Azure SkuNotAvailable during Terraform apply

I ran into some issues when actually attempting to apply my first Terraform template, specifically errors related to the location I had chosen:

* azurerm_virtual_machine.test: compute.VirtualMachinesClient#CreateOrUpdate:
Failure sending request: StatusCode=409 -- 
Original Error: failed request: autorest/azure: Service returned an error. 
Status=<nil> Code="SkuNotAvailable" 
Message="The requested size for resource '/subscriptions/f745d13d/resourceGroups/HelloWorld/providers/Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines/helloworld' is currently not available in location 'WestUS' zones '' for subscription 'f745d13d'. 
Please try another size or deploy to a different location or zones. 
See for details."

This didn’t make much sense to me, because I was using a very normal VM size (like Standard_A2 or something) and it was definitely available in WestUS.

The key to solving was when I use the Azure Shell (powershell) to run this:

Get-AzureRmComputeResourceSku | where {$_.Locations.Contains("WestUS")}

The output of this command:

Displays azure locations for my subscription

Turns out for my Subscription (Visual Studio Enterprise – MPN), WestUS is restricted to very few VM sizes (note the “NotAvailableForSubscription” items). When I target WestUS2 or EastUS, then there’s quite a bit more choice.

Terraform – first experience

Having access to an Azure credit through my workplace, I’ve begun training and testing various things within Azure, and recently I was looking at ARM templates for VM deployment. This research led me to stumble across Terraform as an infrastructure-as-code deployment tool.

I started messing around with Terraform to deploy a basic set of Azure resources using these two guides:

Using Peter’s example was great, although I had to make a few tweaks since the module syntax has changed. In the near future I’ll post a full example of what I used recently for my first template. Terraform documentation has been excellent as I’ve worked through syntax and various examples, which is a great surprise.

I’ve found that I appreciate building a template in Terraform much more than an ARM template. Part of this is the easier syntax and readability, and the logical manner that I’ve seen others use Terraform .tf files for segregating resource deployment.

I think that the other primary factor is because declarative Terraform is what I’ve seen referred to as “idempotent” – a new word for me I’ve only ever seen used in this context. The answer on this StackOverflow question gives a great description of this context, and its clearly descriptive of how Terraform operates.

If I build an ARM template and apply it, it will deploy the resource as I’ve described it. And then if I apply that template again, it will attempt to build another of that resource. And if I modify the template and apply it again, it will attempt to create that slightly modified resource, leaving me with 3 different resources.

Terraform instead gives the ability to declare “what I want it to look like”, and ensures that the actual state matches the declared state. There are genuinely good reasons to use both approaches but right now this idempotent-style of deployment is new and attractive to me.

Soon on the horizon in my sandbox is to utilize remote state in an Azure blob storage to facilitate team work within one environment.

AppAssure Agent service not started

I have found in recent experience that the Quest RapidRecovery/AppAssure agent service frequently fails to start within the default Windows service startup timer (30 seconds).

I don’t believe this is simply my environment, as Quest has a knowledge article specifically addressing the problem.

This issue poses a problem especially after Windows Updates maintenance windows, because our hundreds of virtual machines will reboot, leaving our monitoring system with hundreds of alerts of stopped services, and many failed backups.

Unfortunately, Quest’s recommendation to simply increase the services startup timeout is system-wide, and not something I was willing to apply in full across my entire environment.

My first thought was to utilize the Recovery options with the Windows service, but upon quick inspection its clear this is only for failed services, and a service that isn’t started does not fall into that category.

Instead I decided to set a GPO with a service preference, with service action set to “Start Service”. This way, every time Group Policy is refreshed, if the service isn’t running it will be started.

The GPO itself has a bit of logic to address the AppAssure/Rapid Recovery upgrade we’re going through right now, which results in a service name change for the agent.

To accomplish this, I created two separate service preferences, each with some item-level targetting for registry matching to ensure it only applies if that service does exist (to avoid spamming Event Logs). This takes advantage of the fact that the AppAssure Agent doesn’t record a product version in the registry:

AppAssure Service

  • Service Name = AppAssureAgent
  • Match if KeyExists HKLM\Software\AppRecovery\Agent
  • AND if not ValueExists HKLM\Software\AppRecovery\Agent\ProductVersion

Rapid Recovery Service

  • Service Name = RapidRecoveryAgent
  • Match if ValueExists HKLM\Software\AppRecovery\Agent\ProductVersion

Update Quest RapidRecovery Agents silently

I’m in the process of upgrading AppAssure 5.4.3 agents to the latest version of Rapid Recovery, 6.1.3. This is done following the Core upgrade.

So far my progress has been pretty seamless. In testing I confirmed that I could push the install with a “No Reboot” force, and the agent would continue to operate normally until the next system reboot (which will occur as part of monthly Windows Updates).

This script is in no way ‘complete’, as in it could be made much better. Additional logging on success or failure, parallel processing, etc could all be done -however for simple purposes it worked quite well.

# begin a transcript to log the output to file
Start-Transcript C:\Temp\AgentUpgradeLog.txt
# Define the list of systems to update
# Gather list of older version from Rapid Recovery Licensing Portal
$systems = Get-Content -Path C:\Temp\AgentServers.txt
foreach($system in $systems) {
#Write-Host "Testing connectivity to $system"
$rtn = Test-Connection -CN $system -Count 1 -BufferSize 16 -Quiet
IF($rtn -match 'True'){
 Write-Host "ALIVE - $System"
 copy C:\Temp\Agent-X64- \\$system\c$\temp -confirm:$false
 $executable = "C:\temp\Agent-X64-"
 $session = New-PSSession -ComputerName $system 
 # Key here is the /silent and reboot=never switches
Invoke-Command -Session $session -ScriptBlock {Start-Process $using:executable -ArgumentList "/silent reboot=never" -Wait}
 remove-pssession $session
 Write-Host "$System - upgrade steps completed"
 sleep 5
# Found that we had agent services not starting following the upgrade
 get-service -name "RapidRecoveryAgent" -computername $system | Start-Service
 Write-Host "DOWN - $System"


Update drive label with no letter

In the process of re-organizing naming structure of a set of Cluster Shared Volumes, I had a need to rename the volume upon an iSCSI disk that was presented to the cluster.

Originally I sourced this article which requires a drive letter associated with the volume in order to find the proper object.

Following that, I came across this article which had the syntax I needed in the last post.

Here’s the script I used successfully:

$drive = gwmi win32_volume -filter "Label = 'Old Name'"
$drive.Label = "New Name"