Archive for category Azure

The myth of Azure Application Gateways – Part 1

5db46fc5-d9c1-44ae-a0f6-4ae1d2301395Azure Application Gateways is a layer 7 reverse proxy service offered as a PaaS to general public. It supports SSL offloading, which means you can terminate your SSL connection at the Application Gateway and connect to the backend server using HTTP traffic or initiate a new SSL connection to your backend service.

This is all well and good, simple and painless if you have a single backend server with a single website. The complexity of the solution increases as the backend start leveraging more of the IIS functionalities such as Windows/NTLM authentication, SNI and host headers or various SSL certificates used for each sub-site (if you have multiple sites running on the same IIS server).

Before even starting to look at designing your Azure Application Gateway, there are few guidelines you will need to follow:

  • You should have an empty default site.
  • If using both HTTP/HTTPS protocols on any of the sub-sites, the default website should be listening on both 80 and 443.
  • In the case of HTTPS the default site will need to be loaded with a single SSL certificate that will primarily be used by the Application Gateway to authenticate against the server.
  • Not running SNI on default website.
  • If you are running NTLM or Windows authentication on any of the sites (except form based authentication) then you will need a site/page that allow anonymous authentication to be used for Application Gateway custom probe.
  • Use IP address for the backend pool rather than FQDN.

The above will save you a lot of hassle while implementing and configuring your Application Gateway to work with your backend web server.

Microsoft have fixed few issues we were experiencing recently with Application Gateways around SSL and custom probes.

There are two ways available to deploy an Application Gateway, Powershell or JSON template. The latter is preferable to ensure consistency at each deployment. This article is in two parts, in this article I will be using Powershell to deploy an Application Gateway.


  • SSL private key in PFX format for all sites using SSL
  • SSL public key in CER format for default site
  • IP address of the backend web server
  • Front and backend listening port
  • Site/page with anonymous access if requiring authentication

Powershell code below would deploy an Application Gateway listening on two ports (80,443). The backend consists of four sites with SNI and host headers enabled, two sites run under port 80, one of them require basic authentication. Another two sites run under port 443 bound with self-signed SSL cert for testing, one of the sites has basic authentication turned on. This would test the four common scenarios of a typical deployment.

Get-AzureRmSubscription | Select Subscription* | out-gridview -Title "Select your Azure Subscription" -OutputMode Single | Select-AzureRmSubscription 

$ApplicationGWName = "ApplicationGatewayName"
$AppGatwayPIPName = "ApplicationGatewayPublicIPName"
$vnetName = 'vNETName'
$VNetResourceGroup = 'vNETResourceGroup'
$AppGWSubnetName = 'ApplicationGatewaySubnetName'
$ResouceGroupName = "ApplicationGatewayResourceGroupName"
$Location = "UK South"
$BackendIPaddresses =  "BackendServerIP"

New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name $ResouceGroupName -Location $Location

#Prompt for Certificate password
$SecurePassword = Read-Host -AsSecureString  "Enter Certificate password"
$BSTR = [System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal]::SecureStringToBSTR($SecurePassword)
$UnsecurePassword = [System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal]::PtrToStringAuto($BSTR)

#Retrive Virtual Network and Application Gateway information
$vnet = Get-AzureRmvirtualNetwork -Name $VnetName -ResourceGroupName $VNetResourceGroup
$gwSubnet = Get-AzureRmVirtualNetworkSubnetConfig -Name $AppGWSubnetName -VirtualNetwork $vnet

#Create Public IP address for Application Gateway
$publicip = New-AzureRmPublicIpAddress -ResourceGroupName $ResouceGroupName -Name $AppGatwayPIPName -Location $Location -AllocationMethod Dynamic
#$publicip = Get-AzureRmPublicIpAddress -Name $AppGatwayPIPName -ResourceGroupName $ResouceGroupName

#Create an application gateway IP configuration, this setting configures what subnet the application gateway uses
$gipconfig = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayIPConfiguration -Name 'appGatewayIpConfig' -SubnetId $gwSubnet.Id -Verbose

#Create a front-end IP configuration, this setting maps the public ip address to the front-end of the application gateway
$fipconfig = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayFrontendIPConfig -Name 'appGatewayFrontendIP' -PublicIPAddress $publicip

#Configure the back-end IP address pool with the IP addresses of the backend web servers
$pool = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayBackendAddressPool -Name 'appGatewayBackendPool' -BackendIPAddresses $BackendIPaddresses

#Configure the front-end IP port for the public IP endpoint
$fp = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayFrontendPort -Name 'appGatewayFrontendPorthttps' -Port 443
$fp1 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayFrontendPort -Name 'appGatewayFrontendPorthttp' -Port 80

#Configure the certificate for the application gateway
$cert = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewaySslCertificate -Name wildcard -CertificateFile '.\selfsignedcert.pfx'

#Create the HTTPS listener for the application gateway. Assign the front-end ip configuration, port, and ssl certificate to use
$listener1 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayHttpListener -Name authHTTPS -Protocol Https -FrontendIPConfiguration $fipconfig -FrontendPort $fp `
                                                       -HostName "" -RequireServerNameIndication true -SslCertificate $cert

$listener2 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayHttpListener -Name noauthHTTPS -Protocol Https -FrontendIPConfiguration $fipconfig -FrontendPort $fp `
                                                       -HostName "" -RequireServerNameIndication true -SslCertificate $cert

$listener3 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayHttpListener -Name authHTTP -Protocol Http -FrontendIPConfiguration $fipconfig `
                                                       -FrontendPort $fp1 -HostName ""

$listener4 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayHttpListener -Name noauthHTTP -Protocol Http -FrontendIPConfiguration $fipconfig `
                                                       -FrontendPort $fp1 -HostName ""

#Upload the certificate to be used on the ssl enabled backend pool resources - authentication certificate
$authcert = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayAuthenticationCertificate -Name 'sanauthcert' -CertificateFile '.\publickey.cer'

#Configure the application gateway back-end http settings. Assign the certificate uploaded in the preceding command to the http settings
$poolSetting1 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayBackendHttpSettings -Name 'wildcard' -Port 443 -Protocol Https `
                                                                 -CookieBasedAffinity Enabled -AuthenticationCertificates $authcert

$poolSetting2 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayBackendHttpSettings -Name 'unsecured' -Port 80 -Protocol Http -CookieBasedAffinity Enabled

#Create a load balancer routing rule, Basic Round Robin
$rule1 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayRequestRoutingRule -Name 'authHTTPrule' -RuleType basic -BackendHttpSettings $poolSetting2 `
                                                         -HttpListener $listener3 -BackendAddressPool $pool
$rule2 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayRequestRoutingRule -Name 'noauthHTTPrule' -RuleType basic -BackendHttpSettings $poolSetting2 `
                                                         -HttpListener $listener4 -BackendAddressPool $pool
$rule3 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayRequestRoutingRule -Name 'authHTTPSrule' -RuleType basic -BackendHttpSettings $poolSetting1 `
                                                         -HttpListener $listener1 -BackendAddressPool $pool
$rule4 = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewayRequestRoutingRule -Name 'noauthHTTPSrule' -RuleType basic -BackendHttpSettings $poolSetting1 `
                                                         -HttpListener $listener2 -BackendAddressPool $pool

#Configure the instance size of the application gateway
$sku = New-AzureRmApplicationGatewaySku -Name Standard_Small -Tier Standard -Capacity 1

#Create the Application Gateway
$appgw = New-AzureRmApplicationGateway `
                -Name $ApplicationGWName `
                -SslCertificates $cert `
                -ResourceGroupName $ResouceGroupName `
                -Location $Location `
                -BackendAddressPools $pool `
                -BackendHttpSettingsCollection $poolSetting1,$poolSetting2 `
                -FrontendIpConfigurations $fipconfig `
                -GatewayIpConfigurations $gipconfig `
                -FrontendPorts $fp,$fp1 `
                -HttpListeners $listener1,$listener2,$listener3,$listener4 `
                -RequestRoutingRules $rule1,$rule2,$rule3,$rule4 `
                -Sku $sku `
                -AuthenticationCertificates $authcert `

To be continued …..


Azure Automation – Provision and Domain Join Azure ARM VM.

automation-930x620Automation has become a large part of any Ops team work stream. It reduces repetitive work and introduces a clear and effective method of ensuring consistency across your platforms, server estate and businesses.

In this article I will go through Azure Automation, especially automation of VM creation and joining the domain. This would lift some of the load of IT to provision and join those VM’s to the domain manually and allowing developers to take a much agile approach.

The automation process is based on Azure Runbook, utilising Powershell workflow and Runbook assets in fully automating the whole process.

You also should have a startup image (i.e. golden image) sysprep’ed and uploaded to a known and accessible storage account in that subscription. You need to ensure that the image was generalised and shutdown. This type of deployment will ensure all your applications and settings are packaged as part of that deployment – that’s if you don’t want to use Microsoft own images. You need to make sure you are covered by MSDN licenses if you are uploading client images and ensure your server image is appropriately licensed as well, plus any application you package as part of that image.

You are probably keen to get down to business …. few things you have to make sure of to ensure this whole process work for you. This automation task is based on creating an Azure ARM VM, you will need three credential assets created under your automation account which will be used with your script:

  1. Asset for local VM admin
  2. Asset with Azure co-admin rights – or at least VM creation rights
  3. Asset with domain admin rights

The vhd image of your packaged and generlised VM needs to be uploaded to a storage account. Make a note of that storage account, any VM created of that image will need to reside on same storage account. If you need to create  a VM on a different storage account then you will need to copy that image across first.

The script is split to two parts, the main body which is the Runbook – Powershell workflow

On Azure, create a Runbook called AzureVMDomainJoin and paste the code below:

workflow AzureVMDomainJoin
     param (
        [string] $subId,
        [string] $vmName,
        [string] $vmSize,
        [string] $domain,
        [string] $OU,
        [string] $vmRGName,
        [object] $vmNic,
        [string] $stgName,
        [string] $stgRGName,
        [string] $stgBlobstr,
        [string] $location


     # Enable verbose logging

     # Fetching credentials
     $LocalAdmin = Get-AutomationPSCredential -Name 'AzureLocalAdmin'
     $DomainAdmin = Get-AutomationPSCredential -Name 'AzureDomainJoin'
     $AZAutomationAccount = Get-AutomationPSCredential -Name 'AzureAutomationAccount'

     # Login to Azure and select Subscription
     Login-AzureRmAccount -Credential $AZAutomationAccount -SubscriptionId $subId

     $osDisk = $vmName + "-osDisk"
     $osDiskUri = $stgBlobstr + $vmName.ToLower() + '.vhd'
     $vmImageUri = ''
     InlineScript {
        # Create a new VM config
        $vmConfig = New-AzureRmVMConfig -VMName $Using:vmName -VMSize $Using:vmSize

     	# Add the new created interface to the VM
	$vm = Add-AzureRmVMNetworkInterface -VM $vmConfig -NetworkInterfaceId $Using:vmNic.Id

	# Setting Operating System configurations
     	$vm = Set-AzureRmVMOperatingSystem -VM $vmConfig -Windows -ComputerName $Using:vmName -Credential $Using:LocalAdmin -ProvisionVMAgent -EnableAutoUpdate

     	# Setting properties for OS disk
	$vm = Set-AzureRmVMOSDisk -VM $vmConfig -Name $Using:osDisk -Windows -VhdUri $Using:osDiskUri -Caching ReadWrite -CreateOption FromImage -SourceImageUri $Using:vmImageUri
	# Creating the new VM
     	New-AzureRmVM -VM $vm -ResourceGroupName $Using:vmRGName -Location $Using:location


     # Set and enable LocalAdmin account 
     Set-AzureRmVMAccessExtension -ResourceGroupName $vmRGName -VMName $vmName -UserName $LocalAdmin.UserName -Password $LocalAdmin.GetNetworkCredential().Password -Name "Enable_LocalAdmin"

     # Join VM to domain   
     Set-AzureRmVMExtension -ResourceGroupName $vmRGName -VMName $vmName -Name "JoinADv1" -Publisher "Microsoft.Compute" -ExtensionType "JsonADDomainExtension" -TypeHandlerVersion "1.3" -Location $location -Settings @{ "Name" = $domain; "OUPath" = $OU; "User" = $DomainAdmin.UserName; "Restart" = "true"; "Options" = 3} -ProtectedSettings @{"Password" = $DomainAdmin.GetNetworkCredential().Password}


Note: Change $vmImageUri string in the above code to reflect your environment.

In order to run this Runbook, ensure it’s published on Azure. Then use the script below to activate the Runbook from your client machine – need to have AzureRm Powershell module installed to be able to run it.

# Login to Azure

# Select subscription
$select = Get-AzureRmSubscription | Out-GridView -Title "Select your Azure subscription" -OutputMode Single
Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionId $select.SubscriptionId

# Setting VM variables
$size = 'Standard_A2'
$domainName = "domain.local"
$vmOU = "OU=AzureOU,DC=domain,DC=local"
$vnet = 'vNet Name'
$vnetrg = 'vNet Resource Group Name'
$stgName = 'Storage Account Name'
$stgRG = 'Storage Account Resource Group Name'
$blobStgStr = ""
$loc = 'westeurope'

# Taking VM name input
$vm = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("Enter VM Name", "VM Name", "VM Machine Name") 

# Get VM destination Resource Group
$rgname = Get-AzureRmResourceGroup | Select ResourcegroupName | Out-GridView -Title "Select destination resource Group" -OutputMode Single

# Get VM destination subnet information
$sub = Get-AzureRmVirtualNetwork -Name $vnet -ResourceGroupName $vnetrg | select -ExpandProperty Subnets |select Name, AddressPrefix, Id | Out-GridView -Title "Select VM subnet" -OutputMode Single

# Building a new VM network interface - this command wasn't recongnised to run as part of Azure runbook
[object] $nic = New-AzureRmNetworkInterface -Name $vm -ResourceGroupName $vnetrg -Location $loc -SubnetId $sub.Id -Force

# Forming parameters hash table 
$param = @{subId=$select.SubscriptionId; vmName=$vm; vmSize=$size; domain=$domainName; OU=$vmOU; vmRGName=$rgname.ResourceGroupName; vmNic=$nic; stgName=$stgName; stgRGName=$stgRG; stgBlobStr=$blobStgStr; location=$loc}

# Submitting VM configuration and starting the runbook
Start-AzureRmAutomationRunbook -Name AzureVMDomainJoinv1 -ResourceGroupName MRL-AzureAutomation-RG -AutomationAccountName DomainJoin -Parameters $param

Make sure you fill out all variables according to your environment. This script will only utilise what’s already created on Azure, like storage accounts, networks and subnets. If you want a new resource group created or a new network/subnet then pre-stage it on Azure first before you run this script.

Happy scripting ….. 🙂

, ,

Leave a comment

Azure Point-To-Site VPN – certificates

Vorhängeschloss und Schlüssel 01Let me set the expectation here, I am not going in depth on how to setup an Azure VPN as it has been referenced in many articles which could take you step by step on hot to configure your VPN tunnel to Azure cloud.

My main concern here are methods available in generating those certificates used in establishing that type of VPN. I have used a self signed certificate which works well in most instances but that could always be replaced by a publicly signed certificate to avoid uploading various root trusted certificates to Azure vNet.

The most common way is to use makecert.exe which comes as part of Windows SDK

Open a command prompt:

makecert.exe -sky exchange -r -n “CN=RootCertName” -pe -a sha1 -len 2048 -ss My

makecert.exe -n “CN=ClientCertName” -pe -sky exchange -m 96 -ss my -in “RootCertName” -is my -a sha1

With the introduction of new version of Powershell 4 with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, we can now generate the self-signed certificate using a simple command without installing Windows SDK and makecert.exe

Using Powershell, run the following line:

New-SelfSignedCertificate -CertStoreLocation cert:\LocalMachine\My -DnsName CertName -KeyLength 2048 -KeySpec KeyExchange

You can then export the .cer certificate which you can place in your Trusted Root Certification Authorities and upload to Azure.

Both processes work but you will need one of the OS’s highlighted above in order to use the Powershell command, you can install Windows Management Framework but that command wont be available to you on older versions of Windows.



Azure resource re-allocation and Resource Groups

Azure-logoInfrastcuture in the cloud (IaaS) is such an evolving topic from the architectual point of view. As services do evolve and more functionalities get added in order to enable the end user to untilise these services in best forms, complexities do start to add to it.

IaaS require a lot of initial planning to minimise any downtime required to re-allocate services/servers for production (Prod).

If breaking to Azure services started as a proof of concept (PoC) initially and changed suddenly to being the business critical service that your business can’t function without – without the necessary transitional planning then we are on the same page here.

Microsoft Azure does add a lot of value to the business and continuity of its business operations.

In this article I will go over Azure different resources and the way they could be organised for ease of management and billing. Billing is an important topic if you want to understand how your services are being utilised in the cloud or in order to bill each business unit if your business is using the charge back model.

If you have just started building your infrastructure on Azure, ensure your business units use Azure Resource Groups to group their services/servers and that could save you a lot of time in the long run.

The way to move resources between different resource groups are a complex ‘PowerShell driven process’. First you need to understand the limitiation of resource move:

  1. vNet’s can’t be moved
  2. Re-allocated Azure resources will retain their source region, even if your destination resource group is in a different region.
  3. You can’t move a single VM attached to a cloud service, the cloud service and all VM’s attached to it will have to move together.
  4. From experience, move storage accounts seperately. When I try to move a storage account with the rest of resources I get error (“One resource move request can contain resources of only 1 provider.”) :storage-err
  5. If you would like to migrate the VM to a new vNet then the VM needs to be deleted and reprovisioned on the vNet – the VM will down for that duration.
  6. If you would like to move the VM to a new storage account, then the downtime will be much greater depending how big the VHD files are and the region. I won’t talk much about this process, you will find it detailed here.

Now we will talk about the interesting part, the move and re-allocation process.

  1. Download the latest Azure Powershell module (We will be using the latest Azure Resource Management module) as illustrated here
  2. Login to your subscription using Login-AzureRmAccount
  3. Get the content of your source resource group on Azure: Get-AzureRmResource
  4. Feed the output to Move-AzureRmResource

I have written a short script to demonstrate this process (MS Azure Resource Group Management(MS Azure Resource Group Management), I have added comments necessary to each of the steps in the script so you should be able to customize it to your needs.


Leave a comment