My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

teched-2013As technical conferences go tis was a great conference. There were a host of announcements on Monday and then sessions all week long that detailed many of the new features. For Windows Techs this means a host of new toys, errr, I mean features.

Instead of writing long descriptions of the event or what they served at lunch I am going to publish my notes. Because I am keeping it short you may be looking for more information. If there is something you want more info on just drop me a message.

Key Note Day 1: Monday June 3rd 2013

Brad Anderson’s Keynote: You can watch it yourself or see his blog post on it here:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/in_the_cloud/archive/2013/06/04/teched-2013-recapping-yesterday-s-big-announcements.aspx

TechNotes: It’s Time to Virtualize your workloads and Rethink your Storage

Server 2012 improvements

  • Enhanced Network Virtualization in Server 2012 R2
  • Inbox multi-tenant virtual network gateway in 2012R2
  • Still SMB 3 but now version SMB 3.02
  • SMB Direct 2.0 improved speed
    – with multiple NICs bottleneck is the speed of the memory
  • New WorkFolders (File Sync for Business)

Hyper-v improvements

  • Hyper-v Live export and cloning
  • Remote access via VM bus to remote to a VM console
  • Online vhdx resize (resize your Disks while the server is running)
  • Hyperv replica now offers ability to extend replication to a third location
  • Hyper-v recovery services – in the azure portal – manages recovery services
  • Hyper-v – Quality of Service Set the level of IOPS allowed for this VM (IOPS throttling)
  • Full dynamic memory support for Linux (hot add and remove memory)
  • Backup support for Linux – with 0 downtime (using a file system freeze cause no vss)
  • Shared VHDX file (VHDX file sharing between VMs enables failover clustering w/o SAN)
  • Datadedup on running Virtual Machines. Reduces data storage and increases performance.
  • Live Migration now can use compression or RDMA
    -with RDMA and multiple NICs bottleneck is the speed of the memory
  • Automatic Windows Guest VM activation
  • Windows Azure Pack – enables building Azure like offerings in house (requires System Center)

Windows Azure improvements

  • Trial changed – Now Get $200 of Azure free with your 1 month trial
  • MSDN – new lower rates for Dev and Test
  • New just turn your VM off and Compute Charging stops (don’t have to de-provision)

Windows 8.1 improvements

  • Stat screen control in GPO
  • Export-start PowerShell command
  • Variable snap view (side by side apps)
  • Simple update deployment
  • Remote Business Data Removal
  • More Biometrics device support
  • Malware resistance
  • Assigned Access (start just an app – Kiosk mode)
  • Workplace Join
  • Open MDM
  • RDS enhancements
  • VPN clients
  • Mobile broadband
  • Broadband tethering
  • Auto-triggered VPN

Widows RT

  • Enterprise Join
  • Enterprise Management
    – MDM

SQL 2014

  • In Memory Transaction System (Extremely fast & Scalable SQL server)

Tech Ed would not be complete without a host of security and penetration testing presentations. After sitting through another excellent presentation by Hasain Alshakarti and Marcus Murray I was challenged, along with the rest of the audience, to the “Hack Me” Challenge.

This challenge contains 12 levels. To complete this challenge you have to have some knowledge of penetration testing, coding and basic understanding of HTTP-protocols.

You can participate too! I warn you it is addictive. I blew thru levels 1,2, and 3 but have been stuck on 4 for a few hours… Leave a comment and let me know how far you get.

Get started: http://challenge.truesec.com/
Good Luck!

*** Update: I am currently on level 8. Keith Mayer has completed all 12 levels. How far are you?

teched-2013I am at Tech Ed 2013 in New Orleans this week and Microsoft has made some great announcements. On Monday June 3rd, the first day of the Conference, we heard about new features in the next wave of products to release this year. Specifically I have been leaning about new features in Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Azure, and System Center 2012 R2.

