In 2014, Microsoft announced the Azure Preview Portal, which was going GA in December 2015. Since January 8, 2018, the classic Azure Portal is turned off. The “Preview Portal” was more than a facelift. The classic Azure Portal was based on the Service Management mode, often called the “classic deployment model”, whereas the new Azure Portal uses the Resource Manager model. Azure Service Management (ASM) and Azure Resource Management are both deployment models. The Resource Manager model eases the deployment of complex setups by using templates to deploy, update and manage resources within a resource group as a single operation.
Microsoft two different logins for their services:
- Microsoft Account (former Live ID)
- work or school account (Azure AD)
Both are located in different directories. The Microsoft account is located in another user database at Microsoft, as a work or school account. Latter are located in a Azure AD, which is associated with a customer. Both account types are identified using the email address. Microsoft accounts are used for service like Skype, OneDrive, but also for the Microsoft Certified Professional portal. Work or school accounts are mainly used for Office 365 and Azure.
In the last months I came across several customers that were in the process to evaluate, or to deploy Office 365. It usually started with a Office 365 trial, that some of the IT guys started to play around with. Weeks or months later, during the proof-of-concept or during the final deployment, the customer had to choose a Office 365 tenant name. That is the part before .onmicrosoft.com.
I had it multiple times, that the desired tenant name was already taken. Bummer. But the customer wants to move on, so the customer decided to take another another name. For example, they added the post code to the name, or a random string. To their surprise, I put my veto on it. They immediately understood why, after I explained the importance of the tenant name.
On November 22, 2017, Ajay Patel (Senior Vice President, Product Development, Cloud Services, VMware) published a blog post in reaction to Microsofts announcement (VMware – The Platform of Choice in the Cloud). Especially these statements are interesting:
No VMware-certified partner names have been mentioned nor have any partners collaborated with VMware in engineering this offering. This offering has been developed independent of VMware, and is neither certified nor supported by VMware.
Microsoft recognizing the leadership position of VMware’s offering and exploring support for VMware on Azure as a superior and necessary solution for customers over Hyper-V or native Azure Stack environments is understandable but, we do not believe this approach will offer customers a good solution to their hybrid or multi-cloud future.
When I talk to customers and colleagues about cloud offerings, most of them are still concerned about the cloud, and especially about the security of public cloud offerings. One of the most mentioned concerns is based on the belief, that each and every cloud-based VM is publicly reachable over the internet. This can be so, but it does not have to. It relies on your design. Maybe that is only a problem in germany. German privacy policies are the reason for the two german Azure datacenters. They are run by Deutsche Telekom, not by Microsoft.
Okay, the headline of this blog post is a bit provocative. This blog post is not written from the vendor perspective. It’s the perspective of someone, who’s sitting between the vendor and the customer. A value-added reseller (VAR) is typically located between vendor and customer. And the business model of a VAR is typically based on selling hardware, software and service.
The typical customer doesn’t have the time, money and the know-how to transform business requirements into a bill of materials (BOM). It’s a “make-or-buy” decision. And “buy” is often better than “make”. The customer needs a partner who helps him to transform the business requirements into a solution and a BOM.
Before you can manage Azure services with Azure Automation, you need to authenticate the Automation account against a subscription. This authentication process is part of each runbook. There are two different ways to authenticate against an Azure subscription:
- Active Directory user
If you want to use an Active Directory account, you have to create a credential asset in the Automation account and provide username and password for that Active Directory account. You can retrieve the credentials using the Get-AzureAutomationCredential cmdlet. This cmdlet returns a System.Management.Automation.PSCredential object, which can be used with Add-AzureAccount to connect to a subscription. If you want to use a certificate, you need four assets in the Automation account: A certificate and variables with the certificate name, the subscription ID and the subscription name. The values of these assets can be retrieved with Get-AutomationVariable and Get-AutomationCertificate.
Automation is essential to reduce friction and to streamline operational processes. It’s indispensable when it comes to the automation of manual, error-prone and frequently repeated tasks in a cloud or enterprise environment. Automation is the key to IT industrialization. Azure Automation is used to automate operational processes withing Microsoft Azure.
The very first thing you have to create is an Automation account. You can have multiple Automation accounts per subscription. An Automation account allows you so separate automation resources from other Automation accounts. Automation resources are runbooks and assets (credentials, certificates, connection strings, variables, scheudles etc.). So each Automation account has its own set of runbooks and assets. This is perfect to separate production from development. An Automation account is associated with an Azure region, but the Automation account can manage Azure services in all regions.
Building networks in the cloud is sometimes hard to understand. A common mistake is to believe that all VMs can talk to another, regardless of the owner, and that all VMs are available over the internet.
Some basics about Cloud Service Endpoints and Virtual Networks
When we talk about Microsoft Azure, a Cloud Service Endpoint is the easiest way to access one or multiple VMs. A Cloud Service contains resources, like VMs, and it’s acting as a communication and security boundary. All VMs that use the same Cloud Service get their IPs via DHCP and share the same private IP address range. The VMs can communicate directly to each other. To access these VMs over the internet, a Cloud Service Endpoint is used. Each Cloud Service has a internet addressable virtual IP address assigned. And that’s the Cloud Service Endpoint. With PAT, ports for RDP or PowerShell are forwarded to the VMs by default. If you deploy a webserver and an application server, both can be provisioned to the same Cloud Service and therefore, they share the same Cloud Service Endpoint. But you can only forward http traffic to the webserver. Therefore only the webserver is available over the internet, not the application server.
VMware vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) stands in one line with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace Cloud or other cloud offerings. I don’t want to compare the different provider with vCHS. To be honest: This article is more a summary for myself, than really new content. I just want to summarize information about the IaaS offering of VMware. If you want a comparison of vCHS and AWS, I recommend to read this article written by Alex Mattson (AHEAD).
Introducing VMware vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS)