Category: Cloud

Connect Batch of Azure VMs to Log Analytics (OMS) via PowerShell

So, you have a bunch of Virtual Machines (VMs) in Azure, and didn’t used an ARM template, and now need to connect the VMs to Log Analytics (OMS). Earlier this month, I demonstrated on this can be done with the ARM portal, here’s that blog post. Of course, this has to be done individually and can be very tedious if you have 10’s or 100’s of machines to do this to… All I can think of is PowerShell!

Here is a script I tweaked that Microsoft has already provided but for a single VM. I have just tweaked it to automate and traverse through your entire resource group, and add ALL VMs within the RG to Log Analytics.

Here is the link to Microsoft TechNet for that script. Please test it out and let me know. And if it helped you out, please give it a 5 start rating.

Microsoft TechNet PowerShell Gallery

If all went well, your before and after should look similar to this. I had two test VMs in my Resource Group.

Before:

After:

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Connect Azure VMs to Log Analytics (OMS) via ARM Portal

Let’s say you have a bunch of machines in Azure, and want them communicating with Azure Log Analytics (aka OMS). Well, I am pretty sure that last thing you want to do is deploy the Microsoft Monitoring Agent to each machine, manually…

Well, now you can connect a VM to Log Analytics (OMS) with just a few clicks.

Go into the ARM (Azure Resource Manager) portal, and navigate to your “Log Analytics” blade, select your OMS workspace name, and within the Workspace Data Sources, select Virtual Machines.

Here you should have your machines that currently live within Azure. As you can see, there is one machine that is not connected to the OMS workspace. Let’s connect it now.

Select the VM in question, and you will now be presented with the following:

Make sure the VM is online/running, and select Connect. The VM must be online in order for the extensions to be passed through.

Give it a few moments, and there we go! No manual agent deployment.

 

We can also verify now in OMS, to see our new machine chatting with Log Analytics. (Go into the Agent Health solution/title)

ADFS Monitoring with Azure, OMS, SCOM 2016

ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) has really taken flight since the inception of Office 365 and Azure Active Directory. Getting your on-premises environment configured with online identity services such as Azure, and having the SSO (Single Sign-On) abilities makes ADFS fundamental. Implementing ADFS is one thing, but what about monitoring your ADFS environment?

The following post is intended to illustrate the differences between ADFS monitoring by comparing the following monitoring tools: Azure AD Connect Health, OMS (Operations Management Suite) and SCOM 2016 (System Center Operations Manager).

SCOM (Operations Manager) 2016

First step is to deploy SCOM agents to your ADFS environment/servers along with the ADFS Management Pack install. Once that is complete, and discovery has run, we should start seeing data within the ADFS view(s).

Within the ADFS view, we can see some useful information such as Token requests. This data is represented in an hour fashion, and we can see the number of tokens being requested per hour over the given date range.

And good view is the Password Failed attempts. We can see how many bad password attempts were made over the various date range, but information such as which user, and when, could be useful.

This information is all good, however without doing some custom management pack work, it is impossible to get any additional data, ie. which users are requesting the token, which users are inputting bad passwords, and which users are connecting to which site/service offered by ADFS.

OMS (Operations Management Suite)

OMS does a nice job with dashboards, but unlike SCOM, we need to not only know which Event IDs we need to capture, we also need to build our dashboards out. This is not ideal, as it does require some custom work, and some investigation with regards to ADFS related Event IDs.

The query below, “EventID=4648 OR EventID4624 | measure count() by TargetAccount” shows us which target account/active directory user has requested the most ADFS tokens over the last 1 hour. Please note, this query is based on the OMS Log Analytics language version 1.

Since OMS does require a lot of ADFS knowledge, ie Event IDs, I decided not to proceed any further and build additional queries and dashboards.

Azure AD Connect Health

Lastly, Azure AD Connect is probably the most simple, and least technical configuration.

As a prerequisite, I enabled the all event types on the ADFS logs.

After running the AD Connect agent on the ADFS server(s).  And launching the Azure Resource Manager portal, we get some dashboards. Right off the bat, we can see some excellent information. Let’s take a deeper look.

If we click on the total request widget, this shows us similar data as we see in SCOM 2016, with some exceptions. Not only can we see the number of tokens being requested. We also can see which ADFS server within the farm is distributing the tokens. Since this is a highly-available and load-balanced configuration, it is comforting to know ADFS is distributing tokens as it is designed.

