Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Microsoft Azure- Getting Started

This is part 1 of the blog series on getting Started with Microsoft Azure.
Part 1: Microsoft Azure- Getting Started (this post)
Part 2: PowerShell for Microsoft Azure- Getting Started  
Part 3: Microsoft Azure- Create Geo Redundancy and Virtual Networks
Part 4: PowerShell for Microsoft Azure- Creating Storage 
Part 5: PowerShell for Microsoft Azure- Upload VHD Images (In Progress)
Part 6: PowerShell for Microsoft Azure- Create Machines (Coming soon)
Part 7: Active Directory and DNS in the Cloud and Azure AD (Coming Soon)
Microsoft's cloud offering Azure, pronounced ˈaZHər, is a viable competitor to Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS). Azure's offerings and differences change way to quickly to actually keep this blog up to date. You can find out more about Azure here, and AWS' product offerings here. Microsoft also has a nice read on why they think you should use Azure over AWS, here.
There are many blog posts on getting started with Azure, but I figure one more cannot hurt, and hopefully you will have an easier time working within Azure after learning from my trials and tribulations.
This series of blog posts on Azure will be taken from the perspective of Contoso and Tail Spin Toys merging to form Contoyso, who, in the desire to ease the merge of the two IT networks, wants to move into a Hybrid environment.
This first post will be about setting up your Azure account and getting things set up so that managing your environment will be as easy as possible as your environment(s) grow.

Let's Get Started

The first thing you need to do have is either an Organizational account or a Microsoft account so that you can log into Azure. Try not to use an email address that is the same for both an Organizational Account and a Microsoft Account (eg: OU= and Microsoft= You will need this account to create your subscription, and having an account that is in an OU and MS will make management through PowerShell a bit trickier (we will discuss this in a later blog post). To can create a free subscription within Azure go to and click on the Free Trial link.
To sign up for the free trial, Microsoft does need a credit card, but will not bill your card unless you remove the preset spending limit (currently $200). You will also need to agree to the Windows Azure Agreement, Offer Details, and Privacy Statement. Once you click the Agree button, Microsoft will provision your subscription. It could take around 15 minutes to provision Azure subscription, and when your subscription has been created your subscription statement page will load:

Change Your Subscription Name

At this point, it is helpful to give your subscription a useful name. The reason being, that if you are handling more than one subscription with the same credential, then there is a good chance that you will have subscription names that are the same. For example, Enterprise subscriptions are all called Enterprise by default. To change the subscription name, click on the Edit subscription detail link and give your subscription a more descriptive name.
Notice that we are using a corporation name for our subscription name, but a Microsoft account as the service administrator. At this time Azure has no idea about the Contoyso corporate infrastructure, however, once the Contoyso on-premises AD is tied into Azure AD (later blog post) you can change the Service Administrator to a more appropriate user such as

Welcome to Azure

Once your account has been provisioned, your site should look like this:
By selecting the ALL ITEMS in the left menu, it will show you your Default Directory for your Azure Tenant. This is your Azure Active Directory, and is not to be confused with your domain active directory as they are 2 different directories at this point.

Validate Subscription Name

At the bottom of the left hand menu is the SETTINGS menu. By selecting the settings menu, you will be able to see all the subscriptions that you have available to the currently logged in account.
If your subscription name is still not what you are want, click on the current user account in the upper right hand corner and select, View my bill,
or you can go to Once you are within Subscriptions page, click on the subscription name you wish to change. In this case, click on the Free Trial subscription.
This will pull up the subscription statement page, the same one from earlier in the blog. Click the Edit subscription details link, and modify your Subscription name, as described earlier. If you take a look at your subscription setting page, the summary title should have changed.

Once you have validated that the subscription name has change on the billing side, then your subscription name should have changed on the Azure Settings side as well.

What's Next

Before creating anything or setting up anything in Azure, the next step is to get the PowerShell module for Azure installed on a local machine so that you can log in to your Azure Tenant and get work done.
Please continue to the next blog post, PowerShell for Microsoft Azure- Getting Started to see how to install the PowerShell module for Azure and review a couple of ways to log in to Azure through PowerShell.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Run a PowerShell v3 Script From a SQL Server Agent Job