A few of my coworkers are here blogging and tweeting about the event. We are taking turns blog’in about announcements and what we learn. I am posting for the series this Thursday. For my post I will be publishing my notes that I take at the sessions. Don’t worry, I will clean them up a bit. It will be a week in review post about what I learned at TechEd 2013. Hopefully you will find it useful and interesting as there are a lot of new features coming later this year. The Microsoft product teams sure have packed a lot of new features into 12 months of coding.  For more on what is happening here you can see Kevin Remde’s intro post where I expect he will have links to the other posts this week.
Find it here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2013/06/02/new-series-teched-2013-favorites.aspx

*Updated: Here is the series link:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2013/06/05/teched-2013-favorites-the-complete-series.aspx

3365_evangelist-series-buttonThis month, my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists and I are authoring a new series of articles on 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.  Check out the list of articles here:
http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/05/20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services/

 

One of the roadblocks to building a Windows 8 new interface application is that you need Windows 8 or Server 2012 to develop on. It just so happens that Microsoft has this great virtual server environment, called Windows Azure, where we can remote into a 2012 Server and build Windows 8 applications.

When creating this post I repurposed the content from my friend and colleague, Keith Mayer’s  original post, titled “Step-by-Step: Building a FREE Windows 8 App Dev Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines

In this step-by-step guide, we will cover:

  • Step 1: Provision Windows Server 2012 in a Windows Azure VM
  • Step 2: Configure Windows Server 2012 for Windows 8 App Development
  • Step 3: Install Windows 8 App Development Tools
  • Step 4: Export / Import Lab Environment On-Demand

Estimated time to complete: 45 minutes

Step 1: Provision Windows Server 2012 in a Windows Azure VM

Provision a new Windows Azure VM to run Windows Server 2012 as the basis of your Windows 8 App Development lab environment by performing the following steps:

  1. Sign in at the Windows Azure Management Portal. If you don’t have an Azure account you can get a Free Trial Account. Click this link for details on creating your 90 day trial account.
  2. Select Virtual Machines located on the side navigation panel on the Windows Azure Management Portal page.

    Virtual Machines page in Windows Azure Management Portal
  3. Click the +NEW button located on the bottom navigation bar and select Compute | Virtual Machines | From Gallery.

    Creating a New Virtual Machine From Gallery
  4. In the Virtual Machine Operating System Selection list, select Windows Server 2012, December 2012 and click the Next button.

    Virtual Machine Operating System Selection
  5. On the Virtual Machine Configuration page, complete the fields as follows:
    New User Name: <enter a user name like xxxAdmin>
    Virtual Machine Name: XXXwin8dev01 ( where XXX represents your initials ) 
    New Password and Confirm Password fields: Choose and confirm a new local Administrator password. (Azure requires complex passwords)
    Size: Medium (2 cores, 3.5GB Memory)

    Virtual Machine Configuration
    Click the Next button to continue.
  6. On the Virtual Machine Mode page, complete the fields as follows:
    Standalone Virtual Machine: Selected
    DNS Name: XXXwin8dev01.cloudapp.net
    Storage Account: Select the Storage Account defined in the Getting Started steps from the Prerequisites section above.
    Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network: Select the Affinity Group defined in the Getting Started steps from the Prerequisites section above.

    Virtual Machine Mode
    Click the Next button to continue.
  7. On the Virtual Machine Options page, click the Checkmark button to begin provisioning the new virtual machine.

    Provisioning a New Virtual Machine
    As the new virtual machine is being provisioned, you will see the Status column on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal cycle through several values including Stopped, Stopped (Provisioning), and Running (Provisioning)
    When provisioning for this new Virtual Machine is completed, the Status column will display a value of Running and you may continue with the next exercise in this guide.
Step 2: Configuring Windows Server 2012 for Windows 8 App Development

In this exercise, you will configure Windows Server 2012 running in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine to use Windows 8-style user interface settings so that you can use this environment for developing and testing Windows 8 Apps.

  1. After the new virtual machine has finished provisioning, click on the name ( XXXwin8dev01 ) of the new Virtual Machine displayed on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal.  This will display the Virtual Machine Details Page for XXXwin8dev01.

    Virtual Machine Details Page
  2. On the Virtual Machines Details Page for XXXwin8dev01, click the Connect button located on the bottom navigation toolbar and click the Open button to launch a Remote Desktop Connection to the console of this virtual machine. 

    Launching a Remote Desktop Connection
  3. If prompted, in the Remote Desktop Connection Security Warning window, check the option for Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer and click the Connect button.

