Choosing Azure Management Tools

In this post, I will share with you some details on the different options for managing Azure. It’s not all-encompassing; I’m leaving programing REST API and Visual Studio to the nut jobs.

Account Portal

This is where you start off creating your subscription (under Open or direct-billing), and where you go to get a breakdown on your billing. You get a simple UI to break down your costs in this period, and the ability to download a deeper dive.

image

Management Portal

The Management Portal is historically where techies have gone to get stuff going. You get a pretty easy to use UI, with each major element of Azure having it’s own section. When you deploy something in here, there’s usually a Quick Start, some of which can be really simple to use.

image

You might have noticed that there is a second UI portal – yes; it can be confusing. Here’s how I think of things:

  • The management portal is where I go to work with new things like Azure Site Recovery or Remote App
  • The preview portal is where I go to have the best marketplace experience
  • The preview portal is where new sub features often get surfaced, e.g. assigning a reserved IP to a virtual machine

Preview Portal (Codename Ibiza)

Microsoft launched the “Preview Portal” around 14 months ago. It’s gone through many redesigns. Rather than being quick to navigate, it’s got a very “Windows 8” crossed with PhotoShopped-insane UI. But the reality is, if you want to work with new sub-features via a UI, then this site is where you go. If you want as much stuff presented to you as possible, this is where you go. And it does seem that more effort goes into this site as time goes by.

image

PowerShell

There are at least 2 types of PowerShell that you’ll use with Azure:

  • The MSOL module for Azure Active Directory
  • The Azure PowerShell module

With PowerShell you really can do things much more quickly. Creating, changing (if you can), and removing things in Azure is painfully slow via the UI tools. PowerShell isn’t much quicker, but it allows you to script a number of things you want done while you get coffee or work on something else.

image

There are other options, but as an IaaS person, I’m focused on the above tools.

Microsoft News 28-May-2015

Very little to cover here, except one possibly controversial article on Hyper-V that you long-time readers might expect me to write an angry response to …

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Azure

Office 365

Microsoft News – 25-May-2015

It’s taken me nearly all day to fast-read through this lot. Here’s a dump of info from Build, Ignite, and since Ignite. Have a nice weekend!

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

System Center

Azure

Office 365

Intune

  • Announcing support for Windows 10 management with Microsoft Intune: Microsoft announced that Intune now supports the management of Windows 10. All existing Intune features for managing Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will work for Windows 10.
  • Announcing the Mobile Device Management Design Considerations Guide: If you’re an IT Architect or IT Professional and you need to design a mobile device management (MDM) solution for your organization, there are many questions that you have to answer prior to recommending the best solution for the problem that you are trying to solve. Microsoft has many new options available to manage mobile devices that can match your business and technical requirements.
  • Mobile Application Distribution Capabilities in Microsoft Intune: Microsoft Intune allows you to upload and deploy mobile applications to iOS, Android, Windows, and Windows Phone devices. In this post, Microsoft will show you how to publish iOS apps, select the users who can download them, and also show you how people in your organization can download these apps on their iOS devices.
  • Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool for Android: Use the Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool for Android to modify the behavior of your existing line-of-business (LOB) Android apps. You will then be able to manage certain app features using Intune without requiring code changes to the original application.

Licensing

Miscellaneous

My Microsoft Ignite 2015 Session Content

Microsoft recorded and shared a video of my session, The Hidden Treasures of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, along with the slides.

My second session, End to-End Azure Site Recovery Solutions for Small-Medium Enterprises in one of the community theatres, was not recorded so I have placed the slides up on slideshare.

Microsoft News – 23 April 2015

I’ve been really busy either preparing training, delivering training, on customer sites, or prepping my two sessions for Ignite. Here’s the roundup of recent Microsoft news for infrastructure IT pros:

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows 10

Azure

Office 365

Intune

Miscellaneous

Microsoft News – 8 April 2015

There’s a lot of stuff happening now. The Windows Server vNext Preview expires on April 15th and Microsoft is promising a fix … the next preview isn’t out until May (maybe with Ignite on?). There’s rumours of Windows vNext vNext. And there’s talk of open sourcing Windows – which I would hate. Here’s the rest of what’s going on:

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

Azure

Microsoft Blogs About New Azure Backup Pricing

It’s April Fool’s Day, and the new pricing system for Azure Backup comes into force today. Make of that what you want 😀

I am not a fan of the new pricing system. I am all for costs coming down, but I can say from 8 months of selling Azure, complex pricing BLOCKS sales efforts by Microsoft partners. The new system isn’t just “price per GB” but it also includes the abstract notion of an “instance”.  A new blog post by Microsoft attempts to explain clearly what an instance is.

I’ve read it. I think I understand it. I know that no MSFT partner sales person will read it, our customers will call me, and when I explain it to them, I know that a sale will not happen. I’ve seen that trend with Azure too often (all but a handful of occasions) to know it’s not a once-off.

Anyway … enjoy the post by Microsoft.

Microsoft News – 27 March 2015

Welcome to the Azure Times! Or so it seems. Lots of Azure developments since I posted one of these news aggregations.

Windows Client

Azure

Office

Office 365

Irish Government Cancels Cloud Project

Anyone working in “cloud computing” in Ireland had heard that the Irish government had launched a process to deploy a “private cloud” that would be engineered by external service providers, but owned and located by the Irish state. It sounded like the project from hell/heaven, with a list of pre-approved cloud vendors/services.

The Irish Times reports that this project has been cancelled, and instead, they’re going with a shared computing model based on a single Government-owned cloud.

In my opinion, this is the way forward. Now I wonder if Microsoft will pitch CPS at this 🙂

Giving Feedback to Azure WORKS

I’ve voted on a number of feedback items in Azure, mainly in backup, and I’m delighted to see that feedback having an impact.

I was presenting last months on Azure to partners in Northern Ireland when I was able to talk about an email I had received that morning that announced new features (seeding backup by disk, increased retention, and complex retention policies) that had been based on feedback.

Today, I got an email to confirm that another voted item, the ability to backup running VMs in Azure using Azure Backup, had been announced – I’m actually playing with it right now.

image

Feedback via this forum works. It is public and measured, and it’s much more effective than complaining to your local Microsoft reps (some of whom are less effective than others). So give Microsoft the feedback! Don’t just say “I want X”. Instead, say “I want X because it will allow Y and Z”; a full scenario description is what the program managers need to understand the request.

My tip: partners working with Open licensing need a centralized admin portal.