In a previous blog post, Synchronize Active Directory With SQL pt II, I mention creating a Scheduled Task to run the PowerShell script to keep AD synchronized to SQL. Then a colleague of mine, Don Kirkham (@DonKirkham) asked if it was possible to run a PowerShell script from within SQL. Well Don, the answer is "Yes", but there is a caveat... While SQL Server 2012 is running on Windows Server 2012, PowerShell for SQL is at version 2 and Windows Server 2012 is running PowerShell v3. We will address this issue later in the blog.
The other issue to be aware of is the warning from Microsoft, which says, "Each SQL Server Agent job step that runs PowerShell with the sqlps module launches a process which consumes approximately 20 MB of memory. Running large numbers of concurrent Windows PowerShell job steps can adversely impact performance."  So be careful not to choke your server.
Create a SQL Server Agent Job that runs a PowerShell script at a specific time and interval. In other words, a SQL job that mirrors the Scheduled Task created in my other blog post on how to Create a Scheduled Task With PowerShell.
PowerShell- SQL v2 vs Server v3 
As was just mentioned, PowerShell within SQL runs Version 2. If you were unaware that you could run PowerShell from within SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), right-click on a folder, and select "Start PowerShell". Microsoft was nice enough to not make the option available for every folder, so for this blog, we are going to use the Jobs folder.
This opens up a SQL Server PowerShell window and if you type: 
you will see that SQL 2012 PowerShell is running V2.
Here is where the problem begins. When you try to run the Sync AD to SQL script, it will error out, because the ActiveDirectory module is for PowerShell version 3, and when you try to import the module into version 2, your window will fill with RED.
Instead of hacking things up and having different versions of the Sync AD to SQL script, we are simply going to try to open a PowerShell v3 window and execute the script within the new window. The first thing we want to try is to actually see if we can open a new instance of a PowerShell v3 window from within out SQL v2 window. So within the SQL Server PowerShell window type:
Start-Process PowerShell
and in the new window, type:
So now, all we need to do is tweak the script a bit to run the Sync AD to SQL script when the new v3 PowerShell window opens. The script that will be run is:
Start-Process PowerShell -ArgumentList "& 'C:\Scripts\SQL\Sync AD to SQL.ps1'"
Notice the single quotes around the location of the file that we are going to run.
Create The Accounts
Now that we have the proper syntax to get our v3 script run from within SQL, it is time to create the Job.
The nice thing about using PowerShell to create a Scheduled Task is the ease to create the RunAs account for the Scheduled Task. Within SQL, there are a couple of hoops that you will need to jump through to create the RunAs account for the Job.
The first thing that will need to be accomplished is to create a Credential to use as the RunAs account. Under the Security folder, right-click Credentials, and select New Credential...
Within the New Credential window, fill out the boxes appropriately:
or you can run a SQL Query to create it:
USE [master]
CREATE CREDENTIAL [pcDemo\spAdmin] WITH IDENTITY = N'PCDEMO\spAdmin', SECRET = N'YourPassword'
Next, we have to create a Proxy for the account to run a specific service. For this Job, we want the spAdmin account to run PowerShell, so we need to add that account as a Proxy. To accomplish this task, expand SQL Server Agent --> Proxies and right-click the PowerShell folder and select New Proxy...
Within the New Proxy Account window, fill out the boxes appropriately:
Or run a SQL Query to create the proxy:
USE [msdb]
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_proxy @proxy_name=N'PS spAdmin Proxy',@credential_name=N'pcDemo\spAdmin',@enabled=1
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_grant_proxy_to_subsystem @proxy_name=N'PS spAdmin Proxy', @subsystem_id=12
Now that we have the Credential and the Proxy accounts created, the Job can be created.
Create The Job
From within SSMS connect to the SQL Server that is going to be running the Agent Job, and expand the object explorer to show the Jobs folder.
Right-click the Jobs folder and select: New Job...
This will open up the New Job window. Under the General page, you will want to give the Job a friendly name, and make sure that your Job is Enabled.
From within the Steps page, we will create our one and only step for this post, which will be to execute the Sync AD to SQL.ps1 files in a new PowerShell v3 window using the spAdmin Account.
At the bottom of the window click the New... button, which will open up yet another window, the New Job Window. 

  • Step name: Something user friendly and descriptive
  • Type: PowerShell
  • Run as: Select the proxy account you created earlier.
  • Command: 
    Start-Process PowerShell -ArgumentList "& 'C:\Scripts\SQL\Sync AD to SQL.ps1'"
Click OK when finished 
The Steps page should now look like this:
Next, click on the Schedules page, and click the New... button at the bottom of the Schedule List. This will open up a New Job Schedule window.

  • Name: Add a user friendly name, such as Daily 2:00am Job
  • Frequency: Change to Daily
  • Daily Frequency
    • Occurs once at: 2:00am
  • Click OK when finished
Your Schedules page should look similar to this:
Click OK for the new job when finished. You can also run the following SQL query to create the same Job:
USE [msdb]
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_job @job_name=N'Sync AD to SQL Job',
     @category_name=N'[Uncategorized (Local)]',
     @owner_login_name=N'PCDEMO\spAdmin', @job_id = @jobId OUTPUT
select @jobId
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobserver @job_name=N'Sync AD to SQL Job', @server_name = N'SQL2012-03'
USE [msdb]
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobstep @job_name=N'Sync AD to SQL Job', @step_name=N'Run Sync AD to SQL PowerShell Script',
     @os_run_priority=0, @subsystem=N'PowerShell',
     @command=N'Start-Process PowerShell -ArgumentList "& ''C:\Scripts\SQL\Sync AD to SQL.ps1''"',
     @proxy_name=N'PS spAdmin Proxy'
USE [msdb]
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_update_job @job_name=N'Sync AD to SQL Job',
     @category_name=N'[Uncategorized (Local)]',
USE [msdb]
DECLARE @schedule_id int
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobschedule @job_name=N'Sync AD to SQL Job', @name=N'Daily 2:00am Job',
     @active_end_time=235959, @schedule_id = @schedule_id OUTPUT
select @schedule_id
After Refreshing the Object Explorer, you should now see the Sync AD to SQL Job in the Jobs folder. Right-click the job and select Start Job at Step...
Since there is only one step associated with the Job, so a new window will popup and your Job will start right away. Hopefully you will see a window that looks like this:
If not, SQL have a very nice way to view the history of the Job. If you right-click the Job name, and select View History, the Log File Viewer window will popup with the Job History for the appropriate Job already selected. If you expand the failed job, you will receive insight into why your Job as failed:
You should now be able to create a SQL Server Agent Job instead of a Scheduled Task to run a PowerShell script. Thank you again Don for the blog idea.