In this two part series, I am looking at how we can leverage Azure Automation and Azure Resource Manager to schedule the shutting down of tagged Virtual Machines in Microsoft Azure.

  • In Part 1 we walked through tagging resources using the Azure Resource Manager PowerShell module
  • In Part 2 we will setup Azure Automation to schedule a runbook to execute nightly and shutdown tagged resources.

Azure Automation Runbook

At the time of writing, the tooling support around Azure Automation can be politely described as a hybrid one. For starters, there is no support for Azure Automation in the preview portal. The Azure command line tools only support basic automation account and runbook management, leaving the current management portal as the most complete tool for the job

As I mentioned in Part 1, Azure Automation does not yet support the new Azure Resource Manager PowerShell module out-of-the-box, so we need to import that module ourselves. We will then setup service management credentials that our runbook will use (recall the ARM module doesn’t use certificates anymore, we need to supply user account credentials).

We then create our PowerShell workflow to query for tagged virtual machine resources and ensure they are shutdown. Lastly, we setup our schedule and enable the runbook… lets get cracking!

When we first create an Azure Automation account, the Azure PowerShell module is already imported as an Asset for us (v0.8.11 at the time of writing) as shown below.

Clean Azure Automation Screen.
To import the Azure Resource Manager module we need to zip it up and upload it to the portal using the following process. In Windows Explorer on your PC

  1. Navigate to the Azure PowerShell modules folder (typically C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Azure\PowerShell\ResourceManager\AzureResourceManager)
  2. Zip the AzureResourceManager sub-folder.

Local folder to zip.

In the Automation pane of the current Azure Portal:

  1. Select an existing Automation account (or create a new one)
  2. Navigate to the Asset tab and click the Import Module button
  3. Browse to the AzureResourceManager.zip file you created above.

ARM Module Import

After the import completes (this usually takes a few minutes) you should see the Azure Resource Manager module imported as an Asset in the portal.

ARM Module Imported

We now need to setup the credentials the runbook will use and for this we will create a new user in Azure Active Directory (AAD) and add that user as a co-administrator of our subscription (we need to query resource groups and shutdown our virtual machines).

In the Azure Active Directory pane:

  1. Add a new user of type New user in your organisation
  2. Enter a meaningful user name to distinguish it as an automation account
  3. Select User as the role
  4. Generate a temporary password which we’ll need to change it later.

Tell us about this user.

Now go to the Settings pane and add the new user as a co-administrator of your subscription:

Add user as co-admin.

Note: Azure generated a temporary password for the new user. Log out and sign in as the new user to get prompted to change the password and confirm the user has service administration permissions on your subscription.

We now need to add our users credentials to our Azure Automation account assets.

In the Automation pane:

  1. Select the Automation account we used above
  2. Navigate to the Asset tab and click on the Add Setting button on the bottom toolbar
  3. Select Add Credential
  4. Choose Windows PowerShell Credential from type dropdown
  5. Enter a meaningful name for the asset (e.g. runbook-account)
  6. Enter username and password of the AAD user we created above.

Runbook credentials

With the ARM module imported and credentials setup we can now turn to authoring our runbook. The completed runbook script can be found on Github. Download the script and save it locally.

Open the script in PowerShell ISE and change the Automation settings to match the name you gave to your Credential asset created above and enter your Azure subscription name.

workflow AutoShutdownWorkflow
{
    #$VerbosePreference = "continue"

    # Automation Settings
    $pscreds = Get-AutomationPSCredential -Name "runbook-account"
    $subscriptionName = "[subscription name here]"
    $tagName = "autoShutdown"

    # Authenticate using WAAD credentials
    Add-AzureAccount -Credential $pscreds | Write-Verbose 

    # Set subscription context
    Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName $subscriptionName | Write-Verbose

    Write-Output "Checking for resources with $tagName flag set..."

    # Get virtual machines within tagged resource groups
    $vms = Get-AzureResourceGroup -Tag @{ Name=$tagName; Value=$true } | `
    Get-AzureResource -ResourceType "Microsoft.ClassicCompute/virtualMachines"

    # Shutdown all VMs tagged
    $vms | ForEach-Object {
        Write-Output "Shutting down $($_.Name)..."
        # Gather resource details
        $resource = $_
        # Stop VM
        Get-AzureVM | ? { $_.Name -eq $resource.Name } | Stop-AzureVM -Force
    }

    Write-Output "Completed $tagName check"
}

Walking through the script, the first thing we do is gather the credentials we will use to manage our subscription. We then authenticate using those credentials and select the Azure subscription we want to manage. Next we gather all virtual machine resources in resource groups that have been tagged with autoShutdown.

