Monday, December 31, 2018

Chef and Microsoft Azure

Have you ever wondered that what is the capability of Azure when you are using open source tools? Azure works great when using those products such as ‘Chef’. 
So azure interfere with chef and it will be the most valuable moment in chef’s time. It is that much easy and user friendly
Microsoft has worked hard to make the partnership and collaboration with Chef to deliver automation tools that help you with cloud adoption. Now you can use chef directly in Azure Cloud Shell, as well as the new Chef Developer Hub in Azure Docs.
Why Chef
As everyone know there are number of tools to do the automation like Ansible and Terraform that are already available. Chef delivers the new feature called Chef Inspec and pre-installed and ready to use for every Azure user in the Azure Cloud Shell. 
This makes azure super simple and no installation or pre configuration needed.

Source: Azure Blog

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Protect Linux containers running in IaaS with Azure Security Center

We are living in a world where business solutions are converting their applications to be container based. Containers are gradually increasing its popularity and people keen to move to containers and can grab some advantages of it. There are advantages for both developers and admins. Quick deployments, Fast Iterations are few of them. But the thing is when users scale their containers there must be a security system to overcome security problems and protect containers.
Azure Security Center, the hybrid security management and threat preventing center is equipped with capabilities to secure the Linux containers. 

1.     Visibility to the containers hosted on IaaS Linux machines

There is a new tab to display all virtual machines with Docker.
Source: Azure Blog

Information related to the containers on the machine, such as Docker version and the number of images running on the host are among the additional information provided via the Azure Security Center. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Azure Cognitive Services in Containers

Do we really need data scientists to create a solution using machine learning? 
Well, previously, yes. It’s a must. 
But now thanks to Azure cognitive services, those can be done by a developer. 
If a developer wants to take the advantage of AI and features cognitive service provides which is vision, speech, search, text processing, language understanding this will be the best way.
Anyone who can write a simple program, means who writes basic code can use this feature and create AI models using AML. But the problem is scaling. Most of the time model developers facing this problem and now there is a solution for that too. Container Support for Cognitive Service. It is much easier to use and just build and deploy.
This allows developers to build big AI systems that run at scale, reliably, and consistently in a way that supports better data governance.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Customer Lockbox for Azure

Azure is very user-friendly and has plenty of documentation that users can read and understand very easily. As an administrator, you might find ample knowledge to handle the situations that can disturb the live systems at times. There are clear guidelines for troubleshooting most of the issues that come in. You have proper UI, if not logs that can be accessed via scripts. 

But after all, cloud is someone else's computer. In Azure's case, it is Microsoft's. So there can be situations where all those lengthy detailed documentations that are provided by Microsoft can also not be enough to handle some situations. But these instances are very rare. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Azure Monitor for Containers

Microsoft Azure team has released a useful tool for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) called Azure Monitor: A container health monitoring tool. It’s right now in public preview and the developers are welcome to work on it. This enables to developers to track the health and performance of your Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster. As it is said, Microsoft will release new features and updates to on-boarding and the portal experience later.
Nodes have a lifecycle of fail and reboot. Therefore it is important that things are kept under watch. Not that they fails almost, but there can be instances. Azure Monitor assures such instances are monitored by collecting the data from processors and memory allocations. Not just them, the logs are also monitored and kept in places. There is a Log Analytics agent for Linux available for collecting purposes. Those logs are stored in the Log Analytics workspace. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Azure Monitor for virtual machines

In Microsoft Ignite Microsoft VM team have announced number of services and products that they are going to launch in near future. One of it was public preview of Azure Monitor for VMs. According to Microsoft, users can view Health, Performance, Dependencies of a VM easily.

How to access?

To view details about Azure VMs just navigate to your Azure VM blade. From there users can check single VM. Also users can check the deployment statuses that all the VMs behaving as expected.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Azure VM Image Builder: Private Preview

Windows Azure were more popular in creating VMs (Virtual Machines) in your cloud and login remotely to them and access them as remotely. By the time Microsoft has implemented number of images (OS) to install in to it. Now they are expanding the ability to create images by users or customers. They have introduced the private preview of Azure VM Image Builder, a service which allows users to have an image building pipeline in Azure. To configure the image creation set up with Azure VM Image Builder, you can take an ISO or Azure Marketplace image and start creating your own golden images in a few steps.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Azure Front Door Services - Public Preview

In the earliest era of Microsoft there were huge struggle to increase the scalability and performance. People / Users asked continuously to scale the products without decreasing performance or security. Microsoft's cloud implementations age around 10 years. With the time these solutions have gradually increased performance as well as other factors such as reliability and agility. Scalability is one of the core values of cloud and being on cloud has made it possible. 

