Journey to Azure

Recently I achieved a certification in AWS that I have been working on for months, the AWS Solutions Architect – Professional. Of course there are specialty certifications that focus on specific areas in more details but for right now I feel complete in my AWS certification journey. While AWS is still the biggest public cloud, Microsoft Azure is not far behind. Now I learn best by doing and I also feel that is one of the greatest aspects of the public cloud is that its not too expensive to try things out for yourself in a personal lab. So this website and its technology stack was a primary way for me to learn about things in AWS so I figure to bolster my multi-cloud skills I should migrate over to Azure which I have since completed.

Obviously the migration aspect is a big learning experience, and also a big part of my professional career. Thankfully I didn’t have the red tape of change management or people unhappy with downtime, since hardly anyone even reads this blog. I selected Azure’s App Service running PHP for kind of a PaaS approach. I used git to push my existing WordPress code to Azure DevOps which integrates nicely with other Azure offerings including App Service. Its out of the box pipeline config tests and deploys your code once it gets a new commit.

For the database I did a mysqldump from the RDS instance and imported into Azure Database for MySQL server. The interesting thing is it is public facing but can be restricted.

I also spun up a small Azure Cache for Redis instance, it has 250 MB of RAM which seems like it is plenty big for this website.

I’m a little concerned about the cost of all of this so I set up some various cost alerts just so I can be prepared but ultimately I am undecided in how much I’m willing to spend. I view the expense as an investment in my skills which translates into growth in my professional career. Also the app service instance is larger than the Ec2 instance it was running on but it appears to be faster and does more frequent incremental backups which is a nice plus.

Let me know what you think of the new stack running this site in the comments!

SCript Race: Azure VS AWS

Let us compare the data I collected from both my scripts I made for AWS and Azure. Each script accomplishes the same things:

  • Deploy two Windows Server VMs from the providers official image repository
  • Deploy one internet facing load balancer with the two servers behind it on port 80
  • Use the providers built in orchestration method to install IIS and place a simple webpage in the root web directory
  • Validate the website is being served over the internet through the Load Balancer

Here is a comparison of the common tasks:

Here is a table of all the data:

TaskSecondsDuration in SecondsDuration in Minutes
Script Start00.00
Create Load Balancer14140.23
Create VM11761622.70
Install IIS On VM181664010.67
Deploy Website on VM1878621.03
Add VM1 to LoadBalancer954761.27
Create VM211151612.68
Install IIS On VM214853706.17
Deploy Website on VM21547621.03
Add VM2 to LoadBalancer1601540.90
Website Available160210.02
Script Complete (Total)1602160226.70
TaskSecondsDuration in SecondsDuration in Minutes
Script Start00.00
Create Load Balancer880.13
Create VM11570.12
Create VM22160.10
Assign SSM IAM Role on VM137160.27
Assign SSM IAM Role on VM24140.07
Deploy System Management Agent on VM11671262.10
Deploy System Management Agent on VM21701292.15
Execute Install IIS & Website On VM117220.03
Execute Install IIS & Website On VM217310.02
Add VM1 to LoadBalancer17520.03
Add VM2 to LoadBalancer17720.03
Website Available260831.38
Script Complete (Total)2602604.30
Certain tasks in AWS do not wait for their execution to complete. Checks were added in the script and the duration column indicates which were essentially run in parallel.

As you can see from the data above, in terms of automation AWS is much faster.


As a follow on to my script that deploys a cluster of two load balanced Windows servers, installs IIS, and deploys a website for Azure, I created a similar script to do so in AWS. A few things of note that I feel makes AWS’s script better.

  • Certain tasks are non blocking and do not wait for the action to complete. I added wait states in the script to make sure time comparisons are true.
  • AWS actions are much faster. On average in my script it takes Azure 65 seconds to add a VM to a load balancer where in AWS its an average of 2 seconds.
  • AWS’s CLI allows for multiple instance IDs to be provided per command to increase efficiency even though my script doesn’t really take advantage of this which provides a more true comparison since I don’t think Azure’s CLI or PowerShell module allows for this.

