Azure has PowerShell (?!)

“Oh c’mon, Kevin.. Everybody knows you can use PowerShell against Azure…”

Yeah, sure.  But did you know that they’ve finally added the preview for using a PowerShell shell right from the browser?

“No! Do tell!”

For a while now you’ve had the ability to click what looks to be a command-prompt icon in the upper-right-hand corner of your Azure portal window.

Shell Icon

That opens up a terminal-like window at the bottom of the browser, and you’re in a BASH session.  There’s a drop-down at the top of that windows that suggested that you can choose between BASH and PowerShell, but PowerShell was “coming soon”.  Well, soon was this week.

Shell Choices

Setting it up is fairly straightforward.  When you select PowerShell as the chosen shell, you are given a notice about the fact that you’ll need a dedicated storage account associated with this capability.  This storage will be used to host your default cloud drive file share. 

Note: Other than in this file share, there is no persistence between terminal sessions.   More about this later.

Configuring Storage

As you see above, I didn’t have storage created for this, so after selecting my subscription, it created a storage account for me.  I didn’t select the Show advanced settings option, but if I had I would have been able to choose existing or create new resource group, storage account, and file share.  

When I was done, I had a default resource group created to host that storage account.

Resource Group Created

The shell windows displays the status of the configuration, which does take a minute or two…

Configuring the PowerShell terminal session for the first time

And when you’re done, you’ve got a shell of POWER!

All done configuring

Notice at the top that can also now select between BASH and PowerShell, you can reset the session, click to common help topics, or manage settings (which as of right now is just manipulating the text size and providing feedback to Microsoft).

“Cool!  So what can you do with it?”

I haven’t gotten that far.. but let’s try a couple of things to see what the environment looks like.  Let’s start with a simple Get-Service cmdlet.  It actually took about 5 seconds to respond, but when it did it came back with what I expected…

Running Get-Service

I have to assume that I can do Azure PowerShell commands, like listing the resource groups using Get-AzureRmResourceGroup

Typical Azure cmdlet

The capture above is truncated because I thought I shouldn’t give you a list that also contains my subscription ID and other groups.. but trust me that this worked as expected.

“You mentioned that you have a file share created in storage.  How do you get to that?”

You’ll notice that you start out in the Azure: drive.  From here you can navigate to and manage Azure resources:

Navigate to Azure resources

But if I want to get to the file system of the local machine, I can go $Home

File system of the machine running my terminal session

Notice that I cd $Home, which brings me to a profile folder for my current session.  Yes, it’s basically the default folders you’d see on a Windows Server 2016 machine (because, under the hood, that’s what it is!).  However (and this is important).. putting items in any of that file system other than the linked folder CloudDrive will not persist from one session to the next.  So, I cd .\CloudDrive\ and I’m now placed in the file share of my persistent storage.  Whatever I do there will be persisted for me.

As an exercise for you, try creating a simple text file (echo “Hello, world!” > hello.txt) into both the Documents folder of the server, and of the root of the ./CloudDrive folder.  Log out of Azure, and then back in and into your PowerShell terminal window, and see which file is still there when you get back.  (NOTE: maybe you’ll get lucky and get the same machine if you do it right away.  But if you wait 30 minutes for the VM to time-out, I bet the file in the Documents folder will be gone, but the CloudDrive file will still be there.)

Happy geek!

For more official information, check out the announcement from the Azure Blog, plus the full Overview of Azure Cloud Shell (Preview), and Features & tools for PowerShell in Azure Cloud Shell.

Have you tried this yet?  What do you think?  Shoot me your questions and/or comments below.

DSC: Cut to the Core

PowerShell SuperheroThis is an interesting development.  I had a good friend and respected local technologist mention this to me the other day, and he wasn’t happy.  “Why would they take away features?  Just to be ‘consistent’?”  Apparently his take on this is that Microsoft is reducing something that was powerful down to a subset of its former usefulness. 

Here’s what he was referring to…

In a DSC future direction update on the PowerShell Team Blog the other day, Microsoft announced a new direction for DSC.  For those not familiar with DSC, it stands for Desired State Configuration.  According to Jeffrey Snover (the architect of PowerShell), PowerShell DSC was the whole reason why PowerShell was invented.  We want the ability to define and apply a configuration as a “desired state” to a machine (or machines), and have it applied consistently and, optionally, perpetually.  Write up some simple text, and “Make it so.”, with all the benefits of text (source control, among others). 

Initially, of course, PowerShell DSC was addressing the configuration of Windows-based servers, but it was no secret that, being built with standards in mind, it was built to support the ongoing configuration of Linux workloads as well.  In fact, this really caused two worlds: PowerShell DSC for Windows and PowerShell DSC for Linux, because both had their own unique set requirements, dependencies, supporting frameworks, and allowed commands.  Somewhat understandable, sure.  Feature parity?  Um, no.

So now Microsoft announces “DSC Core”.

“What is DSC Core?”

I’m glad you asked.   It is “a soon to be released version of DSC that aligns with PowerShell Core”

“PowerShell Core?  What’s that?”

PowerShell Core is the open-source cross-platform version of PowerShell that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.  It runs on top of .NET Core…

“.NET Core?  What the…”

Yeah.. okay.  .NET Core is “a general purpose development platform maintained by Microsoft and the .NET community”. 

“Oh, I get it.”

You do?  Okay.  Well, anyway… back to DSC Core.  DSC Core (built using PowerShell Core which is built upon .NET Core) now becomes a common, cross-platform version of PowerShell DSC.  

