Creating SPNs [Service Principal Names], Service Plans, Azure Web Apps

Every time I deploy a webapp, via VSTS or Octopus, service principal creation process and web app deployment is assumed to be manual and requires to be configured in advance of deployment process. There is always a drop down without allowing you put new service principal name,  and a web app name. [Hope this will change soon, and this post will be unnecessary :)] The meetup demos I attend, the same as well as the msdn documentations don’t mind showing how to add these manually.

However our Azure governance model is Functional Pattern, requires one subscription per environment, and one SPN per resource group, I should be able to create SPN per each environment automatically from scratch to automate our pipeline, plus I don’t like doing things manually…

VSTS Services Octopus Accounts

Part I: Creating SPNs

So, what is an SPN? Think of service accounts. For each application [essentially an identifier Uri], you create a service principal, with a password [or a certificate], and a homepage url.
Azure has RBAC, so you can set any level of permission to any object/user. In basic, it has “Reader”, “Contributor” and “Admin” permissions. For simplicity I will use Contributor role within a specific ResourceGroup. You may want to set a granular permission on the resource group, such as creating app service plans, website by a different service principal, or you may say “Sky is the limit” you can have your role definitions too! Check out the msdn site for role definitions.

Part II: Creating Service Plan and WebApps

For each web application, we need a service plan, like a hosting plan to define:
– Region (West US, East US, etc.),
– Scale count (one, two, three instances, etc.)
– Instance size (Small, Medium, Large)
– SKU (Free, Shared, Basic, Standard, Premium)
And we will deploy our webapp on a service plan with the service principal we have created. The nice thing is Get-AzureRmWebAppPublishingProfile gives you all the deployment account details it has just created [if you are thinking of other deployment methods].
And, one thing we found useful was to set ‘AppServiceUse32BitWorkerProcess’ to true. [Shanselman has a great post about it!]


PowerShell Vaccine for the CyberAttack NotPetya

Ok, another cyber-attack…
Ransomware Petya utilises EternalBlue vulnerability [the same WannaCry used], targeting people who have not done the patch. EternalBlue, exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft’s SMB protocol, and Microsoft has been published Security Bulletin. Find your patch here:

Or, there is a quick fix:
As announced this morning on BBC website, there is a vaccine, not to kill, but at least stop the ransomware cyber-attack, so called: NotPetya/Petya/Petna/SortaPetya 🙂 Here is the PowerShell version to help you, just put the server names and enter the credentials to the prompt!

function Protect-Perfc {
    param ([Array]$ServerList, [PSCredential]$PSCredential)
    $scriptBlock= {

        function Set-PerfcFile {
            param ([string]$File )

            if (Test-Path -Path $File){
                Write-Output "Item exists"
            else {
                Write-Output "Item does not exist. Creating"
                New-Item -Path $File -Force -ItemType File
            Write-Output "Setting the item readonly property:"

            if (Get-ItemProperty $File -Name IsReadOnly)
                Write-Output "Item is already readonly"
            else {
                Write-Output "Item is not readonly, setting"
                Set-ItemProperty -Path $File -Name IsReadOnly -Value $true
            Write-Output "File ready as readonly: "
            Get-ItemProperty  $file -Name IsReadonly

        Set-PerfcFile "C:\Windows\perfc"


    $serverList| %{ if (Test-Wsman -ComputerName $_  -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) {
            write-output "WinRM is enabled $_ . Adding to the list."
            else {
            write-output "WinRM is not enabled on $_ . Run 'winrm quickconfig' to enable "
    Write-Output "These servers will be protected"

    Invoke-Command -ScriptBlock $ScriptBlock -Credential $Credential -ComputerName $AccessList
    Write-Output "Finished the protection process"
$Serverlist= @("computer1", "computer2")
$Credential = Get-Credential
Protect-Perfc -ServerList $Serverlist -Credentials $Credential

TeamCity running on Docker

One of the sessions at JaxLondon, Paul Stack mentioned they were running TeamCity on containers at HashiCorp. Because I am doing quite a number of trainings, demos, talks about Continuous Delivery, having the CI server/agents portable and containerised is a big win for me. After I saw JetBrains has the official docker image [for the server and the agents] at DockerHub, I decided to do it sooner, than later.
There are quite things I will cover to have a good touch on containers.