As time grew, the enterprise level services has improved quite vastly and products such as Office and Skype are currently on cloud and are being used by many companies over the years. 

Azure Front Door Services is the latest enterprise grade product that joins other giants such as Office and Skype. Scalability is guaranteed along with security and high availability for Azure Front Door Services. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Azure Boards for DevOps

Azure Boards is provide a unique experience for the developers, managers and administrators to work collaboratively in one team. Users can create, manage and arrange your tasks and bugs with a higher degree of customization support. Users have the ability to decide the template for the project at the beginning of the project. While customized processes can also be defined along with custom entity types and statuses, set of features supported by default are very helpful for most of the times. 

Work items

You can define custom work item types in the project configuration. Also there are custom work item states can be defined based on the entity type. Further, the work items tab, which shows information as a table is very much customizable with the columns of the user choices. 

When you open a work item, you can see a default set of fields such as the title, assignee and status. Then the lower area of a work item is tabbed into different areas based on the need. 


A newly created project through DevOps always created with pre-configured template that to manage the flow of the work. You can configuire those templates under Organization Settings. These boards are highly customizable and allows user to customize the views for each project. Boards support swim lanes, card customization, conditional formatting, filtering, and some more.


A backlog suggest whats left to do. Backlogs are managed in well defined structures that include user stories and features. 



Sprints make it easy to manage the product releases and list the tasks that are assigned to each person in the team. When needed, a task can be assigned from the backlog to a devloper. Task board shows where each task is at with a number for each state. Task burn-down chart allows to show how the tasks are being completed with the time. These enable delivery of a development sprint to be more effective and can monitor effectively. 


Whenever someone wants to get an overall idea about the whole project an access the dashboard and it will show all the charts and comes complete with a rich canvas for creating dashboards. There are plenty of widget templates to choose and show the data for tracking progress. Charts, numbered views and various other graphics are there.


Query engine is so fast and so effective as it allows customizations to a greater extend. It allows user to measure what user exactly tracking, creating easy to monitor KPIs. Depending on the need of the week or sprint, different query views can be pinned to the dashboards.

Images are captured through Azure Blog.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Ethereum Proof-of-Authority for Blockchain on Azure

Microsoft already released a proof-of-work platform and it was popular so quickly and it was a great help to get feedback for their latest release Ethereal proof-of-authority.
The mechanism behind Ethereum is Sybil-resistant and it allows computation cost to be controlled and also allow fair participation. This mechanism is suggested to use in anonymous or open networks for security on the crypto currency competition. But when it comes to private networks or consortium networks, existing ether is not valuable. Proof of authority is more efficient because, no need to mine and Byzantine fault tolerance.

How it works

The theory is very simple. Each and every node will have a unique ID because it is important to keep alive the relative consensus nodes if a node goes down. Since high availability is a must in network, each node run multiple times to ensure high availability. By using Identity leasing system azure make sure that 2 or more nodes won’t have same ID at the same time. In a VM failure or regional outage new nodes can quickly get the existing Ids and start running.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Overview of Azure DevOps

Developers loved having VSTS as they had everything beginning from writing code to automating build deployment. Now we have Azure DevOps. Not just we have them now, your VSTS projects may be transferred to Azure DevOps soon. This means all the domains will be migrated to domains. Also it is likely that on-premises versions of TFS will also be called as Azure DevOps with next releases.

Azure DevOps is introduced to uprise the standards of developing software solutions with ease and reliability. Now you do not need to pay a third party company some extra money for maintaining your task views. They all can be done with Azure DevOps. 

Azure DevOps consists of attractive set of features that help manage work items easily. When I say work items, it does not has to be development work. I have tried with some administrative works as well. So far, a good choice for almost no price. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Azure IOT Hub integration with Azure Event Grid

Couple of years ago Azure Released Azure IoT Hub based on Microsoft Azure to control and manage billions of devices, transferring data to the cloud to gain some business insights for their customers and the needs are growing rapidly. Now they have released IoT Hub integration with Azure Event Grid to simplify their customer needs. It will gain more insights into actions by simplifying the architecture of IoT solutions.

Advantages include:

  • Automating workflows with apps like Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps is now easy with the event grid. Since they are serverless architectures, it works well with event hub. Even the user can downstream the processes.
  • Will always alert about the device status such as creation, deletion, connection, and disconnection of devices. And the response time is really quick.
  • It will always reduce the complexity expense of polling services. This is integrated with events, with 3rd party applications using webhooks such as ticketing, billing system, and database updates

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.3.0 provides Multi-member consortium support

Recently Azure Blockchain workbench has released and seems its popular now. The Happy News is the Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.3.0 has released with Multi-member consortium support. Users can now upgrade their deployments to 1.3.0 or either users can create a new instance of workbench. To upgrade you can use upgrade script that released by Microsoft.
Once upgrade following enhancements will be added
It is fast and more reliable
Microsoft always check their telemetry to identify issues that affect to their customers, and decided to made some changes to make deploying Workbench more reliable. And faster.
Transaction reliability is much better
Microsoft has made a massive improvement for monitoring in version 1.1.0 and there are reliability improvements to the DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) Watcher and DLT Consumer Microservices. The usual error message “It looks like something went wrong …” might appear.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MySQL and PostgreSQL gets VNet Service Endpoints

Recently Microsoft has released Azure database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL.
What’s it offers?
These include the high availability of the community versions of MySQL and PostgreSQL (99.99%) and also include elastic scaling for performance, and industry-leading security and compliance on Azure.
And as a part of the service Microsoft has introduced new features and capabilities such as increased storage and availability across more regions worldwide.
Now they have announced the general availability of Virtual Network (VNet) service endpoints for Azure Database for MySQL and PostgreSQL in all regions where the service is available for General Purpose and Memory Optimized servers.
You can check the service availability by visiting region expansion for MySQL and PostgreSQL.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Azure CosmosDB JavaScript SDK 2.0: Public Preview

Version 2.0 RC of the Azure Cosmos DB JavaScript SDK is available for public previews. You can use the node pckage manager to install in your project using the following command.

npm install @azure/cosmos

Azure Cosmos DB is a multi-model database service that is highly scalable. It also features turn key global distribution as well as transparent multi-master replication. The best part about this API is it is based on TypeScript. TypeScript has many implementations and improvements happened over the years. Also the version 2.0 has major changes to the prior version including support for on-premises implementations. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Windows Container Support in Azure App Services: Public Preview

Containers are on the rise and Azure is supporting the containers as much as they can. Windows Container Support in Azure App Services come in as result of the increasing need for developers to know and control what is installed inside a container. This is right now on public preview. 

Application modernization now become very easy with this feature

Quoting from Microsoft Azure Blog, following opportunities are available. 
  •  Lift and Shift to PaaS – When a developer wants to  migrate .NET Framework and .NET Core applications to Azure, and is trying to transform straight to a PaaS service to get the many productivity benefits from the App Service platform.
  • Relaxed security restrictions – The Windows Container is an isolation and security boundary, When deploying a containerized application. Normally Libraries will be blocked by Azure App Service and instead of it will be succeed when running inside of a Windows Container
  • Third-party application migration – Customers often have business critical applications developed by third parties with which the company no longer has a relationship. Containerizing these types of applications unlocks the opportunity to migrate applications to Azure App Service.
  • Applications with dependencies – Ina scenario, when a developer deploying an app within a Windows Container, it allows to install custom dependencies. Even when a developer wants to install libraries into  Global Assembly Cache (GAC) done by easily.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Managed Disk Migration on Azure

Converting the unmanaged disks to managed disks is now easy and will take only a single click. No need for writing any scripts anymore. 

What is a Managed Disk?

Managed disks do manage the storage accounts associated with the Virtual Machine disks. The users has to only specify the type of disks they want as in Standard HDD, Standard SSD or Premium SSD. Azure will create the managed disk for you.