    Remote Desktop Connection Security Warning
  4. In the Windows Security dialog box, click the option to Use another account and enter the  username (xxxAdmin) and password used when provisioning this VM in Exercise 1 above.

    Windows Security Dialog Box
    Click the OK button to continue.
  5. If prompted, in the Remote Desktop Connection Security Warning window, check the option for Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer and click the Yes button.

    Remote Desktop Connection Security Warning
    You will be logged on to a Remote Desktop console for the newly provisioned virtual machine.  Wait for the logon process to complete and the Server Manager tool to launch before continuing with the next step.         
  6. In the Server Manager window, click on the Tools menu choice from the top navigation bar and select the Computer Management tool from the drop-down menu.

    Selecting the Computer Management Tool
  7. In the Computer Management window, expand Local Users and Groups in the left navigation pane and right-click on the Users folder located below it.  Select New User… from the pop-up menu. 

    Computer Management Window
  8. In the New User dialog box, complete the following fields to create a new Developer user account:
    User name: Developer
    Full name: Developer
    Description: Developer user account for Windows 8 Apps
    Password and Confirm Password: Choose and Confirm a new secure password.
    User must change password at next logon: Uncheck

    New User Dialog Box
    Click the Create button and then the Close button to create a new Developer user account.
  9. In the Computer Management tool, select the Groups folder in the left navigation pane.  Right-click on the Administrators group and select Add to Group … from the pop-up menu.

    Add to Group …
  10. In the Administrators Properties dialog box, click the Add button and add the new Developer user account to this group.

    Administrators Properties Dialog Box
    Click the OK button to complete adding the new Developer user account to the local Administrators group.
    Close the Computer Management tool.
  11. In the Server Manager window, click on the Tools menu choice from the top navigation bar and select the Services tool from the drop-down menu.

    Selecting the Services Tool
  12. In the Services window, scroll down the list of services to Windows Audio
    Double-click on the  Windows Audio service and set Startup Type to Automatic.  Click OK to save this change.
    Double-click on the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service and set Startup Type to Automatic. Click OK to save this change.
    Right-click on the Windows Audio service and select Start from the pop-up menu.  Confirm that both Windows Audio and Windows Audio Endpoint Builder services start.

    Configuring Windows Audio Services
  13. In the Server Management tool, click on the Local Server link in the left navigation pane.  
    In the Local Server Properties page click the IE Enhanced Security Configuration link located on the right side of the page. 
    In the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration dialog box, set Administrators and Users to Off.

    Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration
    Click the OK button to save these changes.
    Note: Typically in a production server environment, it is recommended to keep IE Enhanced Security Configuration enabled for both Administrators and Users.  However, because this virtual machine will be an application development lab VM, we are disabling this feature to increase the usability of the lab environment.
  14. Inside the Remote Desktop session, press the WINDOWS+R key on your keyboard to pop-up the Run dialog box.  In the Open: field, type REGEDIT.EXE and click the OK button to launch the Registry Editor tool.

    Run Dialog Box
    Note: If the WINDOWS key does not pass through to the Remote Desktop session, check to make sure that your Remote Desktop Connection window is maximized.  Also, check the Local Resources tab in the options of your Remote Desktop Connection client settings to ensure that the Apply Windows key combinations setting is configured for On the remote computer.
  15. In the Registry Editor window, expand out the registry key hierarchy in the left navigation panel to navigate to the following registry location:
    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main
    In this registry location, double-click on the ApplicationTileImmersiveActivation registry value located in the right pane and set the Value data: field to 1.  Click the OK button to save this change in the registry.

    Changing A Registry Value
  16. In the Server Manager window, click on the Manage menu choice located on the top navigation bar and select Add Roles and Features from the drop-down menu.

    Manage menu in Server Manager
  17. In the Add Roles and Features Wizard window, click the Next button to accept default values on each page until you reach the Select Features page. 
    On the Select Features page, scroll down to User Interfaces and Infrastructure (Installed).  Expand this feature and select the checkbox for the Desktop Experience feature.
    When prompted, click the Add Features button and then click the Next button followed by the Install button to install the Windows 8-style Desktop Experience feature.

    Installing the Desktop Experience Feature
    After the Desktop Experience feature has been completed, you will be prompted to restart your virtual machine.

