Logging on to Azure for your everyday job

Use a PowerShell profile function to load Azure RM account context automatically. If the context file does not exist, create one. Also, check the token for validity because it may have expired.

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Azure Batch for the IT Pro – Part 2

This is the second and final part of a blog series with a walkthrough for Azure Batch. The first part is here: Azure Batch for the IT Pro – Part 1 In the first part I showed you how to create an Azure Batch Account, the corresponding Storage Account, a test application based on Powershell,…

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Azure Batch for the IT Pro – Part 1

I spent some time on working with Azure Batch for a customer, and what struck me that it was not so easy for an IT Pro to create a meaningful testing setup. The stumbling point is that you need to have an application doing meaningful work. So what is Azure Batch? It is the PaaS…

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Download the original Active Directory Branch Office Deployment Guide

During the great Windows Server 2003 content purge on TechNet in the summer of 2016 a lot of valuable documentation was lost. Part of it was recovered in the infamously huge PDF download with 2003 support content, and other content was ported to the new documentation site on https://docs.microsoft.com, but the rest was just gone….

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Get-UniqueString: generate unique ID for Azure Deployments

When deploying resources to Azure, you sometimes need to generate a world-wide unique name. Examples of these are DNS names, storage account names, Azure Batch account names, etc. Some of these names have additional requirements. For instance, storage account names must be all lowercase with a length of 3 to 24 letters. How do you…

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Best practices for a stable AGPM deployment

Over the years I have worked a lot with Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM), our solution for change management of Group Policy. This small tool is part of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). AGPM has always flown under the radar, but is deployed in surprisingly many enterprises. By reviewing and troubleshooting some of these deployments…

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Do you have plaintext passwords in your Azure deployments?

If you are developing deployments for Azure you will encounter situations where you need to use passwords and other data that needs to stay hidden. Azure has plenty of facilities for this, but sometimes people can be tempted to take shortcuts. So, for one of the projects I’m involved in there was a suspicion that…

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Azure Quickstart Template: create forest with one or two domains

A lot has happened in the Azure world since I last published this short series on deploying an Active Directory forest with ARM templates: Part 1: Using the template Part 2: Understanding the template structure Part 3: Visualizing the template Since that time we have had a major advance in the Virtual Machine world with…

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Check your DNS for WINS lookup — then get rid of it

It is surprisingly often that I encounter customers who have a WINS dependency in an odd place: in DNS itself. Since the early days of AD the DNS service had a feature that was intended specifically to help with migrations from NT4 domains to Active Directory. This feature called WINS Lookup is enabled on a…

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The Active Directory 2016 PAM Trust: how it works, and why it should come with a safety advisory

We have long been working on increasing security in the design and operations of Active Directory. In each release from Windows Server 2003, 2008 and up to 2012 R2 you can see steps taken: better encryption, additional Kerberos features, deprecation of old protocols, etc. With Windows Server 2016 we have taken a next step, and…

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