Inbox Zero – How I (still) do it after about 10 years…

Introduction

A bit less than 10 years ago I posted about “Inbox Zero“. Though for as long as I’ve known the concept, I’ve been an avid fan/believer of it. Over the course of the years, I’ve evangelized about the concept to many, where a lot of people typically asked me : “Isn’t that really time-consuming?!?”. My answer has always been ; “It is a habit… And indeed, you invest a bit of time into it, though the gains of not having to pick up the same email(s) over and over again is where you easily win!”.

 

Theory

The basic premise of Inbox Zero is that your inbox is at all times.. EMPTY!

For a lot of people this seems impossible to achieve, though you realize this by going though the following flow for each mails that comes in… at the time it comes in. So yes, you “immediately” (as in the moment you open your mailbox) process all new mails. How do you do that, by the following rule set…

  1. Do I/we need to care?
    1. No, Delete.
    2. Yes. Great! Is the mail something I should do?
      1. No, Delegate (forward).
      2. Yes. Interesting! Can I reply in less than 2-3 minutes?
        1. Yes, Respond (reply).
        2. No, Defer (flag for follow-up). => And schedule times to where you’ll focus on burning through your “backlog” (read: deferred mails), so Do.

 

Practical Guidance

That sounds quite simple to do? So why don’t we all do it?!? From what I’ve seen, it starts with not knowing / being taught the system. And on the other had, it also requires a given level of discipline / organization to achieve it. Though in my mind, it can be accomplished by all if you are just given a bit of practical guidance. That’s what we’ll be talking about today!

Continue reading “Inbox Zero – How I (still) do it after about 10 years…”

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Azure Subscription Management – Beyond the 101… aka The Advanced Topics

Introduction

Today’s post will cover three more advanced topics that I’ve seen surfacing on a regular basis ;

  • Transferring a Subscription versus Changing the Directory of a Subscription
  • Moving resources between subscriptions with different AAD (Azure Active Directory tenants
  • Understanding the relationships between components when leveraging an Enterprise Agreement (EA)
  • Various advanced scenarios on how AAD in intertwined between subscriptions & the EA

Transfer vs Change Directory

Apparently there is a bit of confusion between the “Transfer” and the “Change Directory” buttons for a subscription ;

In essence ;

Transfer Subscription = Change the Owner AND Change the Directory

What does that mean?

  • If you want to transfer the billing of a subscription, you do a “Transfer“.
    (Do note: Transferring a subscription will also change the directory to the one linked to the new owner. If this is a different one, then you’ll be linked to a new AAD Tenant.)
  • If you do not want to transfer the billing, and just change the directory, you do a “Change directory“.
    (Do note: Changing a directory will not remove the account owner. And (s)he’ll still have owner rights on it! Also be aware that all rights set linked to the previous tenant will disappear. So you’ll have to reinstate IAM. For which you can easily leverage management groups...)

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Putting Azure API Management in front of an Azure Function API

Introduction

Today’s post will be on how to expose an API hosted via an Azure function via Azure API management. So what are we going to configure today? We’ll expose the function API externally. The “user” (or client app) will authenticate with API management via a “subscription key“. Afterwards API management will call the back-end function, where it will authenticate via the function authentication code.

 

Configuration

So let’s go to our function …

Where we’ll grab the “function URL”. This contains the query parameter “code” which uses the function key as authentication.

Continue reading “Putting Azure API Management in front of an Azure Function API”

Azure : IT Governance in the cloud

Introduction

During the weekend I saw the following tweet passing by …

Apparently, a hosting company (allegedly) got all their data wiped by an ex-admin. Now I can imagine people thinking that this is something that is part of the territory when it boils down to cloud. So I wanted to write a blog post entailing what you do to set up a governance structure in Azure. Here I’m aware that the above tweet is more related to the security aspect of governance, it’s a part of it nevertheless.

 

Governance?!?

Let’s get started on our scope… IT Governance can cover a lot of ground. In essence, the goal is to assure that the investment in IT generates business value and the risks that are associated with IT projects are mitigated. Though I found that CIO.com has a nice definition on it ;

Simply put, it’s putting structure around how organizations align IT strategy with business strategy, ensuring that companies stay on track to achieve their strategies and goals, and implementing good ways to measure IT’s performance. It makes sure that all stakeholders’ interests are taken into account and that processes provide measurable results. An IT governance framework should answer some key questions, such as how the IT department is functioning overall, what key metrics management needs and what return IT is giving back to the business from the investment it’s making.

So let’s take a look at how we can put an enterprise-grade structure around the management of Azure!

 

TL;DR = Azure Enterprise Scaffold

For those who want to skip the post below… When talking about governance in Azure, the best place that summarizes it the following page in our documentation ; “The Azure Enterprise Scaffold“.

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DevOps : What’s the impact on my ITIL/COBIT/… based shop?

Introduction

When talking to customers about DevOps, I often get the two following questions ;

  • Does this mean I have to get rid of ; ITIL / COBIT / … ?
  • Do I have to start moving people around and creating new units?

The quick answer is ; No.

A typical parabel in any project methodology is  ;

How do you eat an elephant? Take snack sized bites and work your way through it.

And the same goes for DevOps!

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Rancher : Docker Lifecycle Management – Or how to upgrade containers?

Introduction

It’s all fun & games to create & deploy containers. And the “pets vs cattle” thingie is also cool… Though what about the lifecycle management? That’s something we’ll be handling today!

What will we be doing today?

  • Create a small dummy container
  • Setup a source respository (at BitBucket) for that dummy container
  • Setup an automated build (linked to the source repository) on your docker hub respository
  • Deploy a service on rancher
  • Update the source
  • Upgrade the service to the latest version
  • Enjoy life even more!

What will already need to be setup?

Continue reading “Rancher : Docker Lifecycle Management – Or how to upgrade containers?”

Xmas Tech Cookbook : Docker Swarm & Rancher Walkthrough

Objectives of this post

  • Install Docker on all machines
  • Setup a Docker Swarm
  • Setup Rancher to manage the lot

docker-swarm-020-5-638.jpg

Test Scenario

For this walkthrough I’ll be using 4 x Azure A0 Machines with Ubuntu 14.04TLS on them. Three of those will serve as docker hosts and one will be my Rancher management tooling. The docker hosts will be put into a swarm. For easy reference (and as a basic enterprise simulation), I’ve setup my docker hosts in a seperate subnet compared to the rancher.

Continue reading “Xmas Tech Cookbook : Docker Swarm & Rancher Walkthrough”