Category: Lab

Ansible and Azure – 30 minute quickstart!

Recently I’ve been introduced to Ansible, and have therefore been seeing what I can automate with it. I know that when testing things out and learning new things if there are challenges I have faced, or issues getting a test environment setup, having the setup stage automated can really help out. This means you can focus on learning the basics of operation, and then go from there. So this post is exactly that – a quick lab environment that gets […]

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Introducing my Terraform Azure base Lab Environments

Recently I have been working more and more with Terraform – and seeing the benefits to what I can do in a short space of time within Azure, using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) methodologies. I’m now using Terraform for all my Azure lab needs – it’s so fast and easy to deploy just what I need, and tweak from there or test new features/requirements out. The speed and ease of deployment means I often spin up a brand new lab […]

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Automating Azure Key Vault and Secrets using Terraform

One area that always need focus is around security and managing credentials. Using Terraform, and the method in this blog post, you can help build Azure Key Vault and create a secure secret to use when creating VMs, automatically. To keep things secure, my method uses a combination of randomised password values, and Azure Key Vault. This post explains how to automate the creation of both of these, and use the Secret when setting up a Virtual Machine. This code […]

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Automating NSG rules with an external IP in Terraform

For some time, I have been using Terraform to create environments – and it’s something I rely on heavily for my own Azure lab environment. My lab is an ever changing picture – and thus I regularly create and destroy resources and environments, to test new things. I usually just run Terraform locally and have it spin up specific lab environments as and when I need them. One thing I often do to make my lab environments easy to access […]

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Smart Home tinkering – Using Stringify, Nest Cameras, and TP-Link Plugs to simulate house activity based on camera detections

First of all – Happy New Year, I hope 2019 is already going great for you! This write up focuses on the use and integration of three things; Nest Cameras, TP-Link Smart Plugs and Lights, and Stringify (a tool that allows the creation of IOT Flows). The combination of all three provides a powerful way to create security routines and outcomes based on various triggers. I should point out, I’m fairly wary of the security implications of IOT devices in general, […]

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Azure Storage Sync – the easiest branch office file sync solution?

Azure Storage Sync provides the means to synchronise files from various locations into an Azure Storage account and to endpoints running the Azure Storage Sync agent. In this post I will give a quick overview of how it can be setup to service branch office requirements whereby VPN connectivity does not exist. For further information see here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/storage/files/storage-sync-files-planning. Here’s my environment which I will be testing with: Both of my “Branch offices” are actually VMs running on my home lab – but on isolated […]

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Azure Lab Services – creating an effective and reliable testing environment

Azure Lab Services (formerly DevTest Labs) is designed to allow for the rapid creation of Virtual Machines for testing environments. A variety of purposes and use cases can be serviced using DevTest Labs, for example, Development Teams, Classrooms, and various Testing environments. The basic idea is that the owner of the Lab creates VMs or provides a means to create VMs, which are driven by settings and policy, all of which is configurable via the Azure Portal. The key capabilities of Azure Lab […]

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Azure CDN – Speeding up WordPress on Azure App Service and proving the results

It’s probably no secret that half of the IT blogs out there are running on WordPress or a similar Platform. WordPress is easy to use, simple, and requires little maintenance to run – what’s not to love?! As with any Website – it doesn’t matter how good the back-end code or server hosting the site is, if your user is half way around the globe from where your site is hosted, the experience may not be that great… and not […]

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Testing out the Azure Firewall Preview

Azure Firewall was released for preview this week, so I thought I would give it a quick try and look at some of the features available. The firewall provides the following features at the current time: Built-in high availability – built into the Azure Platform, so no requirement to create load balanced configurations Unrestricted cloud scalability – the firewall can scale to meet your requirements and meet changing traffic demands FQDN filtering – outbound HTTP/S traffic can be filtered on […]

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Azure VM Scale Sets and Remote Desktop Services?

When using any environment that provides virtual desktops at scale, it makes sense to have only the required number of resources running at the right time – rather than all of the resources all of the time. The usual approach to this is to use power management – so unused virtual machines are shut down when not in use. With Azure we have another potential option designed for large workloads – to use Virtual Machine Scale Sets. This allows us […]

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