Category: Uncategorized

Skylines Summer Sessions

Over the summer this past year, I and Richard Hooper were interviewing people around the world on Azure related content and it has been an absolute blast, it has been so much fun chatting to some very talented individuals who have a passion for their profession.

We talked about all things Azure and threw in some fun questions along the way. If you haven’t checked out the content its around 30 minutes per video and we have slides and demo’s galore.

Checkout the speakers and content -> SkyLines Summer Sessions

Huge thank you to the amazing people who work at Skylines Academy, Amy, Brette, and Nick – thanks for setting this up and organizing it.


Thomas Maurer talks to us about Azure Arc with a very cool demo.

Thomas Maurer

Richard Hooper talks to us about AKS with a very cool little demo.

Richard Hooper

Dwayne-Natwick talks to us about Virtual Machine Scale sets and Virtual Machine Availability Sets

Dwayne Natwick

Peter De Tender talks to us about Terraform on Azure.

Peter De Tender

Maarten Goet talks to us about Azure Sentinel.

Maarten Goet

Wesley Haakman talks to us about Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

Wesley Haakman

Shannon Kuehn talks to us about Azure VMware Solution (AVS).

Shannon Kuehn

Joe Carlyle talks to us about Azure FireWall.

Joe Carlyle

April Edwards talks to us about A/B Testing in Azure.

April Edwards

Adam Bertram talks to us about PowerShell

Adam Bertram

Sarah Lean talks to us about Datacenter Migration & Azure Migrate

Sarah Lean

Sam Smith talks to us about common mistakes with DevOps.

Sarah Lean

Gwyneth Peña talks to us about her journey to becoming an Azure MVP and a Cloud Engineer.

Gwyneth Peña S.

Wim Matthyssen

Wim talks to us about Azure spend and how to take control.

Pete Gallagher

Pete talks to us about Azure IoT.

Michael Levan

Michael talks to us about using Octopus Deploy with Azure.



Review of the year

Wow what a year its been.

  • Started a new job as An Azure Architect @ Intercept
  • Gave workshops at work on GitHub Actions, Azure PaaS, and Azure Governance.
  • Renewed as an MVP
  • Helped 9 people become an MVP.
  • 53 User Group talks / took part in.
  • Helped Organise this year’s Festive Tech Calendar, Global Azure Bootcamp UK / Ireland, Skylines Summer Sessions.
  • Spoke at Scottish Summit.
  • Passed the following exams: –
    • AI-900 Azure AI Fundamentals.
    • DP-900 Azure Data Fundamentals
    • DP-200 Implementing an Azure Data Solution.
    • DP-201 Designing an Azure Data Solution.
    • AZ-104 Azure Administrator Associate.
  • Became a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
  • Started my own YouTube channel.
  • Started the CloudFamily Podcast with Richard Hooper – https://anchor.fm/cloudfamily
  • Blogging – made a conscious effort to slow down blogging to spend time on other things, still managed over 10,000 views each month.

Whats next I hear you ask.

  • Speaking at Scottish Summit 2021
  • Azure AI-100 Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution
  • DP-300 Administering Relational Databases on Microsoft Azure
  • PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

I don’t have much more planned than that.

Thank you
I have way too many people to thank in 2020, honestly, I am very fortunate to know some amazing people from the communities, everyone I work with day to day, shout out to everyone who I speak with on Twitter, everyone involved in running User Groups, event organizers, etc.
I am grateful to each and every person who I speak to, I do my best to get back to everyone and help where I can. I have noticed that none of you sleep, most of you are up at silly hours of the night.

Highlights this year
This one is easy, helping people who are passionate about helping others is something I will take time out of my day to help people with.

Summary
Next year, more of the same, helping people get started, sharing people’s content as it’s tough to create content and people spend a lot of time on this.
I’d like to see events that focus on newcomers to our communities and highlight their work.

Its been a horrid year for everyone, keep safe and keep your chin up and a smile on your face as much as you can.

Gregor



Azure Logic App Api call save a file to Blob Storage

I wanted to see how easy it would be to create a Logic App to call an API and return data from it and then translate the contents into a CSV file, any excuse to learn something new and play with Logic Apps, which is not something I have done a lot of, to be honest.