From the “Future Direction” blog post:

“Our goals with DSC Core are to minimize dependencies on other technologies, provided a single DSC for all platforms, and position it better for cloud scale configuration while maintaining compatibility with Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration.”

So this subset (if we can call it that) will still be compatible with PowerShell, but it won’t have the large numbers of unique Windows dependencies bogging it down. 

“What about compatibility?  What about the CmdLets?  Will they be the same, or will I have to use different ones?  What about DSC Resources?  Will they have to be recreated?”

All of those and a few other questions (like what to do about Pull Servers) are addressed in the “Future Direction” blog post.

So, “Why would they take away features?  Just to be ‘consistent’?” 

What do you think?  Feel free to discuss/rant/pontificate in the comments section below.

And again, read the full article on the PowerShell Team Blog

Ch9: Protection from Modern Security Threats with Windows 10

Join Yung Chou and I as discuss some of the security enhancements made for Windows 10 with regards to Identity and Access, Information Protection and Threat Resistance with Device Guard.

https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/TechNet+Radio/TNR1665/player

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Enterprise

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If you’re interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

Websites & Blogs:

Related Resources:

 Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
 Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro
 Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinRemde
 Like Kevin’s Full of I.T. on Facebook

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

New TechNet Radio Series: Tech Futures

“Empowering every organization and every individual on the planet to achieve more.”

It’s an ambitious statement and Microsoft’s vision for a more productive work force and everyday life experiences.  But how do we get there?

Today we’re kicking off a new series entitled “Tech Futures” which is devoted to the idea of exploring new possibilities in our quest to “achieve more” in our daily lives. From connected cows to smart fridges, 3D printed pizza and driverless cars — all while tackling cyber security and privacy issues as well as trying to figure out how to support this new tech frontier through infrastructure management and enterprise mobility — no topic is off-limits.

So join us in our journey and let us know what you think the future will look like and how we can challenge what we see today, so that we can create the technologies that will shape tomorrow together.

https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/TechNet+Radio/TNR1656/player

 

Learn more. Check out https://aka.ms/TechFutures3DPizza

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If you’re interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:

Other Websites & Blogs:

 Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro
 Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro
 Follow Kevin @KevinRemde
 Follow Kevin’s “Full of I.T.” on Facebook

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

HP and Microsoft Reinvent the Classroom

OEMTV

Learn about a new technology range of PCs and software solutions for the education sector.  Join Gus Schmedlen,  VP of Education for HP and Lydia Smyers, Microsoft General Manager, Mobility and Windows Devices as they discuss the future of the classroom and the solutions that HP and Microsoft are making available.

https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/OEMTV/OEM1629/player

LEarnMoreHP_pic

Inspiring outcomes

At HP, we believe that a high-quality education is a modern education.  One in which students and teachers can create deeply individualized and connected learning experiences, at any time and from anywhere, in the classroom or not. It is only by evolving the way we empower teachers to differentiate instruction and students to learn how they learn best, that we can ensure meaningful learning and positive social and economic outcomes. This will create a brighter future for our whole society.

For more information please visit http://www.hp.com/hpeducation

How I automated a hands-on-lab infrastructure – The PowerShell Script and completing the build (Part 6)

In this final part of our series we walk through the PowerShell script that connects to Azure, creates the resource group, and then launches the creation of the lab environment.  We also walk through the final couple of manual steps required to complete the lab setup

https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/FullofIT/ARMPart6/player

 

Breaking News: IT Pro Cloud Essentials–Free cloud, education, and support!

This is big news!  Today Microsoft is announcing a new subscription (but it’s free!) for IT Professionals.  The goal is to give IT Pros the tools they need to train, test, and eventually implement private and public cloud solutions.

“Subscription?  Sounds like TechNet is back!”

Well, yeah, in a sense it is.  It’s no secret that the TechNet Subscription ‘back in the day’ was a great resource for IT Professionals.  But the fact that these non-timeout, non-production trials were being used in production was something we just couldn’t continue.  Limited trials, it was thought, should be sufficient.  But I think Microsoft has heard you, and we’re giving you another way to get some more flexibility in trying out, for longer periods of time (but not completely unlimited, because that would be silly) our most impactful cloud platforms.

Here’s the description from the IT Pro Cloud Essentials page:

“Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials is a free annual subscription which includes cloud services, education, and support benefits. IT Pro Cloud Essentials provides IT Implementers with hands-on experience, targeted educational opportunities, and access to experts in areas that matter most to increase knowledge and create a path to career advancement.”

“So, what does the subscription include?”

First off, it’s about extended trials.  You’ll have a small amount of Azure usage.  Just enough to let you kick the tires for a while, but not enough to let you drive to and from work each day.  (Meaning not for production workloads.)  It also includes extended trials of Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), things like Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory.

The subscription also includes free training through Microsoft Virtual Academy, and even our partner PluralSight.

And, while it wasn’t actually used very often.. one of the most popular benefits of the old TechNet Subscription was having a free technical support call.  (People didn’t use it all that often, because they tended to hold onto it “just in case I need it”.)  Well, it’s back!  This FREE subscription also gives you one support incident!  And what’s more, you also have a priority support channel in the Microsoft TechNet Forums.

Sound good?  You’re darn right it is!  And we’re pleased to bring it to you!

For the full story, and to sign-up/sign-in to your subscription, go here:

 http://itprocloudessentials.com