Tip: Creating Task Groups with Azure Service Endpoint Parameters

I’ve been working on some pretty complicated infrastructure deployment pipelines using my release management tool of choice (of course): VSTS Release Management. In this particular scenario, we’re deploying a set of VMs to a region. We then want to deploy exactly the same setup but in a different region. Conceptually, this is like duplicating infrastructure between different datacenters.

Using Chrome to Solve Identity Hell

This week at MVP summit, I showed some of my colleagues a trick that I use to manage identity hell. I have several accounts that I use to access VSTS and the Azure Portal: my own Microsoft Account (MSA), several org accounts and customer org accounts. Sometimes I want to open a release from my 10th Magnitude VSTS account so that I can grab some tasks to put into CustomerX VSTS release. The problem is that if I open the 10M account in a browser, and then open a new browser, I have to sign out of the 10M account and sign in with the CustomerX account and then the windows break… identity hell.

Using VSTS to Test Python Code (with Code Coverage)

I recently worked with a customer that had some containers running Python code. The code was written by data scientists and recently a dev had been hired to help the team get some real process in place. As I was helping them with their CI/CD pipeline (which used a Dockerfile to build their image, publish to Azure Container Registry and then spun up the containers in Azure Container Instances), I noted that there were no unit tests. Fortunately the team was receptive to adding tests and I didn’t have to have a long discussion proving that they absolutely need to be unit testing.

Using Linked ARM Templates with VSTS Release Management

If you’ve ever had to create a complex ARM template, you’ll know it can be a royal pain. You’ve probably been tempted to split out your giant template into smaller templates that you can link to, only to discover that you can only link to a sub-template if the sub-template is accessible via some public URI. Almost all of the examples in the Template Quickstart repo that have links simply refer to the public Github URI of the linked template. But what if you want to refer to a private repo of templates?

Tips and Tricks for Complex IaaS Deployments Using VSTS Deployment Groups

Recently I was working with a customer that was struggling with test environments. Their environments are complex and take many weeks to provision and configure - so they are generally kept around even though some of them are not frequently used. Besides a laborious, error-prone manual install and configuration process that usually takes over 10 business days, the team has to maintain all the clones of this environment. This means that at least two senior team members are required just to maintain existing dev and test environments as well as create new ones.

A/B Testing with Azure Linux Web Apps for Containers

I love containers. I’ve said before that I think they’re the future. Just as hardly anyone installs on tin any more since we’re so comfortable with Virtualization, I think that in a few years time hardly anyone will deploy VMs - we’ll all be on containers. However, container orchestration is still a challenge. Do you choose Kubernetes or Swarm or DCOS? (For my money I think Kubernetes is the way to go). But that means managing a cluster of nodes (VMs). What if you just want to deploy a single container in a useful manner?

Configuring AAD Authentication to Azure SQL Databases

Azure SQL is a great service - you get your databases into the cloud without having to manage all that nasty server stuff. However, one of the problems with Azure SQL is that you have to authenticate using SQL authentication - a username and password. However, you can also authenticate via Azure Active Directory (AAD) tokens. This is analogous to integrated login using Windows Authentication - but instead of Active Directory, you’re using AAD.

DevOps with Kubernetes and VSTS: Part 1

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll probably know that I am huge fan of Docker and containers. When was the last time you installed software onto bare metal? Other than your laptop, chances are you haven’t for a long time. Virtualization has transformed how we think about resources in the datacenter, greatly increasing the density and utilization of resources. The next evolution in density is containers - just what VMs are to physical servers, containers are to VMs. Soon, almost no-one will work against VMs anymore - we’ll all be in containers. At least, that’s the potential.

DevOps with Kubernetes and VSTS: Part 2

In Part 1 I looked at how to develop multi-container apps using Kubernetes (k8s) - and more specifically, minikube, which is a full k8s environment that runs a single node on a VM on your laptop. In that post I walk through cloning this repo (be sure to look at the docker branch) which contains two containers: a DotNet Core API container and a frontend SPA (Aurelia) container (also hosted as static files in a DotNet Core app). I show how to build the containers locally and get them running in minikube, taking advantage of ConfigMaps to handle configuration.

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