So my goal was to pick an api, call it using a GET request, grab the json from the Api and then convert this to a csv file and then create a file on blob storage. In this blog post I will show you how I went about it.

I want my Logic App to do this each month and grab the data from the api and create a new blob so lets take a look at the end result and go through it step by step.

So we have 5 steps to accomplish this task.

Recurrence – this is just going to run the logic app on a schedule, so I am running this once each month.
HTTP – here is where I give it the API URL which in my case is https://geocatalogus.nl/api/3/action/datastore_search?resource_id=ecbe6732-5a6b-4858-84db-b03c410ff7aa
and I set the Request type to GET.
Parse JSON – Here I grab the JSON response from the HTTP step above and then parse it by supplying an example of the body from the JSON returned in the HTTP step. This looks like so:-

The Body (green part in the screen shot) is taken from the Dynamic Content where I just typed Body and then clicked on it.
Create CSV Table – now I want to interrogate the Parsed JSON from above and find the part of the JSON I am interested in and for this API I want the part called record which is the data I am interested in.


Again I clicked on the From part above and chose Dynamic content which lists the parts of the JSON returned and from there I chose records, I left the Columns as Automatic and thats all I needed to do here.
Create Blob – Now I want to create a new blob in Azure Storage soI chose that for my last step and gave it the connection details to my Azure Storage Blob container like so:-

I run the Logic App and it calls the API within the HTTP step, parses the returned JSON from the API, I then use the Create CSV Table step to format the data and then save the output from that step by using a Create Blob step.

And that is all there is to it, I did this just to learn something new and remind myself how cool Logic Apps are and how easy they are to use.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.



Azure Certification Prep

Hi folks, this blog post comes to you as part of the Azure Back to School community event ran by Dwayne Natwick.

Many thanks to Dwayne for allowing me to take part.

You can read more about the event on the official website

I am talking to you today about Azure Certification Prep, let’s not waste any more time and dive right in.

Whether your starting your Azure certification journey or along ways down the road the first thing you need to do is some homework on the exams:-

  • Which exam is the right one for you at this time?
  • Have you read the official exam page from Microsoft?
  • Have you read up on any changes about the exam that may have taken place?

I always suggest people start with the AZ-900 Azure fundamentals exam and this is for everyone, including experienced Azure users. This exam will set you up for the following if you are new to the exams or haven’t done any exams in a while:-

  • Learn to study (learn to take notes and try to remember the content you’ve read)
  • Get you into the habit of reading, trying to recall information, sitting practice tests.
  • There is also the no small feat of booking the actual exam and sitting it, lots of people put this off and dread exams.

Skills Measured
This area is key to your success in the actual exam, the content in this section is in essence what Microsoft will be testing you on, ensure you are comfortable with all of this content before taking the exam. Exams are usually broken down into 4 maybe areas and you’ll see a percentage scoring next to each section. An example of this would be the AZ-900 exam which has the following:-

Describe Cloud Concepts (15-20%)

This means that 15-20% of your exam will be on this subject area, some exams have areas as much as 35-45% so this is the area you want to be very sharp on as lots of questions will be around this area.

Advice
Whilst studying you tend to get a feel for how it is going, I would advise you try some practice tests and try to gauge from them if your ready or not. Book your exam as this will then help concentrate your mind and ensure you study, nothing like an exam deadline coming up to make you want to read the content, learn and pass your exam.

So a this point we have checked out the official exam guide, we know what topics we are going to be tested on, lets assume we are sitting the exams at home, we have to know what to expect when sitting an exam from home.

Sitting an exam in your house

There are some rules which you need to adhere to when taking an exam from your office / home and some of these are as follows: –

  • There is no bit of paper allowed for taking notes so if you need to take notes then there is a way to do this on-screen within the test, get familiar as you may need this.
  • No one is allowed to enter the room at any time during your exam, and you cant leave either.
  • You’re not allowed to read the exam questions out loud, cover your face or leave the webcam perimeter box for any reason, if you do you’re very likely to fail.
  • You have to take photos of your identification and the desk your siting at, behind where you are sitting, to the left, and to the right of where you are sitting.
  • The rules are there for people to read so be sure you know what you can and cannot do otherwise you run the risk of an instant failure which would not be fun.