Step1: Setup:
I will use docker’s Mac Toolbox to create TeamCity server and agents. There will be 2 folders required on my host for TeamCity server: data folder, and logs folder to be introduced as volumes to the server container.

Step2: Creating VirtualBox VMs:

I have my Mac Toolbox installed on Mac. Why not Docker-for-Mac, purely I want to rely on VirtualBox to manage my machines, and keep environment variables for Virtualbox VMs.

mymac:~ demokritos$ docker-machine create --driver virtualbox teamcityserver
mymac:~ demokritos$ docker-machine start teamcityserver
Starting "teamcityserver"... (teamcityserver) Waiting for an IP...
Machine "teamcityserver" was started.
Waiting for SSH to be available...
Detecting the provisioner...
Started machines may have new IP addresses.
You may need to re-run the `docker-machine env` command.
mymac:~ demokritos$ docker-machine env teamcityserver
export DOCKER_HOST="tcp://"
export DOCKER_CERT_PATH="/Users/demokritos/.docker/machine/machines/teamcityserver" export DOCKER_MACHINE_NAME="teamcityserver"
# Run this command to configure your shell: # eval $(docker-machine env teamcityserver)
mymac:~ demokritos$ eval $(docker-machine env teamcityserver)

Step2: Create and share our volumes:

We need to create folders, give permission to our group [my user is in wheel group], and share folder with docker. You can see `stat $folder` to display the permissions.

mymac:~ demokritos$ sudo mkdir -p /opt/teamcity_server/logs
mymac:~ demokritos$ sudo mkdir -p /data/teamcity_server/datadir
mymac:~ demokritos$ sudo chmod g+rw /opt/teamcity_server/logs
mymac:~ demokritos$ sudo chmod g+rw /data/teamcity_server/datadir

And share on Docker preferences
2 Folders to share

This will avoid errors like :
docker: Error response from daemon: error while creating mount source path ‘/opt/teamcity_server/logs’: mkdir /opt/teamcity_server/logs: permission denied.

Step3: Run the docker:

sudo docker run -it --name teamcityserver \
-e TEAMCITY_SERVER_MEM_OPTS="-Xmx2g -XX:MaxPermSize=270m \
-v /data/teamcity_server/datadir:/data/teamcity_server/datadir \
-v /opt/teamcity_server/logs:/opt/teamcity_server/logs \
-p 50004:8111 jetbrains/teamcity-server

If you get an error like :

docker: Error response from daemon: Conflict.
The container name "/teamcityserver" is already in use
by container 4143c2d13192b8020f066b13a2c033750b4ac1ac7d54e822a6b31a5f47489647.
You have to remove (or rename) that container to be able to reuse that name..

Then, if you can find them with “ps -aq”, you can remove them in your terminal, if not open a new one and remove it, i.e:

 docker rm 4143c2d13192 

There is a long discussion on moby’s github site, if you are interested in …

And TC server is ready to be configured… Next, we will set up the agents…

Installing Zabbix 3.2 on AWS Ubuntu 16.04


I had a challenge, to get my Zabbix server up and running on AWS. This initial version is on bash scripts, next versions will be smarter… Zabbix version I will install is 3.2.

A. Setup:

  • Image: Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS (HVM), SSD Volume Type – ami-a8d2d7ce
  • Type: t2.micro
  • Storage: 8 gig
  • Tag: Name = Zabbix
  • Security group:  SSH [TCP/22], Http[TCP/80] and Http[TCP/10050] for access from anywhere.

B. Installations for Zabbix Server:
#Get the updated repos and install LAMP server. Notice the ^.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install lamp-server^

Note the password for mysql as to be used later on :

$ sudo service apache2 restart
$ sudo systemctl enable apache2
$ wget
$ dpkg -i zabbix-release_3.2-1+xenial_all.deb
$ apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install zabbix-server-mysql zabbix-frontend-php
$ sudo service mysql start

To secure our sql, we need configure options. Say No to change password, Yes to the rest of others questions.

$ sudo mysql_secure_installation

We will create the database zabbix and set a new password. Keep the quotation marks. Notice, we will use the to connect mysql.

$ mysql -uroot -p 
mysql> create database zabbix character set utf8 collate utf8_bin;
mysql> grant all privileges on zabbix.* to zabbix@localhost identified by ''; mysql> quit;

We need to restore the zabbix database onto the one we created. It will prompt you to enter the  to connect the zabbix database.