Here is the script:

#This script creates a number of Windows VMs, installs IIS, a simple webpage, and places them behind a load balancer
#run this if needed
#aws configure
function elapsedTime {
    $CurrentTime = $(get-date)
    $elapsedTime = $CurrentTime - $StartTime
    $elapsedTime = [math]::Round($elapsedTime.TotalSeconds,2)
    Write-Host "Elapsed time in seconds: " $elapsedTime -BackgroundColor Blue
#Captures start time for script elapsed time measurement
$StartTime = $(get-date)

#Sets "Constants" to be used to create VMs
$imageID = "ami-0182e552fba672768" #Amazon's provided windows 2019 datacenter base
$subnet = "subnet-000000000" #my subnet for us-east-2a
$securityGroup = "sg-00000000" #My network security baseline
$instanceType = "t2.medium" #Instance size, 2 vCPUs, 4 GB RAM
$keyPair = "ServerHobbyist" #Keypair to retreive administrator password
$instanceName = "WebWinApp" #sets base name
$class = "disposable" #sets class tag as disposable for easier identification and cleanup

#creates load balancer
$lbName = "WinWebLB1"
Write-Host "Creating Loadbalancer $($LbName)"
aws elb create-load-balancer `
    --load-balancer-name $lbName `
    --listeners "Protocol=HTTP,LoadBalancerPort=80,InstanceProtocol=HTTP,InstancePort=80" `
    --subnets $subnet `
    --security-groups $securityGroup
aws elb add-tags --load-balancer-name $lbName --tags Key=Class,Value=$class #tags elb with disposable class
aws elb configure-health-check --load-balancer-name $lbName --health-check Target=HTTP:80/,Interval=5,UnhealthyThreshold=2,HealthyThreshold=2,Timeout=3 #sets a lower threshold for health checks
Write-Host "Load Balancer $($Lbname) created"

$serverCount = 2 #how many VMs to deploy
$instancesDeployed =  New-Object System.Collections.Generic.List[System.Object] #creates array list that will contain instance IDs deployed
for ($i=1; $i -le $serverCount; $i++){
    $instanceNameTag = $instanceName + $i
    Write-Host "Creating VM $($instanceNameTag)"
    $instance = aws ec2 run-instances `
        --image-id $imageID `
        --count 1 `
        --instance-type $instanceType `
        --key-name $keyPair `
        --security-group-ids $securityGroup `
        --subnet-id $subnet | ConvertFrom-Json
    aws ec2 create-tags --resources $instance.instances.InstanceId --tags Key=Name,Value=$instanceNameTag #tags instance with name
    aws ec2 create-tags --resources $instance.instances.InstanceId --tags Key=Class,Value=$class #tags instance with name

    Write-Host "VM $($instanceNameTag) created"
Start-Sleep -Seconds 15

#Checks to make sure each instance deployed from above is in a running state, otherwise it can't recieve the IAM role.
foreach ($instanceDeployed in $instancesDeployed){
    $instance = aws ec2 describe-instances --instance-ids $instanceDeployed | ConvertFrom-Json
    $InstanceTags = $Instance.Reservations.Instances.Tags
    $InstanceName = $InstanceTags | Where-Object {$_.Key -eq "Name"}
    $InstanceName = $InstanceName.Value
    Write-Host "Checking if instance $($InstanceName)  is ready to receive IAM role for SSM"
    while ($instance.Reservations.Instances.State.Name -ne "running") {
        Write-Host "Instance $($InstanceName) not ready. Waiting to check again"
        sleep 5
        Write-Host "Checking if instance $($InstanceName) is ready to receive IAM role for SSM"
        $instance = aws ec2 describe-instances --instance-ids $instanceDeployed | ConvertFrom-Json
    Write-Host "Instance $($InstanceName) is now ready, assigning role"
    aws ec2 associate-iam-instance-profile --instance-id $instanceDeployed --iam-instance-profile Name=AmazonSSMRoleForInstancesQuickSetup
Start-Sleep -Seconds 15
#Checks to make sure each instance deployed from above has the SSM agent. Otherwise commands can't be sent through AWS's orchestration system
foreach ($instanceDeployed in $instancesDeployed){
    $instance = aws ec2 describe-instances --instance-ids $instanceDeployed | ConvertFrom-Json
    $InstanceTags = $Instance.Reservations.Instances.Tags
    $InstanceName = $InstanceTags | Where-Object {$_.Key -eq "Name"}
    $InstanceName = $InstanceName.Value
    Write-Host "Checking if instance $($InstanceName) has receieved the system management agent"
    $ssmTest = aws ssm list-inventory-entries --instance-id $instanceDeployed --type-name "AWS:InstanceInformation" | ConvertFrom-Json
    while ($ssmTest.Entries.AgentType -ne "amazon-ssm-agent"){
        $ssmTest = aws ssm list-inventory-entries --instance-id $instanceDeployed --type-name "AWS:InstanceInformation" | ConvertFrom-Json
        Write-Host "Instance $($InstanceName) has not yet received the SSM agent"
        start-sleep -Seconds 5
    Write-Host "Instance $($InstanceName) has received the SSM agent. Proceeding to next instance or step."

#Installs IIS and deploys website
foreach ($instanceDeployed in $instancesDeployed){
    Write-Host "Sending command to install IIS and deploy website on $($instanceDeployed)"
    aws ssm send-command `
        --document-name "AWS-RunPowerShellScript" `
        --parameters commands=['Add-WindowsFeature Web-Server; Invoke-WebRequest -Uri "" -OutFile "c:\inetpub\wwwroot\index.html"'] `
        --targets "Key=instanceids,Values=$($instanceDeployed)" `
        --comment "Installs IIS"
    Write-Host "Command sent to $($instanceDeployed)"

#adds VMs to load balancer
foreach ($instanceDeployed in $instancesDeployed){
    Write-Host "Registering instance $($instanceDeployed) with LB"
    aws elb register-instances-with-load-balancer --load-balancer-name $lbName --instances $instanceDeployed #registers instance with load balancer
    Write-Host "Registered instance $($instanceDeployed) with LB"

Write-Host "Checking if website is ready to be served from load balancer"
$lbURL = aws elb describe-load-balancers --load-balancer-name $lbName | ConvertFrom-Json
$lbURL = "http://" + $lbUrl.LoadBalancerDescriptions.CanonicalHostedZoneName
$check = $false
while ($check -eq $false){
try {
    $check = $true
    $result = invoke-webrequest -uri $lbURL -UseBasicParsing -TimeoutSec 20
catch {
    $check = $false
    Write-Host "Website failed to load. Trying again"
    Start-Sleep -Seconds 5
Write-Host "Website is now loading at $lbURL"

Write-Host "Script completed" -BackgroundColor Blue

Infrastructure as Code: Azure Edition

Since I’ve been using AWS as a hobbyist for about a decade it is the public cloud I am most comfortable with. Lately to expand my horizons I’ve been learning about Microsoft’s take on it with Azure. I hope I’m not too bias since its easier for me to favor AWS since I’ve been using it for so long however my initial take on Azure is not positive. It is slow. I’m working on a comparison in terms of speed between AWS and Azure with the goal of standing up a 2 node load balanced IIS cluster. While I continue to work on making a good comparison write-up here is the code that deploys out the Azure resources. It is written in PowerShell and includes a function that measures completion time.

