AVD “Start on Connect”

When a Virtual Machine is running we have to pay for using CPU and RAM. When we are able to turn off (deallocate) a Virtual Machine then we can save costs.

With “Start on Connect” feature we can allow end users to turn on AVD Hosts and if they log off we can deallocate our hosts again. The result can be that we save costs!

I will go through all task to enable that feature.

1. Create and Assign Custom Role

First of all we need to have a custom role that will be used to start our hosts.

Subscription > Access control > add > custom role

Now we can create a role assignment. I did this on my Ressource Group “rg-avd” where my host is located.

our next step is to look for our new created custom role. if you can not find this, please try to refresh your session.

next part is to define members – here we need to find “Windows Virtual Desktop”

If you can not see any member then your user must be assigned to the security administrator role.

2. Enable “Start on Connect” on Hostpool

Let’s try if its working. My pool only one host and this host is deallocated.

Lets start our SessionDesktop:

Our Client will wait until one host is up and connected to the avd service.

Within the activity logs we can check who initiated the start of my host.

It was initiated by “Azure Virtual Desktop” as designed .

Thats it and thx for reading

Simple Azure VM Start/Stop Chaining using only Tags, Event Grid and Azure Functions

When you are migrating VMs from on-premise to Azure, you always have to evaluate the needed availability of several VMs. Your decisions in terms of VM size, storage tiers, and pricing options do rely on this evaluation. In my current migration of on-prem Remote Desktop Services to Azure Virtual Desktop, we have a Remote App that is used quite irregularly. Sometimes once per week, sometimes one to two days, and sometimes not a single time in a week. So we will go with Pay as you Go for these needed VM’s. We can deal with this behavior easily in Azure Virtual Desktop (planned shutdown and start on connect), but that’s only the frontend VM. In my scenario, I have some additional backend VMs which hold some services needed for the running application (licenseservice and some webservices for the DMS integration). We don’t need to run the backend VMs if nobody uses the frontend application, so I want to link the running state of these VMs with each other. 

The Frontend VM will be triggered by AVD’s “Starts on Connect” feature, and the needed backend server will be automatically started and deallocated depending on the Frontend VM.

I know there are solutions using EventGrid + Logic App + Azure Automation. But as you may already know, serverless Azure Functions are simply more efficient in terms of scaling and pricing.

In my setup how-to, I decided to simplify the setup with two single VMs. It shouldn’t be hard for someone to adjust, because in the end, you only have to tag the dependent VMs with the same value.
So let’s start …

Create some VMs for testing

We created two resource groups for testing. In my example, I created one named “Lab_init” and one “Lab_triggered” ? This way, we can define which VM can trigger the start process by putting them into this resource group.

Now we create 2 VMS, one in our “Lab_init” resource group and one in our “Lab_triggered” resource group.

I’m going with Ubuntu this time, but it doesn’t really matter. We only want to start and stop, so go with whatever you prefer.

Next, we need to tag our VM’s. The value can be whatever we want, but it has to match on all VM’s that we want to trigger. The code of our function (we’ll get to this later) loop through all subscriptions and search for VM’s with the same value in the bootbinding tag.

Setup Azure Function App

Now we get to the funny part.

We will create a new Azure Function App. (Serverless tier is good enough for our needs 🙂 )
Because our Function App needs to start/stop our Azure VMs across multiple subscriptions, we need a Managed Identity.
Add the Virtual Machine Contributor role for every subscription where you place VMs which needs to be triggered.
Our Azure Function App needs some modules to do its job. We have to add these to the requirements.psd1 file.
Note: You shouldn’t add the full Az module, as it’s quite large. Only add the submodules you really need.
Now we create our function and select “Azure Event Grid trigger”!
We enter the following code for our function:
param($eventGridEvent, $TriggerMetadata)

# Make sure to pass hashtables to Out-String so they're logged correctly
# $eventGridEvent | Out-String | Write-Host

$tAction = ($eventGridEvent.data.authorization.action -split "/")[-2]
$tVmName = ($eventGridEvent.data.authorization.scope -split "/")[-1]
$tSubscriptionId = $eventGridEvent.data.subscriptionId

# preflight check
Write-Host "Check trigger action"
if (($tAction -ne "start") -and ($tAction -ne "deallocate")) {
    Write-Warning "Unsupported action: [$tAction], we stop here"
    break
}
Write-Host "##################### Triggerinformation #####################"
Write-Host "Vm: $tVmName"
Write-Host "Action: $tAction"
Write-Host "Subscription: $tSubscriptionId"

Write-Host "Get information about trigger vm"
$context = Set-AzContext -SubscriptionId $tSubscriptionId

if ($context.Subscription.Id -ne $tSubscriptionId) {
    # break if no access
    throw "Azure Function have no access to subscription with id [$tSubscriptionId], check permissions of managed identity"
}

$tVm = Get-AzVM -Name $tVmName
$bindingGroup = $tVm.Tags.bootbinding

if (!$bindingGroup) {
    Write-Warning "No tag with bootbinding found for [$tVmName], check your tagging"
    break
}

# main
Write-Host "Query all subscriptions"
$subscriptions = Get-AzSubscription

foreach ($sub in $subscriptions) {

    Write-Host "Set context to subscription [$($sub.Name)] with id [$($sub.id)]"
    $context = Set-AzContext -SubscriptionId $sub.id

    if (!$context) {

        # break if no access
        Write-Warning "Azure Function have no access to subscription with id [$tSubscriptionId], check permissions of managed identity"
        return
    }

    # get vms with bootbinding tag
    $azVMs = Get-AzVM -Status -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue |  Where-Object { ($_.Tags.bootbinding -eq $bindingGroup) -and ($_.Name -ne $tVmName) }
    if ($azVMs) {
        $azVMs | ForEach-Object {
            Write-Host "VM [$($_.Name)] is in same binding-group, perform needed action "
            $vmSplatt = @{
                Name              = $_.Name
                ResourceGroupName = $_.ResourceGroupName
                NoWait            = $true
            }
            switch ($tAction) {
                start {
                    Write-Host "Start VM"
                    $_.PowerState -ne 'VM running' ? (Start-AzVM @vmSplatt | Out-Null) : (Write-Warning "$($_.Name) is already running")
                }
                deallocate {
                    Write-Host "Stop VM"
                    $_.PowerState -ne 'VM deallocated' ? (Stop-AzVM @vmSplatt -Force | Out-Null) : (Write-Warning "$($_.Name) is already running")
                }
                Default {}
            }
        }
    }
}

Setup event grid

Thankfully, we can use an “Event Grid System Topic” for our solution, so we don’t have to code anything here. You can think of a Topic as the source, where we want to react to events that occur.
Because we want to react to events in our “Lab_init” resource group, we select Resource Groups as Types and select “Lab_init” as the resource group.
If we want to trigger something, we have to create an “Event Subscription”
First, we give our Event Subscription a name and an endpoint. The endpoint defines what we want to trigger.
We dont want to call our function on every event in the dependent resource group, so we make some adjustments to filter for specific events. Otherwise, we have unnecessary function calls and have to filter the event in your function code, which is not good practice if we really don’t need to, because there is no other solution. In the Basic section, we reduce invocations to only successfully completed events.
In the Filter section of our Event Subscription we should also add some string filtering for the subject. This helps us only trigger our function if the event is triggered by the Microsoft.Compute provider on a virtual machine.

Validate Setup

Now let’s test our configuration

We start our “initVM”
In our Topic view, we see that some events are received by our Topic and also that some events are matched by our advanced filter.
Same informations four our “Event Subscription”
And we can also check our function output.

Log into our VMs

Check initVM
Check triggeredVM

As you can see, there is most likely a time difference of 3 minutes between the boottimes, so keep that in mind. In my AVD scenario, it doesn’t really matter, because we have some buffer until the user logs in and starts the application. We never had problems with that.

Hope it can be usefull for somebody, feel free to a adjust

Azure Virtual Desktop and AzureAD joined VM

Since some time it is possible to join a Windows VM to Azure AD directly. Now this is also possible with Azure Virtual Desktop.

This Blogpost will show all my steps until I am possible to login to my Windows 10 System.

Hostpool

Create a host pool

First of all we need some basic informations such as pool name.

next to the basics we need to define: VM Size, VM Availability, Image type and the number of VMs.

General Settings

addition to that we can use an existing network or we are able to create a new one.

Network Settings

After these Settings we need to define which domain we want to join. Her we can now choose between Active Directory and Azure Active Directory.

I have chosen AzureAD.

Workspace

During the host pool creation it is possible to create a assignment to a workspace. I have created tech-guy-workspace as a new one.

Roles and Permissions

With AzureAD joined devices we need to create a role assignment and a app group assignment. With each host pool one default app group will be created. In my test lab it is called “tech-guys-personal-pool-DAG”.

default app group

within this app group we are able to assign users

2nd task is to assign rbac role to at least the virtual machine to that we want to login. I prefer to assign that role to my resource group that I have that assignment for all future host as well.

there are 2 roles we need to consider about.

RBAC Roles

As it says the first role is useful when you want to login and want to have admin privileges on that machine. second group is only for your users that they are able to login without admin permission. In my lab I assigned my test user to “virtual machine user login” and my cloud only user “virtual machine administrator login” role.

To access host pool VMs, your local computer must be:

  • Azure AD-joined or hybrid Azure AD-joined to the same Azure AD tenant as the session host.
  • Running Windows 10 version 2004 or later, and also Azure AD-registered to the same Azure AD tenant as the session host.

