Microsoft Innovation Summit

Pic: National Monument (Malaysia)

On 2nd April, Microsoft hosted Microsoft Innovation Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia & I got an opportunity to talk about Microsoft Azure Platform services which sets up the foundation for AI services. For example using Platform Services to host applications powered by Cognitive Services. This is just one scenario and I see endless possibilities. It was a pleasure to talk about and demo these services.
Here, I’m sharing the slide deck used for this talk.

Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar (MAY10)

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Ignite – The Tour, Singapore


Pic: Colorful Skies, Singapore. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S8

So far, 2019 has been fantastic. I got a chance to speak at a local meetup for Azure DevOps Launch and also got a chance to speak about Graph APIs at Ignite, The Tour.

Along with Abbas Kudrati (Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft Australia), I delivered a session about Microsoft Graph: API for Microsoft 365. The slides for this session are on Slideshare. Even though I’ve code-samples on my GitHub, I’ll recommend checking resources on graph.microsoft.com. Those will be frequently updated with the latest SDK releases.

The original session was delivered by Product Team in Ignite and the recording is available here on YouTube

I hope the audience enjoyed the session, because we did :)

Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar

Azure DevOps Launch


Pic: Walking Paths, Singapore. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S8

This Saturday, 12th January, I got a chance to talk about Azure DevOps at a local meetup. The event was about Azure DevOps Launch & the session was about CI/CD and the title for my session was:
Let’s Build LOLSystems : Complete CI/CD in Action. LOL-System is a custom I bought for my fictitious company used for demo purpose. I showed how we can setup CI/CD for ASP.NET Core application in Azure DevOps and deploy it to Azure Web Apps.

Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar

Let’s monitor that cloud!

Cloud everywhere.
Pic: Cloud Everywhere, Singapore. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S8

It can’t be just a coincidence that recently many of my friends expressed interest in monitoring how their teams are using their cloud subscription. And yet, all of them have a valid problem to worry about! Let’s talk about this problem, scenario, and solution in this last blog post of 2018 :)

Problem:

A subscription is shared with the team or each member has a separate subscription. Anyone can create any kind of resources (e.g. Virtual Machines, Storage Accounts, Network Security Groups, Web or Application Services, etc…). Even though there are policies and access restrictions which can be forced in Azure Portal, sometimes Administrators or Support engineers require (or literally they ask for) ‘God Mode’ with full access to play around, explore services or fix some things. In this case, monitoring these activities happened in ‘god mode’ & quick remediation or reversal is important before any damage happens.

Scenario:

Sometimes, developers often need to create resources to try out things. For example, they may want to create a Storage Account. Now, we want to enforce rules around Storage Account and make sure that the created Storage Account is accessible only via HTTPs protocol. Or let’s say Network Admin creates a Network Security Group (NSG) and in that case, the policy is to disable or enable specific ports or protocols (UDP/TCP/etc).

Solution:

I consider Azure Services as Lego blocks. You can mix and match and use them together as and when required. In this case, there are multiple ways to handle this scenario and possibly many more. There could be operations team managing this infrastructure using their custom tools. However, being a developer, I’ll focus on two solutions from a developer’s point of view. And I can see there are two easy solutions:

(1) Whenever a resource is created (or executed like Logic App trigger) or modified or deleted within a subscription, a record is maintained at subscription level and resource group level. This log can be further exported to different Azure services to take action. For example, it can be exported (or streamed) to Event Hub for event publishing.

(2) Using Azure Monitor set up a trigger to such records (create, update, delete resources) and take action (Notify by Email/Text, call Logic App, Functions, etc…)

Once these pipelines are set up, these services (Event Hub/Activity Log) will send data in JSON format which can be used to track down what has happened.

This JSON has required information like resource id and resource type. In this case, I’m using Logic App to parse this JSON and accordingly call respective Azure Function which will take the action (by calling Azure Functions). I’m considering two scenarios here. (A) when new Storage Account is created and (B) when new Network Security Group is created/modified with Rules. But there can be many such scenarios!

Now according to the case (NSG/Storage Account), it will call the Azure Function. To modify the resources in subscription, I’m using Fluent APIs which makes life much easier. For example the following code creates a VM using Fluent APIs in US East Region within rgName provided:

Using these Fluent APIs, let’s write Azure Function which will monitor newly created Storage Account and make sure that it is accessible only with HTTPs protocol.

In the above code

storageAccount?.Update().WithOnlyHttpsTraffic().Apply(); 

makes sure that Storage Account is accessible with HTTPs protocol only.

One last thing before executing this function or enabling Logic App, give permission to this Azure Function to modify resources. It can be done by creating and passing service principal or by using Managed Identity option. More details are here on this blog post.  Managed Identity helps to avoid storing credentials in code.

Once this setup is complete, whenever Storage Account or Network Security Group is created, modified & updated, the Logic App will execute and call the respective Azure Function.

Conclusion

Using these various Azure Services, it is possible to monitor the subscription and perform actions on resources as per the rules. This makes governance easier. The sample and code used for Azure Functions in this blog post is available on GitHub here. Clone it and follow the steps there to deploy and run it in Azure subscription.

AI Future Now Event Update

Last week, i.e. on 7th November, I delivered a session at Microsoft AI Future Now event in Singapore. The session was titled as ‘Microsoft Azure – The Best Platform for AI Development‘. The idea behind this session was to showcase fundamental services which Microsoft Azure provides, on top of which other services can be *hosted*.  The session was a primer for the next session delivered by my friend Puneet on Bot Framework & Cognitive Services Deep Dive.

In this session, I covered App Services which can be used to host applications using different Azure Services like Cognitive Services or web application serving Chat bots. I also talked about Azure Serverless Platform and use cases where Cognitive Service can be used to read the receipt and attach the expense details to respective expense report. 

The slides for this session are available on Slideshare and demo for serverless is covered in my webinar on serverless platform which can be accessed from here

Once again, thanks for making this session houseful. Looking forward to see you at next Microsoft community event. 

Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar

I have a dream

I have a dream. A dream of using my machine with seamless background updates without worrying about the restarts. A dream of using any device without worrying about drivers. A dream to connect projectors, speakers, power plugs without carrying additional adapters. A dream to connect my headphones to any phone, any in-flight system without thinking about splitters and connectors. A dream to use a single USB spec cable with all devices. A dream to collaborate with my colleagues without thinking about collaborating software (and its resource utilization). I have a dream.

Collaboration: Outlook, Teams, Telegram, Slack, WhatsApp, Skype, Skype for Business

i-have-a-dream-collaboration

Adapters: US, Europe, Japan, Asia and what not

photo_2018-10-11_07-23-48

Headset/Speakers: 2.5mm/3.5mm and splitter for in-flight systems

photo_2018-10-11_07-23-51

Adapters/Dongles: USB-C/Mini Display to various formats and network connections

photo_2018-10-11_07-23-54

Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar

The Case of Custom Ouf Of Office

In 2006-07, when I was writing Windows Mobile apps, I really enjoyed using MessageInterceptor type. Using that, we could build our own workflows based on Text Messaging. For example, send an SMS to the device and if SMS contains “Play”, play a song. If SMS contains “Stop”, stop playing the song. And what not. Oh, and I could say if the message is from my parents, reply “I’m in college” and if from friends reply as “I’m waiting outside the movie theater”.

However, I missed this functionality for a long time with different devices (lack of message intercepting API on some platforms). And recently I eagerly wanted to have it for the email, considering the heavy influx of emails in my new role. I got to know about Azure Logic App Service and thought, perhaps let’s go ahead and build something similar. And for me, this is a fantastic way to learn something new.

Scenario: Let’s build a solution which will read incoming email messages and if the message is from one particularly annoying friend, let’s reply with an equally annoying message. If it is from my manager, let’s reply with some positive update and if from a customer we’ll reply with actual OOF. Well, a lot of email service providers allow you to setup OOF, but it is not customizable for different emails. Outlook in Office 365 allows 2 separate OOF messages, one for members within your organization and one for outside organization. Our solution will provide more customizations.

Step 1: Create Azure Logic App Service

Navigate to Azure Portal and Create a resource. Search for Logic App and click on ‘Create’. Give it a name, select the subscription, create Resource Group and finally select a location near to you.

01. Create Logic App

Once Logic App is created, scroll down the next screen and click on ‘Blank Logic App’. This will allow you to add the logical functionality to the just created app.

02. Blank Logic App

Step 2: Design Logic App – Use Connector & Trigger

Connectors allow you to connect your logic app with the desired service. In our case, we’ll use Office 365 Outlook connector to connect to the mail service. And once you connect to the service, there will be a Trigger to activate the logic app. Again, in our case, it will be an email arriving in our inbox.

03. Logic App Connector & Trigger Webhook

Once you select the connector and trigger, sign in with your credentials and connect the email service with your logic app.

Step 3: Setup the Rule and Switch Case

On this screen select the folder in your mailbox to monitor and other aspects of the email. Click on ‘+ Next step’ and write define your logic.

04. Logic App Switch Case

Depending on the connector selected, you’ll see different options for the switch case. For example, in case of Outlook connector and Email trigger, there can be conditions to check for who has sent the email, if it has attachments, if it has importance set or if it has been sent directly to me or to any distribution list to which I’m subscribed.  These conditions will vary depending on trigger and connector.

05. Logic App Switch Options

Once the Switch is set, let’s set up the cases. Here, I’m checking if the email is from Vikram (Oh, he isn’t the annoying friend :) ) and setting up a reply for him. I can also repeat this for many more senders.

06. Logic App Case Vikram

The next one is for my manager Joao,

06. Logic App Case Joao

You can add as many cases as you want and ultimately add a default case. At the end, the logic app designer will look something like this:

06. Logic App Entire Logic

Finally, once this step is done, Run the logic app and wait for the magic to happen :)

07. Logic App Run

In this situation, if a user sends you an email and if the user falls under the cases, the user will receive the response accordingly and if not, user will receive the default response.

Conclusion:

Logic Apps Service makes it easy to write workflows and automate tasks. And even though we used Logic Apps for email workflow, there are connectors available for different services which you can find here. If this list doesn’t cover your service, you can write one on your own connector and documentation for the same is available here.
Don’t forget to ‘nuke’ the resource group once done with it or you’ll keep replying to all your emails – automagically. :)

Happy coding (or designing workflows :) ).
Namaste,
Mayur Tendulkar