New content in the Microsoft Press Guided Tours app: Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Automation


NOTE: The Microsoft Press Guided Tours app has been discontinued and is no longer available in the Windows Store. If you have already installed the app, you can continue to use it for as long as you like. All the tours will remain available for download from within the app.

The free Microsoft Press Guided Tours app is newly updated on Windows Store! The newest tour on our growing list is “Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Automation.”

In this Windows Store app, Microsoft Press authors provide insightful coverage of new and evolving Microsoft technologies. You can use the app to explore technical topics in powerful new ways, and you can mark up content in multiple ways so that it’s more useful to you.

The following nine free guided tours are included in our app – and more are coming soon!

  • Building cloud apps with Microsoft Azure (including best practices for DevOps, data storage, high availability, and more), by Scott Guthrie, Mark Simms, Tom Dykstra, Rick Anderson, and Mike Wasson
  • Programming Windows Store apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by author Kraig Brockschmidt
  • Using Microsoft Azure HDInsight, by Avkash Chauhan, Valentine Fontama, Michele Hart, Wee Hyong Tok, and Buck Woody
  • Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure, by Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan
  • Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Machine Learning, by Jeff Barnes
  • Introducing Windows 10 for IT Professionals, Preview Edition, by Ed Bott
  • Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking, by Microsoft TechNet and the Cloud Platform Team; Series Editor: Mitch Tulloch
  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager Field Experience, by Danny Hermans, Uwe Stürtz, Mihai Sarbulescu; Series Editor: Mitch Tulloch
  • Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Automation, by Michael McKeown

Download from Windows Store

Look for additional tours in the near future. Learn more about the app’s features in this previous blog post. More details on contents included in this newest tour are below.

Additionally, we’re very interested in feedback about our app! Check out this blog post to learn how you can influence the direction of our app going forward. Thank you!

Introduction

This guided tour 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 guided tour 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 tour explores uses of some of those sample runbooks.

Who should take this tour

This guided tour 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.

Assumptions

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 guided tour 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 guided tour 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.

Organization of this tour

This guided tour includes seven sections, 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.

Acknowledgments

I’d like to thank the following people. Jeff Nuckolls, my manager at Aditi, who encouraged me to do this for personal growth. Charles Joy of Microsoft, who helped me get started with Azure Automation and took time to help me work through some tough issues. Joe Levy, who gave me some technical guidance to ensure I was both correct and current. And, my wife and faithful support, Tami, and my kids, Kyle, Brittany, Hap, Mikey, and Wiggy, who put up with me working all the time to get this done. Oh yeah, and so as not to offend any other family support, I might as well thank my Husky, SFD, and my two rabbits, Ting and Chesta.

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