$ cat /usr/share/doc/zabbix-server-mysql/create.sql.gz |
 mysql -uzabbix -p zabbix

We also need to keep the password in zabbix server configuration:

$ sudo vi /etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf
$ sudo service zabbix-server start
$ sudo update-rc.d zabbix-server enable

Change /etc/zabbix/apache.conf, uncomment the php_value for date.timezone to your relevant timezone.

$ sudo vi /etc/zabbix/apache.conf
>php_value date.timezone Europe/London

Restart the apache server:

$ service apache2 restart

Browse your http:///zabbix :
Untitled 16

Note1: If you get errors on the page:

PHP bcmath extension missing (PHP configuration parameter --enable-bcmath).
PHP mbstring extension missing (PHP configuration parameter --enable-mbstring).
PHP xmlwriter extension missing.
PHP xmlreader extension missing.</span>

Run on the server:

$ sudo apt-get install php-bcmath
$ sudo apt-get install php-mbstring
$ sudo apt-get install php-xml

Zabbix discoverer processes more than 75% busy

$ sudo vi zabbix_server.conf
sudo service zabbix-server restart
sudo service apache2 restart 

Lack of free swap space on Zabbix server

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/swapfile bs=1M count=2048
sudo chmod 600 /var/swapfile
sudo mkswap /var/swapfile
echo /var/swapfile none swap defaults 0 0 | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
sudo swapon -a 

C. Add agents to Centos/Ubuntu machines :
#Installing Zabbix agent on Ubuntu 16.04:

sudo wget
sudo dpkg -i zabbix-release_3.0-1+xenial_all.deb
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install zabbix-agent
sudo service zabbix-agent start

Installing Zabbix agent on Centos 7.3:

sudo rpm -ivh
sudo yum update
sudo yum install zabbix-agent
sudo service zabbix-agent start

Agent is not starting on Centos 7.3, Permission denied:


# tail -3 /var/log/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.log
$ cat /var/log/audit/audit.log | grep zabbix_agentd | grep denied | tail -1
type=AVC msg=audit(1494325619.250:1410): avc: denied{ setrlimit } forpid=26242 comm="zabbix_agentd" scontext=system_u:system_r:zabbix_agent_t:s0 tcontext=system_u:system_r:zabbix_agent_t:s0 tclass=process

Solution :
Get the required policy and apply the output displayed:

 sudo cat /var/log/audit/audit.log | grep zabbix_agentd | grep denied | tail -1 | sudo audit2allow -M zabbix_agent_setrlimit
******************** IMPORTANT ***********************
To make this policy package active, execute:
semodule -i zabbix_agent_setrlimit.pp</span></pre>
# sudo semodule -i zabbix_agent_setrlimit.pp
# sudo systemctl daemon-reload
# sudo systemctl start zabbix-agent

JaxDevops 2017

I had the chance to attend JaxDevOps London, here is a valuable session from Daniel Bryant about the common mistakes done for Microservices…

