Back Teaching – Implementing Secure Azure Networks

After a quiet 2019, I am getting back into Azure training starting in March in Brussels, Belgium, with a new hands-on course called Implementing Secure Azure Networks.

2019 was a year of (good) upheaval. I started a new job with big responsibilities and a learning curve. Family-wise, we had a lot of good things going on. So I decided to put our (my wife and I) Cloud Mechanix training on the shelf for a while. All last year, I’ve been putting a lot of cool Azure networking & security things into practice with larger enterprises so I’ve been learning … new things, good practices, what works, what doesn’t, and so on. That put the seed into my head for the next class that I would write. Then along came Workshop Summit and asked if I would like to submit a 1-day practical training course. So I did, and they accepted.

The Course

Security is always number 1 or 2 in any survey on the fears of cloud computing. Networking in The Cloud is very different to traditional physical networking … but in some ways it is quite similar. The goals of this workshop are:

  • To teach you the fundamentals, the theory, of how Azure networking functions so you can understand the practical design and application
  • Do hands-on deployments of secure networks

As a result, this workshop takes you all the way back to the basics of Azure networking so you really understand the “wiring” of a secure network in the cloud. Only with that understanding do you understand that small is big. The topics covered in this class will secure small/mid businesses, platform deployments that require regulatory compliance, and large enterprises:

  • The Microsoft global network
  • Availability & SLA
  • Virtual network basics
  • Virtual network adapters
  • Peering
  • Service endpoints
  • Private Link & Private Endpoints
  • Public IP Addresses
  • VNet gateways: VPN & ExpressRoute
  • Network Security Groups
  • Application Firewall
  • Route Tables
  • Third-Party Firewalls
  • Azure Firewall
  • Architectures

Attendees will require an Azure subscription capable of deploying multiple 4 x single-core virtual machines, 1 x Azure Firewall, 1 x Web Application Gateway, and 1 x per GB Log Analytics Workspace for 1 day.


Tuesday, 3rd March


Venue: the Hackages Lab, located at Avenue des Arts 3-4-5 in Brussels

Organisers & Registration

This event is being run by The Workshop Summit. All registration and payments are handled by that event.

Who Should Attend

You don’t need to be a networking guru to attend this class. I always start my Azure networking training by explaining that I have never set up a VLAN; I’m proud of that! But I can out-network most people in Azure. Azure networking requires some learning, especially to do it correctly and securely, and that starts with re-learning some fundamentals. Those who understand basic concepts like a route, a firewall rule, network addressing (CIDR blocks), and so on will do fine on this course.

Who will benefit? Anyone planning on working with Azure. If you’re the person building the first “landing zone” for a migration, setting up the infrastructure for a new cloud-based service, working with IaaS VMs or platform (PaaS – yes network security plays a big role here!) then this course is for you. Get this stuff right early on and you’ll look like a genius. Or maybe you’ve already got an infrastructure and it’s time to learn how to mature it? We will start with the basics, cover them deeply, and then dive deep, focusing on security in ways that a typical Azure introduction course cannot do.

Cloud Mechanix – “Starting Azure Infrastructure” Training Coming To Frankfurt, Germany

I have great news. Today I got confirmation that our venue for the next Cloud Mechanix class has been confirmed. So on December 3-4, I will be teaching my Cloud Mechanix “Starting Azure Infrastructure” class in Frankfurt, Germany. Registration Link.

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About The Event

This HANDS-ON theory + practical course is intended for IT professionals and developers that wish to start working with or improve their knowledge of Azure virtual machines. The course starts at the very beginning, explaining what Azure is (and isn’t), administrative concepts, and then works through the fundamentals of virtual machines before looking at more advanced topics such as security, high availability, storage engineering, backup, disaster recovery, management/alerting, and automation.

Aidan has been teaching and assisting Microsoft partners in Ireland about Microsoft Azure since 2014. Over this time he has learned what customers are doing in Azure, and how they best get results. Combined with his own learning, and membership of the Microsoft Valuable Professional (MVP) program for Microsoft Azure, Aidan has a great deal of knowledge to share.

We deliberately keep the class small (maximum of 20) to allow for a more intimate environment where attendees can feel free to interact and ask questions.


