Internet Access from Azure VM Not Working: Problem Solved

When you configure a virtual network in Microsoft Azure, the DNS configuration is within the virtual network itself.  If you reviewing this article, it recommends to reset your DNS server to be your domain controller within your virtual network.

However, when you do that you lose your internet connection within your VM because it can no longer find a public DNS server.  You can solve this problem by registering one of Microsoft’s public DNS servers within your virtual network configuration.

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The public DNS servers are 168.63.129.16 and 168.62.167.9.  You have to register them in two spots: 1) under DNS servers in the virtual network tab and 2) you have to add them specifically to your virtual network under configuration.

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In addition, make sure you restart your VMs before these settings will take effect.

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Remember to Set Your Subscription When Using Azure PowerShell Tools

I was working through setting up a virtual network, Active Directory and SharePoint 2013 environment using this MSDN article.

One of the task is to reserve a static IP address for your AD server so that your domain controller always has the same IP address.  You do this in PowerShell using the following command:

Get-AzureVM -ServiceName CloudServiceName -Name VMName | Set-AzureStaticVNetIP -IPAddress 10.0.0.4 | Update-AzureVM

In my case, this was failing for me and it wasn’t finding the service.  After banging my head for 30 minutes, I realized that I had multiple subscriptions and the default one wasn’t the one that my VM and cloud service was located.

To find out what subscriptions you have, you can run the following powershell cmdlet:

Get-AzureSubscription

and this will report the subscriptions available.  Before you run the command above, run the following powershell cmdlet:

Select-AzureSubscription

and then specify the specific subscription containing your VMs and other services. 

Once you do this, then you can run the above command successfully.

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Document Versioning Now Turned on by Default for Office 365 / SharePoint Online

One of the more challenging adoption issues has been that by default version control is turned OFF in SharePoint.  When we do audits of our clients SharePoint environments, we see very weak adoption of version control simply because most site owners cannot find the setting and don’t remember to turn it on when a new site is provisioned.

Microsoft has now changed this setting in SharePoint Online / Office 365 so that versioning is now turned on by default for any newly created site.   The versioning turned on is set to Major versioning which in most cases is sufficient for many users.  Site owners with sufficient privileges can still turn off version control

The only negative impact to turning on version control is increasing the amount of space being taken up by versions of documents.  However, in my experience the benefits typically outweigh the space impacts by ensuring the history of changes to documents are preserved.

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Microsoft Launches Azure App Service

Microsoft today launched a new Azure service called Azure App Service that integrates Azure Web Sites, Azure Mobile Services and Azure BizTalk Services into an integrated service. 

The new Azure App Services platform allows you to create Web Apps, Mobile Apps and Logic Apps within a single service.   Here is a collection of information on the new services.

New Pricing/Billing/Scale Model

Azure App Services is an integration of existing services from Azure with some new features and a new billing model.

From a billing perspective, if you were running Azure Web Sites, Azure Mobile Services or Azure BizTalk Services these are now integrated together into a single “Azure Service Plan”.  You can create multiple “apps” that all reside within a single plan so from a pricing perspective you’re charged only for that plan running in whatever scale you like instead of each different service having its own billing model. 

The tiered pricing is the same as the only Azure Web Sites model with Free, Shared, Basic and Premium tiers.  However, because you can now run multiple services on a single plan, you can leverage a consolidated price per instance.

In addition, each of these tiers now has additional quotas for things like API calls to connectors.

Azure Web Site is now Azure Web App

If you’re running an Azure Web Site, it has now been migrated to an Azure Web App running within an Azure App Service.   Azure Web Sites is no longer a stand alone service, unlike Azure Mobile and Azure BizTalk.

Azure Mobile Services is now Azure Mobile Apps

Azure Mobile Apps takes Azure Mobile Services and adds some new features.  Azure Mobile Services is still available as a standalone service because Azure Mobile Apps are still in Preview mode.

There are a number of new capabilities with Azure Mobile Apps including:

  • Staging slots for deployment

  • WebJobs
  • Traffic Manager Support
  • Better Scale Options

These services have been part of Azure Web Sites for a while and now are extended into the Azure Mobile Service as they become integrated into the new service.

