I have been using Powershell to manage pieces of Azure on and off for about a year and half now. I had heard tell of Azure Automation but never really had a good reason to justify spending the time climbing that particular mountain (hill really…).

Then the request came through… let’s scale AzureSQL databases up and down based on time of day for a given project… If you have worked in Azure you know Microsoft has built in a fairly robust and relatively easy to use auto scale-out configuration interface for Azure App services. Not so for “up/down” scale operations (increasing/decreasing the size of a single-instance). Hence, my foray into Azure Automation.

I have done a fair bit of Azure Powershell scripting just using the ISE interface and keeping scripts on my desktop. I started out with “AzureRM” and migrated to “AZ” as Microsoft starting a couple of years ago pretty much said “AZ” is the future… switch now.

With that background in place, I will state that I found starting out on Azure Automation to be a bit of a bumpy ride. I wanted to hopefully save you the reader some of the time I spent chasing my tail…

I recently ran into a frustrating issue where I setup a new subscription in Azure and when I went to manage with Powershell I couldn’t see on the list that gets output from the following command:

In my line of work we often evaluate new ways to do things, specifically new platforms for server hosting, disaster recovery, backups, etc.

One of the requests that often comes from vendors is “How big is your environment?”

Microsoft has the rather excellent “MAP” tool however I find it to be a bit slow, somewhat complex, and often returns a lot more information than I want… and not always everything I need.

To that end, I wrote the following powershell function and it has been a major help in automating these inventory requests:

A colleague of mine recently solved one of the biggest pain points I have dealt with regarding Office365 – that is, Microsoft’s seemingly hit-or-miss modern authentication.

Symptoms look like this:
1. Outlook client can’t connect and/or authenticate for end-users
2. Turning on Azure MFA for an end-user ruins their life (and yours) because all office applications, teams, etc. break.
3. Admins have an impending sense of “dread” when setting up systems for new users because 80% of the time they are going to spend hours sorting out the above issues.
4. You call Microsoft Support complaining of these issues and they are eventually stumped and tell you to rebuild the desktop/laptop from scratch… great for end-users that deal with this issue 1 year into the job and rather like their systems as-is… -or- MS Support tells you to pop a registry key into the end-user’s system which just disables Modern Authentication all together – which may fix Outlook but leaves many many other things broken…

FIRST – I am stealing code here and re-sharing (with very little modification). All credit goes the fine gentleman that wrote these two articles, I would urge you to read them:

Bulk Add IP Access Restrictions to Azure App Service Using AZ Powershell

Bulk Add Cloudflares IPs to Azure App Service Access Restrictions Using AZ Powershell

I made a few minor modifications the provided code. First, I like to just run a lot of my Azure Powershell stuff from an ISE session and don’t like encapsulating everything in new commands. Partly because I am not all that familiar with working that way even though it is probably a MUCH better way of doing things.

Before we get to the code though, what is this for exactly?

If you use cloudflare as a protection and CDN layer for a website it works by acting as a reverse proxy for your site. I.E. client connects to your site by a cloudflare hosted DNS record… instead of connecting directly to your server, their connection terminates at Cloudflare, they do things, then the pass the connection along to your actual service. ‘Nuff said, google if you need more info.

In the case of an Azure Web App (or any other web server I supposed), the app is hosted/available on some public IP and/or azure domain name that azure provides when you create the app…

What this means is that someone can easily bypass your cloudflare layer (and the associated performance enhancements and protections like web application firewalls) if they know your source systems IP address and in the case of azure, your azure provided domain name for your app.

So what that means is that you need to setup an ACL (Access Control List) on your source system to say “Allow traffic from all Cloudflare IP ranges and block everyone else”.

Cloudflare has like 20 IP ranges… And setting up that ACL by hand on a web app in Azure is arduous at best. But that is why we have scripting… to make things that are generally a pain in the rear… NOT a pain in the rear. (more…)