Host pool access uses the Public Key User to User (PKU2U) protocol for authentication. To sign in to the VM, the session host and the local computer must have the PKU2U protocol enabled. For Windows 10 version 2004 or later machines, if the PKU2U protocol is disabled, enable it in the Windows registry as follows:

  1. Navigate to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\pku2u.
  2. Set AllowOnlineID to 1

and here we go.

If you need to use an other client rather than the windows one, than you need enable the RDSTLS protocol. Just add a new custom RDP Property to the host pool, targetisaadjoined:i:1. Azure Virtual Desktop then uses this protocol instead of PKU2U.

Azure Backup – App Consistent

Diagram showing Linux application-consistent snapshot by Azure Backup.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/backup/backup-azure-linux-database-consistent-enhanced-pre-post

Recently I migrated some Linux Systems with Azure Migrate from a VMWare environment to Azure. We also used Azure Backup to have a daily backup of all VMs and of all Databases as well, but we had not application consistent one. I needed some troubleshooting time to figure out how it works. This step by step guide shows an example how I did it and how to prepare a test environment. This includes how to installs MySQL, creating a Database and how to configure Azure Backup to have an app consistent Backup.

  1. Install MySQL
  2. Create a Database
  3. Configure Azure Backup

Install MySQL

Prerequisites

To follow this guide you need to use (because I did 😉 ):
– Ubuntu 20.04

$ sysop@linux01:/$ sudo apt update

output:

$ sysop@linux01:/$ sudo apt install mysql-server

$ systemctl status mysql.service

output:

Create Test DB

$ sudo mysql
mysql> create database techguysdb;

mysql> show databases;

output:

Configure Azure Backup

To configure Azure Backup you need to do the following:

  1. Download and prepare VMSnapshotPluginConfig.json
  2. prepare pre and post script
  3. enable Azure Backup for your Linux VM
  4. shutdown Linux VM and do a backup
  5. start Machine and do a second backup

VMSnapshotPluginConfig

I followed the Microsoft documentation https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/backup/backup-azure-linux-app-consistent

First we need to download the VMSnapshotPluginConfig.json file here: https://github.com/MicrosoftAzureBackup/VMSnapshotPluginConfig.

{
“pluginName” : “ScriptRunner”,
“preScriptLocation” : “”,
“postScriptLocation” : “”,
“preScriptParams” : [“”, “”],
“postScriptParams” : [“”, “”],
“preScriptNoOfRetries” : 0,
“postScriptNoOfRetries” : 0,
“timeoutInSeconds” : 30,
“continueBackupOnFailure” : true,
“fsFreezeEnabled” : true
}

This file contains different values that need to be changed to fit to the current environment. My file look like this:

{
“pluginName” : “ScriptRunner”,
“preScriptLocation” : “/scripts/pre.sh”,
“postScriptLocation” : “/scripts/post.sh”,
“preScriptParams” : [“”, “”],
“postScriptParams” : [“”, “”],
“preScriptNoOfRetries” : 2,
“postScriptNoOfRetries” : 2,
“timeoutInSeconds” : 30,
“continueBackupOnFailure” : false,
“fsFreezeEnabled” : true
}

I changed “script location” and “continueBackupOnFailure” (this change helped me to see an error message within azure backup jobs, if one script fails)

VMSnapshotPluginConfig.json need to be copied to “/etc/azure”. If this do not exit, simply create. After that we need to change the permission to that file that only “root” has read and write permissions.

sysop@linux01:/etc/azure$ sudo chmod 600 VMSnapshotPluginConfig.json

Output of ls -l:

Pre and PostScript

To have a pre and a post script I used the examples from veeam https://bp.veeam.com/vbr/VBP/4_Operations/O_Application/mysql.html

my pre-script looks like this:

my post script looks like this:

both scripts must be copied to the Linux system. I copied it to /scripts. Next important task is to set permissions to 600 to both files otherwise azure backup will fail.

sysop@linux01:/scripts$ sudo chmod 600 pre.sh
sysop@linux01:/scripts$ sudo chmod 600 post.sh

Backup

enable Backup for a Virtual Maschine

if the backup is enabled it looks like this. It is only configured but has never been executed. Restore points overview shows no backup.

1st Backup

Very important is that the first Backup needs to be done when the virtual machine is deallocated!

then run backup-job as configured

The Backup includes two steps. 1st take a snapshot, second is to copy data to the vault.

When the snapshot task is done the linux-system can be started and our vault shows a crash consistent backup

2nd backup

if the VM is up and running all scripts and config files are in place we can trigger the second backup. now the service should use all configuration and the result should be an app consistent backup 🙂

and here we go…

Hope that step by step guide helps to get this working.