Import-Module Az
function elapsedTime {
    $CurrentTime = $(get-date)
    $elapsedTime = $CurrentTime - $StartTime
    $elapsedTime = [math]::Round($elapsedTime.TotalSeconds,2)
    Write-Host "Elapsed time in seconds: " $elapsedTime -BackgroundColor Green
#Run this to connect to Azure account if needed
#Captures start time for script elapsed time measurement
$StartTime = $(get-date)
#Sets "Constants" to be used throughout script
$resourceGroup = "DisposableLab"
$location = Get-AzLocation | Where-Object {$_.DisplayName -like "North Central US"}
$vnet = "vnet1"
$subnet = "default"
$securityGroup = "DisposableLabSecurityGroup"
$secpasswd = ConvertTo-SecureString "password" -AsPlainText -Force
$credential = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential ("username", $secpasswd)
$lbname = "WebAppWinLB"
$availSetName = "WinWebappAvailabilitySet"
#Creates Availability Set to allow both servers to be load balanced
New-AzAvailabilitySet `
   -Location $location.Location `
   -Name $availSetName `
   -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroup `
   -Sku aligned `
   -PlatformFaultDomainCount 2 `
   -PlatformUpdateDomainCount 2

$publicIp = New-AzPublicIpAddress -Name 'LB1PublicIP' -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroup -AllocationMethod Static -Location $location.Location
#sets up the inbound IP pool for the load balancer
$feip = New-AzLoadBalancerFrontendIpConfig -Name 'myFrontEndPool' -PublicIpAddress $publicIp
$bepool = New-AzLoadBalancerBackendAddressPoolConfig -Name 'myBackEndPool' 
#creates health check for load balancer
$probe = New-AzLoadBalancerProbeConfig `
 -Name 'myHealthProbe' `
 -Protocol Http -Port 80 `
 -RequestPath / -IntervalInSeconds 360 -ProbeCount 5
#creates load balancing rule
$rule = New-AzLoadBalancerRuleConfig `
  -Name 'webInbound' -Protocol Tcp `
  -Probe $probe -FrontendPort 80 -BackendPort 80 `
  -FrontendIpConfiguration $feip `
  -BackendAddressPool $bepool
#creates new LB from settings gathered so far
 $lb = New-AzLoadBalancer `
  -ResourceGroupName $ResourceGroup `
  -Name $lbname `
  -Location $location.Location `
  -FrontendIpConfiguration $feip `
  -BackendAddressPool $bepool `
  -Probe $probe `
  -LoadBalancingRule $rule 


$serversCount = 2
for ($i=1; $i -le $serversCount; $i++) {
$VMName = "WebappWin" + $i
Write-Host "Creating VM " + $VMName
#Generates new public IP for the new load balancer to be created
$VM = Get-AzVM -Name $VMName
$NIC = Get-AzNetworkInterface -Name $VMName
#creates new VM
New-AzVm `
    -Credential $credential `
    -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroup `
    -Name $VMName `
    -Location $location.Location `
    -VirtualNetworkName $vnet `
    -SubnetName $subnet `
    -SecurityGroupName $securityGroup `
    -PublicIpAddressName "$($VMName)PublicIP" `
    -AvailabilitySetName $availSetName
Write-Host "VM $($VMName) has been created"
Write-Host "Installing IIS for " + $VMName
$PublicSettings = '{"commandToExecute":"powershell Add-WindowsFeature Web-Server"}'
#Waits a few seconds for the VM to become available to recieve 
Start-Sleep -Seconds 5
Set-AzVMExtension -ExtensionName "IIS" -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroup -VMName $vmName `
  -Publisher "Microsoft.Compute" -ExtensionType "CustomScriptExtension" -TypeHandlerVersion 1.4 `
  -SettingString $PublicSettings -Location $location.location
Write-Host "IIS Installed for $($VMName)"
Write-Host "Deploying website for " + $VMName

Invoke-AzVMRunCommand -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroup -VMName $VMName -CommandId "RunPowerShellScript" -ScriptPath "C:\pathhere\WebsiteTest\deployWebsite.ps1"
Write-Host "Website deployed on $($VMname)"
#Gets load balancer object based on name
$lb = Get-AzLoadBalancer -Name $lbname
$backendConfig = Get-AzLoadBalancerBackendAddressPoolConfig -LoadBalancer $lb
#Get's NIC from virtual machine
$NIC = Get-AzNetworkInterface -Name $VMName
#Removes VM from LB
#Adds VM to LB
Write-Host "Adding $($VMName) to Loadbalancer " + $lbname
Set-AzNetworkInterface -NetworkInterface $nic
Write-Host "VM $($VMName) added to the load balancer"

