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Showing posts from August, 2019

DevOps tooling in the Microsoft realm

When I really started to dive into automation and practicing DevOps with specific tooling, there were a few key players. At the time Microsoft was not one of them. They were just starting to embrace the open source world, including the art and practice of DevOps. Since then Microsoft has went all in and the tech giant has made some incredible tooling. Recently I switched to a Microsoft-heavy environment and I love it. I went from AWS/Python/Ansible/Jenkins to Azure/PowerShell/ARM/Azure DevOps. My first programming language was PowerShell so being back in the saddle allowed me to do a full circle between all of the different types of tooling in both worlds. Today I want to share some of that tooling with you.

The first thing I want to talk about is ARM. What is ARM? ARM is a configuration management tool that allows you to perform software-defined-infrastructure. Much like Ansible and Terraform, ARM allows you to define what you want your environment to look like at scale. With ARM, yo…

Azure DevOps Microsoft-hosted build agents and self-hosted build agents

What is a build agent in Azure DevOps? If you head over to one of your release pipelines and edit the tasks, you'll see "Agent job" and in that portion is an Agent pool. This agent pool is how you're deploying your code. If you're using a hosted agent, Microsoft is taking doing the care and feeding of the agent for you. Your hosted agent pool may change, whether you're deploying to OS X or Windows, OS X, or Linux.

Today we're going to create our own agent build with a Windows 10 build machine. Let's get started!

1) Windows 10 (a VM if you have one would be great)
2) An Azure DevOps account
3) Admin rights to your Azure DevOps portal

The first thing we're going to do is head over to our Azure DevOps portal and create a new PAT token within our project. Click the icon with your initials on the top right of your screen and choose "security".

Next let's choose "New Token". For your scope choose "Agent Pools…

Create new work items with Excel for Azure DevOps

It's no secret that practicing DevOps is just as much of a business position as it is a technical position. We have a very specific job to do - ship the product and ship it fast to stay ahead of competition. To successfully do so, we must plan our work and collaborate properly. If you're using Boards in Azure DevOps to track your tickets, you may be excited to know that there's a great Excel extension called "azure devops standalone office integration" that'll actually allow you to create work items right from Excel and publish those tickets to Azure DevOps. Let's get started!

The first thing you'll need to do is have Excel (at least Office 2010) installed and the Team Foundation Server Standalone Office Integration (

After you have that let's go ahead and open up Excel and head over to the "team" tab.

Next thing we want to do is click on "New List"

Let's go ahe…

Using the AZ CLI for managing CI/CD in Azure DevOps

Once upon a time there was VSTS and with VSTS was the VSTS CLI. Microsoft has since then evolved and with evolution comes a new CLI! The AZ CLI now has a DevOps extension and although it isn't as feature-rich as the UI, it's still great to use. Let's have a look.

The first thing you'll need to do is confirm you have AZ CLI with at least version v2.0.49, the DevOps extension, and Visual Studio Code.

To install the AZ CLI:

To install the AZ CLI DevOps Extension:

Once you have those two components installed we're now ready to move on.

First things first - What can we do with the DevOps extension? Let's have a look at the help.

As you can see we can do a few things managerial/configuration tasks. The key thing I want us to take a look at is the "Related Groups". The key thing here is the pipelines portion of the extension:…

Run PowerShell code with Ansible on a Windows Host

Ansible is one of the Configuration Manager kings in the game. With it's easy-to-understand syntax and even easier to use modules, Ansible is certainly a go-to when you're picking what Configuration Management you want to use for your organization. Your question may be "but Ansible is typically on Linux and what happens when I'm in a Windows environment?". Luckily I'm here to tell you that Ansible will still work! I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to use Ansible on Windows with a little WinRM magic. Let's get started.

Pre-requisites for this post:
1) WinRM set up to connect to your Windows host from Ansible
2) Ansible set up for Windows Remote Management
3) SSH access to the Ansible host
4) Proper firewall rules to allow WinRM (port 5985) access from your Ansible host to your Windows host
5) Hosts file set up in Ansible that has your IP or hostname of your Windows Server.
6) At least one Linux host running Ansible and one Windows Server host …