Secondly, we can also see which services within ADFS are generating the most hits. This is great to see which sites are the most busy. This something that lacks in SCOM and OMS, and I was unable to generate even after some custom MP work.

 

 

If we go into the Bad Password Attempts widget, we can see not only the number of bad password attempts, but also see which user and at what time and their source IP the attempt was generated from — very cool!

Overall, AD Connect Health does an excellent job and provides rich data and expands on what SCOM already does.

Verdict

After comparing SCOM 2016, OMS and Azure AD Connect Health, the clear winner is Azure AD Connect Health. Not only is the configuration straight forward, but provides more than enough information to monitor the ADFS environment. Azure AD Connect Health provides rich and very clear dashboards with almost no effect other than some log configuration on the ADFS server(s). The data is comparable to what SCOM presents, however much more richer and detailed. OMS and SCOM are still good tools, however does require some more technical knowledge and building the dashboards can be laboursome.

Differences Between Active Directory and Azure Active Directory

Lately, a lot of people keep asking, “What’s the difference between Active Directory, and Azure Active Directory?” Well, in short, a lot! Here is my take on it, and my typical response to customers.


One thing to note is, Azure Active Directory (AAD) and traditional/on-premises Active Directory (AD) are similar yet two very different things. One thing to note is, Azure Active Directory (AAD) and traditional/on-premises Active Directory (AD) are similar yet two very different things.

When you’re focusing on traditional On-Premises AD, you have the ability:

  • Create Organizational Units (OUs),
  • Create Group Policy Objects (GPOs),
  • Authenticate with Kerberos,
  • Working with a single domain (machine joins),
  • Query and interact with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP),
  • Domain trusts between multiple domains,
  • And so on…

With Azure AD (AAD), functions mentioned above do not exist. AAD is simply an identify solution, and essentially a federation hub for online services, ie. Office 365, Facebook, and other various 3rd party applications/websites, etc.

  • Users and groups can be created but in a flat structure, things like OUs and GPOs do not exist in AAD.
  • Since there is no domain trust with AAD, federated services are used to create a relationship. This can be achieved with ADFS, which allows On-Prem AD to communicate and authenticate with SSO (Single Sign On).
  • Also, you cannot query against AAD with LDAP, however you can use REST API’s that work HTTP and HTTPS.

Here is a great article, along with many others on the web, that help explain. https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/chrisavis/2013/04/24/active-directory-differences-between-on-premise-and-in-the-cloud/

 

How to upload Custom Images to Microsoft Azure using PowerShell

In this post, I am going to show how to upload a custom image used in Windows Hyper-V (2016) to Azure cloud. I will be using a combination of the UI in Hyper-V and PowerShell in Azure Resource Manager. I will be working with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) and with Hyper-V 2016 with a custom image of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

Okay, let’s get started.

Prepare On-Premises Virtual Machine Image

First, we need an image to work with. As mentioned, I am using a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (yes, 2008 — needed it for a customer). The VM is Generation 1, which is not only a requirement for Windows 2008, but also a requirement for Azure, as it currently does not support Generation 2 VMs. See HERE to read more on preparing a Windows VHD.

Next, we need to install Hyper-V role on the VM. Since this is a nested VM, we will first need to enable nested-virtualization on the Hyper 2016 box. See a previous post on how to go about this HERE. Once that is complete, go ahead and install the Hyper-V role.

Next, we now need to SysPrep our VM. From an Administrative command prompt, navigate to %windir%\system32\sysprep and then execute the command “sysprep.exe”. Here, we will be using OOBE and enabling “Generalize”, also “Shutdown” the VM once SysPrep completes.

Once the VM is SysPrep’ed, we now need to compact the VHDx (remember Hyper-V 2016 here) and also will need to convert the VHDx to a VHD. This is due to the limitation of Azure at the moment, as it only supports Gen1 VMs and VHD’s.

Go into Hyper-V and within the VM properties, edit the Virtual hard disk. Then we will need to compact the virtual hard disk. Go ahead and do that..

Great, now we need to convert the VHDx to a VHD. Time for PowerShell!