This course spans two days, running on December 3-4, 2018. The agenda is below.

Day 1 (09:30 – 17:00):

  • Introducing Azure
  • Tenants & subscriptions
  • Azure administration
  • Admin tools
  • Intro to IaaS
  • Storage
  • Networking basics

Day 2 (09:30 – 17:00):

  • Virtual machines
  • Advanced networking
  • Backup
  • Disaster recovery
  • JSON
  • Diagnostics
  • Monitoring & alerting
  • Security Center

The Venue

The location is the Novotel Frankfurt City. This hotel:

  • Has very fast Wi-Fi – an essential requirement for hands-on cloud training!
  • Reasonably priced accommodation.
  • Has car parking – which we are paying for.
  • Is near the Messe (conference centre) and is beside the Kuhwaldstraße tram station and the Frankfurt Main West train station and S-Bahn.
  • Is just a 25 minute walk or 5 minutes taxi from the Hauptbahnhof (central train station).
  • It was only 15-20 minutes by taxi to/from Frankfurt Airport when we visited the hotel to scout the location.



The regular cost for this course is €999 per person. If you are registering more than one person, then the regular price will be €849 per person. A limited number of early bird ticks are on sale for €659 each.

You can pay for for the course by credit card (handled securely by Stripe) or PayPal on the official event site. You can also pay by invoice/bank transfer by emailing Payment must be received within 21 days of registration – please allow 14 days for an international (to Ireland) bank transfer. We require the following information for invoice & bank transfer payment:

  • The name and contact details (email and phone) for the person attending the course.
  • Name & address of the company paying the course fee.
  • A purchase Order (PO) number, if your company require this for services & purchases.

The cost includes tea/coffee and lunch. Please inform us in advance if you have any dietary requirements.

Note: Cloud Mechanix is a registered education-only company in the Republic of Ireland and does not charge for or pay for VAT/sales tax.

See the event page for Terms and Conditions.

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London July 5-6: My Next Azure VM Training Course

My company, Cloud Mechanix, recently announced our latest dates for my custom-written hands-on training course, Starting Azure Infrastructure. We’ll be coming back to London on July 5-6 in Lancaster Gate – a location with easy public transport access and just a few minutes walk from the express train from Heathrow Airport.

We wrapped up Amsterdam last Friday. It was great fun with an interactive class overlooking the comings and goings at Schiphol Airport. Sadly, the weather was beautiful outside and we were cooped up talking cloud inside. I enjoyed the class and the feedback was awesome – here’s a sample:

Aidan runs a relaxed class that is both accessible and technically uplifting. Even a more experienced person will come away with new knowledge of Azure. The training is so updated that new functions are added daily.


Really enjoyed the course over the last couple of days. I would highly recommend Aidan for your Azure Training needs.

The “Starting Azure Infrastructure” Cloud Mechanix class in Amsterdam

Like I said earlier, we’re coming back to London on July 5-6 at the Lancaster Gate Hotel. The venue is not too expensive to stay at (by London prices) and the broadband was good. Two Underground lines pass very nearby, there bus stop around the corner, and Paddington Station is 10 minutes walk away. If you want to see some of London then the hop-on/off tours are also around the corner and it’s not that far from the various palaces and Kensington.

As usual with these classes, I update the content and distribute it two weeks ahead of the class – and then hand-out further updates when we start if Microsoft adds anything – I added content on two new features that were added the night before we started in Amsterdam so our attendees had the very latest content. What’s the point in teaching something that some editor approved 9 months ago and is already out of date!?!? The content is suitable for anyone working with or planning to work with Azure VMs, IT pros or devs. Yes, newbies with some Windows Server/Linux and very basic networking knowledge will learn lots. But over the years, I’ve found that people who thought they knew Azure well have learned a lot too, particularly around best practices, design, security, and performance.

If you’re interested then please check out the course information.

Deploying My Sites On Azure App Services

I’ve started redeploying my websites on Azure App Services. In this post, I’ll explain the rather simple architecture and how I am going through my own little digital transformation or cloud transformation.

