Azure Private Link – What is it and how to use it

Accessing Azure PaaS services has never easier.

Azure Private link is a relatively new service that allows the users to connect to a PaaS service privately using an IP address.

You might say that this feature existed for ages with Service Endpoints which injected the PaaS service in a virtual network and allowed private connectivity towards the service without it being exposed on the internet. The main difference between the two is that Service Endpoints only injects the service in the Virtual Network and cuts off the internet connection while Private Link is a service that attaches a private IP that exists in your virtual network and you can access it using that RFC1918 IP address.

As I mentioned, before Private Link we had Azure Service Endpoints which injected the PaaS service in the delegated subnet and then the Azure gateway cut off any internet traffic towards it.

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Governance & Security in Azure – The untold truth

Moving to the cloud is “easy”; Managing it is another ordeal.

I’m going to start with a disclaimer; This post focuses on achieving governance and security in Azure; This doesn’t mean that what I’m going to write here cannot apply to AWS or Google, they have other technologies that can help you achieve full governance;

Let’s continue.

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Azure SQL Databases – DTU or vCore

Azure SQL Databases – DTU or vCore

DTU or vCore? That is the question.

When they first came as an offering a long time ago, Azure SQL Databases always had a mystery attached to them regarding the performance tier you should use.

DTU

Database Throughput Unit or DTU is a way to describe the relative capacity of a performance SKU of Basic, Standard, and Premium databases. DTUs are based on a measure of CPU, memory, I/O reads, and writes. When you want to increase the “power” a database, you just increase the number of DTUs that are allocated to that database. A 100 DTU DB is much more powerful than a 50 DTU one.

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Serverless anywhere with Kubernetes

Serverless anywhere with Kubernetes

KEDA (Kubernetes-based Event-Driven Autoscaling) is an opensource project built by Microsoft in collaboration with Red Hat, which provides event-driven autoscaling to containers running on an AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service), EKS ( Elastic Kubernetes Service), GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine) or on-premises Kubernetes clusters 😉

KEDA allows for fine-grained autoscaling (including to/from zero) for event-driven Kubernetes workloads. KEDA serves as a Kubernetes Metrics Server and allows users to define autoscaling rules using a dedicated Kubernetes custom resource definition. Most of the time, we scale systems (manually or automatically) using some metrics that get triggered.

For example, if CPU > 60% for 5 minutes, scale our app service out to a second instance. By the time we’ve raised the trigger and completed the scale-out, the burst of traffic/events has passed. KEDA, on the other hand, exposes rich events data like Azure Message Queue length to the horizontal pod auto-scaler so that it can manage the scale-out for us. Once one or more pods have been deployed to meet the event demands, events (or messages) can be consumed directly from the source, which in our example is the Azure Queue.

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Azure Security Center – Scan your container images for vulnerabilities

Do you deploy your apps in containers? Do you scan them for security vulnerabilities? No? You should.

Containers are all the rave this year and will continue in the following years; The problem that we’re going to face really soon (honeymoon effect) with the boom of containers is that security is still important even here.

What? Security around containers? “Containers are immutable and secure and don’t have moving parts and…”

Compared to a regular VM, yes containers are much more secure because they have a lower footprint but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about security. You can hack a container as simple as a simple VM. You’re running Apache, NGINX, Node? If you’re running old versions that have vulnerabilities, guess what, they can be exploited 🙂

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Container security in the Cloud. A state of uncertainty.

Container security in the Cloud. A state of uncertainty.

Thinking that you managed to escape security? Guess again.

In this post, I will focus on containers with Azure Kubernetes in mind but these examples apply to all the worlds out there -EKS, GKE, and on-premises.

Containers gained popularity because they made publishing and updating applications a straightforward process. You can go from build to release very fast with little overhead, whether it’s the cloud or on-premises, but there’s still more to do.

The adoption of containers in recent years has skyrocketed in such a way that we see enterprises in banking, public sector, and health looking into or are already deploying containers. The main difference here would be that these companies have a more extensive list of security requirements and they need to be applied to everything. Containers included.

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Running Multi-Containers in Azure Web Apps

Running a container in the cloud is quite easy these days but how about multi-web app containers?

In this post, we will find out about the multi-container feature in Azure Web Apps and how we can leverage it.

Getting started with a multi-container in Azure Web Apps is quite easy as a matter of fact; The documentation is quite good as a starting point but when we want it to in production is where the real problems start.

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Azure Proximity Placement Groups

Azure Proximity Placement Groups

This month Proximity Placement Groups have been announced as a public preview offer and this post is here to tell you about them.

For a long time, we’ve been using availability sets to bring our applications as close as possible to ensure the lowest latency possible however this scenario couldn’t always be achieved because the cloud is shared with multiple customers and you’re deploying resources in tandem with other people. This means that if you’re looking to run a latency-sensitive application in Azure then Availability Sets or Availability Zones are not always the answer.

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Azure Bastion – Managed Jump Server

Ever heard of a jump server or bastion server? No? Well then this post is for you

Before we dive into what’s Azure Bastion, we should understand how things work right now with regular jump servers or bastion hosts.

A jump server/bastion host is a virtual machine/server which sits inside a network with the purpose to allow remote access to servers and services without adding public IPs to them, thus exposing them to the internet.

Access to that jump server can be granted in numerous ways but the most common are:

  • VPN Access
  • Public Endpoint with Access Control authentication e.g., Cloudflare Access rules
  • Public Endpoint with a Just In Time solution
  • Remote Desktop Gateway access with AD Authentication

The list can go on; The idea is that the endpoint that’s used to access the production network is as secure as possible because it’s being exposed in one way or another.

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Azure Service Fabric in production -Field notes

Azure Service Fabric in production -Field notes

I’ve been holding off this post for a while now to gather more information, to figure out how things can be done better and so on. This post is a culmination of experiences I’ve had with Service Fabric, how I solved them and hopefully solve your issues before you have a disaster on your hands.

Starting from the beginning. What is Service Fabric?

Service Fabric is a distributed systems platform that makes it easy to package, deploy, and manage scalable and reliable microservices and containers. Service Fabric also addresses the significant challenges in developing and managing cloud native applications. Developers and administrators can avoid complex infrastructure problems and focus on implementing mission-critical, demanding workloads that are scalable, reliable, and manageable. Service Fabric represents the next-generation platform for building and managing these enterprise-class, tier-1, cloud-scale applications running in containers.

Source: Azure docs

That being said, I have a small list of recommendations that should be enforced in practice so that you don’t repeat the mistakes I had to repair.

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