Automate deployment and management in Microsoft Azure

At the heart of any continuous delivery practices is automation. If you still heavy manual process in you delivery process. Well to be frank, you are doing it wrong! There is no other way to say it.

There is no gray area when it comes to automation and continuous delivery (CD). Automation is at the core of continuous delivery

To be clear, automations of everything may not be realistic in our current process. As companies continue to improve their CD practices, the goal is to automate the common tasks, remove constraints that create bad practices, and keep the The 3 R’s in Continuous Delivery (3R’s) in mind: Reliable, Repeatable and Reusable.

Cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure are assisting in providing a flexible and robust solution for continuous delivery and DevOps. The new Windows Azure Automation feature, that is available in the preview features section, fits right into the continuous delivery practice, 3R’s and Lean principles.

The new Azure automation is using what is called a “Runbook” to automate common tasks, deployment and administrative activities for both Development and Operations teams that are using Microsoft Azure.  The core of the “Runbook” is Windows PowerShell Workflow that is used in System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator, and Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server.

The core feature of Windows PowerShell Workflow is the ability to run parallel tasks or a sequence of tasks with multiple steps across multiple devices or managed nodes.  This is an essential feature for continuous delivery with the Azure platform.

To add the Windows Azure Automation preview features to your existing Azure subscription, (there are a number of new preview features available and more coming out each day), click on the preview features under your Azure account and then click the “try it now” link for the Windows Azure Automation feature.

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The “ADD PREVIEW FEATURES” page will open

Enter your subscriptions and click on the check mark to activate

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After you have added the Automation to the subscription, you can setup a new Runbook and test automation features.
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I used the Quick Create to get things started. After the operation is completed, you can select the Edit Runbook icon to open the new PowerShell workflow.

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The Author section will open and you will see the “workflow” key name and the name of the Runbook that was entered.

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To tests our new Runbook, I going to add a very simple Hello World for Azure Automation script that will just write back a value.

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To get more Azure PowerShell Activities to create an automated process. Click on Insert at the bottom of the page, and then click on Activity.

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The Insert Activity page will open

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There are a number of Azure Cmdlet available to administer and automate Microsoft Azure tasks and environments.

Since the PowerShell Workflow and Azure Cmdlet are a vast and technical topic, I will not bore everyone by going into the details. I would encourage you to review the new Automation feature that is now in Azure preview to reduce the common manual tasks and administration of Microsoft Azure. As previously mentioned, the new Automation feature is essential to achieving continuous delivery in the cloud. The new command and workflows provide teams with the tools to advance their software delivery pipeline and cut away the constraints that hinder DevOps and Lean practices.

Additional Resources:

Runbook Concepts

Get started with Azure Automation

Getting Started with Windows PowerShell Workflow

Azure PowerShell

Originally published at Northwest Cadence by ALM Consultant Bryon Root.(source).

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