Write-Host "Script completed" -BackgroundColor Blue

Learning About Lambda

Amazon Web Service’s serverless compute has always fascinated me. A lot of my pursuits of learning the DevOps methodology involves scripting but not full blown programming. When it comes to automation I can accomplish my goals with scripting. Now I just found out that you can run PowerShell in AWS Lambda but I think that is pretty recent. So before I knew that I decided I wanted to re-engage my brain centers for learning a programming language. I see a lot of hype and support for Google’s Go language. I started going through the tutorials and creating things. An idea came to me for a creation which I will talk about in a later post. For now I wanted to share my understanding of Lambda.

Lamba uses requests and events. The request contains the data it needs to function in kind of a HTTP post, at least that’s what it reminds me of since you can call it through a HTTP request and the Lambda library pulls out headers and the body. Then it returns in an HTTP fashion as well. Here’s a sample piece of code that leverages AWS Simple Email Service to take a name out of a HTTP body.

package main

import (


const (
	// Replace with your "From" address.
	// This address must be verified with Amazon SES.
	Sender = ""

	// Replace with a "To" address. If your account
	// is still in the sandbox, this address must be verified.
	Recipient    = ""

	// Specify a configuration set. To use a configuration
	// set, comment the next line and line 92.
	//ConfigurationSet = "ConfigSet"

	// The subject line for the email.
	Subject = "Lambda Function Go!"

	// The character encoding for the email.
	CharSet = "UTF-8"

var (
	// ErrNameNotProvided is thrown when a name is not provided
	ErrNameNotProvided = errors.New("no name was provided in the HTTP body")

// Handler is your Lambda function handler
// It uses Amazon API Gateway request/responses provided by the aws-lambda-go/events package,
// However you could use other event sources (S3, Kinesis etc), or JSON-decoded primitive types such as 'string'.
func Handler(request events.APIGatewayProxyRequest) (events.APIGatewayProxyResponse, error) {
	var TextBody = "Hello " + request.Body
	var HtmlBody = "Hello " + request.Body
	sess, err := session.NewSession(&aws.Config{
		Region:      aws.String("us-east-1"),
		Credentials: credentials.NewStaticCredentials("Removed", "Removed", ""),

	// Create an SES session.
	svc := ses.New(sess)

	// Assemble the email.
	input := &ses.SendEmailInput{
		Destination: &ses.Destination{
			CcAddresses: []*string{},
			ToAddresses: []*string{
			BccAddresses: []*string{
		Message: &ses.Message{
			Body: &ses.Body{
				Html: &ses.Content{
					Charset: aws.String(CharSet),
					Data:    aws.String(HtmlBody),
				Text: &ses.Content{
					Charset: aws.String(CharSet),
					Data:    aws.String(TextBody),
			Subject: &ses.Content{
				Charset: aws.String(CharSet),
				Data:    aws.String(Subject),
		Source: aws.String(Sender),
		// Uncomment to use a configuration set
		//ConfigurationSetName: aws.String(ConfigurationSet),

	// Attempt to send the email.
	result, err := svc.SendEmail(input)

	// Display error messages if they occur.
	if err != nil {
		if aerr, ok := err.(awserr.Error); ok {
			switch aerr.Code() {
			case ses.ErrCodeMessageRejected:
				fmt.Println(ses.ErrCodeMessageRejected, aerr.Error())
			case ses.ErrCodeMailFromDomainNotVerifiedException:
				fmt.Println(ses.ErrCodeMailFromDomainNotVerifiedException, aerr.Error())
			case ses.ErrCodeConfigurationSetDoesNotExistException:
				fmt.Println(ses.ErrCodeConfigurationSetDoesNotExistException, aerr.Error())
		} else {
			// Print the error, cast err to awserr.Error to get the Code and
			// Message from an error.


