Tag Archives: azure

Talk: Running #Azure Robustly – Granite State Code Camp #GSCC2022 – Fail and Retry

I had the opportunity to speak at the 2022 Granite State Code Camp in Manchester, NH.

The last couple of years I was more focused on Security and Compliance-enablement in Microsoft Azure. This year I focused on Robustness. When running in Azure – like other distributed system environments – failures are real and retries are a common remedy to support robust applications. In the session I discussed the need and the mechanisms, with many examples in Azure.

Here is the talk description:

Fail and Retry

Does your application reach out to services or databases over a network. Do you assume that these calls always succeed? In this talk we will cover different reasons for failures and organize them into those that make sense to retry (e.g., “transient” failures) and those that don’t. Where retrying makes sense, we’ll cover some tools and techniques to handle retries automatically, sort out how to select appropriate retry parameters depending on the scenario (e.g., batch job vs. interactive UI with a user waiting), and consider how to test such scenarios (hint: there are some tools to help force transient errors). Planned examples will include C# in Azure, but open to demonstrating other languages and platforms. You can hit me up on Twitter to request a specific scenario (https://twitter.com/codingoutloud/status/1574138969134088192), though the concepts and patterns are generic.

If you want to experience MORE AZURE please check out https://meetup.com/bostonazure (currently operating as part of “Virtual Boston Azure”).

If you are someone who would like to SPEAK at Virtual Boston Azure, please get in touch. (Twitter is a good way to reach me – I am @codingoutloud – or you can address it to @bostonazure.)


Talk: Running #Azure Securely and Compliantly – Granite State Code Camp #GSCC2021 – aka Compliance for Lazy People

Today I had the opportunity to speak at the Granite State Code Camp (#GSCC2021) in Manchester, NH. This was the first time I’ve given an in-person talk since the start of COVID and it was great to see so many smiling facing (even when partially obscured by a mask!).

Last year my focus was a more in-the-weeds talk called Running Azure Securely – which of these Azure security features are for me?. This year I stepped back a level and focused on Compliance. In the session I discussed security vs. compliance, the shared responsibility model, and touched on a few other features, but spent a good bit of time focused on what I am thinking about as the “Policy stack” where one can gather lots of insight about your workload’s compliance with technology controls indicated by various compliance standards – based on the Azure Policy capabilities, a pillar of governance, and rolled up and available from Azure Security Center Microsoft Defender for Cloud.

Azure Security Center as a brand is no more – it is part of a rebranding to Microsoft Defender for Cloud. I assume this renaming, announced at Ignite, is because it is a feature set that can span beyond Azure – for example, keeping an on on-premises resources and resources in non-Azure clouds like AWS.

The session was interactive (as preferred!) and many thanks to Kevin and Vishwas and the nice lady whose name I didn’t catch who I think worked for the college for help in overcoming technical limitations in the room I was speaking from.

If you want to experience MORE AZURE please check out https://meetup.com/bostonazure (currently operating as part of “Virtual Boston Azure”).

If you are someone who would like to SPEAK at Virtual Boston Azure, please get in touch. (Twitter is a good way to reach me – I am @codingoutloud – or you can address it to @bostonazure.)

Slide deck is attached.

Talk: Running #Azure Securely – Turning on the WAF

Tonight I had the opportunity to speak at #VirtualBostonAzure to talk about raising the visibility of security signals in your environment by turning on your WAF. In demos the WAF available in Azure Front Door was used.




Talk: Running #Azure Securely – Are all these security features for me?

Today I had the opportunity to speak at VT Code Camp #11 in Burlington, VT. As part of my series of talks on Running Azure Securely, my talk today was around defense in depth and was called Running Azure Securely – which of these Azure security features are for me?. The session was interactive, engaging a half-dozen folks in the audience in a discussion of how to defend various workloads using the (fictitious) page of photos app as a foil.

Some Resources Mentioned

The deck


Talk description

Azure offers thousands of security features. Some of them are easy to use and others are complicated. Some are free to use and some look really, really expensive. Which ones should I be using for my applications?

In this talk we’ll look at some ways to reason about which security controls you might want to apply and why. We’ll consider groups of Azure security features through a pragmatic lens of security best practices and defense-in-depth/breadth, but tempered by the reality that “more security” is not always the answer, but rather “what is the right security” for a situation. By the end of this talk you should have a better idea of the security feature set offered by Azure, why/when they might or might not be needed, and have discussed some ways to reason about how which are relevant you by helping you think about how to assess appropriately for multiple situations.

Do you have specific questions about the applicability of Azure security features already? Feel free to tweet your questions at Bill in advance to @codingoutloud and he’ll try to work answers to any questions into the talk in advance.

Action Photo

(if I can find one)


Talk: Running SQL Azure Securely — SQL Saturday #877 — 14-Sep-2019

Today I had the opportunity to speak at SQL Saturday #877 in Burlington, MA. As part of my series of talks on Running Azure Securely, my talk today was Running Azure SQL Database Securely and applied to Azure SQL DB and Azure SQL DB Managed Instances.