Advice
Ensure your pc / laptop is charged, arrive 30 minutes early and go through your identification steps as soon as you can as it can be a little unsettling at times and you don’t want to be flustered before the exam begins.

Learning Resources
I always go in search of good learning resources for an exam and I always start off with Microsoft Learn. Here you will find learning paths for your exam and you can go through them at your own pace, make sure not to miss these as they really are excellent.

My favorite Learning Resources

Practice Tests
Whilst studying I always think its a good idea to do some knowledge checks, you may read some content week 1 and forget it week 2, practice tests help reinforce my learning and help me recall things I need to know for each exam. I have used practice tests from several different places and here are some of the people who have good training as well as good practice tests:-

Advice

  • Don’t start studying and then put it off would be my advice, you’re likely to forget some of what you learned.
  • Book the exam 2 weeks out and then this will focus your mind.
  • Read the questions carefully even in the practice tests.
  • No exam question has answers which are wildly wrong, Microsoft don’t do this anymore so you wont be able to rule lets say 2 from 4 answers right away for being wildly wrong with regards to the question.
  • Take the exam once your fairly confident you know what the answers to most of the questions, you wont get them all right but try to wait till your at least some what confident in your knowledge.
  • ALWAYS check the official exam page in case the skills measure area has been updated – exams are updated regularly and you don’t want caught out.

Wrap Up
No one likes sitting exams, but just think of the amount of things you have learned, and don’t be afraid to fail an exam, I have failed 3 and it just made me more determined to pass the next time and learn what I didn’t know the first time around.

If you need advice about anything exam related, please do reach out on twitter.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.



COVID-19 – overcoming business challenges with Microsoft Azure

I was recently asked to contribute to Nigel Frank’s Azure industry whitepaper, which collates Covid-19 related advice for businesses and professionals. My insight has been featured alongside that of a number of my fellow Microsoft Azure MVP’s.

The whitepaper covers five particular challenges many are struggling with at this moment: cost saving, data security, remote working, growing at scale, and business continuity. Hopefully, my own and my peers’ advice will go some way to helping those looking for answers at this unprecedented time.

Please do have a read and share with anyone who would benefit from it: https://www.nigelfrank.com/overcoming-business-challenges-with-azure/

Stay safe!
Gregor



Ignite the Tour Zurich

Speaking At Microsoft Ignite the Tour, Zurich

On March 4-5th I will be attending and speaking at the Ignite Tour, Zurich and will be talking about Deployment Practices for Greater Reliability as part of the Ops learning path.

Within the talk I will cover how to move toward a more reliable deployment of software and infrastructure as code, I’ll cover testing and talk about what good looks like and show some demo’s of what an up to date app deployment looks like using services like AKS and Azure Devops.

I have never been to Zurich and speaking at conferences was one of my goals for this year, I am really looking forward to seeing some friends during my trip and be able to present.

I have been using Presenter Coach which is built into PowerPoint if you use PowerPoint online and will record a quick demo of this if people think it would be worthhwile.

If you’re attending let me know and I will come and say hi, maybe even see you at my talk.

Any questions let me know in the comments below.



How I had a successful 2019

This year has been an amazing year for me, too many good things to recall if I’m honest and I’ll keep it short, below are some of the highlights for me (in no particular order)

  • Invited to meet Scott Guthrie at an ask me anything session in London
  • Awarded MVP in Azure in August
  • Helping run the Glasgow Azure User Group
  • Ran the Azure Global Boot Camp, Glasgow Edition
  • Attended my first ever Microsoft Ignite in Florida
  • Attended my first ever Experts Live Europe in Prague
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
  • Helped work become Gold Certified in a few more competences
  • Blog has had over 200,000 hits this year (50 posts this year)
  • The Azure Advent Calendar has been a huge success, more info on that later this month.
  • Joined TechSnips.Io
  • Started a YouTube channel
  • Named in Nigel Frank International in the Top 20 Azure influencers on Twitter
  • 3 podcast appearances

Looking forward to 2020 which will bring the following :-

  • Ignite the Tour London
  • Ignite the Tour Zurich
  • Scottish Summit (doing a talk and helping out)
  • Azure Global Boot camp (organising & more on that next week)
  • MVP Summit 2020
  • Ignite 2020
  • Hopefully lots more travelling
  • Hopefully attending conferences
  • Reach 5000 twitter followers
  • Recording some training material

It has been a huge amount of fun, learned more a lot about myself, visited a number of places.

My number one highlight might sound corny but meeting the people who make up the community has been incredible, Ignite and at Experts Live I met so many awesome people that I have chatted to on Twitter. I’ve met people I’ve looked up to and asked for advice from and the people who inspire me.

If you need help or have questions about anything please reach out to me on twitter or LinkedIn, always happy to help with anything I can.

I could never thank everyone but trust me I’m thankful for meeting each and every one of you.

This #azureadventcalendar has been a fantastic way to end the year and soon I’ll be at Ignite the Tour London and then the Scottish Summit here in Glasgow at the end of February.

Huge waves and thanks to everyone who I chatted to throughout 2019 and lets do it again next year.

Happy Holidays! – Gregor.



Using Azure Recovery Vault to backup SQL Server within your Virtual Machines

In this blog post I’ll show you how to go about baking up SQL Server within your VM’s on Azure. I’m going to assume you have created an Azure Recovery Vault already.


Step 1 – Log into Azure and go into your Recovery Vault.


Step 2 – Click Backup.


Step 3 – Choose SQL Server in Azure VM (Preview).
Step 4 – Choose Start Discovery and that goes off to discover your VM’s which have SQL Server on them.
Step 5 – Select the Virtual Machine name(s) from the list and then hit the Discover DB’s button.
Step 6 Select Configure Backup.
Step 7 – Select from the list the instance(s) and then select the DB’s you wish backed up, you can also change the AutoProtect to ON from the drop down and this will always backup each new database added going forward.


Step 8 – Select Ok.



Step 9 – Choose your Backup Policy Options.

And that should be that, you now have your SQL Server’s within your VM’s on Azure backed up using a Policy which you can configure to suit your needs and change ant any time you wish.



What I learned last week – 13th August – 17th August

This week I have been busy mostly busy with bug fixing some code we have which used to be a windows service but is now a TopShelf service – if you use windows services you’ll know that there hard to debug, enter TopShelf

TopShelf is almost identical to a windows service but runs like a console app and that allows you to debug the code you would have within your windows service. To change your code from a windows service to a TopShelf service is minimal code indeed and well worth the small amount of effort.

What I learned this past week

  • Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 are available, if you use Visual Studio 2012 then check out a fantastic extension called Web Essentials – go check it out.
  • RavenDB – the guys who bring you Raven are hard at work on a 1.2 release which will bring a number of great changes, I have upgraded my home-brew project to the latest unstable version and the upgrades to the front end are cool and most welcome – more soon when I get more time hands on.
  • Select2 is a very neat little javascript library which you use to make your select boxes on web pages far sexxier – take a look here.
  • Elmahr 0.91 is out – more here.

What did you find useful this week? – please let me know by leaving a comment after the beep.



6 months into the job

Monday 11th May will see be me 6 months into my new job, my last place I was there for 11 years so it was quite a big thing for me moving on.

The new job is going well, I like the way we go about our work, we talk about it, we plan it, then we try as best we can to do proper test driven development.

Last week saw us starting a new RavenDB based MVC 3 project which will be using Agile techniques using sprints – it will also include some new tools which I havent yet used such as initializer and twitter bootstrapper – more on them to come as I get hands on during the project.

Starting a new project is always great, although we are under pressure to get this out the door, were luck to not having paying customers demanding software releases as soon as possible, this means we don’t cut corners and can produce code which has been thoroughly tested and due to the tools we use we know it’s of decent high quality.

Testing driven development has been quite a mind shift from what I have been used to, in the past I would have written the code and then done some manual testing usually from the front end, so this has been a great leap forward – it’s not the be all and end all of course and code can still contain bugs, however, changing code and knowing if you broke something is very nice.

The main difference has been using Resharper, style cop and unit tests along with a great build system – all checked in code has the same style and formatting which is rather nice.