Azure Functions LogoThe trend of making applications serverless is on fire! And it’s not just hype…going serverless makes the administration, monitoring and debugging of code so much easier that developers all around are flocking to use it in one way or the other.

If you don’t know what serverless means, I would suggest you start here. In a nutshell, it basically abstracts the underlying platform and allows the developers just to run a piece of code without worrying about servers and their maintenance. Also, it gets the usual benefits of the cloud like auto-scale, pay per use etc.

The Background

At AIS IDC, we have a separate timesheet system to keep track of records internally. This system comprises of various features like Leave Requests, Time Logs, Work-From-Home Requests, etc. We deployed the system a couple of years ago, and it’s comprised of an Azure SQL instance, Azure Web App on Windows, and an Azure Classic Cloud Service. The Azure Classic Cloud Service was deployed with a separate application written in C# to keep track of overtime hours, update leaves, figure out timesheet defaulters, send out email notifications, etc. Since this was a classic Cloud Service, we had little visibility into what was going on while it was running.

Furthermore, just to do these basic tasks every five minutes, the classic cloud service was costing us $60 per month on an average. Read More…

Last night’s #AzureGovMeetup challenged government agencies to view the cloud as more than just a technology and software choice, but also as business strategy to create greater impact for employees and citizens. With its agility, speed and low cost, the cloud is the key to helping agencies test and innovate new solutions faster than ever before.

First up, we heard from Kevin Jackson, a globally-recognized cloud computing expert and founder/author of the award-winning blog, Cloud Musings. Kevin shared his experience and expertise on cloud innovation and the keys to developing a successful cloud business strategy.

Brett & Jim presenting Moving a high-profile application to production Vishwas Lele

Next up was a very special cloud innovation showcase featuring the latest cloud solutions currently advancing agency missions, including:

• AIS’ own Brett Goldsmith and Jim Mullennix presented on a high-profile application they recently helped move to production in Azure Gov.
Carlton Reeves, Forward Deployed Solutions Leader, C3 IoT shared insights on how to innovate in the cloud using Azure.

Keep an eye on the official Azure Government Meetup YouTube channel, where videos of the full presentations will be posted shortly. In the meantime, why not RSVP for the July Meetup and follow the AIS Team on Twitter?

Best of Texas AwardTwo years ago, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) came to AIS with an outdated online budgeting tool called the “Texas Reality Check” for middle and high school students. The application, designed to give students a clear sense of how much their desired future lifestyle will cost and what education and career choices will support it, was plagued by performance and accessibility issues…and its young target demographic was simply tuning it out.

AIS modernized the site for teen sensibilities, streamlined the underlying information architecture for easier use, overhauled the content strategy and user experience, and made it fully compliant with the latest accessibility guidelines.  You can read more about our work on this project here.

The new and improved Texas Reality Check has since gone on to become the most popular application of the Labor Market and Career Information Department (LMCI) of the Texas Workforce Commission. And now it’s been honored with a 2018 “Best of Texas” Award for Best Application Serving the Public. The awards highlight the Texas state government’s top creative tech implementations of the year, for both internal improvements and public-facing services like TRC.

“Governmental and educational leaders in Texas are leveraging technology to improve cybersecurity, enhance citizen service and advance emergency response, among many other things,” said Teri Takai, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. “Congratulations to this year’s Best of Texas winners for the vital role they are playing in advancing information technology in Texas.”

We’re really proud of our work on this project, and thrilled that school students all across Texas have responded to the site in such a positive and engaged way. We hope the application continues to inspires them to dream big…while also equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve their goals.

For those who are familiar with Microsoft’s popular Dashboard in a Day workshops for Power BI, App in a Day (AIAD) is very similar. The program is an all-day training designed to accelerate attendees’ PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and CDS for Apps experience. The comprehensive hands-on workshop is led by a certified Microsoft Partner, in this case, your friends at Applied Information Sciences.

The training provides practical experience in a full-day of instructor lead App creation workshops. You learn how to build custom apps that run on mobile devices of which you can share inside your organization securely.

Inside the AIAD Workshop

Full house at the AIAD at Microsoft’s Reston MTC

Trainees at App in a Day

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brainThe debate is over. Public cloud infrastructure will become the backbone of Enterprise IT. But are you ready to make the shift? Do you have the trained staff, or the personal cloud experience, to make this transition successfully?

Vast Career Opportunities in Cloud

Adoption of the cloud by Enterprise IT is growing at a breakneck pace, creating a large skills gaps among individual organizations and a large demand for cloud talent among service providers.

A quick Indeed or Glassdoor search brings back 22,000+ Cloud Solutions Architect (CSA) positions in the US alone. The demand for CSA’s is greater than ever, but why?

