Friday, 29 November 2019

Redis Cache

Caching in Microsoft technologies has many forms and options.  You can have server side cache, client side cache or downstream caching such as proxy servers.

Server Cache in .NET:
  • in-Memory store: This type of server cache historically was very useful for maintaining state and having users tied to a collection of objects/knowledge and is extremely fast.  You need to think about multiple instances, or how to route traffic.  So you can tie a user to use static routing to ensure user Joe's session always goes to server 3.  But is server 3 dies, you loose all the cache data.  
  • Local storage cache works well for larger amounts of data that are too big for memory cache but as they are storage based are much slower.
  • Shared/ centralized caching, allows shared cache, a good example is using SQL server for caching and the user can go to any front end web server and the cache is pulled from SQL.  Allows for failure, no need to performed fixed user routing of requests (sticky sessions).  It is slower as cache is pulled from a central service that in turn goes into SQL to retrieve the data.
  • Azure Redis cache is a form a of Shared Caching.  The cache is better if used in memory like Redis cache does.  A Redis Cache is a service that is optimized for performance and allows stateless caching to work across server instances.  So while it needs to travel over your network in Azure, it is not as fast as local cache but extremely fast for centralized caching.  Redis is pretty advanced and has clustering and replication to ensure performance is good.

Client Side Cache:
  • Browser can hold information in session but it is not secure or at least less secure than server side cache.
  • CDN's are a way of retrieving data from an optimized central store but useful for static files and data.
  • Adding headers to HTTP requests allow for downstream caching.  For example, I offer a REST API (e.g. C# Web API) that return a feature product that change hourly.  I could easily set expiry caching to 10 min.  The product is changed every 10 minutes for each user and added to the users local cache.  So if an average user is on for 20 minutes, they only to 2 of their 10 requests to the REST API, the other 8 calls are served locally.  Couple with Server caching, the requests to the server can be fast, with very few calls to the back-end database yet the relatively static data causes far less demand on the web service.
  • Validation Caching - is client caching, that stores data locally, but a request is sent to the server to ask if there is a change, if there is a change send back the new data.  If the data has no changed, a 304 response is sent and the browser uses the previously stored local cached data.
Client and Server (Redis) side Caching on Azure
Note:  The diagram only outlines client caching referring to the browser or end device.  Using HTTP headers, you can also set down stream proxy caching.  This is also generally referred to as client caching.

Firefox has a nice short cut to check you client cache is working.  Open Firefox, and request the URL that shall cache a resource on the local client machine.  then in the URL type in "" and check what is being served up locally.

Basic Caching Options:
1. Client Cache (local) - saves on network call and serve side processing.  Can hold client specific static data.
2. Client Cache (proxy) - saves on server side processing.  Can only hold generic static data.
3. Server side Cache (Redis) - saves on computing resources by not having to connect to data sources on every request.  Useful for static share data.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Azure IaaS backup Service Notes

Azure has great cost calculation tooling.  DR can be pretty expensive is running but not being used.  Having the ability to either turn on or deploy a DR environment can make massive cost savings.

I often see organisation over spending Azure dollars, basically most cost reduction falls into 1 of these 3 groups:
  1. Eliminate waste - storage & service no longer used
  2. Improve utilisation - Oversized resources
  3. Improve billing options - long term agreements, Bring you own licence (BYOL), 

Apptio Cloudability is a useful tool for AWS and Azure cost savings.  Azure has good help and tooling for cost savings.

Azure IaaS Backup:
  • Recovery Services Vaults
  • Off site protection (Azure data center)
  • Secure
  • Encrypted (256-bit encryption at rest and in transit)
  • Azure VM's or VMS' woth SQL and on on-prem. VM's or Servers
  • Server OS supported: Windows 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008 (only x64)
  • SQL all the way back to SQL 2008 can be backup
  • Azure Pricing Calculator can help estimate backup costs
  1. Azure Backup Agent (MARS Agent), used to backup Files and folders.
  2. Azure Backup Server (trimmed down lightweight version of System Centre Data Protection Manager (DPM)), used for VM's, SQL, SharePoint, Exchange.
  3. Azure VM Backup, management done on Azure Portal to backup Azure VM's.
SQL Server in Azure VM backup, used to backup SQL databases on Azure IaaS VMs.

Backing up Azure VM's must be done to the same geo location as the vault.  It can't cross geo-locations.  Recovery has to be to a different location (verify this is correct?)
Note: "Backup Configuration" setting of the Vault properties can be set to "Geo-redundant"

Azure Recovery Vault Storage choice:
LRS - Local Redundacy Store - 3 local async copies
GRS - Globally Redundant - 2 async copies in the same data region with 3 local copies- so can keep in Europe for compliance, all 6 copies are in Europe.
Update Feb 2020: I think there is also a GZRS option, check if this has changed?

Naming is absolutely key and having a logical hierarchy within Resource Groups so it is easy to find resources.  I focus on naming my resource consistently however, I've always felt "Tags" have little or no purpose in smaller environments.  In larger environments tagging can be useful for cost management, recording maintenance, resource owners, creation dates.  Lately, I've been finding it useful to mark my resource with and Environment Tag to cover my Azure DTAP scenarios.  E..g., Production, Testing, Development.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Microsoft Information Protection

Check out my earlier Post on AIP (feb 2019)

End-to-end life-cycle for encrypting files using Azure Information Protection (AIP)

Use "Unified Labeling" to create labels

Note: Encrypting stops SharePoint being able to look into the content of the file.  The labels and name are still search but not the content of the file.  eDiscovery, Search, co-authoring don't work on AIP encrypted documents.

Cloud App Security (MCAS) Screen Shot

Sunday, 10 November 2019

OpenAPI Tooling working with WebAPI and APIM Notes is a great tool for building OAS files.  The Swagger editor is easy to use and has a preview for changes.

VS Code is a great IDE for working with OpenAPI  specification 2.0 and 3.0 files (also know and Swagger specification).  These 3 extensions are a good idea for working with a OpenAPI specification file.

Spotlight also has an editor which is nice.  Takes a little bit of getting use to, but make complex API design first easier.