We then loop through each VM resource and force a shutdown. One thing you may notice about our runbook is that we don’t explicitly “switch” between the Azure module and Azure Resource Management module as we must when running in PowerShell.

This behaviour may change over time as the Automation service is enhanced to support ARM out-of-the-box, but for now the approach appears to work fine… at least on my “cloud” [developer joke].

We should now have our modified runbook script saved locally and ready to be imported into the Azure Automation account we used above. We will use the Azure Service Management cmdlets to create and publish the runbook, create the schedule asset and link it to our runbook.

Copy the following script into a PowerShell ISE session and configure it to match your subscription and location of the workflow you saved above. You may need to refresh your account credentials using Add-AzureAccount if you get an authentication error.

$automationAccountName = "[your account name]"
$runbookName = "autoShutdownWorkflow"
$scriptPath = "c:\temp\AutoShutdownWorkflow.ps1"
$scheduleName = "ShutdownSchedule"

# Create a new runbook
New-AzureAutomationRunbook –AutomationAccountName $automationAccountName –Name $runbookName

# Import the autoShutdown runbook from a file
Set-AzureAutomationRunbookDefinition –AutomationAccountName $automationAccountName –Name $runbookName –Path $scriptPath -Overwrite

# Publish the runbook
Publish-AzureAutomationRunbook –AutomationAccountName $automationAccountName –Name $runbookName

# Create the schedule asset
New-AzureAutomationSchedule –AutomationAccountName $automationAccountName –Name $scheduleName –StartTime $([DateTime]::Today.Date.AddDays(1).AddHours(1)) –DayInterval 1

# Link the schedule to our runbook
Register-AzureAutomationScheduledRunbook –AutomationAccountName $automationAccountName –Name $runbookName –ScheduleName $scheduleName

Switch over to the portal and verify your runbook has been created and published successfully…

Runbook published.

…drilling down into details of the runbook, verify the schedule was linked successfully as well…

Linked Schedule.

To start your runbook (outside of the schedule) navigate to the Author tab and click the Start button on the bottom toolbar. Wait for the runbook to complete and click on the View Job icon to examine the output of the runbook.

Manual Start

Run Output

Note: Create a draft version of your runbook to troubleshoot failing runbooks using the built in testing features. Refer to this link for details on testing your Azure Automation runbooks.

Our schedule will now execute the runbook each night to ensure virtual machine resources tagged with autoShutdown are always shutdown. Navigating to the Dashboard tab of the runbook will display the runbook history.

Runbook Dashboard

Considerations

1. The AzureResourceManager module is not officially supported yet out-of-the-box so a breaking change may come down the release pipeline that will require our workflow to be modified. The switch behaviour will be the most likely candidate. Watch that space!

2. Azure Automation is not available in all Azure Regions. At the time of writing it is available in East US, West EU, Japan East and Southeast Asia. However, region affinity isn’t a primary concern as we are merely just invoking the service management API where our resources are located. Where we host our automation service is not as important from a performance point of view but may factor into organisation security policy constraints.

3. Azure Automation comes in two tiers (Free and Basic). Free provides 500 minutes of job execution per month. The Basic tier charges $0.002 USD a minute for unlimited minutes per month (e.g. 1,000 job execution mins will cost $2). Usage details will be displayed on the Dashboard of your Azure Automation account.

Account Usage

In this two part post we have seen how we can tag resource groups to provide more granular control when managing resource lifecycles and how we can leverage Azure Automation to schedule the shutting down of these tagged resources to operate our infrastructure in Microsoft Azure more efficiently.

Category:
Azure Infrastructure, Azure Platform, PowerShell
Tags:
, , , ,

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] Part 2 we will setup Azure Automation to schedule a runbook to execute nightly and shutdown tagged VM […]

    Reply
  2. Thanx 🙂

    Great post

    Sincerely

    Jan Simon

    Reply
  3. Thanks Scott, this was very helpful. I ended up with a similar runbook that uses tags to implement the schedules rather than the runbook scheduling mechanism, to help make it easier to manage different and more flexible shutdown schedules. Those interested can find it here:

    https://automys.com/library/asset/scheduled-virtual-machine-shutdown-startup-microsoft-azure

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: