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Azure IaaS: Build a VM from a Bring your Own License (BYOL) image with Azure PowerShell

9:16 am in ARM, Azure, Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, BYOL, Cloud, IaaS, PowerShell by Wim Matthyssen

For all people who do not yet know, with the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit you can use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that includes Software Assurance for Windows Server (Standard and Datacenter Editions) virtual machines (VM) in Azure. More recently also Azure Hybrid Use Benefits for Windows Client which includes Windows 10 (only Enterprise customers with Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5 per user or Windows VDA per user – User Subscription Licenses or Add-on User Subscription Licenses – are eligible) came in Preview.

By using your existing licenses, you only pay for the base compute rate (equal to the Linux rate for VMs) without the Windows licenses cost, which can save you up to 40 %.

You can download the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit datasheet here

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These days it’s even simpler to deploy a new Azure server VM whit your own on premise license via the Windows Server BYOL images available in the Azure Marketplace. There are images available for the following Server Oss (*be aware that not all Azure Subscriptions can use the BYOL images):

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 (not available in all regions)

You can search for the Windows Server images by running following PowerShell command:

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In the above screenshot, you can see that some Skus now contain the BYOL suffix.

You can search for the Windows Client images by running following PowerShell command:

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To build a VM with from a BYOL image you can run following Azure PowerShell script (adjust all variables for your own use):

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The script is also available on Microsoft TechNet

When the script is completed and the VM is build, you can log into the VM via remote desktop. Like you can see the VM is not registered and you’ll able to use your own Windows product key.

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Hope this comes in handy!

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

Azure IaaS: VM status Running (Installing Extensions)

6:13 am in ASM, Azure, Azure PowerShell, Cloud, IaaS, Installing Extension, Microsoft, Public Cloud by Wim Matthyssen

Last week while migrating Azure IaaS VMs from ASM to ARM, I noticed that one VM was showing the status “Running (Installing Extension)” in the Azure Classic portal. When I tried to connect to that specific VM with RDP no connection could be made. This status also prevented me from doing some automation activities, the VM however still responded to a ping.

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When I opened the DASHBOARD page of the VM and looked at the extensions, I saw that the Microsoft.Compute.VMAccessAgent showed following error:

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The simplest way I found to resolve this error was to delete the extension, and add it back. To do so login to the Azure portal with your Azure account. Go to Virtual Machines and click on the specific VM. On the opened blade select Extensions, right click the VMAccessAgent and click Delete. When asked to delete the extension select Yes

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To reinstall the VMAccess extension open PowerShell ISE, connect to your Azure subscription with your Azure account and run the following command (replace cloud service name and VM name by your own)

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To check the current status of the extension, run following command (replace cloud service name and VM name by your own):

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Or you can also check trough both Azure portals

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After the reinstallation of the VMAccessAgent, it ran with STATUS Success and I was able to reconnect to the VM with RDP. This concludes this blog post, hope it helps whenever you have this issue.

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

Microsoft Azure Backup Server: Anti-Virus Exclusions

1:05 pm in Anti-Virus Exclusions, Azure, Azure Backup, Cloud, hybrid cloud, MABS, Microsoft Azure Backup Server by Wim Matthyssen

Running a solid, constantly updated antivirus product on your servers is a necessity to keep a healthy and secure server environment. However, with installing an antivirus product, you also risk having issues with certain workloads and services on those severs. Just like System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM), the Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) is compatible with most antivirus software products. Though, the implemented antivirus product can also affect MABS performance and, if not configured properly, can cause data corruption of replicas and recovery points.

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So, to avoid file conflicts and to minimize performance degradation between your MABS server and the antivirus software running on top of it, you should disable real-time monitoring by the antivirus software for all of the following processes and directories, which are listed below.

MABS processes to exclude from antivirus real-time monitoring

For information about configuring real-time monitoring based on process name or folder name, check the documentation of your antivirus vendor.

  • DPMRA.exe (*full path: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\bin\DPMRA.exe)
  • csc.exe  (*full path: C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\csc.exe -> you can also exclude csc.exe in all the other Microsoft.NET Framework folders)
  • cbengine.exe (*full path: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\MARS\Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent\bin\cbengine.exe)

 

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MABS directories in the MABS Program Files folder to exclude from antivirus real-time monitoring

Be aware that when you installed MABS on another drive then “C:”, like in the example below, look under the correct drive for the folders to exclude.

