Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Cloud–a place for my stuff

I keep trying to come up with new ways to describe clouds and what it means to run things in the cloud and to do things in the cloud.

To quote a really old George Carlin skit; a place for my stuff.  “That is the whole meaning of life, to find a place for my stuff”.

In the cloud world there are private places and public places.  A private cloud is a cloud that you are responsible for.  A public cloud is a cloud that someone else is responsible for.

The “location” of your cloud infers the physical location and who owns and manages that physical location.  If it is private, then you own or manage that physical location.  If it is public then someone else does.

In the end.  A cloud is not a new thing, but a new word describing an old thing.  It describes infrastructure.  The new thing is how you interact with that infrastructure – this is where underwear gets all knotted up.

When moving to clouds – someone loses control.  And it is that change in control that things someone other than me is messing with my stuff.

Personally, I love my SkyDrive.  Cloud based storage that I can interact with from anywhere.  A place for my document and picture (files) stuff.

I also like Gmail and Hotmail.  Most folks don’t think of these as cloud either, but they are.  Because they are off, somewhere else.  And, they are a place for my email stuff.

I like Azure.  It is my cloud based infrastructure.  I don’t have to worry about controlling it, because Azure does that.  I just tell it to run my stuff and it does.  A place for my workload stuff.

So, for me.  I have a place for my stuff.  I know where that physical place is.  Coming form the IT Pro background I have a need to know that physical place to link my stuff with a location, even if that location is a service.

But, I just feel good that I have a place for my stuff.  And that I can get to my stuff.  From any of my other stuff.  And I don’t have to manage all aspects of my stuff.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to ask a question in a technical forum

A friend of mine recently ran across this and forwarded it to me.

Personally, as a TechNet forum moderator, and frequent forum contributor, and as a person who handles a few forums for my employer; I find the information in this KB both lighthearted and highly useful at the same time.

The title of the KB article:  “How to ask a question”

Please, check it out.

Thank you Daniel Petri!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

PowerShell to select a certificate and encrypt a password

Here is a quick little script to encrypt a password with PowerShell.  Yes, it requires the user to select a certificate and enter the password but that could be easy to change.. 

I have found this very handy when encrypting passwords for use in Azure Role settings, such as Azure Connect.  Secure String does not work as in Azure my local machine keys are not available, however I can use a Service Certificate to encrypt on my end and therefore decrypt on the Azure end.

I have one assumption – that the certificate is in the LocalMachine Personal certificate store.

$password = Read-Host -Prompt "Enter the password to encrypt"

$certs = dir cert:\LocalMachine\My
[System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName("System.Security") | Out-Null
$collection = New-Object System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2Collection
$certs | ForEach-Object { $collection.Add($_) } | Out-Null
$cert = [System.Security.Cryptography.x509Certificates.X509Certificate2UI]::SelectFromCollection($collection, "", "Select a certificate", 0)
$thumbprint = $cert[0].thumbprint
$pass = [Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($password)
$content = new-object Security.Cryptography.Pkcs.ContentInfo -argumentList (,$pass)
$env = new-object Security.Cryptography.Pkcs.EnvelopedCms $content
$env.Encrypt((new-object System.Security.Cryptography.Pkcs.CmsRecipient(gi cert:\LocalMachine\My\$thumbprint)))
write-host "Writing encrypted password, cut/paste the text below the line to CSCFG file"
[Convert]::ToBase64String($env.Encode()) | Out-File .\encrypted_password.txt
Invoke-Item ".\encrypted_password.txt"