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Installing & Configuring Azure PowerShell

Do you know that Microsoft Azure offers a flexible management options rather than the Azure Portal? With Windows PowerShell you can perform most of the routine tasks that you do in your cloud tenants, from creating VMs to scaling your applications. This comes pretty much handy if you have scheduled or predefined cloud workloads that you need to perform on Azure. Lets take a look on how to install and configure Azure PowerSehll for your cloud tenant.

Prerequisites

  1. An Azure Subscription
  2. A computer that is either running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 upwards.

Installing Azure PowerShell

Azure PowerShell comes as a redistributable running in Microsoft Web Platform installer. You can download the setup from here. When prompted, select Azure PowerShell in the feature selection stage. You’ll notice that  the new Azure PowerShell when you do a search or in Al  Programs in your computer.

Connecting to your subscription

In order to manage a tenant first the Azure PowerShell needs to be connected to an active subscription. There are two methods for this. Using a downloaded management certificate which include the subscription information, or by logging into Microsoft Azure using your Microsoft Account associated to that subscription. Note that the  Azure AD will perform the credential authentication in the latter method.

OK I’m all set. Now what can I do with Azure PowerShell?

Azure PowerShell provides a large number of cmdlets that can be used to provision, deploy, manage & maintain Azure services. These includes creating, modifying & deleting of VMs, VM networks, cloud services, storage, web sites etc… Much like in Windows PowerShell there is a comprehensive help content of each and every one of these cmdlets.

I’ve included some articles that I found on how to use Azure PowerShell. Also you can create PowerShell scripts and locally run them in your on premise infrastructure to manage your cloud tenant. The power is up-to you to automate.

Resources

  1. Configuring Azure PowerShell
  2. Provisioning VMs with Azure cmdlets

End of an era | Windows XP & Office 2003

Today I bring you some sad news. Windows XP & Office 2003 are no longer supported by Microsoft starting from April 8th 2014. I still remember the day that I made the transition from Windows 98 to XP 13 years back. I was in 7th grade back then and it was the first time that I ever installed an OS without the help of anyone and it was a life changing event for me as kid.

As IT PROs we all will have go through some dilemma in after 8th for planning the change from Windows XP. Let’s see what are the options that Microsoft has offered us for a smoother transition.

Roll-out a newer OS

As you all now Microsoft strongly recommend you to migrate from Windows XP to at least Windows 7. Now in this case someone might raise a concern “What about our existing hardware?”. Well if you are running on a grandpa system you’ll have to replace the hardware eventually. (the obvious fact)

Migrating from Windows XP is not a night mare and there are couple of good options available.

  1. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 – If your organisation uses SCCM for Enterprise client management you can easily create a Windows 7 deployment task sequence with all the necessary drivers and applications per-installed. You can even migrate your user data with User State Migration Tool. (But remember everything should be under My Documents). A comprehensive Technet article is available here on how to leverage SCCM for OS deployment.
  2. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) – This is a free tool from Microsoft which automates server and desktop OS deployment. Only catch is it doesn’t provide central management capability like SCCM. I found a very good article on this one too.
  3. Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor – You can perform a in place upgrade with this tool. Basically it assess the feasibility for a Windows 7 deployment and lets you to decide whether or not you should replace the entire system. Microsoft has provided a good reference on this as well.

Backup Your data

No more security updates means that your system is highly vulnerable to virus attacks. Most of you might feel that you should buy a brand new system with Windows 8.1 and migrate your data. If you are a home user it’s best for you to backup your important data using User State Migration Tool over the network or copying into a backup media but the choice is up-to you. Most importantly I would recommend to perform a backup immediately as you may never know when you are vulnerable.

Migrate your Legacy applications

If you are still using Office 2003, 2007 etc.. now is the best time to take an action. Microsoft provides much richer user experience with the new version of Microsoft Office. For any other commercial application designed for XP, most of the software publishers have already update their product road map with Windows 8.1 but if you are a software development company that still depends on XP your luck is running out. With  Office 365 in place you no longer have to spend your money on retail version, instead you can buy the subscription version of Microsoft Office with additional benefits like free OneDrive Storage.

So take an action today while you still can and embrace the change.

Thank you & Happy Retirement! Windows XP + Office 2003