found in the Gallery or by uploading script files of your own.

Below you’ll see where to upload or choose these Modules.

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Application Patching, Testing, and Validation: Closing the Gaps that Microsoft SCCM Doesn’t Address

Written by Rory McCaw on Wednesday, October 24th 2018 — Categories: Patching, SCCM, Azure, Microsoft

Automated patching server application patching can alleviate a lot of work for IT management teams. It shifts the patching and updating process outside of business hours. In an ideal world, Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) would flawlessly execute server application patches. 

However, there are some gaps in SCCM patching functionality, especially when it comes to orchestration, validation, and report logs. These can cause issues with QA and risk mitigation and can drive frustrations among your IT staff.

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How to Run Azure Automation Runbooks Locally While Accessing Assets

Written by Freddy Mora Silva on Thursday, October 18th 2018 — Categories: Datacenter Automation, Azure

When you work with Azure Automation, you might find yourself coding locally, putting all the initial logic into the script, copying and pasting the code to the web to run it, and then testing the code from the portal.

Usually this practice takes longer to execute and will require a printout of variables or comments to follow the code execution, as you are not debugging your script.

There is another, possibly better, way to get your PowerShell code into Azure.

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Microsoft Azure Active Directory – Identity Models Explained

Written by Muditha Chathuranga on Wednesday, October 10th 2018 — Categories: Active Directory, Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft

Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AAD) is a multi-tenant cloud-based directory and identity management service. It combines core directory services, access management, and identity protection in to a single solution. Azure Active Directory is not to be confused with Azure Active Directory Domain Services, which is a separate service and not the focus of this article.

For every organization that chooses to subscribe to Microsoft Online Services– Office 365, Dynamics 365, Intune, etc., choosing the correct identity model for AAD becomes an important task. In this article, we will have a look at the characteristics of each.

While there are no specific dependencies on the identity model of AAD for Microsoft Online Services to function, your organizational needs and other factors such as manageability, access control, auditing, and user experience determine which identity model should be deployed.

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Start Automating Your Cloud with Azure Automation

Written by Freddy Mora Silva on Wednesday, October 3rd 2018 — Categories: Patching, Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft

As part of any monitoring strategy, we might need to automate some tasks to provide key information to evaluate the state of our infrastructure or apply a repetitive action to resolve specific issues.

We have several ways to implement this. One option is to use Microsoft’s Azure Automation toolset. Let’s explore what you can control with Azure Automation and how to get started using it for cloud server update management, configuration, and more.

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Microsoft Azure Active Directory: Getting Started with Identity Management in the Cloud, Part 2

Written by Muditha Chathuranga on Wednesday, September 19th 2018 — Categories: Active Directory, Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft, Security

Microsoft Azure Active Directory, or AAD, is an IDaaS (Identity as a Service) offering that helps you manage corporate identities in the cloud. In this blog series, we're taking a look at the primary AAD features that you'll use to get your ID management up and running for Azure cloud services.

In Part 1 we discussed Connect, Single-Sign On, and Multifactor Authentication. You can also find a table of AAD pricing on that post. Remember, this series is not a deep dive into AAD configuration, but rather an overview of key features. Depending on your SKU you may or may not have access to all of these features.

Part 2 includes Self Service Password Resets, Identity Protection, Conditional Access, and Privileged Identity Management. These features help you control access and maintain security and compliance protocol across your enterprise cloud.

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Microsoft Azure Active Directory: Getting Started with Identity Management in the Cloud, Part 1

Written by Muditha Chathuranga on Thursday, September 6th 2018 — Categories: Active Directory, Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft

Microsoft Azure Active Directory is an IDaaS (Identity as a Service) offering that helps you manage corporate identities in the cloud. The solution itself is a cloud service that is hosted in Microsoft Azure datacenters globally. You can provision your tenant in a datacenter closest to where your organization is located.

Since AAD is a cloud offering it of course requires a paid subscription to use many of its features. But there’s a free tier for those who want to explore and are just getting started with the service.

This two part article is not a deep dive how-to guide. Rather, this is an effort to talk about a few major features available with AAD that you can use to get started with managing identities in the cloud. Depending on your AAD SKU, you may, or you may not have some of the features that are being discussed.

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Azure Management Groups Simplify Subscription Administration

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Thursday, August 30th 2018 — Categories: Cloud, Azure, Cloud Hosting, Microsoft

If your enterprise cloud environment has started to sprawl out beyond one or two Azure subscriptions, chances are you’ll need to implement some form of management and policy enforcement across your Enterprise Agreement to control costs and ensure compliance. Enter Azure Management Groups.

Management Groups can be used to apply conditions to subscriptions based on Azure regions, SKU sizes, server versions, resource type, and more. They work in conjunction with Azure Policy and Azure Role Based Access Controls (RBAC) and are similar to Active Directory in their setup and administration.

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Why Would You Lease a New Car and Not Drive It for 12 Months?

Written by Rory McCaw on Tuesday, July 31st 2018 — Categories: Solutions, Technology, Enterprise Advisory Services, Cloud, Patching, Windows 10, O365, Azure, Microsoft, Security

Why do companies do this with software?

The concept sounds crazy. Logic says that you lease a car, start to drive it immediately, and continue to drive it for the lease term. Yet with Microsoft software, even cloud-based software like Azure, O365, Dynamics CRM, and Windows 10, companies continue to buy SaaS offerings on their traditional Enterprise Agreements (EAs) and pay for them before they start to use them.

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