Configuring Unstructured File Storage in Microsoft Azure

There are a number of storage options available in Microsoft Azure, including blobs, tables, and queues. There are also various versions of SQL available in both Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Recently Microsoft announced the availability of Azure Files, which is designed for unstructured data that can be access via SMB. This is a wonderful new feature that will greatly enhance the IaaS solution, as having a native Azure storage option for things like scripts, configuration files, and software that can be access via file share in the cloud will streamline things greatly. No more having to configure a dedicated file server VM! For more information about Azure Files, read my latest article on CloudComputingAdmin.com here.

Creating Custom Base Images in Microsoft Azure

Deconstructing Forefront TMG 2010 Firewall Client Operation and Communication

The Firewall Client, an optional client-side component that can be deployed with Forefront TMG 2010, is arguably the most powerful tool a security administrator can use to control network traffic destined for the public Internet in their organization. The Firewall Client provides seamless and transparent proxy services for all Winsock TCP and UDP communication. More importantly, all Firewall Client communication is authenticated, allowing TMG administrators to enforce strong user and group based access control on traffic using the Firewall Client. In this month’s article on ISAserver.org I provide detailed information about how the Firewall Client works. I also break down how communication takes place at the network level, providing deep insight as to how the Firewall Client communicates with the TMG firewall.

Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2014

I’m very happy to announce that I have been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for 2014! This is my sixth consecutive year receiving this award from Microsoft, and I’m proud and honored to be included with the great group of professionals associated with this program. I’m looking forward to joining all of my fellow MVPs again at this year’s summit in November. Hope to see you there!

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2014

Creating Custom Base Images for Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines

Creating virtual machines in Microsoft Azure is simple and straightforward. There are countless preconfigured virtual machine images to choose from for both Windows and Linux platforms. Also available are pre-defined workloads like SharePoint, SQL Server, and many others. But what if you want to deploy a virtual machine in Azure using your own deployment image? Well, Azure supports creation and deployment of virtual machine on their cloud platform using your own pre-configured images. Read my latest article on CloudComputingAdmin.com to find out more.

Creating Custom Base Images in Microsoft Azure

Techniques for Blocking Anonymous Public Proxies using Forefront TMG 2010

I’ve spent the better party of the last 16 years implementing and managing edge security and remote access solutions for some of the largest organizations in the world. With a lot of experience enforcing Internet access policies, I can tell you from experience that users will try anything to circumvent those restrictions. One of the most common methods of avoiding in place access controls is public anonymous proxy servers. In this month’s ISAserver.org article I’ll demonstrate a few techniques for preventing public anonymous proxy server access using Forefront TMG 2010.

Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010

SQL Database Options in Microsoft Azure

One of my favorite things about the Microsoft Azure public cloud is the SQL database options that are available. Whenever I’m building a test lab that requires an SQL database, in the past it would take quite a long time to get a VM provisioned and SQL installed and configured. Also, with limited local resources, my test lab SQL servers were often significantly underpowered. With Azure-hosted SQL databases, that’s no longer a problem. I can provision a Windows Server 2012 R2 VM with whatever version of SQL I require in just a few minutes. In addition, I’m no longer constrained by local resources. Now I routinely provision very powerful VMs, typically with at least 8 cores and 14GB of RAM, which makes testing much easier. Microsoft Azure also features SQL database as a service options too, which doesn’t require provisioning a VM. This works quite well in many cases. For more information about SQL database options in Microsoft Azure, be sure to read my latest article on CloudComputingAdmin.com.

Configure a Windows Server 2012 R2 Lab in Microsoft Azure

Configure a Windows Server 2012 R2 Test Lab in Microsoft Azure

I’ve really enjoyed working with Microsoft Azure over the last few years. The service continues to add new features at a rapid pace, and I’m finding myself using Azure virtual machines much more frequently that in the past. Recently I decided to configure a full, standalone Windows Server 2012 R2 lab hosted entirely in Azure. The first challenge I faced was configuring the domain controller. As it turns out, there are a few things you have to do to make it work. Read my latest article in CloudComputingAdmin.com to find out the details.

Configure a Windows Server 2012 R2 Lab in Microsoft Azure