	// stdout and stderr are sent to AWS CloudWatch Logs
	log.Printf("Processing Lambda request %s\n", request.RequestContext.RequestID)

	// If no name is provided in the HTTP request body, throw an error
	if len(request.Body) < 1 {
		return events.APIGatewayProxyResponse{}, ErrNameNotProvided
	return events.APIGatewayProxyResponse{
		Body:       "Hello " + request.Body,
		StatusCode: 200,
	}, nil


func main() {

Monitoring App

I recently started trying to create a setup that can monitor CPU and RAM usage on a remote server. After quite a bit of thinking I created a SQL database and shell script that saved outputted data into the DB. This wasn’t ideal for remote servers so I created a poor man’s API with Node & Express. It takes a web call from remote systems running a shell script on a schedule. It then saves it to a table and I’m using grafana to visualize the data. Its in a super early state now with no validation but it is functional. Here’s my code for Node:


var express = require('express');

var router = express.Router();

var bodyParser = require('body-parser');

var mysql = require('mysql');

var con = mysql.createConnection({






con.connect(function (err) {

if (err) throwerr;

console.log("Connected to SQL database");


/* GET home page. */

router.get('/', function (req, res, next) {




//sqlInsertPerfmon = "INSERT INTO serverbuilddata (ServerName, CPUCount, RAMCount) VALUES ('" + serverName + "'," + CPUCount + "," + serverMemory + ');'

sqlInsertPerfmon="INSERT INTO perfdata (serverName, CPU, RAM) VALUES ('"+serverName+"',"+CPU+","+RAM+");"

console.log('SQL Statement: '+sqlInsertPerfmon);

con.query(sqlInsertPerfmon, function (err, result) {

if (err) throw(err);

console.log("Performance Data Logged");

res.render('perfmon', { title:'Perfmon', serverName:serverName, CPU:CPU, RAM:RAM });



module.exports = router;

Learning about NodeJS, ExpressJS, and other components of server side javascript

Recently I’ve been learning about NodeJS and how to write server side JavaScript. This week I was creating a route that pulled variables from¬† POST, inserted them into a SQL database, and then retrieved the ID of the inserted record. Later on I wanted to take that ID and retrieve the record submitted. When the code ran I didn’t have errors but I had symptoms that didn’t make sense. As my debugging strategy I started logging variables to make sure they had values that I expected.

sqlInsertServer = "INSERT INTO serverbuilddata (ServerName, CPUCount, RAMCount) VALUES ('" + serverName + "'," + CPUCount + "," + serverMemory + ');'
console.log('SQL Statement: ' + sqlInsertServer);
var buildID;
con.query(sqlInsertServer, function (err, result) {
if (err) throw(err, null);
buildID = result.insertId;
console.log("Inside function. Server record inserted. Build ID: " + buildID);

The first instance of build ID I logged inside the function returned the correct result, but the one outside of the function was undefined. I thought it was a scoping problem at first and tried to make sure the variable was declared globally. Then I noticed that the undefined variable outside the function was being logged before the one in the function. Then it kind of clicked about how Node is asynchronous. It doesn’t wait for other functions to run before the code gets executed even if they are in the correct order. After some research about my options I decided to go with call backs since they seemed to be the most recommended and best way.

sqlInsertServer = "INSERT INTO serverbuilddata (ServerName, CPUCount, RAMCount) VALUES ('" + serverName + "'," + CPUCount + "," + serverMemory + ');'
console.log('SQL Statement: ' + sqlInsertServer);

function serverInsert(callback) {
var buildID;
con.query(sqlInsertServer, function (err, result) {
if (err) callback(err, null);
buildID = result.insertId;
callback(null, buildID);
console.log("Inside function. Server record inserted. Build ID: " + buildID);

serverInsert(function (err, buildID) {
if (err) {
// error handling code goes here
console.log("ERROR : " + err);
} else {
// code to execute on data retrieval
console.log("result from callback is : " + buildID);

Callbacks wait for the function to provide it with a value. The problem is that value still can’t be used outside the function. And if that value in the callback needs to be used in another SQL function you need to nest another callback in the callback. Before you know it you have a mess. It does work but I’m still looking for better ways to do it. I’ve read about promises but I’m not ready for that yet.