It should come as no surprise that Microsoft’s strategy for SharePoint 2013 is cloud-based, SaaS, Hosted Services or whatever you want to call it.  Whatever the name, the outcome is that custom, server-side code is no longer the way to go in the SharePoint world.  This brings into question the fate of one of the workhorses of SharePoint since 2003: the Event Receiver.  Microsoft has done a great job of exposing web services and creating the Client Side Object Model to enable scripting, but that doesn’t work when your application needs to react to an event that occurs in SharePoint.

SharePoint workflow could provide some of that functionality, but there is an overhead cost to workflow.  When architecting a SharePoint-based solution and the question “Workflow or Event Receiver?” comes up, I always prefer event receivers until it’s proven that the process needs a workflow.  If all the process needs to do is fire off an e-mail or update a field in another list or database, then why incur the overhead of a workflow when an event receiver will do the job with minimal management and overhead?  But that doesn’t work in an app for SharePoint or in a hosted environment that doesn’t allow custom code…or does it?

I’m guessing you can tell from the title of this post what the answer to that is — yes, with remote event receivers.

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In a previous blog post I discussed Windows Azure PaaS / IaaS hybrid scenarios. Together with my colleague Jack O’Connell (Infrastructure Specialist extraordinaire), we set up each of the four scenarios outlined in the previous post including:

  • Using Windows Azure Virtual Network to provision a VPN to connect our on-premised infrastructure with a Windows Azure datacenter.
  • Set up front-end and back-end subnets.
  • Provision a set of Azure IaaS Virtual Machines and Azure Web Roles.
  • Install System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications on Azure-based machines.
  • Install System Center Operations on-premises in order to manage Azure-based resources.

Watch the following video for a quick walkthrough of the scenarios in action:

We’re super excited over here — AIS’ own Vishwas Lele has published an eBook about the next generation of productivity possibilities with Office and SharePoint 2013, entitled The App Economy: Coming to an Office™ Near You.

In the eBook, Vishwas presents app solutions for different scenarios, with perspectives from a cast of characters which includes a power user, a developer, an administrator and an industry analyst. In these scenarios, the following questions will be answered:

• Why are apps needed?
• What nagging problems are they designed to solve?
• What kinds of apps can we expect to see in the marketplace?
• How will SharePoint apps be secured?
• What are the various revenue models supported?
• Would in-app purchases be allowed? What about ads?
• What is the difference between a public app store and a corporate app catalog?

“I decided to write a story about friends and co-workers and their day-to-day productivity challenges,” said Vishwas, “and how Office and SharePoint 2013 —combined with the cloud —will change the way they all do business.”

The eBook is available at Amazon.com, and is FREE during the SharePoint 2012 conference.

This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

During the Microsoft SharePoint Conference keynote yesterday morning, there weren’t a lot of surprises (if you’ve been paying attention for the last few months, that is).  However, you can always learn something from the emphasis that Microsoft puts on certain topics.  The biggest “announcement” was that the enterprise features of Yammer are now included with Office 365 E Plans and SharePoint Online.  SharePoint 2013 also went up for sale (at least for some customers) yesterday. The rest is all about the cloud and apps.

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Thanks to everyone who joined us for AIS and Microsoft’s Introduction to Azure IaaS event last month. As promised (and for anyone who missed it), here’s the full presentation from Vishwas Lele and Jack O’Connell. Click through the slideshow below, and feel free to ask any follow-up questions in the comments or contact us.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, Vishwas and Jack will be presenting this session again TOMORROW at Microsoft’s Malvern, PA office. All the details on that event can be found here. We hope to see you there, and please keep up with our Events Calendar for other presentations in your area.

I was recently asked to write my own custom performance metric and publish it to Amazon’s CloudWatch using PowerShell.

Part I: How do I get this thing running already?

I initially used this blog post as a general guide, but since I had some experience with PowerShell already, the real learning part for me was how to call the API through .NET. (There is a second part, which actually shows you how to publish the metric. Unfortunately, his test “Tutorial” namespace ended up in the wrong region [US East] as compared to my instance [US West Oregon].

I figured out the correct way to do this by teasing apart the free community scripts available on AWS, which I will discuss later (see Part 2).

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If you have found yourself thinking…

“We want the cloud to be a seamless extension of our data center, not a walled garden. We want to use our existing IT setup and tools (AD, SCOM etc.) to manage the on-premises and cloud-based applications.”

“We want seamlessly move virtual machines from on-premises to the cloud and back.”

“We want to start out by moving existing applications to the cloud without the need to change the applications in any way.”

…then our upcoming Introduction to Windows Azure IaaS session is for you.

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Most cloud services require you to create a CNAME record for your custom domain in order to direct traffic to the cloud-hosted site. Your example.com site may actually be hosted at example.cloudapp.net. For on-premises hosting you would know the IP address of your server (or the load balancer) and can use an A record, but that is not the case on Azure or AWS: these require that pesky CNAME.

CNAME records don’t support naked domains. Your site has to be at www.example.com, it can’t be at simply example.com, the root, or apex, record of your domain. On the other hand, A records can only support IP addresses.

There are a number of solutions to this problem, so I’ll list some here:

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Just like on-premises applications, the availability for cloud applications needs to be carefully planned. In this blog post I’ll discuss different levels of availability for Windows Azure-hosted applications.

Ultimately the level of availability you choose needs to be a business decision that balances cost with your personal tolerance for the nines.

To guide us though this discussion, I’ll use a typical Windows Azure application as an example. The architecture of our sample application consists of three primary components: Windows Azure Compute Instances, Blob Storage Data, and SQL Azure Data. Read More…

As a Microsoft partner with several gold competencies and cloud memberships, we are entitled to an extensive suite of internal use licenses for many of Microsoft’s on-premise and cloud products.  During our recent rollout of Office 365, the elegance of Microsoft’s long-term vision of federating authentication (which has been evolving since the release of Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) 1.0 in 2005) really stood out.

Once an ADFS 2.0 infrastructure is in place, federating authentication with our hosted Office 365 environment was relatively easy.  Our users now have access to hosted versions of Lync, Exchange and SharePoint using their familiar domain credentials.  Up next for us is migrating our current Dynamics CRM Online deployment into the Microsoft online services portal environment where our Office 365 environment is managed.  Once this change is complete, CRM will leverage the same ADFS-based federated authentication platform.  Read More…