Convert-VHD –Path “<source VHDX path>" –DestinationPath "<destination VHD path>" -VHDType Fixed -Verbose


Let this run (I let it go over night.. it was getting late =) )

Great, now we are ready to move on to Azure and more PowerShell.

Build Azure Container and Upload Image to Azure

First, we need to download  and install the latest AzureRM bits module locally to the Hyper-V box (if you have done this.. jump down a few lines…)

Install-Module AzureRM -Force

Next, since there was a recent update to the AzureRm module, I now need to update the module path location.

$env:PSModulePath = $env:PSModulePath + "; C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules"

Next, we will need to import the AzureRm module.

Import-Module AzureRM -Force

Next, we’ll need to log-in into our Azure account, and specify the subscription to want to work with. In my case, there are multiple Azure subscriptions tied to my email.

Login-AzureRmAccount
Get-AzureRmSubscription
#select the subsciption you will be working with -- if you have one, you can skip this line
Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionId "<ID>"

Next, we will create a resource group and storage account, and bind the account the group.

New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name "ResourceGroupName" -Location "Canada East"
New-AzureRmStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName "ResourceGroupName" -Name "StorageAccountName" -Location "Canada East" -SkuName "Standard_LRS" -Kind "Storage"

If you want to change the storage type, to let’s say Geo-redundant, here are the other types of storage:

Valid values for -SkuName are:

  • Standard_LRS – Locally redundant storage.
  • Standard_ZRS – Zone redundant storage.
  • Standard_GRS – Geo redundant storage.
  • Standard_RAGRS – Read access geo redundant storage.
  • Premium_LRS – Premium locally redundant storage.

Now, we need to create a Container and grab the URL needed to upload our image. I did this through the Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Portal since I couldn’t figure out the PowerShell cmdlet (Get-AzureStorageBlob) — if you can get this to work, please let me know!

You can get the URL from the Web UI when you go into the Storage Account >> Blobs >> Container (in my case, I called it “VHD”) >> Properties.

Now we are ready to upload our image/VHD to Azure! For me this took about 2 hours, uploading a 80GB file @ 9-10MBs.

$rgName = "ResourceGroupName"
$AzureVHDURL = "URL"
$LocalVHDPath = "LocalPathtoVHD"
Add-AzureRmVhd -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Destination $AzureVHDURL -LocalFilePath $LocalVHDPath

Great, now we just need to register the VHD disk to the Gallery, and we can begin creating machines based off our image that is now in the cloud! — Another post! 🙂

How to enable Azure Backup to Canada (Central)

Earlier in 2016, Microsoft increased the number of  Canadian Data Centers to two: Canada East and Canada Central. With most of my customers being within Canada, naturally they want their Azure Backup data stored within the Canada Data Centers/Regions — makes sense for many (legal) reasons. Only problem is, Azure backup is still very limited to specific locations (see chart below).

Fellow Canadian and MVP — Stéphane Lapointe, was able to get this working with some PowerShell magic — Please visit his blog to get the more details of his workaround. The PowerShell code below is workaround to get Azure Backup services bound to the Canadian Regions/Data Centers, specifically the Canada Central region (note, this is still in Preview state), until Microsoft officially allows all Monitoring/ASR services (along with others) to be generally available. This will allow you to create new Azure Backup services and bound them to Canada Central. For more information on this announcement and code details, please visit Microsoft’s announcement.

Also, worth noting, this will only allow you to use Canada Central region for new setup/configurations. It will not change current setups to Canada Central.

Execute the following code on your machine (Run As Administrator…)

Import-Module AzureRM -Force 

#azure account login stuff
$username = ""
$cred = New-Object -TypeName System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -argumentlist $username, $password
Login-AzureRmAccount -Credential $cred
$SubscriptionName = 'Visual Studio Enterprise'

#update recovery services to Canada Central from whatever region it may be (US East, US Central, etc.)
$ErrorActionPreference = 'Stop'
Get-AzureRmSubscription –SubscriptionName $SubscriptionName | Select-AzureRmSubscription
Register-AzureRmResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.RecoveryServices
Register-AzureRmProviderFeature -FeatureName RecoveryServicesCanada -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.RecoveryServices

powershell-result

After about 5 minutes, I re-ran the query, and the Recovery Services were registered to Canada! Sweet..eh? 🙂

powershell-result-2

Now you can create new Azure Backup services bound to the Canada Central region:

arm

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