Azure AD allows collaboration seamless for any user with any account (towards the dream)

In a world where collaboration rocks we always question the security boundary. By now I do hope all agree answer relies on identity. Our application access and controls should follow identity to allow people to truly provide the required flexibility to work from anywhere whilst maintaining the required security.

In Microsoft Azure Active Directory now they are towards to that dream. Today goes the public preview of allowing to share resources (Applications and data) with people from any organization, whether or not they have Azure AD or an IT department. Earlier Microsoft work closely with Google social IDs for this task.

Under this preview mode end user can use any of their e-mail ID type to access resources on another organization for true B2B collaboration. This is happening via email one-time passcodes (OTP).By using this new capability, you allow guest users to use their work email account for authentication while making sure your corporate resources are protected by the same security standards that are mandated by your partner organization. Once end user get the code and verified that session is valid for 24 hours. OTP codes are valid for 30 minutes. These settings carefully applied with security in mind.

In addition, we can apply additional security through conditional access and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which available under AAP (Azure Active Directory Premium)

Guest user will get one-time passcode if below scenarios are true,

  • They do not have an Azure AD account
  • They do not have a Microsoft account
  • The inviting tenant did not set up Google federation for @gmail.com and @googlemail.com users

OTP 1
(Picture credits goes to Microsoft Techcommunity)

Ok let’s get into action to enable this feature now.

Log into Azure portal and go to Azure Active Directory –> Organizational relationships –> Users from other organizations –> Settings

select “Enable Email One-Time Passcode for Guests (Preview) after that save the changes.

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Well that’s all you have to do. Head back to “Users from other organizations” and add the users. Once above task completed it might take little time to apply.

After that when you share the resources with the outside party.

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When the first time user get the email he/she has to go through the redemption procedure and accept the company policies. Once completed when they try to access the company resources they will be request to sign in prompt and request for a code. Below is such example situation,

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(Picture credits goes to Microsoft Techcommunity)

What is exciting is the new doors this is opening for companies to allow securely access to their resources to external parties knowing the control they have.

Goodbye MVA and welcome “LEARN”

If you’re a technical person who loves Microsoft technology then you must have spend time on MVA. Microsoft Virtual Academy is one of my favorite place which I spend to learn about Microsoft technology. Starting from basic all the way to level 300 content is there plus do your own knowledge validation and exams. That bean said Microsoft has decided to close the learning site and come with new learning platform. Before I jump into that if you’re a MVA fan then you still have time to complete your pending learning and exams until end of January 2019. Best is visit the MVA site and complete your pending tasks Smile 

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To view your progress visit Dashboard and complete any pending training courses,

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So now you’re aware the future awaits for the MVA what that means to you with Microsoft Learn? What is Microsoft Learn?

Microsoft Learn is interactive learning environment that includes short step-by-step tutorials (I can see more in Azure Smile), interactive coding/scripting environments, and task-based achievements that help you advance your technical cloud skills. I like new idea but again change is not welcome by everyone at first glance. Best is you give a try and see how it matters to you.

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I like the idea of role based training. Along with rapid changes in cloud technology it would be pretty difficult task to keep up with all the technology updates. Ideal would be to have small chunks and learn them. Even Microsoft Azure classroom training has to go through in that path in order to teach for students Smile

In case if you’re missing advance concepts training then Microsoft has provided external training partners web links for you to refer. Such learning partners are LinkedIn & Pluralsight.

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I do hope Microsoft will not forget IT users who are interested in Windows Server, System Center technology. Fingers crossed for that.

Until that time arrives best is to start with “Azure Fundamentals” training Smile

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/paths/azure-fundamentals/

How to migrate Public IP between Azure VM’s

This article created based on a challenge I faced on migrating Public IP [Static] to a different VM. There are many scenarios why you might want to keep static public IP to a Azure VM (Iaas). Despite being said to leverage DNS names we know in practical world static IP still wins

Smile

In this scenario I had a challenge of my customer’s VM has been attacked by ransomware. Lucky we had taken full backup of the VM. First tried restoring the disks to the same VM but problem still exists. Next solution is restoring the backup to a new VM (entire VM restore) How to do that you can find here.