  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\Temp\MTA\*
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\XSD\*
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\bin
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\MARS\Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent\bin
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\Cache (*MABS scratch folder)

 

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Delete infected files on the MABS server

As a final remark, I would also advise to configure to delete infected files by default on the MABS server rather than automatically cleaning or quarantining them. Automatic cleaning and quarantining can result in data corruption because these processes cause the antivirus software to modify files, making changes MABS cannot detect.

 

In summary, there are a lot of antivirus settings you should keep track of when running MABS. I’ve tried to list all of the exclusions, so hopefully it will help you with getting the most out of your MABS setup. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my Twitter handle.

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

Microsoft Azure Backup Server: Error when installing on Windows Server 2016 – The Single Instance Store (SIS) component is not installed

3:36 pm in Azure, Azure Backup, hybrid cloud, MABS, Microsoft Azure Backup, Microsoft Azure Backup Server, PowerShell, Public Cloud, SIS, SIS-Limited, Windows Server 2016, WS2016 by Wim Matthyssen

 
Hi All,

Last week I was contacted by a customer who tried to install Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) on an on-premise Windows Server 2016. However, when he started the installation he always received an error because a prerequisite was not installed, namely the Single Instance Store (SIS) component.

 
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When opening the DpmSetup.log with PowerShell (as Administrator), you could see the following error:

 

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However, when you try to install this missing component through PowerShell it gives you an Error: 0x800f080cFeature name SIS-Limited is unknown.

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The reason for this is that because from Windows Server 2016 the SIS-Limited component is replaced by Microsoft’s deduplication or data footprint reduction (DFR) technology, like you can read in the following article from MVP Greg Schulz: http://storageioblog.com/rip-windows-sis-single-instance-storage-or-at-least-in-server-2016/

Also, when you go to the Microsoft Azure Backup Server download page and you expand System Requirements you can see that Windows Server 2016 at the present time is not listed as a supported Operating System (OS) to deploy MABS, probably because it does not have this SIS component.

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Conclusion

Currently you’re not able to use Windows Server 2016 as OS for you MABS server. Probably in the near future Microsoft will release a new version of MABS which will allow it, but until then you need to stick with Windows Server 2012 (R2) or Windows Server 2008 R2 to install your MABS on.

Hope this helps you with this error.

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

How to install and use the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment tool

2:41 pm in AD Assessment, Azure, Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment, PowerShell, SharePoint, SQL Assessment, SQL Server by Wim Matthyssen

Hi all,

In my first blog post of this year, I will show you how you can install and use the free optimization tool, Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment. This tool (current version 2.0.61228.1 – released 1/16/2017) can help you optimize performance for your Azure virtual machines (VMs) running AD, SQL or SharePoint workloads. The tool focuses on 6 key areas, including security, compliance, availability, business continuity, performance and scalability. When the tool is first started, it will present a short questionnaire about your cloud deployment, followed by an automated data collection and inspection which will analyze the selected workload running on Azure. After finishing this assessment, which could take upon an hour, a custom report is generated which contains useful advice and key recommendations on how to secure and protect this workload following Microsoft best practices.

I myself mostly use the tool when migrating VMs from on premise to the cloud or after setting up a new Azure cloud environment for a customer.

The tool has the following requirements:

  • It can be installed on any workstation or server (on premise or Azure VM) running at least Windows 7 (or later) or Windows Server 2008 (or later)
  • The server or workstation running the tool should at least have 4GB RAM, a 2 GHz dual-core processor and 5 GB of free disk space
  • The server or workstation should be joined to one of the domains of the AD forest in which the target VMs are part of
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 should be installed
  • Windows PowerShell 2.0 is also needed
  • Full Administrative access to the Microsoft Azure target environment
  • Access to the Microsoft Azure target environment via WMI
  • Full network connectivity to the Microsoft Azure target environment

Installation of the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment tool

To get started, first download the tool (total size 70,2 MB) from here

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When downloaded run MAVMOA.exe (Run as administrator) on the computer you want to run the assessment from (setup requires around 110 MB)

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When the UAC screen pops up, click Yes

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Agree to the License Terms and select a folder to install (I always use the default folder). Click Install

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When the installation is completed click Close. I’ve you leave the checkmark near to Launch Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment the tool should start.

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If the tool doesn’t start up, you can use the following PowerShell command to start it:

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Active Directory Assessment

The user running the tool to should have read access to the target domain. When I run the AD Assessment I always use a user with enterprise admin privileges.

Open the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment tool and select Active Directory from the drop-down menu. Optionally you can agree to upload your data to help improve this product. Click Start Assessment

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On the next screen, you are reminded to all requirements needed for the assessment. Click Next

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In the next part of the assessment you need to answer a set of questions regarding your environment. Click Next to start the questionnaire and answer all the questions

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Once you answered all the questions, the tool will proceed to the Collect & Analyze tab where the assessing of your environment will start

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When the tool is finished with the assessing, click Save and view report, and choose a location to save the Microsoft Word document (.docx)

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Click Close and Yes to close the tool. You can now open the document using Microsoft Word. In my case Word is not installed on my server so I copied the document to my workstation to review it

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If you scroll through the document when opened, you will see that each recommendation is given a percentage weighting. For example, when you resolve the problem concerning “Change your password policy to enforce a minimum password age” your Security and Compliance will improve with 5.2 %

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SQL Assessment

Running the SQL Assessment is quite similar as running the AD Assessment, the only difference is that you have to supply the SQL Server that you want to assess.

Open the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment tool and select SQL Server from the drop-down menu. Like before you can optionally agree to upload your data to help improve this product. Click Start Assessment

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Click Next on the Requirements page

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To start the questionnaire, click Next and answer all questions

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On the Environment page add the SQL Server you want to get assessed. Click Next

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When the tool is finished with the assessing, click Save and view report, and choose a location to save the Microsoft Word document (.docx)

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After saving the document to your preferred location, click Close. When you open the document with Word afterwards, you will also see that each recommendation is given a percentage weighting just like with the AD Assessment. For example, when you resolve the problem concerning “Ensure only essential users are added to the SQL Server sysadmin server role” your Security and Compliance will improve with 2.8 %

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I hope this helps you to get started with this nice tool. If you have any issues or questions, feel free to contact me through my twitter handle

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

2016: My blog year in an overview

2:37 pm in Azure, Azure Backup, Azure RemoteApp, Client Hyper-V, Cloud, DC, Hyper-V, IaaS, PowerShell, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Replica DC, SCAC 2012 R2, SCVMM 2012 R2, System Center 2016, W2K12R2, Windows 10 by Wim Matthyssen

Hi all,

As a blogger completely focused on Microsoft technologies, it was a fun year of writing about all those interesting and ever changing products and services. As we almost end the year 2016 and are preparing for 2017 to start, I wanted to make a list of all the blog posts I wrote throughout the twelve months of 2016. During the year, I’ve published 26 blog posts mostly about Azure, the System Center Suite and Hyper-V. Below you can find them all divided by technology.

 

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Azure Compute – IaaS (ASM)

Step-by-step: Move an Azure IaaS VM between different Azure Subscriptions

Clean up Azure PowerShell when using different Azure subscriptions

Replica DCs on Azure – Removing the Azure Endpoints

Replica DCs on Azure – Transferring FSMO roles to the IaaS DCs

Replica DCs on Azure – Manage the Time Configuration settings on the DCs

Replica DCs on Azure – Domain Controller Health Check

Replica DCs on Azure – Promote the Azure IaaS VMs to a domain controller

Replica DCs on Azure – Add the Active Directory Domain Services role

Replica DCs on Azure – Adjustment of some server settings before promoting the DCs

Replica DCs on Azure – Initialize and format the additional data disk

Replica DCs on Microsoft Azure – Create the VMs with Azure PowerShell

Step by step: Change the drive letter of the Temporary Storage on an Azure IaaS v1 VM

 

Azure Networking

How to connect an Azure ARM VNet to an ASM VNet using VNet Peering

Replica DCs on Azure – Switch DNS servers for the VNet

Replica DCs on Azure – Create the Active Directory site for the Azure VNet

 

Azure Backup

Microsoft Azure Backup Server: Install a new version of the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent

Microsoft Azure Backup Server: System State backup fails with WSB Event ID: 546

Microsoft Azure Backup Server: System State backup fails with the message replica is inconsistent

Step by step: How to install Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS)

 

Azure RemoteApp

An RDP connection to the Azure RemoteApp custom VM fails with the following error: “No Remote Desktop License Servers available”

 

Windows 10

How to deploy Windows 10 from a USB flash drive

 

System Center

System Center 2016 evaluation VHDs download links

Step by step: How to connect SCAC 2012 R2 to SCVMM 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure

Step by step: Installing SCAC 2012 R2

 

Hyper-V

A list of tools that can be used to do a V2V from VMware to Hyper-V

Client Hyper-V – Using nested virtualization to run Client Hyper-V on a Windows 10 VM

 

Before I wrap up this blog post, I want to thank you all for reading my blog posts in 2016, and I really hope you will keep doing so in 2017. I wish you all a healthy, successful and outstanding New Year! See you all in 2017!