    Restart notification from Add Roles and Features Wizard
    At this point, close the Remote Desktop Connection session to the Windows Server 2012 virtual machine.
  18. On the Windows Azure Management Portal, navigate back to the Virtual Machine Details page for the XXXwin8dev01 virtual machine.

    Click on the Restart button located on the bottom toolbar to restart the virtual machine.
    After the virtual machine restarts, you may continue with the next exercise in this guide.
    Note: This restart may take a few minutes to complete, as the installation of components related to the Desktop Experience feature will be installed and configured during this restart cycle.  You can refresh your browser window to force an immediate update of the status of the virtual machine to be reflected on the Windows Azure Management Portal.
Step 3: Install Windows 8 App Development Tools

In this exercise, you will logon to the virtual machine as the Developer user account configured in Exercise 2 and install the necessary Windows 8 App Development Tools for developing, testing and publishing new Windows 8 Apps.

  1. On the Virtual Machines Details Page for XXXwin8dev01, click the Connect button located on the bottom navigation toolbar and click the Open button to launch a Remote Desktop Connection to the console of this virtual machine. 

    Launching a Remote Desktop Connection
  2. In the Windows Security dialog box, click the option to Use another account and enter the Developer username and password configured in Exercise 2 above.     

    Windows Security Dialog Box
    You will be logged on to a Remote Desktop console for the newly provisioned virtual machine.  Wait for the logon process to complete and the Server Manager tool to launch before continuing with the next step.
  3. In the Server Manager window, click on the Manage menu choice on the top navigation bar and select Server Manager Properties from the drop-down menu.

    Server Manager Properties menu choice
  4. In the Server Manager Properties dialog box, check the checkbox option for Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon and click the OK button.

    Server Manager Properties
    Because this user account will be used for Windows 8 App development, starting Server Manager automatically at each logon will not be necessary.
    Close the Server Manager window.
  5. From within the Remote Desktop Connection session to the VM, press the WINDOWS key to navigate to the Windows 8-style Start Screen.

    Windows 8-style Start Screen
  6. On the Windows 8-style Start Screen, click the Internet Explorer tile and navigate to this step-by-step guide by browsing to http://aka.ms/W8CloudLab.
    From within the Remote Desktop Connection session, scroll back down to this step and complete the remainder of this exercise from within the virtual machine.
  7. Using Internet Explorer on the virtual machine, browse to Install Windows 8 Developer Tools

    Windows Dev Center for Windows Store Apps
  8. Under the heading Download the tools and SDK, click on the Download now button. When prompted on whether to Run, Save, or Cancel, click the Run button to launch the installation.

    Run the Installation of Developer Tools and SDK
  9. In the Visual Studio installation window, review and check the option I agree to the License Terms and conditions.  Click the INSTALL button to proceed.
  10. In the User Account Control dialog box, click the Yes button.  The installation will now continue.

    Visual Studio Installation in Progress
    The installation will take a few minutes to complete.  When completed, click on the LAUNCH button to continue with the next step in this exercise.

    Visual Studio Installation Completed
  11. In the Visual Studio registration window, click the Register online link.  A registration web page will launch.

    Visual Studio Registration Window
    Login to the registration web page with your Microsoft account (aka. Windows Live ID) and complete the registration form. 
    After submitting your registration form, copy and paste the Product Key on the registration web page into the Product Key field in the Visual Studio registration window.
    Click the Next button to continue.  If prompted with a User Account Control security dialog box, click Yes to continue.
  12. In the Visual Studio – Product Key Applied window, click the Close button.

    Visual Studio Product Key Applied
  13. After Visual Studio launches for the first time, a Developer License window will be displayed. 

    Review and click the I Agree button.  If prompted with a User Account Control security dialog box, click the Yes button to continue.
  14. In the Developer License dialog box, login with your Microsoft Account (aka. Windows Live ID) to acquire a Windows 8 App Developer License.

    Developer License Dialog Box
  15. A new developer license will be provisioned and downloaded to your installed copy of Visual Studio.  Once complete, a confirmation dialog box will be displayed.

    Developer License Confirmation Dialog Box
    Click the Close button to continue.

Your virtual machine environment is now prepared for developing, testing and submitting new Windows 8 Apps! Start Building!

Your Windows 8 App Dev lab environment is complete! Starting building your new Windows 8 App by leveraging these FREE programs and resources as your next step!

  • Your App Starts Here: Sign-up for Generation App
    Get expert guidance on a 30-day journey in developing, testing and submitting your new Windows 8 App for FREE.
(Optional) Step 4: Export / Import Lab Environment On-Demand

Our functional Windows 8 App Dev lab environment is now complete, but if you’re like me, you won’t be using this lab environment 24×7 around-the-clock.  As long as the virtual machine is provisioned, it will continue to accumulate compute hours against your Azure account regardless of virtual machine state – even in a shutdown state!

To insure we don’t waste Azure compute hours, we can leverage the Windows Azure PowerShell module to de-provision the lab virtual machine when not in use and re-provision the lab virtual machine when it is needed again.   In this section, we will walk through the steps to spin our lab environment up and down on-demand using Windows PowerShell, but if you’re using a non-Windows platform locally, you can also perform these same steps with our Windows Azure command-line tools.

Once you’ve configured the code snippets, you’ll be able to spin up your Windows 8 App Dev lab environment when needed in as little as 5-10 minutes!

Prior to beginning this exercise, please ensure that you’ve downloaded, installed and configured the Windows Azure PowerShell module.

Download, Install and Configure the Windows Azure PowerShell Management Tools

  • Download and Install the Windows Azure PowerShell cmdlets. Note that a restart may be required after installing this module.
  • – Right-click on Windows PowerShell in your Start Menu or Start Screen and choose Run As Administrator.
  • – Set the PowerShell Execution Policy for scripts by running the following command at the PowerShell command prompt:
    PS C:\> Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
    Import the Windows Azure PowerShell module and supporting cmdlets by running the following command at the PowerShell command prompt:
    PS C:\> Import-Module Azure
    – Download and save your Windows Azure Publish Settings file by running the following command at the PowerShell command prompt:
    PS C:\> Get-AzurePublishSettingsFile
    – Import the saved Windows Azure Publish Settings file by running the following command at the PowerShell command prompt:
    PS C:\> Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile
                “full_path_to_saved_file.publishsettings”

 

Steps: De-provisioning and Re-provisioning

  1. De-provisioning your lab. Use the PowerShell snippet below to shutdown and export your lab environment when you’re not using it. 
    NOTE: Prior to running this script, be sure to edit the first line to reflect the name of your VM and confirm that the $ExportPath folder location exists.
    $myVM = “XXXwin8dev01″ 
    Stop-AzureVM -ServiceName $myVM -Name $myVM 
    $ExportPath = “C:\ExportVMs\ExportAzureVM-$myVM.xml” 
    Export-AzureVM -ServiceName $myVM -name $myVM -Path $ExportPath 
    After you’ve confirmed that the Export file exists, you can continue to de-provision your lab environment with the following PowerShell snippet:
    Remove-AzureVM -ServiceName $myVM -name $myVM
  2. Re-provisioning your lab. Use the PowerShell snippet below to import and re-provision your SharePoint lab environment when you’re ready to use it again.  Prior to running this script, be sure to edit the first two lines to reflect the names of your Virtual Network and VMs. 
    $myVM = “XXXwin8dev01″ 
    $ExportPath = “C:\ExportVMs\ExportAzureVM-$myVM.xml”    
    Import-AzureVM -Path $ExportPath | New-AzureVM -ServiceName $myVM 
    Start-AzureVM -ServiceName $myVM -name $myVM

Note:  You can also manually de-provision existing virtual machines from the Windows Azure Management Portal web page by deleting a virtual machine.  To manually re-provision a virtual machine, create a new virtual machine from the Windows Azure Management Portal web page by selecting the virtual hard disk in the gallery that was previously used by the virtual machine, rather than selecting an operating system image.

3365_evangelist-series-button_thumb1This month, my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists and I are authoring a new series of articles on 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.  Check out the list of articles here:
http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/05/20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services/

My first computer job was as a tape librarian for the Phone Company. I worked in a large Datacenter and had to help manage 100,000 IBM-3490 tapes. I was just a cog in a large process of a Disaster Recovery plan for the Phone Company’s computers. The science of having a Disaster Recovery plan is almost as old as computers themselves.

disasterphoto_thumbIt probably wasn’t long after the first computers were used that data loss happened. Haven’t you ever been working on a document and then lost it due to some failure – either hardware or process related? That is were Disaster Recovery planning comes into play. If you don’t have a DR plan in place – you will after your first big data loss. Well, if your company survives that loss. 

A great way to plan your Disaster Recovery procedures is to work collaboratively with the stake holders of your business units and create a plan that first insures your data is protected and secure and second is restored in a timely and successful manor. (Back when I was at the Phone Company our test restores often failed our tests.) A great place to host these collaborative documents is up on a document management site. The first option for this that comes to mind is to setup a SharePoint Foundation 2013 on Azure IaaS, but if we want to set this up for Free then I look to my favorite Open Source web engine and Azure Web Sites. So here is a Step by Step guide to running WordPress on a Free Azure Website to host your Document Management System for your DR Plan Repository.

Step 1. Create A Free WordPress Azure Web Site
You can create up to 10 free Azure Web Sites under a Microsoft Account.

  1. Create an Azure Free Trial Account. Click this link for details on creating your 90 day trial account

  2. Login to the Windows Azure Management Portal.

  3. Click on the “WEB SITES” Section in the left side column and create a WordPress Web Site. For detailed instructions on creating a WordPress Site see this blog article:
    http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/04/how-to-run-wordpress-on-azure-websites-for-free/

  4. In your WordPress Site Click on the “Plugins” section. Then Click on the “ Add New” tab under Plugins.
    image

  5. On the Install Plugins Page enter “WP Document Revisions” in the Search box and click on “Search Plugins”.
    image

  6. From the List of Available Plugins choose to install the WP Document Revisions Plugin.
    image

  7. Click “OK” to install
    image

  8. Activate the Plugin
    image

  9. Now there will be a new Documents Tab on the right side. This is the new Document Management Section of your WordPress site where you will share your Disaster Recover Documents.
    image

  10. Here is a quick tutorial on how to use WP Document Revisions to manage your documents.

    WP Document Revisions

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VpsTNSiJKis

  11. Plan your Disaster Recover Procedures…
    As you plan don’t forget about our new backup technologies to Azure. Smile

    20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services-iaas-leveraging-the-cloud-for-backin
    Step-by-Step- Tired of Tapes- Backup your SQL Databases to the Cloud! [ 20 Key Scenarios with Wi
    20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS)- Replicate File Server Conten
    sql-database-mirroring-to-the-cloud-20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services
    DR–Extend Active Directory to the Cloud with Windows Azure [ 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure

Hope you you find this a useful tool for your Document Management. If you are looking for a more robust tool and don’t mind the cost– take a look at SharePoint in Office 365.

win8I just read on the Windows team blog that “Windows Blue” will be named Windows 8.1 and it will be free to Windows 8 customers!

Tami Reller shared with the audience that the update previously referred to as “Windows Blue” will be called Windows 8.1and will be a free update to Windows 8

Ms.Reller went on to say that “even though the Windows ecosystem needs to know where Microsoft is going so it can go with the company, the Windows team still needs to listen to its customers and partners about what they want.”

To me this means that: yes, we have a new application platform in the new Windows 8 UI, previously know as Metro Apps, and we want you to use it and develop to it. We also value our long time customers who use some of the 3 million traditional applications and are interested in having the management and experiences that they have come to expect from a Windows machine. This along with the awesome hardware that are partners are currently putting out is a huge win for those of us who do work on these machines. (Check out the the Dell XPS 12, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the Sony VAIO Tap 20, or the recently announced Acer Aspire R7)

Read the whole Windows Team article here:
http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/archive/2013/05/14/windows-keeps-getting-better.aspx

3365_evangelist-series-buttonThis month, my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists and I are authoring a new series of articles on 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.  Check out the list of articles here:
http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/05/20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services/

This article is a repost of an article in my series, Running WordPress on Microsoft’s Azure Public Cloud–The Series.

azure1Running WordPress on Azure is Cost effective, Scalable, and Easy! In this article we will go step by step in creating a WordPress blog on Azure. We are using Azure Web Sites to create this WordPress site so it will continue to run for free even after your 90 day trial has expired. You can run up to 10 free Azure Websites with this account. The one limitation of the free account is that your DNS name is fixed. That means I would have to use http://mythoughtsonit.azurewebsites.net instead of my http://mythoughtsonit.com address. This is easily changed by upgrading to a paid subscription.