Below video will share you how I manage to resolve the problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R63rlspMJU

Error ID 70094: ASR Protection cannot be enable for HYPER-V VM

I came across above error when tried to setup ASR using new portal. Every step went find until I get below error,

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clearly this highlight I cannot replicate the VM successfully to the Azure Recovery Vault. I’ve tried re-registering the Azure Site Recovery agent on the HYPER-V host as well. Though HYPER-V host register properly on the Recovery Vault VM protection fails with above error. On the hyper-v console I can see VM replication is on error state.

So finally meddle around the host logs I found out ASR has been setup previously and has not been removed properly. This means each VM replication also not completed and hanging around on error state. Only way to proceed is to clear those unsuccessful replication data on the host side targeting individual VM’s which is effected.

You need to run below mention PS command on each host targeting the effected VMs,

“$vmName = “<VM Name>”
  $hostName  = “<Host name>”
  $vm = Get-WmiObject -Namespace “root\virtualization\v2” -Query “Select * From Msvm_ComputerSystem Where ElementName = ‘$vmName'” -computername $hostName
  $replicationService = Get-WmiObject -Namespace “root\virtualization\v2”  -Query “Select * From Msvm_ReplicationService”  -computername $hostName
  $replicationService.RemoveReplicationRelationship($vm.__PATH)“

PS: Replace the <VM Name> with your effected VM name, <Host name> with your HYPER-V server name and run on the HYPER-V host.

Once that completed go ahead and try enabling replication for each VM from Azure console side.

PS: If you need to know about how to setup ASR on the new portal you’re in luck. Stay tune for next blog article Smile

How to encrypt disks on Azure VM’s

“Information protection” no wonder this word has been making big buzz around the world regardless of the business size. We have seen major cyber attacks, malware attacks which even cripple the Enterprise companies finically and reputation wise. So in this article I’m looking at one area of prevention solution offered by Microsoft team long time back. Now it’s extended to Microsoft Azure VM’s as well. Disk encryption is not a new term, we always had heard under Information Security practices consultants highlight how vital to back the data and keep them offshore. Same time they request this data to be encrypted in case fall into wrong hand.

But have you thought about how to protect running VM’s in your data-center or on Azure? Actually there are couple of ways you can approach or that. I recommend all of them in phase method based on your budget and time.

Antimalware
Compliance
Hardware Security Module (HSM)
Virtual machine disk encryption
Virtual machine backup
Azure Site Recovery
Security policy management and reporting

List can be going on over the time with new addons Smile. In this article I’ll describe how we can protect virtual machines using disk encryption technology. If you’re a HYPER-V fan then read about Shielded VM’s as an additional information.

Ok back to the main topic. This technology is referred as Azure Disk encryption which leverage Microsoft Bitlocker disk encryption. (I do hope now it makes sense to you all). Azure supports encrypting Windows VM’s using Bitlocker technology as well as Linux VM’s using  dm-crypt feature which provides volume encryption for the OS and the data disks. All the disk encryption keys and secrets saved on Azure Vault on existing subscription. The data (or in our case VHD files) resides safely on the Azure storage. Read about Azure Key Vault technology here.

Disk encryption activity can be approached from several methods,

disk-encryption-fig1
Picture credits to the Azure team Smile

1. In case if you decided to upload a encrypted VM from your HYPER-V environment to Azure make sure to upload the VHD to storage account and copy the encryption key material to your key vault. Then, provide the encryption configuration to enable encryption on a new IaaS VM.
2. If you create the Azure VM from Azure marketplace template then just provide the encryption configuration to enable encryption on the IaaS VM.
3. In case if you’ve already created VM on subscription leveraging the Azure marketplace still you can follow the same steps thanks to Azure Security Center.