Managed Disk Advantage

  • Storage account limit is not necessarily considered
  • Up to 1,000 instances for the VM Scale sets Created
  • High-availability across the compute and storage resources
  • Azure RBAC allows securing disks, snapshots and images

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Azure Management Groups now Available

You may have several subscriptions for your Azure portal. Organization, Private account, and other azure subscriptions. So it’s bit confused to handle multiple subscriptions together. So azure has given a solution to that by introducing Azure Management Groups, which users can manage your multiple subscriptions in a single place.
This cool feature enables users to apply governance controlling as Role Based Access Controls as well as like Azure Policies. You can create a management group by adding your subscriptions and apply rules and governance policies to the group and will be inherited to those subscriptions.
There can be many type of subscriptions like Certified Solution Partner, Enterprise Agreement, Pay-As-You-Go and other types as well. To use this feature, customer need to pay no additional cost even if it’s come to large scale service.

The best thing about this new feature is user can apply policy or RBAC to multiple subscriptions. Also users can group other management groups even. So users can manage their subscriptions as well as other management groups from one place.

Azure Cloud Shell Editor with Visual Studio Code

Everyone loves Azure Cloud Shell. It can run Bash or PowerShell commands and all you need is to have logged into the Azure Portal and a storage account there for it. Who would have thought running PowerShell commands on a web browser? 

Things have improved and things are getting even better with more features being added. CloudShell now comes with some open source tools like Terraform, Ansible and Inspec pre-installed. That might make it a bit heavy, but will do a lot more good for people. 

What is very interesting is being able to run those commands on Visual Studio Code. Yes. The Visual Studio Code now allows running Azure Cloud Shell commands without you need to run anywhere. Its super easy to launch and you can easily see or update your Azure resources from the favourite IDE. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

An Overview of Azure Firewall

One thing I love about Azure networking is how simple is it to create a Virtual Network and the set of features that allow in configuration. It has almost all. That was very helpful when configuring some SharePoint development environments even back in 2015. Things shall be much better right now. 

With the Azure Firewall you can protect the virtual networks very easily. Azure firewall capabilities are high in availability and easy to scale. Even can be set to scale automatically. Another major advantage is that the firewall capabilities can be configured all from the Azure platform interface. You do not need to be running the scripts for everything. Azure firewall supports setting network level filtering rules at resources located in multiple virtual networks as well as multiple subscriptions. 
How it Works:
Source: Azure Blog

Monday, July 30, 2018

Move your data to Azure with Azure Data Box Disks

May be you need to moved your data to cloud or may be you might consider updating a data set to the cloud. If the data set is smaller,  it is easy as it can get. But how about having terrabytes of data moving to cloud?

It will take time, process may get stuck in the middle and may have to restart or you will run out of bandwidth and so many things can happen. Microsoft knows this and that is why they went beyond terrabytes and provided a solution that can let you even move petabytes of data to Azure. That is Azure Data Box Disk.

It simply follows a procedure where you can Order a Data Box, then fill it once received and then return to be copied to Azure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Public preview of Azure Virtual WAN

Think about an organization with multiple branches located around the world. They may access the same resources as it can be not necessary to create a resource per each branch. Tools such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networks can be used to improve these resources via effective request routing. Intelligent routing facilitates reaching Microsoft's global backbone network faster to have a quick response time. But there can be issues when at instances such as scaling, enforcing network policies and managing the connectivity.

Security attacks can happen any time when you are more and more vulnerable. That is why organizations create Network security teams, But security shall not always come up to the priority in expense of performance. Azure Virtual WAN simplifies and make the connectivity at large-scale more effective when on cloud.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dev Spaces for Azure Kubernetes Services Released!

The public preview of Dev Spaces for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) is now there to try out. Now you can build and debug applications for Kubernetes – only available on Azure

Forget about using different local development environments for fixing bugs and working on changes. We are working in teams where interconnected components within the solutions such as MicroServices are common. You can team up and host the testing code on Azure DevSpaces and only change and test what you need to test. This simplifies the process of development and reduce the errors that are found when an integrated test is done just before the release. 

Set Up:
You just need to get ready with your IDE and Azure CLI (Command Line Interface).
Just Create a new Dev Space inside AKS and begin working on any component.

