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Updated Post Notes: Oct 28, 2014

With the latest announcement from Tech Ed Europe, PowerShell and Desired State Configuration (DSC) has been highlighted for automation and Azure.

Here are a few items release today from Scott Guthrie blog:

The PowerShell team has also released the DSC ResKit that has over 100 tasty modules

Along with these two latest releases, the ALM Rangers has released on Oct 16th  PowerShell Desired State Configuration for DevOps and ALM Practitioners v1 that has guidance and samples.

Original Post

At the heart of any continuous delivery practice there is automation. If you still have heavy manual processes in your delivery process, to be frank, you are doing it wrong! There is no other way to say it.

There is no gray area when it comes to automation and continuous delivery (CD). Automation is at the core of continuous delivery.

To be clear, automation of everything may not be realistic in your current process. As companies continue to improve their CD practices, the goal is to automate the common tasks, remove constraints that create bad practices, and keep the The 3 R’s of Continuous Delivery in mind: Reliable, Repeatable and Reusable.

Cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure are assisting in providing a flexible and robust solution for continuous delivery and DevOps. The new Windows Azure Automation feature, that is available in the preview features section, fits right into the continuous delivery practice, 3R’s and Lean principles.

The new Azure automation is using what is called a “Runbook” to automate common tasks, deployment and administrative activities for both Development and Operations teams that are using Microsoft Azure.  The core of the “Runbook” is Windows PowerShell Workflow that is used in System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator, and Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server.

The core feature of Windows PowerShell Workflow is the ability to run parallel tasks or a sequence of tasks with multiple steps across multiple devices or managed nodes.  This is an essential feature for continuous delivery with the Azure platform.

To add the Windows Azure Automation preview features to your existing Azure subscription, (there are a number of new preview features available and more coming out each day), click on the preview features under your Azure account and then click the “try it now” link for the Windows Azure Automation feature.

#1

The “ADD PREVIEW FEATURES” page will open.

Enter your subscription and click on the check mark to activate it.

#2

After you have added the Automation to the subscription, you can setup a new Runbook and test the automation features.

#3

I used the Quick Create to get things started. After the operation is completed, you can select the Edit Runbook icon to open the new PowerShell workflow.

#4

The Author section will open and you will see the “workflow” key name and the name of the Runbook that was entered.

#5

To test our new Runbook, I am going to add a very simple Hello World for Azure Automation script that will write back a value.

#6

To get more Azure PowerShell Activities to create automated processes, click on Insert at the bottom of the page, and then click on Activity.

#7

The Insert Activity page will open:

Insert Activity

There are a number of Azure Cmdlets available to administer and automate Microsoft Azure tasks and environments.

Since the PowerShell Workflow and Azure Cmdlet are a vast and technical topic, I will not bore everyone by going into the details. I would encourage you to review the new Automation feature that is now in Azure preview to reduce the common manual tasks and administration of Microsoft Azure. As previously mentioned, the new Automation feature is essential to achieving continuous delivery in the cloud. The new command and workflows provide teams with the tools to advance their software delivery pipeline and cut away the constraints that hinder DevOps and Lean practices.

Additional Resources

Runbook Concepts

Get started with Azure Automation

Getting Started with Windows PowerShell Workflow

 

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