CSAs are key to any company’s cloud transformation objectives. They are responsible for defining cloud adoption plans, setting up cloud application guidelines, as well as management and monitoring strategies. In addition, CSAs are also expected to provide hands-on technical leadership.

With the growing need for cloud support and talent, you’ll want to make sure your workforce (or your resume) is up to par and can keep up with the rapid development of best practices. The best way to do that is through specialized training and certification programs, like the Azure Master Class.

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AIS was pleased to present our work with the United States Air Force at the annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Montgomery IT Summit on May 23.

The Air Force awarded AIS a contract to build out an Azure core infrastructure in the multi-cloud Common Computing Environment (CCE). The infrastructure is capable of supporting the migration of thousands of on-premises and legacy applications to the cloud.  At the same time, the AIS team engaged in a parallel effort to migrate the “lead horse” application into the environment and celebrated the distinction of being the first company to successfully field a production application.

AzureGov May MeetupIt was another packed house last night at our May #AzureGovMeetup in Washington, D.C.! Our topic was “Harnessing Cloud: Accelerate Your Mission Apps.” While I.T. modernization is top of mind for government agencies, many struggle to realize the full value of  the modernization  they can achieve bu moving the majority of their enterprise apps to the cloud and creating new citizen services.

And now, with the latest orders from the White House, there’s an even greater sense of urgency to overcome barriers and accelerate ways to boost cloud adoption and overhaul government IT systems to drive agility, cost savings, innovation and mission delivery. Last night’s experts (including AIS CTO and Microsoft MVP Vishwas Lele) covered a lot of ground, including:

  • A PaaS-first approach to mission apps
  • Achieving TIC compliance
  • Opportunities from recent government IT modernization and cloud initiatives

Check out the photos and some short video clips below from @aisteam, or (if you’ve got some time!) you can watch the ENTIRE meetup at the livestream archive here or on the #AzureGovMeetup YouTube page. Don’t miss out on next month’s June Meetup either — RSVP today to claim your spot.

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Artificial Intelligence and cognitive technologies are already transforming the way government agencies work. From predicting fraudulent transactions and detecting criminal suspects via vision APIs, to speech recognition and language translation, cognitive capabilities are a way to “augment/assist” government workers and complement their skills.

I had the opportunity to record a video on Azure Custom Speech Service with Steve Michelotti from the AzureGov team. Steve and I talked about how Azure Custom Speech Service can overcome most common challenges in speech recognition, including speaking style, technical vocabulary, and background noise.

Please take a listen and let us know your thoughts. We strongly believe that the innovative capabilities like Azure Custom Speech Service are a real differentiator when it comes to selecting a cloud provider.

Calling all SharePoint users and Office 365 developers! Once again, we invite you to attend this month’s Meetup for the Triangle SharePoint User Group in Morrisville, North Carolina. The Meetup is TOMORROW and space in limited, so RSVP today to claim your spot.

About the Session: 

Many traditional SharePoint developers have been caught off guard with the fast pace of changes to the SharePoint ecosystem in recent years. Whether it’s the rapid adoption of Office 365 or the growing investment in cloud-based infrastructure and services, it can all feel very foreign to anyone still using some of the same development approaches and tools first pioneered in SharePoint 2007.

This month’s session will break down traditional SharePoint solutions (such as features, webparts, workflows, event receivers, and timer jobs) and discuss how they translate to modern equivalents in Office 365 and the cloud. We’ll touch on popular topics like the role of SPFX, PowerApps, and Flow, and also other key Azure Services such as Logic Apps, Azure Functions, and Hybrid Data Connections.

You’ll gain an understanding for the growing role of new APIs such as Microsoft Graph, various nuances with authentication, and the importance of hybrid environments and accessing on-premises data. Along the way you’ll discover some of the tools, techniques, and approaches that will be invaluable as you decide what part of your toolbelt will be the most important to upgrade!

About the Speaker: 

Josh Carlisle is a full stack software developer based out of Raleigh, North Carolina working as a Senior Solution Architect at B&R Business Solutions. He has 20 years of development experience from the early days of VB5, COM, ASP, and the birth of .Net to his first adventures with SharePoint development in 2004. His current focus is on architecting, designing, and developing solutions for Azure, Office 365, and SharePoint using the latest front end JavaScript frameworks such as Angular and React alongside service side solutions based on ASP.NET Core and Node.js. Josh also enjoys sharing is knowledge and experience at regional user groups and community events.

Come join your peers and fellow developers for a great session of networking and learning. As always, this event is free but space in limited. RSVP here!