Azure Logic Apps – Brand New Service

Logic Apps represent a cloud based business process workflow solution for orchestrations across Azure services and external SAAS services.  Logic Apps act as a distributed business process workflow solution that can integrate activities, actions and triggers across cloud services. 

The connectors available include the key Azure services as well as external services.

In addition, you can use standard web protocols such as FTP, HTTP, SMTP, etc. to trigger actions or send messages within your workflow.

API Apps – Create Your Own APIs and Monetize Them

The connectors above are a type of the new API App.  API Apps allow you to create your own APIs and monetize them.  You can write APIs using a variety of technologies (ASP.NET, Java, Node.JS, Python) and you can leverage the existing APIs and connectors provided by Microsoft to create super APIs that integrate and extend these existing connections.

Your APIs can be published to a gallery that can be either private to your organization or public to be consumed by third party developers.  The Azure Marketplace now supports selling of APIs as a new service for partners.

New Azure API Tools for Visual Studio

With all these new services, there is also a new Azure SDK that supports these new tools.  This includes creating new Azure API App templates and a new API App consumption feature that generates client code for accessing the APIs automatically for you. 

Add Client Dialog

Solution Explorer With Generated Code

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Azure Web Sites Shared No Longer Scales Instances in Azure App Service

As part of the launch of the new Azure App Service, all your existing web sites from Azure Web Sites are now migrated to Azure App Service plans.  In my case, because I was running my web site on 2 Shared instances, it migrated each instance to a separate app service plan – Default 1 and Default 2 (there doesn’t seem to be any way to rename these plans at the moment).

In the old Azure portal, you can manually scale up or down the number of instances from 1 to 10 in Shared mode. 

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However, at least in Shared mode, this scaling up/down capability has now been removed – you are limited to a single instance. 

However, if you go to the old portal (e.g. www.azure.com portal) you can still scale up or down and it works the same as before.

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DocuSign Now Available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

DocuSign is an esignature solution that automates the collection of signatures for legally binding documents.

DocuSign is now available as a solution to be installed into Dynamics CRM online or on premise.  When you enable the solution, you can send documents such as contracts or legal agreements out for signature or sign them yourself from within the Dynamics CRM user experience.

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New Features Coming to Dynamics CRM in Spring 2015

Microsoft is preparing to launch a new update to Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Marketing, targeted for Spring 2015.  You can find a list of the new features here.

New features include:

  • Improved navigation

  • Improved Excel integration
  • Embedded integration with OneNote
  • Track email by folder
  • Improved mobile interface
  • Double opt-in for email marketing
  • Duplicate detection for email records
  • Improved integration between Dynamics Marketing and Dynamics CRM
  • Improved interface for monitoring social activity and sentiment

The following video provides a tour of the new navigation.

In a similar way to Office 365, customers will be able to update based on their own schedule through Microsoft’s “customer driven” update process.

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Azure CDN now Integrates with Azure Media Services

Azure CDN is Microsoft’s global content delivery network.  It has a set of local nodes around the world that provide faster local access to content around the world.  Azure CDN has supported content delivery of blob storage content (e.g. files) and Azure Web Sites.

Microsoft has just announced that Azure CDN will now support integration with Azure Media Services.  The CDN acts as a local cache for your video content as it is streamed to your audience around the world.  By moving content close to the user, performance and reliability of your streaming content is improved.

Blog1 CDN global map - storage to CDN to users.pdf-Manling-D

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Azure ExpressRoute Support for Office 365 Coming Soon

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Microsoft has a service called Azure ExpressRoute which provides organizations with the ability to create private, dedicated network connections to the cloud.  With ExpressRoute, you can extend your on premise data center to the cloud through a high performance, dedicated network connection.

Starting later this year, Microsoft will support connect to Office 365 through an Azure ExpressRoute

ExpressRoute delivers the benefits of public cloud, while surpassing the network reliability and privacy of the Internet. It is a great option for organizations that require premium, managed connectivity to their productivity services. You can define all aspects of your network connectivity provider’s connection from Microsoft to your users, helping ensure predictable network performance and availability. You can also use multiple ExpressRoute providers to establish ExpressRoute circuits in different geographic locations for additional redundancy and geo-resiliency.

For those organizations looking to build out hybrid implementations of Azure and Office 365, this is a welcome addition to the service.

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