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

How to connect an Azure ARM VNet to an ASM VNet using VNet Peering

4:25 pm in ARM, ASM, Azure, Azure virtual network, Cloud, DC, DNS, VNet peering by Wim Matthyssen

Hi all,

In this blog post I will show you how you can connect an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) virtual network (VNet) to a classic or Azure Service Manager (ASM) VNet using VNet Peering.

VNet Peering, which was made generally available (GA) on September 28th, is a mechanism that allows you to connect two VNets in the same region through the Azure backbone network as they were a single network. This means that you don’t need a VNet gateway anymore, like when you setup a VNet-to-VNet VPN connection. It will allow full connectivity between the entire address space of the peered VNets. So, for example when VNet peering is setup, all virtual machines in the peered VNets will be able to communicate with each other. If you’re interested you can read more about VNet Peering via following link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-network/virtual-network-peering-overview

Before we start setting things up, first some things to keep in mind:

  • VNet Peering requires that both VNets are located the same Azure region
  • The VNets must be in the same Azure Subscription (only for ARM – ASM VNet Peering)
  • The IP address space of both VNets must not overlap
  • Using your peer’s VNet gateway (UseRemoteGateways and AllowGatewayTransit settings) is not supported when peering with an ASM VNet
  • There is a small charge for data transferred between VNets using VNet Peering (inbound and outbound data transfer $ 0,01 per GB)
  • To be clear, you can find below a drawing of my ARM – ASM VNet Peering setup

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After all this is said and shown, we can start

1) First of all login to the Azure portal and sign in with your Azure account

2) Select Virtual Networks

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3) Select your ARM VNet (in my case AZU-Vnet-ARM)

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4) Click Peerings (like you can see there is one connected device AZU-APP-01)

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5) Click Add

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6) In the Add Peering blade, name your link (in my case LinkToVNetASM). Under Peer details select Classic. Choose the correct Subscription and the ASM Virtual Network you want to peer with. Leave Allow virtual network access Enabled, this will allow communication between the two virtual networks. Then click OK

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7) After clicking OK the peering link will be created

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8) When done, the two virtual networks are peered and you will see the PEERING STATUS between the two virtual networks is in a Connected state

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9) Like you can see, both VMs can ping each other. Don’t forget to allow ping through the Windows Firewall

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10) After adding AZU-DC-01 (10.0.1.36) as DNS server to the AZU-Vnet-ARM VNet, I was able to add AZU-APP-01 to the azuvlab.local domain which was created an AZU-DC-01

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This concludes this blog post. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me via twitter.

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

Step-by-step: Move an Azure IaaS VM between different Azure Subscriptions

11:22 am in Azure, Azure subscription, Cloud, IaaS, Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer, Public Cloud by Wim Matthyssen

From time to time, customers ask me to migrate Azure IaaS virtual machines (VMs) between Azure Subscriptions (for example moving a VM between the Dev subscription and the Prod subscription). There are several ways to accomplish this move, you can use Azure PowerShell or Azure Site Recovery (ASR), but mostly I do it the way that I will describe below.

1) First of all, you need to download an Azure Storage Explorer which enables you to move the VHD (page blob) which is used by the IaaS VM from one storage account (Azure Subscription 1) to another (Azure Subscription 2). Mostly I use the Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer which you can download for free via following link: http://storageexplorer.com/

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2) When downloaded and installed you’ll need to add the two Azure Blob Storage Accounts, the one you want to move the VHD from and the one you want to move the VHD to. Open up the Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer, right click Storage Accounts and select Connect to Azure storage…

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3) To find the Storage Account name and the Account key, just logon to the Classic Azure portal (https://manage.windowsazure.com/). Go to STORAGE select the correct Storage Account and click MANAGE ACCESS KEYS.

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4) Fill in the correct Account name (STORAGE ACCOUNT NAME) and the Account key (PRIMARY ACCESS KEY)

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5) Repeat steps 3 to 5 also for the Storage Account in the other Azure Subscription. At the end two Storage Accounts should be available to use in the Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer

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6) Now stop the VM (logon trough RDP and choose shutdown) and you are good to copy/paste your VM’s VHD from one Storage Account to another

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7) Open up Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer, right click the VHD for the VM you just stopped and select Copy

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8) Open the other Storage Account’s Blob container (in my example azureos01 – Blob Containers – vhds) and select Paste. Be aware that this copy can take some time depending on the size of the VHD

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9) When the VHD is completely copied, open the Azure classic portal and logon to the second Azure Subscription. Go to VIRTUAL MACHINES, then DISKS and select CREATE A DISK

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10) Fill in a NAME (for example AZ-VM-SUB2) and select the correct VHD URL from the storage you just moved your VHD file to. Mark “The VHD contains an operating system.” and select Windows. Click the check mark to finish

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11) As the next step create a new VM. Click NEW – COMPUTE – VIRTUAL MACHINE – FROM GALLERY

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12) Select MY DISKS and select the newly created disk (in my example AZ-VM-SUB2)

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13) In the next screen choose a proper VIRTUAL MACHINE NAME, the TIER and the VM SIZE

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14) Create a new CLOUD SERVICE or select an existing one, choose the correct VNET and SUBNET. If an AVAILIBILITY SET is required, select or create it

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15) Select the ENDPOINTS you require and finally press the check mark icon to start provisioning the VM

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16) Like you can see the VM is created and starts Running. You should now able to connect to it again with RDP

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17) If the VM looks and reacts like it should, you can delete the original VM with the attached VHD in the first Azure Subscription. Also don’t forget to delete the Cloud Service

This concludes this blog post, hope it helps!

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

An RDP connection to the Azure RemoteApp custom VM fails with the following error: “No Remote Desktop License Servers available”

3:35 pm in Azure, Azure PowerShell, Azure RemoteApp, RDP, W2K12R2 by Wim Matthyssen

A while ago I was setting up Azure RemoteApp at a client. After creating the custom image, I was unable to connect to the newly created Azure IaaS virtual machine (VM) with RDP. The below Remote Desktop Connection error popped up:

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The error is caused because the 120-day licensing grace period for the Remote Desktop Server role has expired and you need to install licenses. Which in my opinion is really strange because it’s a new VM created from the Windows Server RDSHwO365P image available at the Azure Marketplace. This being said below you can found out how I finally was able to connect to the VM with RDP.

1) First of all, save a local copy of the RDP file from the Azure portal. I saved it under the C:\Temp folder on my laptop

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2) Open Windows PowerShell ISE as an Administrator and run the following PowerShell command prompt to connect. This command will disable licensing for just that connection (change AZUTST by your own RDP file name):

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Be aware that only 2 connections are possible at the same time when using /admin.

3) Like you can see below, by using /admin I was able to connect to the VM

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This concludes this blog post, hope it helps!

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)

Clean up Azure PowerShell when using different Azure subscriptions

12:34 pm in Azure, Azure PowerShell, Azure subscription, Cloud, PowerShell by Wim Matthyssen

Hi all,

These days I’m working on several Azure projects for different clients. As a result, my default subscription data file which is used by Azure PowerShell is completely filled up with settings from those different subscriptions. Frequently, I notice that Azure PowerShell mixes up all this information and does not perform as expected. I strongly assume this is caused by the cached credentials and other elements. In order to fix this, I regulary clean up my Azure PowerShell to have a better overview and to accomplish a better working scripting environment. Below you can find the Azure PowerShell cmdlets to clear a specific customer’s Azure subscription from Azure PowerShell. I will also show you how you can clear your complete Azure profile.

Delete a specific Azure subscription from PowerShell

1) Open up PowerShell ISE as an Administrator and run the following PowerShell cmdlets to list all Azure subscriptions available in the default subscription data file on the computer in use, which can be found under the following location C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Windows Azure PowerShell and is named AzureProfile.json

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2) To delete a specific subscription from the date file run the below cmdlet (adjust for your own purpose). You may be sure that this cmdlet will not delete the subscription from Azure in any way. You can use this cmdlet with the -Force parameter to suppress the confirmation prompt

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3) If the above cmdlet ran without any errors the specific subscription will not be shown anymore when you’re re run the Get-AzureSubscription cmdlet and it should also be cleared from the subscription data file

Clear your complete Azure Profile

1) Open up PowerShell ISE as an Administrator and run the following PowerShell cmdlets to completely clear your Azure Profile on the computer in use

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2) If the cmdlet ran without any errors your Azure Profile should be cleared.

This ends this short blog post, hope it helps and till next time!

Wim Matthyssen (@wmatthyssen)