For the last few years, this site ( has been hosted on an Azure virtual machine running Windows Server 2012 R2 and an aging copy of MySQL. Once upon a time, before having a family, that was fine. I had lots of time, and a willingness to “muck in”. These days, I prioritise my time and my time is limited. I want to focus on content, not on admin … and isn’t that the point of the cloud?

That’s why I made the decision to switch from an IaaS virtual machine in Azure to Azure PaaS in the form of App Services, a part of Azure that has consumed a good bit of 2018 for me so far. This decision included this site, and I decided to build a new WordPress site for my Azure training business, Cloud Mechanix, on

The architecture is pretty simple:


Azure Database for MySQL Server

Both of my sites run on WordPress and that means MySQL – something that I know nothing about and have had problems with in the past – resulting in a complete VM restore back in the preview days of Azure Backup for IaaS VMs. If you want to know nothing about installing/running/backing up a database, then Azure Database services are for you! Many IT pros will have heard of Azure SQL, but there are also MySQL and PostgreSQL implementations of the service.

I deployed 1 instance of MySQL Server for each website. I tried to deploy 1 instance only, with multiple databases, but the second WordPress site just wasn’t having it. I’ve used the Basic tier and so far, the size seems to be OK.

A storage account was also created, and I configured diagnostics exports of both database instances to blob storage using Azure Monitor.

App Service Plan

A single app service plan hosts both websites. I decided to go with the Standard tier because I wanted backup functionality, not just custom domains that the Basic tier would offer. I offset this by being a little clever with the sizing. The plan is using a single instance (Windows Server 2016 IIS virtual machine under the covers), with content stored on a back-end SMB 3.0 share (also under the covers). I deployed the small S1 instance, keeping the costs down. However, is running on a decent spec D2s_v3 VM with 2 cores and 4 GB RAM. To offset the drop in resources and to enable peak demand, I’ve enabled autoscaling, supporting 1-2 instances. The autoscaling is configured to go to 2 instances if CPU or RAM exceeds certain thresholds for 10 minutes, and to drop to 1 instance if CPU or RAM drops back down below those thresholds.

The Cloud Mechanix site is running on App Services now, and will follow soon.

App Services

There is one app service for each website. I have deployed a storage account for backing up the websites every morning (at different times), including their databases – you can’t have enough backups!

Making The Deployment Easy

it sounds like I deployed a lot of stuff, right? Actually the WordPress, published by WordPress, template in the Azure Marketplace for App Services & Azure Database for MySQL Server made it really easy! It created the app service plan (first deployment only), the app service, and the database instance/database. Then I ran the template again, using the existing app service plan, and creating a second piring of app service and database instance/database. Then I logged into the default WordPress page of each site, and configured my credentials.

Changing the WordPress Settings URL

The default URL of the WordPress site in Settings will be configured and greyed out to use the default Azure domain name, even after you associate your own domain name with the site. The trick to changing the URL is to:

  1. Configure the FTP password for the app service
  2. Get the FTP username and server name from the app service properties
  3. Connect to the app service using FTP
  4. Browse to the /site/wwwroot folder
  5. Download wp-config.php and edit it

Look for a line with define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);

Straight after that, add the following line:




  1. Upload the wp-config.php file back to the site.
  2. Browse to the new URL of the site, e.g., and sign in. This will update the WordPress URL settings of the site.
  3. Re-download the wp-config.php file, remove the above line that you added, and upload the file again.

You’re done!

First Cloud Mechanix Azure Course Completed

Last week, I delivered my first ever Cloud Mechanix Azure training course, to a full room in the Lancaster Gate area of London, UK.

It was a jam-packed full 2 days of Azure storage, networking, virtual machines, backup, DR, security, and management, with lots of hands-on labs. Half the attendees were from the UK, the rest from countries such as Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and even Canada! I had a lot of fun teaching the class – there were lots of questions and laughs. And as often happens in these classes, the interactions lead me to picking up a couple of ideas from the attendees.

In my class, everyone gets hands-on labs a few days before the event. That allows them to get their laptops ready. On the day, they get copies of the slides so they can follow/along or make notes on their laptops – the labs and slides are updated with the latest information that I have. The goal of the class isn’t to teach you where to click, but why to click. In the cloud, things move and get renamed so detailed instructions age very quickly. But what lasts is understanding the why. Not everyone got to finish the hands-on labs, but I am available to help the attendees complete the labs.

