Category Archives: Microsoft Azure

SQL Server backup performance on Azure Premium Storage

In this post I’ll show the results of some basics tests I carried out to identify the optimum number of SQL Server backup files to use when backing up to an Azure Premium Storage P30 disk with two different VM sizes.

The tests were carried out using SQL Server 2016 Standard SP2 on Windows Server 2016.  All drives were formatted with a 64K allocation size and backup compression was enabled.   The database was 123GB with 9GB free space.

The virtual machine configuration was:

  • DS14-8 v2 8 cores and 112GB RAM
  • 1x P30 with read caching enabled for database data files
  • 1x P30 with caching disabled for database log files
  • 1x P30 with caching disabled for backup files

The DS14-8 v2 supports 51,200 IOPs and 768MBps throughput, so has capacity to support the 15,000 IOPs and 600MBps that the 3x P30 disks can generate.  The results show that only two backup files are required for close to peak performance.

1 backup file: 152.648 MB/sec

2 backup files: 192.484 MB/sec

4 backup files: 198.223 MB/sec

8 backup files: 194.735 MB/sec

I then resized the VM to a DS13 v2, to see if the reduced VM storage capability would impact the backup performance.  The DS13 v2 has 8 cores, 56GB RAM and supports 25,600 uncached IOPs and 384MBps throughput.  The IOPs capability is sufficient to support all three P30 disks, but the throughput could be limiting.  However, the results show very little difference.

1 backup file: 150.416 MB/sec

2 backup files: 192.969 MB/sec

4 backup files: 194.692 MB/sec

8 backup files: 194.561 MB/sec

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Monitor Azure events with Logic Apps – follow up

Following on from my earlier post “Monitor Azure events with Logic Apps” I’ll now show how to add additional control within the Logic App to only alert on events related to virtual machine changes and how to surface additional event information in the email.

Firstly edit the Logic App in the designer and click the + between the event and email steps and choose Add an action.

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From the Choose an action screen select Control.

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Select Condition.

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Click into the “Choose a value” box, select Expression and enter triggerBody()?[‘data’][‘operationName’] and click ok.

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In the next box select “is equal to” and in the value box enter Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachine.

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Drag the “Send an email” action into the “If true” box.

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These changes ensure the Logic App will only send an email for operations related to virtual machines.

If you would like to include additional event information in the email beyond those in the Dynamic content selection it’s easy to achieve.  From the Logic App page click on runs history.  Click on “When a resource event occurs” and you can see the JSON on the event. Click “Show raw outputs” to see the full JSON generated by the event.

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You can include values from the JSON in the email using the expression box.  Go back to the “Send an email” action and click on the email body.  In the Expression box enter the path to the JSON value, e.g. triggerBody()?[‘data’][‘operationName’] to include the operation name or triggerBody()[‘data’][‘claims’][‘http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/ws/2005/05/identity/claims/name’%5D to include the name of the user that carried out the action.

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Monitor Azure events with Logic Apps

In this post I’ll provide a starting point for monitoring Azure with Logic Apps whereby an email is sent when a successful change is made within an Azure subscription.

To start with, check the Event Grid resource provider is registered within your Azure subscription.  You can do this in the Azure portal under Subscriptions -> Resource providers.

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Next, create a Logic App from the Azure portal, entering a name, resource group and location.

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From the splash screen select the common trigger When a Event Grid event occurs.

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Click the sign in button to connect to your Azure subscription.

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Select your Azure subscription, resource type and resource name.  In this example I’ve selected the subscription, for event monitoring across the entire subscription, but you can choose resource group or something else to scope the alerts further.  I’ve also added an event type filter for WriteSuccess, but again you can adjust as per your requirements.

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In this example I’ve chosen to be notified by email, so click on new step, then select Office 365 Outlook, followed by send an email.

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Populate the email body with event information that interests you.

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Save the Logic App, then make a change, e.g. resize a VM or create a resource within the subscription to trigger the alert.

If you don’t receive an email check the runs history on the Logic App page.

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If nothing is listed check that the Logic app automatically created the Event Grid subscription.  Search for Event Grid subscriptions in the Azure portal.

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If nothing is listed re-register the EventGrid resource provider in your Subscription.  I did this using Azure Cloud Shell Register-Azure RmResource Provider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.EventGrid.

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Once you have the basics working you can customise further, e.g. to only notify for changes related to virtual machines.  In a future post I’ll show how to do this.

