What about this Bicep?

You’ve probably heard about Azure Resource Manager (ARM) – the deployment and management service/layer of Azure, which enables you to manage (create, configure, delete) your Azure resources.¬†Also, you are probably aware that ARM uses so called ARM templates – basically, JSON files that actually define the infrastructure and configuration you want to deploy to Azure (think Infrastructure as Code, IaC).

So, if you have dealt with ARM/JSON in the past, you may have been finding it difficult to start with, and somewhat complex.

Bicep is here to help.

Here is a short overview of Bicep – basically, it’s a language which enables you easier deployment of Azure resources, without messing around (too much) with JSON. To be frank, it somehow reminds of Terraform, but it’s also different. It has many cool features, immediately supports all new Azure features and APIs, can be built (converted) into .json and deployed as such or it can be deployed straight away as .bicep, doesn’t require state file, it’s open and free, has great support in Visual Studio Code and much more. And it’s still in active development!

If you’re dealing with IaC and Azure, try it.

To show you the power (and simplicity) of Bicep, here is a short example of deploying Linux virtual machine in Azure (together with a resource group, virtual network, virtual network subnet, virtual NIC and network security group), done “the old way” (in JSON, which was actually converted from Bicep… it’s easier than writing JSON from the scratch) and then done via Bicep (“the right way”? ūüėÄ).

Additionally, you’ll see that I’ve tried to break stuff into modules – with more or less sucess. ūüėÄ

The ARM/JSON way (could be done nicer/shorter, with parameters inside .parameters.json… if you know what you’re doing – this is converted from Bicep and serves just for illustrative purposes):

 

The Bicep way:



Bicep seems a bit easier to read and shorter, right (while still doing basically the same thing)? ūüėÄ

If we deploy the .bicep files above (note that I’m deploying the “raw” .bicep file directly – which is cool!):


We finally get our resources:

So, where should you start if you’re new to Bicep?

I would certainly recommend starting with free and official Deploy and manage resources in Azure by using Bicep learning path on Microsoft Learn.

After that, you can probably pick up Freek Berson’s book Getting started with Bicep: Infrastructure as Code on Azure (first and only book on Bicep that I know of – really liked it because of the simple (yet effective) examples with storage accounts, it connects everything and flows naturally – building up “brick by brick” and not “jumping around”, just to show off what Bicep can do).

Another great resource are also the Bicep examples – there’s plenty to learn from them too!

Of course, you’ll also need to practice – install the Azure CLI or Azure PowerShell module, add Bicep and use Visual Studio Code for your first steps with creating, deleting, configuring and breaking stuff… powered by Bicep! ūüėÄ

Cheers!

Fixing things with… terraform destroy

I like Terraform, because it’s so clean, fast and elegant; OK, I also suck at it, but hey – I’m trying! ūüôā

The long story

Usually, Terraform and its providers are very good at doing things in the order they should be done. But sometimes people do come up with silly ideas, and mine was such (of course) – I’ve decided to rename something and it broke things. Just a little.

I have a simple lab in Azure, with a couple of virtual machines behind the Azure Load Balancer, no big deal. All this is being deployed (and redeployed) via Terraform, using the official azurerm provider. It’s actually a Standard SKU Azure Load Balancer (don’t ask why), with a single backend pool and a few probes and rules. Nothing special.

I’ve deployed this lab a few days ago (thanks to good people at Microsoft, I have some free credits to spare), everything worked just fine, but today I’ve got the wild idea – I’ve decided to rename my backend pool.

With all the automation in place, this shouldn’t be a problem… one would think. ūüôā

So, as I’ve updated my code and during the make it so¬†phase (terraform apply), I’ve got some errors (truncated, with only the useful stuff):

Issue

After going through these errors, I’ve realized that my resources are indeed in the same region, but existing rules are referencing the current backend pool by name and actually blocking Terraform in renaming the backend pool.

There are a couple of options at this stage – you can destroy your deployment and run it again (as I normally would) and it should all be fine. Or you can try to fix only the dependent resources and make it work as part of the existing deployment.

With some spare time at my hands, I’ve tried to fix it using the second one and it actually worked.

Resolution

Terraform has a nice option for destroying just some parts of the deployment.

If you look at help for the terraform destroy command, you can see the target option:

And if you run it to fix your issues, you’ll get a nice red warning saying that this is only for exceptional situations (and they mean it!):

 

So… BE CAREFUL! (can’t stress this enough!)

 

Anyhow, I’ve destroyed rules which were preventing my rename operation:

And then another terraform apply –auto-approve recreated everything that was needed, and finally – my backend pool got renamed:

Another idea I’ve had was to taint the resources (terraform taint -help), which would probably be a lot nicer. Oh, well… maybe next time. ūüôā

As things are constantly improving, it shouldn’t be long until this is fixed (should it even be fixed?!). Until then, hope this will help you with similar issues!

Cheers!

Creating some virtual machines in Azure with PowerShell

The other day I was creating some Linux virtual machines (I know, I know…) and, with Azure being my preferred hosting platform, I’ve decided to create this machines by using a simple PowerShell script. Not because I’m so good at PowerShell, but because I like it… and sometimes I really don’t like clicking through the wizard to create multiple machines.

I wanted to create multiple machines with ease, each with “static” IP address from the provided subnet, accessible via the Internet (SSH, HTTP) and running the latest Ubuntu Linux, of course.

So, I was browsing through the official documentation (a.k.a. docs.com, more specifically https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/linux/quick-create-powershell), and I’ve come up with this (my version of the official docs):

If this helps you with similar task – you’re welcome.

Cheers!