Some Resources Mentioned

The deck

Running Azure SQL DBs Securely – Bill Wilder – SQL Saturday #877 – 14-Sep-2019

Talk description

If you know your way around SQL Server, then you will find Azure SQL Database to be familiar territory. But some aspects are more familiar than others, which is especially true for security-related differences.

In this session we review the key differences around identity management and authentication (including multi-factor authentication), managing server credentials (or, even better, not needing to in some cases), how to audit logins (probably not what you expect), an overview of encryption and data masking options, and the supporting role of Azure Key Vault. We will also touch on compliance and disaster recovery to give the complete picture of powerful features you’ll definitely want to know about to protect your data.

This talk will cover relevant capabilities for both traditional Azure SQL Databases and the newer Azure SQL Managed Instances.

This talk assumes you are already familiar with SQL Server or another enterprise database.

Action Photo

(Credit Taiob Ali @SqlWorldWide)

Talk: Are all these #Azure security features for me?

On Tuesday July, 30, 2019 I had the opportunity to speak at North Boston Azure. The talk was part of a series on Running Azure Securely and was called Are all these Azure security features for me? and was not really a “talk” in that it was highly interactive. For those who attended, you will recall we filled in some slides collaboratively. Thus, they may not appear so polished for those of you who did not join live. Either way, please find the slides (“collaborative” and all) below.


This was an experimental approach for me and the feedback from the audience tells me it worked pretty well. The group at North Boston Azure was already knowledgeable and engaged, so hopefully made for a interesting experience for all involved (was certainly fun for me).


You can follow me on Twitter (@codingoutloud).

You can also follow Boston Azure on Twitter (@bostonazure).


Who logged into my #Azure SQL Database?

Ever try to figure out how to track who logged into your Azure SQL database? You checked all the usual ways you might handle that with a SQL Server database, but one-by-one find out they just don’t work. Here’s one way to do it.

To track who is logging into your Azure SQL database, enable auditing (here’s how to do that) with audit entries directed to an Azure storage blob. There are two ways to do this: at the database server level and at the individual database level. Either is fine, but for the example that follows, auditing is assumed to be at the db server level. The example query can be adjusted to work with auditing at the database level, but one of the two auditing options is definitely required to be on!

Run this query to find out all the principals (users) who have logged in so far today into your Azure SQL database.

Turn on Audit Logging to Blob for your Azure SQL Database. Then you can query who has logged in.
The example below assumes DB Server-level audit logging. Details will vary slightly for Database-level audit logging.
The example below shows who logged in so far today.
Change "-0" to "-1" to look at yesterday (from a UTC perspective, not your local timezone).
Change "-0" to "-100" to look at 100 days ago.
COUNT(server_principal_name) as 'Logins'
FROM sys.fn_get_audit_file(FORMATMESSAGE('https://<MYBLOB&gt;.blob.core.windows.net/sqldbauditlogs/<MYDBSERVER>/<MYDB>/SqlDbAuditing_ServerAudit/%s/'
CAST(DATEADD(day, 0, CONVERT(date, SYSUTCDATETIME())) as varchar)),default, default)
WHERE (event_time >= CAST(CONVERT(date, SYSUTCDATETIME()) as datetime2))AND (action_id = 'DBAS')
GROUP BY server_principal_name
HAVING COUNT(server_principal_name) > 0

The output is something like the following, assuming if I’ve logged in 12 times so far today with my AAD account (bill@example.com) and 1 time with a database-specific credential (myadmin):

09-Nov-2019 (Saturday) codingoutloud@example.com 12

09-Nov-2019 (Saturday) myadmin 1

The query might take a while time to run, depending on how much data you are traversing. In one of my test environments, it takes nearly 20 minutes. I am sure it is sensitive the amount of data you are logging, database activity, and maybe settings on your blob (not sure if premium storage is supported, but I’m not using it and didn’t test with it).

Note: There are other ways to accomplish this, but every way I know of requires use of Azure SQL auditing. In this post we pushed them to blobs, but other destinations are available. For example, you could send to Event Hubs for a more on-the-fly tracker.

Talk: Running Azure Securely — PART I — Boston Azure 18-Oct-2018

At most recent Boston Azure meeting I give (what turns out to be…) the first part of a multi-part talk on Running Azure Securely. Even though I did not cover all this content, I’ve attached the whole powerpoint deck below.


Please watch for a Part II to be scheduled.

Talk: Cloud Architecture Anti-Patterns – O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference

I was pleased to speak at the O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference (#oreillysacon) in Boston today. My talk was Cloud Architecture Anti-Patterns: A concise overview of some bad ideas, delivered to an engaged, inquisitive audience.

Here is the deck:

Any feedback is welcome. Feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter: @codingoutloud.

Talk: Failing in the Cloud – A How To Guide – Boston Code Camp 22

Earlier today I had the privilege of speaking at the 22nd Boston Code Camp. My talk was Failing in the Cloud: A How To Guide. Thanks to those who attended (and persevered through the A/V system from hell!).

I’m on twitter at @codingoutloud. My book is at http://bit.ly/billbook.

The slide deck is here: