Microsoft Azure Essentials

This ebook introduces a fairly new feature of Microsoft Azure called Azure Automation. Using a highly scalable workflow execution environment, Azure Automation allows you to orchestrate frequent deployment and life cycle management tasks using runbooks based on Windows PowerShell Workflow functionality. These runbooks are stored in and backed up by Azure. By automating runbooks, you can greatly minimize the occurrence of errors when carrying out repeated tasks and process automation.

This ebook discusses the creation and authoring of the runbooks along with their deployment and troubleshooting. Microsoft has provided some sample runbooks after which you can pattern your runbooks, copy and modify, or use as-is to help your scripts be more effective and concise. This ebook explores uses of some of those sample runbooks.

Who should read this ebook

This ebook exists to help IT pros and Windows PowerShell developers understand the core concepts around Azure Automation. It’s especially useful for IT pros looking for ways to automate their common Azure PaaS and IaaS application duties such as provisioning, deployment, lifecycle management, patching and updating, de-provisioning, maintenance, and monitoring.

You should be somewhat familiar with concepts behind Windows PowerShell programming as well as understand fundamental Azure provisioning and deployment. It helps if you have written and run some Windows PowerShell code, especially as it relates to the Azure PowerShell Management API. This ebook looks at some Azure Automation Windows PowerShell workflow scripts and breaks down what they are doing. If this is your first time with Windows PowerShell, it might be a real challenge for you.

This ebook assumes you have worked in some context with Azure in either the PaaS or IaaS spaces. Items such as Azure assets in the form of connections, credentials, variables, and schedules all will help you manage your Azure applications and deployments. For instance, you should know what is an Azure Virtual Machine (VM) or an Azure Cloud Service.

Michael McKeown

Mike McKeown is a Microsoft Azure MVP who is employed as a Principal Cloud Architect with Aditi Technologies. He spent almost two decades with Microsoft in various roles and has spent over 25 years working within various IT roles. This has given Mike a very unique breadth, as well as depth, of the IT environment from the view of development, management, infrastructure, sales, and the customer. He has experience in the cloud around both the Infrastructure and Platform as a Service solution models. His passion is to help stakeholders or customers define their business/system requirements, and then apply cloud architecture patterns and best practices to meet those goals.

Mike writes white papers for MSDN, blogs about Azure on his blog at, develops Azure video training content for Pluralsight, and is a speaker at both regional and national conferences. You can follow his experiences with Azure on Twitter at @nwoekcm.

Mike lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife Tami and five kids Kyle, Brittany, Adrianna, Michael Jr, and Sean. He plays the drums, is active in his church, and loves to work out regularly.

This ebook includes seven chapters, each of which focuses on an aspect of Azure Automation, as follows:

Introduction to Azure Automation: Provides an overview of Azure Automation, looking at what it involves, and the situations for which it is best suited. Shows how to enable Azure Automation and how to create an Azure Automation account, which is the highest-level root entity for all your automation objects under that account.

Runbook management: Covers how to manage runbooks, which are logical containers that organize and contain Windows PowerShell workflows. Also, learn about the concept of authentication and the role of management certificates or Azure Active Directory.

Assets: Describes the entities that runbooks can globally leverage across all runbooks in an Azure Automation account. Learn about variable, credential, connection, and schedule assets.

Runbook deployment: Discusses publishing a runbook after it has been authored and tested. Also provides some troubleshooting ideas.

Azure Script Center, library, and community: Learn more about Windows PowerShell Workflow functionality, the execution process, and how it relates to Azure Automation runbooks. Provides an overview of resources for reusable scripts that you can import into your runbooks and use wholly or in part.

Best practices: Looks at some key recommendations to optimize and maximize your use of Azure Automation.

Scenarios: Explores in-depth a few common Azure Automation scenarios that you can hopefully relate to your everyday work.