Create a web site in the portal

  1. Create an Azure Free Trial Account. Click this link for details on creating your 90 day trial account

  2. Login to the Windows Azure Management Portal.

  3. Click on the “WEB SITES” Section in the left side column.

    image

  4. Click the New icon on the bottom left of the dashboard.
    Create New

  5. Click the Web Site icon, and click From Gallery.

    Create From Gallery

  6. Locate and click WordPress in list, select it and then click Next.

    WordPress from list

  7. On the Configure Your App page, enter or select values for all fields:

    • Enter a URL name of your choice
    • Leave Create a new MySQL database selected in the Database field
    • Select the region closest to you

    image

  8. Then click Next.

  9. On the Create New Database page, you can specify a name for your new MySQL database or use the default name. Select the region closest to you as the hosting location. Select the box at the bottom of the screen to agree to ClearDB’s usage terms for your hosted MySQL database. Then click the check to complete the site creation.

    create database

After you click Complete Windows Azure will initiate build and deploy operations. While the web site is being built and deployed the status of these operations is displayed at the bottom of the Web Sites page. After all operations are performed, A final status message when the site has been successfully deployed. It usually takes less than a minute.

Launch and manage your WordPress site

  1. Click on your new site from the Web Sites page to open the dashboard for the site.

    launch dashboard

  2. On the Configure tab to change your PHP version from 5.3 to 5.4.

    image

  3. On the Dashboard management page, scroll down and click the link on the left under Site Url to open the site’s welcome page.

    site URL

  4. Enter appropriate configuration information required by WordPress and click Install WordPress to finalize configuration and open the web site’s login page.

    image

  5. Login to the new WordPress web site by entering the username and password that you specified on the Welcome page.

  6. You’ll have a new WordPress site that looks similar to the site below.

    image

Have fun check out the rest of the series on what you can do next.
This article is part of the Running WordPress on Microsoft’s Azure Public Cloud–The Series

3365_evangelist-series-buttonThis month, my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists and I are authoring a new series of articles on 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.  Check out the list of articles here:
http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/05/20-key-scenarios-with-windows-azure-infrastructure-services/

 

windowsazure497e851aa948Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning, or WebDAV, is a set of protocols based on HTTP that allows end-users to map a network drive over http and edit content and files stored on the web server. When WebDAV was first offered on Microsoft server I had evaluated it and decided it did not perform well enough for me. The WebDAV extension to IIS was completely rewritten back in the Server 2008 timeframe and is worth taking a look at again.

In this article I will guide you step by step through the process of setting up WebDAV on Server 2012 in a Windows Azure IaaS environment. This will give you a solid performing file share on the internet over port 80 and the http protocol.

First you need an Azure Account. You can setup a free trail of Azure. Details can be found here:
http://mythoughtsonit.com/2013/04/step-by-step-guide-to-setting-up-a-windows-azure-free-trial/

Second Provision a Server 2012 machine. Watch a video of what to do here:

Third open port 80 to this new server:

  1. In the Azure Portal select your 2012 server and choose the “ENDPOINTS” tab on the top.
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  2. Click “ADD ENDPOINT” at the bottom of the screen
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  3. Enter the ENDPOINT information for port 80 to port 80
  4. Done.

Next we need to install the IIS Webserver and WebDAV.

Installing WebDAV on IIS 8.0

  1. Start Server Manager and go to “Add Roles and Features”
  2. Under Server Roles – add the Web Server (IIS) Role
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  3. Click through the wizard until you come to the Role Services section. Then find and select “WebDAV Publishing” and “Windows Authentication”
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  4. Click Next and then Install
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  5. When the Install is finished you are ready to move on to the next section.
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Configuring IIS 8 for WebDAV

  1. After the installation finishes you need to configure the box for access. Start the IIS Manager tool. Choose the “Default Web Site” on the left side. Then click on “Authentication”

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  2. Open the Windows Authentication option and enable it.

