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Any tips on how to develop for Azure Automation without actually relying on the service?

    Question

  • I'm currently authoring runbooks for the purposes of running in Azure Automation. Traditionally when doing POSH development I've used desktop tools such as PowerGUI/Powershell ISE however Azure Automation is a slightly different kettle of fish. I know that I can author workflows OK however one thing I don't know how to ape is Azure Automation Assets.

    For example, I intend to have a Variable asset to hold a value that my runbook will need. I don't know of a way to create such assets outside of Azure Automation. Is there a way?

    Any advice much appreciated.

    thanks
    Jamie

    Thursday, August 14, 2014 12:24 PM

All replies

  • Hi Jamie,

    Currently this would require hardcoding the asset in the workflow before moving it to Azure Automation. Once moved, you could replace it with an asset.

    Once the rest of the Azure Automation cmdlets come out, we plan to publish out a guide on authoring runbooks using the ISE, including using "emulated" automation activities (for the assets) in the ISE.

    This guide / emulated automation activities solution will be very similar to the one published for Service Management Automation. Service Management Automation (SMA) is essentially Azure Automation delivered onprem as part of System Center 2012 R2. That may be a good place to start in terms of learning about some of the best practices, although the EmulatedAutomationActivities module talked about there will not work for Azure Automation.

    Stay tuned, in the coming months we'll publish the Azure Automation ISE authoring guide + EmulatedAutomationActivities module.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:52 PM
  • I posted a similar question over at StackOverflow. Looks like Joe Levy responded to that also. To be honest, it doesn't seem like Azure Automation is realistically usable at all right now, until there is sufficient documentation (not including random blog posts) on how to develop around it. I understand that the feature is still in development, but there should be at least some basic, reference documentation around how the platform works, limitations of it, and so on.

    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/25342472/write-debug-azure-automation-runbook-in-powershell-ise

    Aside from a random blog post from Keith Mayer, I really have little idea how to use Azure Automation yet, though I am trying to understand it so that I can share knowledge with customers. I hope Microsoft is committed to helping consultants, MVPs, and partners understand the technology at a deeper level than surface knowledge. I am getting the impression, on an array of recent Microsoft technologies, that this is not the case.

    Cheers,
    Trevor Sullivan
    Microsoft MVP: PowerShell


    If this post was helpful, please click the little "Vote as Helpful" button :)

    Trevor Sullivan
    Trevor Sullivan's Tech Room
    Twitter Profile

    Monday, August 18, 2014 10:22 PM
  • Hi Jamie,

    Currently this would require hardcoding the asset in the workflow before moving it to Azure Automation. Once moved, you could replace it with an asset.

    Thanks Joe. I suspect you realise that this is far from ideal. We have an automated single-click deployment mechanism so anything that involves manual modification of a deployed runbook is a no-no for us.

    Once the rest of the Azure Automation cmdlets come out, we plan to publish out a guide on authoring runbooks using the ISE, including using "emulated" automation activities (for the assets) in the ISE.

    This guide / emulated automation activities solution will be very similar to the one published for Service Management Automation. Service Management Automation (SMA) is essentially Azure Automation delivered onprem as part of System Center 2012 R2. That may be a good place to start in terms of learning about some of the best practices, although the EmulatedAutomationActivities module talked about there will not work for Azure Automation.

    Stay tuned, in the coming months we'll publish the Azure Automation ISE authoring guide + EmulatedAutomationActivities module.

    Looking forward to that stuff. I'll put that on the list of AA stuff I'm waiting for. That list now stands at:

    • Azure Automation ISE authoring guide + EmulatedAutomationActivities module
    • New-AzureAutomationAccount cmdlet
    • Cmdlets for deploying assets.
    • When does AA go GA?

    I keep asking a very specific question about this which you seem to keep ducking but I'm going to ask it again anyway :), you keep talking about the "coming months", can you give any indication at all about when this stuff is coming out?

    Thanks
    Jamie



    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 7:46 AM
  • Hi Trevor,

    Personally I would rather them put it out there for us to play with (which is what they appear to have done) rather than wait until the documentation is ready. I'm enjoying building up my bank of knowledge before it hits GA. That said, I'm eager to see some enhancements soon (see list above).

    Just my two-penneth worth.

    JT


    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 7:50 AM
  • Hi Trevor,

    Personally I would rather them put it out there for us to play with (which is what they appear to have done) rather than wait until the documentation is ready. I'm enjoying building up my bank of knowledge before it hits GA. That said, I'm eager to see some enhancements soon (see list above).

    Just my two-penneth worth.

    JT


    Overall, I agree. There is a balance between being prerelease and being semi-usable. I would be interested in seeing what you have done with it so far, if you're willing to share.

    Cheers,
    Trevor Sullivan
    Microsoft MVP: PowerShell


    If this post was helpful, please click the little "Vote as Helpful" button :)

    Trevor Sullivan
    Trevor Sullivan's Tech Room
    Twitter Profile

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 1:16 PM
  • Overall, I agree. There is a balance between being prerelease and being semi-usable. I would be interested in seeing what you have done with it so far, if you're willing to share.

    Lots of noodling around. I hope to compile into a blog post at some point! Biggest learning point so far is don't assume that the cmdlets you know and love work the same way when used in a workflow!
    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 1:20 PM
  • Yes, realizing runbooks are PowerShell Workflow and not PowerShell seems to be the biggest thing our users need to know - once they know that they can make sure whatever they are doing works in PowerShell Workflow, and if it does it should work in an Azure Automation runbook. From there it is all about the PowerShell Workflow documentation, which there is a lot of between technical docs and blog posts, but of course we have a variety of documents for Azure Automation as well:

    Getting Started Guide 

    Automation Documentation

    Authoring Automation Runbooks 

    Plus our samples and community content and blog posts 

    That said, this is a new, preview service. It is meant to be previewed. Over time, more features, documentation, samples, blog posts, and tools will be released to make things easier and clearer.

    Jamie on your asks, the first three are all related and will be released by GA.

    • Azure Automation ISE authoring guide + EmulatedAutomationActivities module
    • New-AzureAutomationAccount cmdlet
    • Cmdlets for deploying assets.

    As for this one, the reason I keep ducking an exact answer is because I cannot give an exact date, unfortunately.

    • When does AA go GA?

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 7:12 PM
  • Jamie on your asks, the first three are all related and will be released by GA.

    • Azure Automation ISE authoring guide + EmulatedAutomationActivities module
    • New-AzureAutomationAccount cmdlet
    • Cmdlets for deploying assets.

    As for this one, the reason I keep ducking an exact answer is because I cannot give an exact date, unfortunately.

    • When does AA go GA?

    Yes, I fully expected that, but you can't blame me for trying :)

    Thanks for all your great responses to my questions so far Joe.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 9:15 PM