Posts tagged “Azure Automation

Azure Automation – getting started

Azure Automation allows Azure administrators to run PowerShell and other scripts against an Azure subscription. They provide several benefits versus running the same scripts from the user desktop computer including:

  • Scripts run in Azure and are not dependent on the end-user desktop
  • Scripts are highly available by design.
  • Scheduling is a built-in feature
  • Authentication is streamlined for both classic ASM and current ARM resources

To get started with Azure Automation;

  1. Create an Azure Automation account
  2. Install needed PowerShell modules
  3. Create, run, test, schedule scripts

Create an Azure Automation account

In the current portal, Create Resource > Monitoring and Management > Automation > Create

In the ‘Add Automation Account’ blade enter/select a name for the Automation Account, Azure Subscription, Resource Group, and Azure Location

Azure will take a few minutes to create the automation account and associated objects.

We can now run scripts against the Azure subscription selected above. Here are some examples:

Create a test script

In the Automation Account blade, click Runbooks

Click ‘Add a runbook’ link on the top to create a new runbook of type PowerShell

Azure creates the runbook/script, and opens the ‘Edit PowerShell Runbook’ blade

Type in the desired command, click Save, then ‘Test pane’

In the ‘Test’ blade, click ‘Start’. Azure will queue and execute the script


  • This is not like the PowerShell ISE. There’s no auto-completion for one thing.
  • If Azure comes across a bad command, it will try to execute THE ENTIRE SCRIPT repeatedly, and is likely to get stuck.
  • This shell does not support user interaction. So, any cmdlet that would typically require a user confirmation/interaction of any type will fail. For example, Install-Module cmdlet will fail since it requires user approval/interaction to install PowerShellGet.

Install needed modules

To see available modules click ‘Modules’ in the Automation Account blade

Click ‘Browse Gallery’ on top and search for the desired module

These modules come for the Microsoft PowerShell Gallery.

Click on the desired module, view its functions, and click Import to import it to this automation shell

Now that the module is imported, we can use it in scripting in this particular automation shell:




Expand-Json cmdlet to expand custom PowerShell object in a more readable format added to AZSBTools PowerShell module

Microsoft Azure REST API version 2 (ARM – Azure Resource Manager) takes input request body and returns output in JSON format. Consequently, Azure PowerShell cmdelts and Azure CLI tend to use similar JSON objects for input, also known as ARM Templates.

For example, using this PowerShell cmdlet:

Get-AzureRmResource -ResourceId /subscriptions/xxxxx/resourceGroups

where xxxxx is your Azure subscription Id, may return output similar to:

Name : prod-mgt
ResourceId : /subscriptions/xxxxx/resourceGroups/prod-mgt
ResourceGroupName : prod-mgt
Location : eastus
SubscriptionId : xxxxx
Properties : @{provisioningState=Succeeded}

Name : TestAuto1
ResourceId : /subscriptions/xxxxx/resourceGroups/TestAuto1
ResourceGroupName : TestAuto1
Location : westeurope
SubscriptionId : xxxxx
Properties : @{provisioningState=Succeeded}

What the PowerShell cmdlet did is to send a GET request to the Azure Management API that looks partially like:

Which returned JSON output similar to:

  "value": [
      "id": "/subscriptions/xxxxx/resourceGroups/prod-mgt",
      "name": "prod-mgt",
      "location": "eastus",
      "properties": {
        "provisioningState": "Succeeded"
      "id": "/subscriptions/xxxxx/resourceGroups/TestAuto1",
      "name": TestAuto1
      "location": "westeurope",
      "properties": {
        "provisioningState": "Succeeded"

In the course of working with Azure ARM templates, such as this template to create a Storage Account:

  "$schema": "",
  "contentVersion": "",
  "parameters": {
    "storageAccountType": {
      "type": "string",
      "defaultValue": "Standard_LRS",
      "allowedValues": [
     "metadata": {
       "description": "Storage Account type"
  "variables": {
    "storageAccountName": "[concat(uniquestring(resourceGroup().id), 'standardsa')]"
  "resources": [
      "type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts",
      "name": "[variables('storageAccountName')]",
      "apiVersion": "2016-01-01",
      "location": "[resourceGroup().location]",
      "sku": {
        "name": "[parameters('storageAccountType')]"
      "kind": "Storage", 
      "properties": {
  "outputs": {
    "storageAccountName": {
      "type": "string",
      "value": "[variables('storageAccountName')]"

It may not be very clear what are the objects in the template and their hierarchy. Using the ConvertFrom-Json cmdlet of the Microsoft.PowerShell.Utility module produces a PS custom object with display similar to:

Get-Content E:\Scripts\ARMTemplates\Storage1.json | ConvertFrom-Json

$schema :
contentVersion :
parameters : @{storageAccountType=}
variables : @{storageAccountName=[concat(uniquestring(resourceGroup().id), ‘standardsa’)]}
resources : {@{type=Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts; name=[variables(‘storageAccountName’)]; apiVersion=2016-01-01; location=[resourceGroup().location]; sku=; kind=Storage; properties=}}
outputs : @{storageAccountName=}

This is better but it doesn’t show some of the information in the source JSON file/ARM template. The new Expand-Json cmdlet further expands the ConvertFrom-Json output:

Get-Content E:\Scripts\ARMTemplates\Storage1.json | ConvertFrom-Json | Expand-JSON

To use the AZSBTools PowerShell module which is available in the PowerShell Gallery, you need PowerShell 5. To view your PowerShell version, in an elevated PowerShell ISE window type


To download and install the latest version of AZSBTools from the PowerShell Gallery and its dependencies, type

Install-Module POSH-SSH,SB-Tools,AZSBTools,AzureRM -Force

AZSBTools contains functions that depend on POSH-SSH, SB-Tools, and AzureRM modules, and they’re typically installed together.

To load the POSH-SSH, SB-Tools, AZSBTools, and AzureRM modules type:

Import-Module POSH-SSH,SB-Tools,AZSBTools,AzureRM -DisableNameChecking

To view a list of cmdlets/functions in SB-Tools, type

Get-Command -Module AZSBTools

To view the built-in help of one of the AZSBTools functions/cmdlets, type

help <function/cmdlet name> -show

such as

help New-SBAZServicePrincipal -show