Use following command to Create a new Dev Space inside AKS

azds space select --name testDevSpace

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Azure CosmosDB Explorer

The newly added tool for azure cosmos db is Cosmos DB Explorer.  Days are gone where the Storage Explorer is used instead.

What's Inside
  • Full screen real estate view for the queries and results
  • No need of access of azure subscription portal any more. Rather than accessing through the portal, the connection string can be used to simply access the DB account and collections.
  • Share your query result as read only view with your colleagues. (Does not require Azure portal access)
  • No desktop tools needed anymore. Work with cosmos db directly with Explorer

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Static website hosting for Azure Storage

The public preview of static website hosting for Azure Storage has released on June 28, 2018! This is great news and it will be available in all public regions for azure and will also support government and sovereign clouds as well. Gone are the days where you treat static websites and web applications and allocate more resources than what they really need. This will save lot of costs as its just displaying files as it is.

A static website means there are no server side code. No database connections as well. A static website will consist of mark up pages, JavaScript and CSS. There are many such sites, probably in public portals which are used to host on Azure Web Apps. No anymore. 

A major part of cloud is about cost saving and being simple whenever possible. With Static Website hosting, there is no need for server management. Content are stored in Azure Storage and is going to help to be on Serverless. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Data Subject Request (DSR) Processing coming to Azure

Of course your company does not want to throw away 20 million euros or 4% of your annual turnaround for not having data related to EU citizens regulated. Azure Infrastructure team understands that too. That is why they are planning to introduce the Data Subject Request (DSR) capability with Azure in near future. 

GDPR Compliance is centered around the following concepts
  • Consent
  • Right to Access
  • Personal Data Defineation
  • Breach Notification
  • Right to be forgotten
  • Privacy by Design
  • Data portability
  • Data Protection Officers (DPO)

Monday, March 26, 2018

SharePoint Webhooks

Webhooks is a brilliant way to stay updated on things happen around a service. Many services and products running on cloud allow developers and other interested parties to listen to the responses sent via HTTP Post. Its like a subscription for a newsletter and they sends whenever there is a new edition. 

We need four sources of information in order to create a webhook.

  • Resource url - The list or site url that you will be subscribed to.
  • Subscriber url - The url where the HTTP Post request will be received by.
  • Expiration date - By default, a webhook expires in 6 months after it is created and that is the maximum, you can make lower if needed.
  • Client state - This is a non mandatory text you can include if necessary for the validation processes and any other at the receiver end.

Monday, February 5, 2018

SPFx Introduction at IT Faculty UOM

An introduction session on what is SharePoint Framework and how can any developer from different technology stacks can start using it straight away was held at IT Faculty premises for the students who completed their industrial training 6 months.

Although it was a totally new thing for most of them, they were delighted what is supported by SharePoint Framework and how can it help different applications from different technology stacks can help connect with SharePoint.

Branching Logic in SharePoint Surveys

Surveys in SharePoint has helped us a lot for the businesses. You can easily setup a survey and record the input data in a SharePoint list. Branching logic makes it much easier for surveys to have the IF-ELSE conditions within the surveys. 

I have setup a sample survey that is intended to collect feedback from participants of a work survey. 

Work survey list settings page
 As the image shows, I have a question that asks whether the user is happy about the service or not. 

I will only need to get the negativity feedback only if the attendee is not happy. 

Likewise, I only need positive feedback if attendee is happy. 

After laying out the questions, I am going to the question settings page of the first question: Are you happy with the work?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Introduction to Microsoft Graph for SharePoint at SP Sri Lanka User Group

Monthly Meetup of the SharePoint Sri Lanka User Group for January 2018 was held at Microsoft Sri Lanka premises. 

I conducted a session on 'Introduction to Microsoft Graph for SharePoint'. The session covered the importance and the advantages of Microsoft Graph, authentication options and application of SharePoint related endpoints for the Microsoft Graph.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

SharePoint Endpoints in Microsoft Graph API

Microsoft Graph provides APIs that allow calling different services under the Microsoft technology stack at a single go. It supports both Work and School accounts as well as the personal accounts. Availability of endpoints do depend on the type of the user account you have.

SharePoint API for the Microsoft Graph includes following resource types as of now.

  • Site
  • List
  • List Item