Renaming Azure automation accounts

As of Aug 2018 it’s not possible to rename an Azure automation account, but this is the next best thing.  There are number of limitations to this approach, including the requirement to recreate schedules and a number of other automation account settings and configurations, but if you have a simple setup it’s worthwhile.

  • Bulk export the runbooks from the incorrectly named automation account using the Export-Azure RmAutomation Runbook PowerShell cmdlet.
  • Create a new automation account with the desired name.
  • Bulk import the exported runbooks into the new automation account using the Import-Azure RmAutomation Runbook PowerShell cmdlet.  Use the -Published switch to save time having to manually publish each runbook post import.
  • Recreate and link any schedules and other configurations.
  • Import any modules required by your runbooks.
  • Update the existing modules as they’re not the latest available when you create the account.

 

 

 

 

Working with Azure tags in Power BI

Using tags in Azure is a great way to logically organise resources by categories.  Combining tags with the Power BI Microsoft Azure Consumption Insights connector should offer a powerful way to analyse and gain insights into your Azure expenditure.

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Unfortunately, the connector imports the tags as a single field containing the tagging JSON, which makes it difficult to work with the tags in a meaningful way.  For example, if you have tags called System, Geography and Environment it would be great to be able to work with these in Power BI as an individual fields.  Fortunately, this is possible, but not with Power BI in the browser.

Download Power BI Desktop  and get data from the Microsoft Azure Consumption Insights (Beta).

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Enter your EA enrollment number, which you can get from https://ea.azure.com/ .  You’ll also need an API access key, which is available from https://ea.azure.com/ under reports -> download usage -> API access key.

Select UsageDetails, then right-click and select edit.

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If you’ve only recently added tags order the data by date descending.  This is because the Power BI editor loads 1000 rows initially and if you’ve only recently started using tags they’ll only be listed against recent records.

Find the Tags column, right-click choose Transform, followed by JSON.

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Power BI will now parse the JSON and enable you to split out each tag into a separate column.  Click on the arrows and the tag fields will be loaded.

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Click ok to add the new tag fields to the data set, followed by close & apply.

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You can now work with each tag individually.

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Azure VM Agent Status – Not Ready

In a secure sandbox environment withing Azure I encountered and issue whereby the Azure VM Agent status was reporting as not ready and the agent version as unknown.

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Opening the VM Agent log in C:\WindowsAzure\Logs\WaAppAgent.log I saw the error:

[ERROR] GetVersions() failed with exception: System.ServiceModel.EndpointNotFoundException: There was no endpoint listening at http://168.63.129.16/?comp=versions that could accept the message. This is often caused by an incorrect address or SOAP action. See InnerException, if present, for more details. —> System.Net.WebException: Unable to connect to the remote server —> System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: A connection attempt failed because the connected party did not properly respond after a period of time, or established connection failed because connected host has failed to respond 168.63.129.16:80
at System.Net.Sockets.Socket.DoConnect(EndPoint endPointSnapshot, SocketAddress socketAddress)
at System.Net.ServicePoint.ConnectSocketInternal(Boolean connectFailure, Socket s4, Socket s6, Socket& socket, IPAddress& address, ConnectSocketState state, IAsyncResult asyncResult, Exception& exception)
— End of inner exception stack trace —
at System.Net.HttpWebRequest.GetResponse()
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.HttpChannelFactory`1.HttpRequestChannel.HttpChannelRequest.WaitForReply(TimeSpan timeout)
— End of inner exception stack trace —

Research showed that the IP address 168.63.129.16 is a virtual IP address used for Azure VM Agent communication amongst other things.  See here for more detail.

In this case traffic was flowing through an Azure security appliance and a rule needed to be created to allow traffic to and from 168.63.129.16.  Once this was done the VM Agent functioned correctly.

Unable To Upload Templates With Joomla Running On Windows Azure

If you create a web site on Windows Azure using the Joomla! 2.5 template you may find that you’re unable to upload templates.  This is because the Joomla! template tmp_path and log_path parameters point to unwritable locations.

To change the tmp_path and log_path parameters, open your site using the Microsoft WebMatrix toolkit, then open configuration.php.

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Within configuration.php locate the two parameters.

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Change the parameter values as below, substituting YourWebSiteName for the name of your web site.

public $tmp_path = ‘C:\\DWASFiles\\Sites\\YourWebSiteName\\VirtualDirectory0\\site\\wwwroot\\tmp’;

public $log_path = ‘C:\\DWASFiles\\Sites\\YourWebSiteName\\VirtualDirectory0\\site\\wwwroot\\var\\logs’;

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Save your changes.