If this course sounds interesting to you, then we have another class running in Amsterdam in April. Some tweaks are being made the labs/slides (which the London class will be getting too) and, as always, the April class will be getting the latest that I can share on Azure.

Delivering My First “Cloud Mechanix” Azure Training Course Today

I’m in London right now, preparing to deliver my first Azure training course by my very own company (co-owned/run with my wife, Nicole), Cloud Mechanix. I actually wrote this post yesterday and scheduled it for release, because I predicted that I’d be busy.

The class is sold out, 20 people from around the world are attending, from the UK, continental Europe, and from as far away as Canada! I’m blown away that our first course sold like this. I have 2 days to teach as much Azure infrastructure as I can. The goal is to give people the foundations and best practices for building, securing, managing, and protecting stable and well performing systems in the cloud. There’s lots of tips in the class, and I’ve build a set of hands-on exercises so there’s a practical side to the theory – the attendees will build a sample reference architecture for VM-based solution.

I can’t teach everything in two days, but I can teach what you need to know, so learning more is easy. As I’ve found with a different Azure VM class that I developed & teach for my employer in Dublin, this class is a foundation for Azure. Once you know this material, you have the bits to move on to other hybrid or PaaS-based solutions in Microsoft’s cloud.

I’m so excited! A certain friend of mine who retired recently has been telling me to do this for the last 5 years. Last year, Nicole told me I needed to do this. I made the decision to start writing the course. If I was up early with our youngest daughter, I’d sit down in the office once she fell back asleep and I’d write. Or when I brought my eldest daughter to gymnastics class, I’d wait outside in the car, writing. Pretty much every free moment of the last month went into updating the content – and I’ll probably still do an update or two (on managed disks) early on Thursday morning. So here I am (or will be) in London, counting down the minutes until the attendees walk in the door, we make introductions, and we sit down to start a learning experience together.

London is sold out, but we have another class running in Amsterdam on April 19-20. The venue is a hotel near Schiphol airport, making it very easy to get to – it’s not too central in Amsterdam, and Schiphol is one of the best connected airports in Europe. Half of the seats are already gone so, if you are interested, you will need to move quick.

Just Emailed My First Azure Newsletter

I’ve decided to start a monthly e-mail newsletter, summarising the previous month’s Azure IaaS news. The first copy went out just a few minutes ago to anyone who has signed up. The content includes:

  • My Azure tip of the month
  • The Azure story of the month
  • A summary of my blog posts here and on
  • A list of interesting articles from Microsoft over the previous month
  • Details on where I’ve scheduled to speak
  • And this month included another small news item

You can sign up using the widget on the right-hand side of this site.

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I Am Running My “Starting Azure Infrastructure” Course in London on Feb 22/23

I am delighted to announce the dates of the first delivery of my own bespoke Azure training in London, UK, on February 21st and 22nd. All the details can be found here.

In my day job, I have been teaching Irish Microsoft partners about Azure for the past three years, using training materials that I developed for my employer. I’m not usually one to brag, but we’ve been getting awesome reviews on that training and it has been critical to us developing a fast growing Azure market. I’ve tweeted about those training activities and many of my followers have asked about the possibility of bringing this training abroad.

So a new venture has started, with brand new training, called Cloud Mechanix. With this business, I am bringing brand-new Azure training to the UK and Europe.  This isn’t Microsoft official training – this is my real world, how-to, get-it-done training, written and presented by me. We are keeping the classes small – I have learned that this makes for a better environment for the attendees. And best of all – the cost is low. This isn’t £2,000 training. This isn’t even £1,000 training.

The first course is booked and will be running in London (quite central) on Feb 22-23. It’s a 2-day “Starting Azure Infrastructure” course that will get noobies to Azure ready to deploy solutions using Azure VMs. And experience has shown that my training also teaches a lot to those that think they already know Azure VMs. You can learn all about this course, the venue, dates, costs, and more here.

I’m excited by this because this is my business (with my wife as partner). I’ve had friends, such as Mark Minasi, telling me to do this for years. And today, I’m thrilled to make this happen. Hopefully some of you will be too and register for this training Smile