    1. Lust [Use the Unevaluated Latest and Greatest Tech]:
      1. Be an expert on Evaluation
      2. Spine Model: Going up the spine solves the problems, not the first step: Tools, but Practices, Principles, Values, Needs.
    2. Gluttony: Communication Lock-In
      1. Don’t rule out RPC [eg. GRPC]
      2. Stick to the Principle of Least Surprise: [Json over Https]
      3. Don’t let API Gateway murphing into EBS
      4. Check the cool tools: Mulesoft,Kong, Apigee, AWS API Gateway
    3. Greed: What Is Mine [within the Org]
      1. “We’ve decided to reform our teams around squads, chapters, and Guilds”:  Be aware of Cargo-Culting:
    4. Sloth: Getting Lazy with NFR:
      1. Ilities: “Availability, Scalability, Auditability, Testability” can be Afterthought
      2. Security: Aaron Grattafiori DockerCon2016 Talk/InfoQ
      3. Thoughtworks: AppSec & Microservices
      4. Build Pipeline:
        1. Perfromance and load testing:
          1. Gatling/JMeter
          2. Flood.IO [upload Gatling script/scale]
        2. Security Testing:
          1. FindSecBugs/OWasp dependency check
          2. Bdd-Security (Owasp Zap)/ Arachi
          3. Gaunltl /Serverspec
          4. Docker Bench for security/Clair
    5. Wrath: Blowing Up When Bad Things Happen
      1. Michael Nyard (Release It) : Turn ops to Simian Army
      2. Distributed Transactions:
        1. Don’t push transactional scope into Single Service
        2. Supervisor/Processor Manager: Erlang OTP, Akka, EIP
      3. Focus on What Matters:
        1. CI/CD
        2. Mechanical Sympathy
        3. Logging
        4. Monitoring
      4. Consider:
        1. DEIS
        2. CloudFoundry
        3. OpenShift
    6. Envy: The Shared Single Domain and (Data Store) Fallacy
      1. Know your DD:
        1. Entities
        2. Value Objects
        3. Aggregates and Roots
        4. Book:
          1. Implementing Domain-Driven Design
          2. Domain-Driven Distilled [high level]
            1. Context Mapping [Static] & Event Storming [Dynamic]
              1. infoq
              2. ziobrando
            2. Data Stores:
              1. RDBMS:
              2. Cassandra
              3. Graph -> Neo4J, Titan
              4. Support! Op Overhead
    7. Pride: Testing in the World
      1. Testing Strategies in a Microservice Architecture [Martin Fowler]
      2. Andew Morgan [Virtual API Service Testing]
      3. Service Virtualisation:
        1. Classic Ones:
          1. CA Service Virtualization
          2. Parasoft Virtualize
          3. HPE Service Virtualization
          4. IBM Test Virtualization Server
        2. New kids:
          1. [SpectoLabs] Hoverfly: Lightweight
            1. Fault Injection
            2. Chaos Monkey
          2. Wiremock
          3. VCR/BetaMax
          4. MounteBank
          5. Mirage









Getting latest workspace…

Getting the latest code from all workspaces can be time consuming, forgetting to do so can cause bigger issues…

So, here is the remedy:

There is a hard coded “d” drive to change the drive and navigate to the code source folders. If your code is on c drive you can just remove it…


get latest


I think it will be handy if it has more error handling as a report at the end, but for a quick solution, it is available…

Left somewhere up and high

If you can’t find the accountable and responsible people defined, you may find people complaining about

– the number of the emails they receive

– repeating same mistakes

– no central location for documents

simply because you are not learning from your mistakes.

Accountable people normally pay the bill of a mistake, and make sure they are not going to pay it twice. If a process is not in place, people get confused, but if they are really nice people, they will try to keep the system going without looking for an accountable.

Responsible people make sure that next time they have a smart way of doing it, at least by not repeating the same mistakes…

No accountable? No bill?
No responsible? No assigned people?

Some people enjoy this as this is an opportunity that they learn a “different task” each time. The environment is so slippy that they can be “x manager” this week, “y manager” next week. Do they know what “x manager” should do/know/implement? No…
Has their task finished? Yes, not the best one, but they managed to get it working [with silly hours of work]

So, because it is working, some people enjoy; the people suffer plays the nice guy…  because they are all nice…
If they want to object/comment/suggest, they are left somewhere up and high …

Business Model Canvas


I have ideas. Many of them actually, every day. Especially when going to sleep and just before waking up I have loads of them, so I write them down in my RTM. Every month or so I clean up this list of ideas and edit, delete, and merge them according my feelings. Some ideas make it through several of these inconsequent selections. Those ideas are the ones I’d like to develop further – inventing a business model for them to make it work. So I start writing up an executive summary of maximum 2 pages according Guy Kawasaki’s blog post and there you go; another idea that needs a business model, team, thinking, investment, etcetera.

At this point I somehow can’t seem to take things forward; shipping it. So far, I have read many management books, “VC recommendations”, and blogs about how to make your business model sustainable, to somehow “fit” into the market you want to conquer. However, all these books don’t do it for me – they all provide too much text (is a 220 page guide still helpful?) and rules of “what to do” (based on the past) and not “how to do it” (better = sustainable). I was missing a strong framework that forces me to make sense of all my loose thoughts, while focusing on the business model itself and the future, learning from past success formulas and proven strategies (we all learn from the past), but without holding on to them too much.