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  3. Open the “WebDAV Authoring Rules”

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  4. Create a WebDAV rule. I choose to allow all users access to all content. A better security practice is to limit what users can use the service. It’s your data so you decide. Winking smile

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  5. Make sure WebDAV is enabled and that your access rule is set:
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  6. That is it… Now your ready to access your WebDAV file share!

Test and insure you can hit the web server by using your browser:

  • Because you opened port 80 and installed IIS 8 you should see the default web page when you browse to your servers internet DNS name. Example: http://YourDomainName.cloudapp.net/

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How to map a drive to your WebDAV server:

There are two ways I use to connect to the WebDAV server

How to map a drive to your WebDAV server from the Win 8 GUI:

  1. From Windows Explorer, right click on “Computer” and select “Map a network drive”

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  2. Map your network drive by entering the address to your server
    Example: http://YourDomainName.cloudapp.net/
    I selected “Connect using different credentials” because my workstation was not joined to the server in anyway and I needed to use an account in the servers local SAM database.

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  3. Hit “Finish” and enter your credentials.
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  4. Now you will have a connected drive that you can access from Windows Explorer or any tool via the drive mapping.
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How to map a drive to your WebDAV server from a CMD box:

1.  Hit Windows Start and type: CMD <enter>

2.  Enter the command: net use [drive letter] [URL]
     Example: net use E: http://YourDomainName.cloudapp.net/

This just in…

This is you, after you've learned all about what Windows Azure can do for you.The demand has been so great for more information about using Windows Azure Infrastructure Services as an extension of your datacenter and IT Operations, that we’ve decided to schedule a few more FREE events to close out the end of our fiscal year here in Central Region Microsoft US DPE.  The four of us (Kevin Remde, Keith Mayer, Matt Hester and I) are holding events at four locations at the end of this month (and one in mid-June):

  • Southfield, MI (Detroit), May 21, 2013, and
  • Irving, TX (Dallas), May 30, 2013
  • Edina, MN (Minneapolis), May 31, 2013, and
  • Downers Grove, IL (Chicago), June 13, 2013

Each of these days will be made up of two half-day events on two different topics, giving you three different registration options.

“Huh?”

You can register for the morning session.  You can register for the afternoon session.  OR you can register for the full-day.

“Cool.  What are the topics?”

I’m glad you asked…

Morning Topic: Using Windows Azure as a server and datacenter backup solution – Windows Azure Backup.  We’ll talk briefly about, and then walk through a hands-on example (you will follow along and do this on your own computers) of enabling, configuring, and leveraging Windows Azure Backup.

Afternoon Topic: Building a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 lab entirely in Windows Azure.  Again, at the end of this you will have a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 lab configured in your own cloud based lab in Windows Azure.

As I said, you can register for either one, or register for the full day.  PLEASE just register one time, so that we can get an accurate estimate of attendance.

Okay, here are the registration links:

May 21 – Southfield, MI

May 30 – Irving, TX

May 31 – Edina, MN

Downers Grove, IL

Space is limited, so register early.  And make sure you heed the requirements prior to coming.  You’ll need at least some Internet and Remote-Desktop capable hardware, and a Windows Azure subscription.  (Get a free 90-Day Trial here)

See you there!

Windows-Azure-logoFrom time to time as the Azure team updates the offerings in the Azure portal I have seen various strange issues. The one I ran into today was that many domain names where already taken when I went to create a new VM. brianlewisabc1234500000.cloudapp.net was taken as well as the shorter versions of this name were all taken. I tried several other domain names, which I kept adding zeros to the end or ‘abcd’ to the end, but were still all failing validation like they were taken. I kept getting the response that “The DNS name that you specified is already in use.” This was occurring far to often to be real. I am just not that unlucky that the 50 different strange names I tried were not unique. It was worse than when I try to get an email name on hotmail. Smile

Here is the dialog I was receiving:

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Here is the solution to this and other Azure Portal issues:

  1. Logout of the Azure Portal website
  2. Clear your browser’s cache
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  3. Login to the Azure portal and all should work! Smile

I believe the issue here is that there are new components to the Azure portal but your browser still has old components cached and that causes the problems. My new best practice is to clear the browser cache before logging into the Azure portal. Hope this may save you some trouble shooting!

-Brian