Deploy Azure Arc enabled Data-Services on Nutanix Karbon

While most of you already have container workloads deployed in different flavors on-premise, the ability to deploy Cloud PaaS Services into your on-prem container is a relatively new thing. With the announced support for Azure Arc enabled Data Services on Karbon it is possible to deploy Azure managed SQL instances or PostgreSQL Hyperscale Services to your Arc managed Nutanix Karbon Kubernetes Cluster.

In this post i will guide you thru the process to deploy a Karbon Cluster, register it to Azure Arc, create a Data Controller, a custom location and a PostgreSQL Instance on your on-premise infrastructure.

Create a Karbon Cluster

To create your Karbon Cluster you have to enable Karbon on your Prism Central instance. Note that a IPAM enabled Network is required. Prism need to control the Network where the Kubernetes Clusters are deployed.

Example for a Production Cluster. You can choose the Dev Option as well.
Name the Cluster and Choose the Version and Host OS Image.
Choose the Nutanix managed Network and decide how much worker and etcd Ressources you need. If you have a external Load Balancer you can use it, or go with the Active-Passive Control Plane.
I used the default values here.
Fill out the needed Data to provide Storage Services to your Cluster.
Ready deployed Cluster in the Karbon Console.

Register Karbon Cluster to Azure Arc

To link your Kubernetes Cluster to Azure you need a Subsription where you are able to deploy resources in. The Service User needs Contributor und Monitoring Metrics Publisher rights.

The Prerequisites are:

  • A new or existing Kubernetes cluster
    The cluster must use Kubernetes version 1.13 or later (including OpenShift 4.2 or later and other Kubernetes derivatives).
  • Access to ports 443 and 9418. Make sure the cluster has access to these ports, and the required outbound URLs
  • Azure CLI
  • CLI extensions. Install the latest connectedk8s and k8sconfiguration CLI extensions.
  • Helm 3
  • Kubeconfig file with cluster admin permissions (you can download the config from the actions section in the Karbon Portal)
Select the Subscription/Resource Group and choose a Cluster name
Connect to Arc Service

To Connect the Karbon Cluster to Arc you need an elevated Shell with installed Prerequisites and cluster config to connect to your K8s Cluster. You should see the following success page in Azure after Verification.

Next Step is to create a namespace on your Cluster to go through the next steps. Set a custom Namespace with: kubectl create namespace namespace-name –cluster arc-cluster-name

Next Step ist to create a Data Controller and deploy it to your Arc managed Cluster. In this Example i connect to with direct-connectivity mode. There is also a option to connect in indirect connectivity mode.

Fill out the needed Fields Data controller name and create a custom location. Select “azure-arc-kubeadm” as the Kubernetes configuration template and select “onpremise” as the Infrastructure.

To get the correct Data storage class from your Kubernets Cluster run “kubectl get storageclass” in an elevated promt. In my case i have “default-storageclass”.

At Service Type choose Node Port.

At the end we need a Service Principal to Upload usage Data and logs.

To create it use:

az ad sp create-for-rbac –name SP-Name –role Contributor –scopes /subscriptions/subscription-id/resourceGroups/ressourcegroup-name

and

az role assignment create –assignee SP-ID –role ‘Monitoring Metrics Publisher’ –scope /subscriptions/subscription-id/resourceGroups/ressourcegroup-name

to get the Client Secret from your Service Prinzipal use:

az ad sp credential reset –name SP-Name

The Deployment take a while till the Controller is up and in ready state, so catch a cup of coffee 😀

When youre Data Controller is Ready. You can create SQL Managed Instances or PostgresSQL Hyperscale server group. In this example i create a Postgres Instance.

This will take a few minutes. You can watch the progress with the Kibana Instance which was automatically deployed from Karbon to you Cluster. Navigate to the Cluster and under Add-On you can Launch Kibana. With LogTrail you can view and filter real time events and see what´s going on on your Cluster and deployment of your instance.

Ready Deployed Instance

As you can see, we got an External Enpoint to Connect to the instance and see the Health of the Service. The Server Group Nodes where the Server Group runs on and the Node configuration.

Next we hop to our Azure Data Studio and connect to the Data Controller to manage the Instance.

To add a Data Controller just klick Connect Controller and fill out the needed Fields Namespace, Kube Config File Path and give it a name. After Discovery you can right click the instance and manage it.

Connected Azure Data Studio

You can view your connections Strings, Worker Node Parameters or Edit Compute + Storage Settings of your Server Group, or jump to Kibana or Grafana to get insights from your Instance. Some Metrics are also available in the Azure Portal on the Metrics.

Metrics in the Azure Portal

Now you can play around like Scale up Worker Nodes, push Data to the Database or what else you like to see.

I hope this short walk thru helps a little bit to get this up an running for testing.