Since last week, I’ve been reading up on Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder (72 page preview here). This book is awesome! I was introduced to Alex by my friend Anne McCrossan about a year ago in regards to Somesso, but I didn’t get the chance to read this book until last week. Alex is a Swiss entrepreneur who teaches systematic approaches to business model innovation. The book is innovative on its own as it’s co-created by 470 other experts (not just by anyone – participants had to pay to join the dialogue). How’s that for innovation?!

This book is really easy to digest and fits well into my “low information diet”, which I wrote about earlier. In short and overseeable sections it provides an overview of the learnings from proven strategies and concepts like “blue oceans” (W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne), “the long tail” and “FREE” (Chris Anderson), multi-sided platforms and open business models. Also the business model canvas is introduced (see below), which is indeed very handy. Thanks Alex and the 470 others who helped publishing this great guide! ”

Post is by Arjen, click here if you want to read the post from the original url.

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is an important process to be carried through any project. The involvement and engagement can add value and increase the life of the projects that goes live.

Prince2 [Project Management Framework] suggests a good framework for the process:

1. Identification : Know your target people. Who is going to be affected by this project?
2. Analysis of Profiles: This creates inclusive environment where stakeholders’ points of views, influence power, conflicts, interests and tradeoffs can be elicitated. We can divide this group into 4 in the most basic form:
a. Support or oppose the project
b. Gain or lose as a result of the project delivery
c. See the project as a threat or enhancement to their position
d. Become active supporters or blockers of the project/its progress.
3. Defining strategy: The communication stragety will be defined:
a. For each profile, the method, format and frequency of the communication
b. The message sender and receipent are decided
c. What information will be communicated ?
4. Planning strategy: With the correct communicator, the negotiations’ timing and method will be planned.
5. Engaging stakeholders  ( Negotiations and Partnership): Carry out the plan.
6.Checking effectiveness (Monitoring): What are the results?

Configuration Management 100

As the subject gets more popular, and my commercial responsibilities are urging to get the best out of it, I am starting to write a series of blogs for Configuration Management[CM], often interchangeable with Change Management

In his book “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams“, Mario E. Moreira explains it as

the discipline of making changes in a planned and systematic fashion. The ultimate task is the integrity of our artifacts and activities. CM is about identification, organization and control of software to maximize productivity by minimizing mistakes.

According to IEEE , the phases for CM are:

1. Configuration Identification:
Detect Configuration Items (CIs), Name them, Acquire them,  and create a baseline
CIs can any product deliverables, corresponding plans, requirements, specifications, design, source code, executable, tools, system information.

2. Configuration Control:

a. Version Controlling: As repository starts its life, it will be changed. For each set of changes, we should know exact version of the source code. Version Controlling Systems give  a unique check-in number.

b.Change Controlling: Each request/change has a unique identifier. Through a good Incident Management process [ITIL does help a lot], it is assigned to relevant people, with detailed information about the version of the product referred, its priority, and if it is a subset of another change, the parent change, authorized by a controller.

The good thing about TFS is that Version Controlling and Change Management are nicely coupled, so for each check-in, you (may) have to tell the number of the change request[You may want to read negative parts]. This increases the traceability of the source code.

Build Management:
When a set of requirements have been fulfilled, we do build the code, and give a number for the version.
The build process includes
– Branching Strategy: Snuffybear has a good article about the strategies:

Model-1 Small Team Model using Emergency Fix Branches
This strategy is for a team of 5 or less, working from the same repository, for the same project, no need for differentiation of the source code.

Model-2 Medium Team Model using a separate developer and release branch
This is for a development team, doing development and bug fixing with different teams. A branch category is for development, and a branch category is for bug-fixing.

Model-3 Large Team Model using parallel development streams
This is for teams heavily working on new features/projects in addition to the code base.
– Continuous Integration process, which is an immediate response of the health check of the integrity of the code. Any Continuous Integration tool can be configured to do the checks for every/after x number of times of check-in/merge.

c. Release Engineering : The project is tested and we are happy to go live, then the version of the release is published, and LIVE environment gets ready for deployment. Deployment process will be another subject for my blog.

3. Configuration Status Control/Accounting:
Collect the data
Record data in a  measurable, meaningful, repeatable way.

4. Configuration Auditing:
Analyse the baseline and processes.

Any comments on the tools/processes you are (un)happy about?