So let’s assume you already created the Azure VM using the marketplace and started using that for your requirement. Later stage you found out though Azure Security Center you’ve not followed the industry bet practices and it’s highlighting the potential security risk you’re exposed to. One scenario is disks are not encrypted!

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As you can see I’ve 3 Azure hosted VM’s and they are having potential security issues and not enabling disk encryption is one of them. On this article I’ll focus on one VM (VM01) which is running server 2012 R2 enabling the disk encryption.

First things first you need to get Azure PowerShell modules setup to your desktop / laptop. You can download them from the Azure download page.

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After that you’ll need to get a PowerShell script to do the job. You can get that script from here. Copy the script and save it with any name you prefer. Make sure it’s extension as PS1.

Now you need to open the script using PowerShell ISE.

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When you run the script you need to provide following information (orderly manner)

Resource Group Name – This is the RG name where you’ve hosted your VMs

Key Vault Name – Place where your keys will be saved and protected. During the execution of the script it’ll ask for a Key vault. If you didn’t have one create just proceed and it will create a key vault automatically.

Location – Where you Resource Group location. In my scenario it would be “southeastasia”
Tip: notice there are no space between the name. This is very important to remember.

Azure Active Directory Application Name – This is for the Azure Active Directory application that will be used to write secrets to the Key Vault. If you haven’t created one script will create one for you.

Now you’re aware the information you need to provide. Let’s proceed with the execution of the script under PowerShell ISE

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If you get above screen that mean phase 1 activity is completed Smile 

Now it’s time to get ready to target a VM and encrypt the disks. For this part you need to tell PowerShell which VM you’re targeting. In the PowerShell type below command

$vmName = “<VM name>”

Replace <VM Name> with your VM hosted in that resource group. In my case it’s $vmName = “VM01”

Now in the above PowerShell script line 185 highlight the command to encrypt the disks. Copy that and run it on the PowerShell window. Alternatively you can copy the command mentioned below.

Set-AzureRmVMDiskEncryptionExtension -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName -VMName $vmName -AadClientID $aadClientID -AadClientSecret $aadClientSecret -DiskEncryptionKeyVaultUrl $diskEncryptionKeyVaultUrl -DiskEncryptionKeyVaultId $keyVaultResourceId -VolumeType All

If things go smoothly you’ll get below message on your PowerShell window,
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This process will take around 10-15 min time to complete. On above screenshot you can see the command execution and result completion is successful.

After that you can return the VM properties and check the disk status. you can see below both OS and Data disks has been encrypted.

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So any given time you add more VM’s to that resource group all you have to do is target the VM name and run the command line given above.

Note: Disk encryption on Azure is a really good option but need to be weighted carefully. If you want to backup the encrypted VM’s then encrypting need to be completed using KEK method. For more in-depth of Azure IaaS disk encryption refer to this article.

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) in action to protect Azure IaaS VMs

Update 04th July 2017 11:00 p.m.: Today Microsoft ASR team allow replicating Server 2016 VM’s  (Azure-to-Azure DR) scenario as well. These VM’s can support Storage space technology. Can check my short video here.

Kindly note this feature still in preview mode. Being said that I believe this is very important option for some customers. Based on customer feedback Microsoft has identified following points to justify this feature.

  • You need to meet compliance guidelines for specific apps and workloads that require a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy.
  • You want the ability to protect and recover Azure VMs based on your business decisions, and not only based on inbuilt Azure functionality.
  • You need to test failover and recovery in accordance with your business and compliance needs, with no impact on production.
  • You need to fail over to the recovery region in the event of a disaster and fail back to the original source region seamlessly.

So being said that below are my observations on ASR for Azure IaaS VM’s.

  • Setup and configuration is very much easy (Of course careful planning is required)
  • VM’s with Managed disks are not supported (This option will be coming soon)
  • You Site Recovery Resource Group has to be created on different region and cannot be on the same region where you production VM’s exists.
  • Automated replication. Site Recovery provides automated continuous replication. Failover and failback can be triggered with a single click via GUI.
  • Minimum replication time interval is 5 min (Wish this will be improved soon)
  • Just like protecting and testing on-premise VM’s to Azure, you can run disaster-recovery drills with on-demand test failovers, as and when needed, without affecting your production workloads or ongoing replication.
  • You can use recovery plans to orchestrate failover and failback of the entire application running on multiple VMs. This can be controlled via runbooks (very nice feature)

Ok now let’s get back to action Smile

To make things easier I’ve went ahead and created two RG (Resource Groups) in advance in two regions. I hope name convention is easy to understand it’s purpose.

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Inside the ASR-PROD I already created single Server 2012 R2 VM.

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So now we have a production VM ready to b protected. Next step is to create Recovery Vault on destination RG.

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Select the VMs you want to replicate, and then click OK.

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if you want you can override the default target settings and specify the settings you like by clicking Customize.

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Once given command to execute Azure Recovery service will go ahead and do the job Smile

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Initial replication might take some time. It all depend on how many number of disk you have in your Iaas VM and their size. But I am pretty sure it’s lot faster than uploading your on-premise datacenter VM to Azure scenario. I have experience 3-4 days to upload single VM to Azure Smile

Finally the success results would be as follows,

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Nice GUI work from Azure ASR team visually showing which to which region VM getting replicated to,

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Experience the DR drill. For this under the Site Recovery click the “Test Failover” option. This will create VM on the ASR RG. Once the test is complete you can select the option called “Cleanup test failover” This will delete the VMs that were created during the test failover

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Tips:

During my demo lab creation came-up with below mentioned error. Problem is newly added disk is not be initialized inside the guest OS. Due to that reason ASR unable to replicate that disk to DR site.

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Azure Backup stepping in RaaS (Restore-as-a-Service) model

I do hope this blog post readers are ware Azure offering free data backup solution called “Azure Data Protection Manager (DPM)” Basically it’s same as Data Protection Manager offered via System Center suite with the exception Tape drives are not supported by AzDPM. But again who needs tape drives Smile.  Nevertheless Azure Data Protection Manager offers the solution of protecting on-premise and Azure VM’s data backup. But sad story is when it comes to restore the time and complexity. Thanks to the new RaaS method things will get dramatically change when it comes to data restoration. Some of the key benefits of this method are,

Instant recovery of files – Instantly recover files from the VM’s hosted on Azure or on-premise. Whether it’s a case of accidental file deletion or simply validating the backup, instant restore drastically reduces the time taken to recover your first file.
Open and review files in the recovery volumes before restoring them – You can mount the previous backup as a snapshot and view them and decide which files you need to recover.

Even though this is in the preview level I look forward to see this on GA very soon.

1. In my Azure test VM I’ve created couple of test folders and copied few files in it.

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2. Using Azure backup I’ve already taken backup of this VM

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3. Now let me go ahead and delete the folder1 in the Important data folder. After that I’m showing the current volumes in this VM.

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4. Now let’s get back to Azure portal to recover the data. for this I’m logging into the Azure portal within the Azure VM, this allows me to restore the files to the same VM which I’ve deleted folder in the first place. Keep an eye on the red arrow location. This is the new feature I’m highlighting today Smile. WE can select the snapshot we want to map to the Azure VM. Once that completed we run the PS to mount the snapshot volume to the Azure VM.

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5. As you can see in the last picture we manage to see the deleted data available in the mounted volume. Now we can copy them and restore to the location where we delete them accidently. Once the restore work is completed you need to stop the PS session and unmounts he volume from the Azure portal.

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As you can see this is very easy and useful feature. According to Microsoft Azure Backup team this feature can be used to restore up-to 10GB of files. If you want to restore more than that it’s recommend to restore the entire VM from a snapshot. By the time I’m writing this post Azure Backup team has announced the supportability of restoring files from Linux VM’s as well. You can get more information about that from here.

PS: Same steps applies when you try to restore files for on-premise VM protected by Azure Backup service. Make sure you Azure Backup agent version is 2.0.9063.0

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