Welcome to part eight of the blog series based on Vishwas Lele’s PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker Roles, Identity and Access with Azure Active Directory, Azure Service Bus and MongoDB, HIPPA Compliant Apps in Azure and Offloading SharePoint Customizations to Azure and “Big Data” with Windows Azure HDInsight.

Motivation

Big Compute refers to running large scale applications which utilize large amounts of CPU and/or memory resources. These resources are provided by using a cluster of computers and the applications are distributed across the cluster. The key concept is to distribute the application to run on multiple machines so as to execute computations simultaneously in parallel. Problems in the financial, scientific and engineering fields often require computations which would take several days or longer if executed on a single computer. Big Compute solutions significantly reduce the solution time dramatically from days to hours or less, depending on how many machines are added to the compute cluster. Big Compute differs subtly from “Big Data” in that the latter is more about using disk capacity and IO performance of a cluster of computers in order to analyze large volumes of data, whereas Big Compute is primarily about utilizing CPU power in a cluster to perform computations. In order to harness the resources of multiple machines, a Big Compute solution also requires components to handle the configuration and scheduling of the individual component computations – this is usually the role of a ‘head node’ in the compute cluster. Microsoft’s HPC (High Performance Computing) platform is a key aspect of their Big Compute offerings. HPC provides all the components necessary to configure, schedule and execute computations in a distributed cluster. Microsoft’s HPC solution is supported in on-premises environments as well as in the Azure cloud, both in an IaaS configuration as well as via an Azure HPC scheduler. Since the publishing of the Pluralsight course, there have been continued developments from Microsoft on the Big Compute offerings in Azure, in particular the new Azure Batch offering which is currently in preview mode. Read More…

roadtocloud

The software industry is changing.

Many companies that have historically bought packaged software solutions are evaluating software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-backed software solutions to replace their legacy software.

This new cloud market presents tremendous opportunity for established software vendors. Capturing that opportunity brings not just technical changes, but fundamental shifts to your company’s business model.

Network, learn and share.

Join this event to learn from your peers in the industry that have leveraged the benefits of the cloud to build a successful business. You’ll hear from owners and leaders of successful software businesses about best practices and lessons learned, and gain insight about the cloud opportunity for a software business.  Read More…

windows_Azure_logo12Microsoft has opened their two newest Azure regions on 27 October 2014 in Australia as detailed in their press release at New Microsoft Azure Geo opens for business in Australia. With two new regions on-line, Microsoft brings their total number of Azure data centres to 19 worldwide. The two new locations are located in New South Wales and Victoria and bring with the full Azure feature set including Compute, Geo-redundant Storage, and Data Services.  Read More…
Introduction by Vishwas Lele:

We released the first version of our Media Center App for SharePoint 2013 almost eighteen months ago. In building this app we wanted to bring the functionality of Azure Media Services– support for complete media lifecycles, from ingestion to streaming— to SharePoint. You can read a detailed summary of the design decisions that went into building the first version here. In a nutshell, our goal was to build a SharePoint hosted app, working both in the cloud and on-premise, which provides seamless access to the media assets hosted in Azure Media Services. Furthermore, the access is enabled via a SharePoint construct such as the asset library. This setup allows the users to leverage search, custom views, and a built-in player – all the SharePoint functionality that they are already familiar with. However, as you may have guessed, the asset library only holds the metadata about the assets: the assets themselves are streamed from the AMS origination servers. Read More…

Welcome to part seven of our blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker Roles, Identity and Access with Azure Active Directory, Azure Service Bus and MongoDB, HIPPA Compliant Apps in Azure and Offloading SharePoint Customizations to Azure.

Motivation

No lengthy commentary is needed to communicate the growing importance of big data technologies. Look no further than the rounds of funding [1][2][3] that companies like Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR have attracted in recent months. It is widely expected that the market for Hadoop will likely grow to $20 Billion by 2018.

The key motivations for the growth of big data technologies includes:

  • The growing need to process ever increasing volumes of data. This growth in data is not limited to web scale companies alone. Businesses of all sizes are seeing this growth.
  • Not all data conforms to a well-defined structure/schema, so there is a need to supplement (if not replace) the traditional data processing and analysis tools such as EDWs.
  • Ability to take advantage of deep compute analytics using massively parallel, commodity based clusters. We will see examples of deep compute analysis a little bit later but this is a growing area of deriving knowledge from the data.
  • Overall simplicity (from the standpoint of the analyst/ developer authoring the query) that hides the non-trivial complexity of the underlying infrastructure.
  • Price-performance benefit accorded due to the commodity based clusters and fault tolerance.
  • The ability to tap into fast paced innovation taking place within the “Hadoop” ecosystem. Consider that Map Reduce, which has been the underpinning of Hadoop ecosystem for years, is being replaced by projects such as Yarn in recent months. Read More…
UnknownMicrosoft recently announced the public preview of Azure Government: The cloud platform designed to meet the demands of the U.S. government.   Azure Government delivers cloud speed, scale, and economics while addressing the security and compliance needs that exist in U.S. federal, state, and local government agencies. Azure Government offers physical and network isolation from non-U.S. government deployments and requires specialized personnel screening. In addition, specifically constructed datacenters ensure that all data hardware and supporting systems will physically reside in the continental United States. Azure Government will address government regulatory and compliance requirements such as FedRAMP, CJIS, ITAR, DoD Impact Levels 1-5 and HIPAA.
Read More…
Welcome to part six of our blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed, HIPAA Compliant Apps with Windows Azure Trust Center,  Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker RolesIdentity and Access with Azure Active Directory and Azure Service Bus and MongoDB.

Motivation

Question: “How does an admin protect their SharePoint farm from poorly written custom code?” Answer: “Force custom code to run in the SharePoint sandbox mode.” Not quite! Turns out that running in a sandbox mode (as the name suggests, it is a restricted execution mode within SharePoint) is not very productive because of the performance penalty and very limited capabilities available to code running in it. A better approach is to move the code “outside” of SharePoint and into a “private” execution environment (so that the errant developers can shoot themselves in the foot, but not everyone else). Read More…

Recently, I sat down with hosts Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell of .NET Rocks! to chat about the architectural patterns of cloud development. If you’re not familiar with .NET Rocks! it is a weekly online talk show for anyone interested in programming on the Microsoft .NET platform. The shows range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness.

During this discussion I talk about how the cloud influences application design, focused on more asynchronous, scalable and flexible messaging focused architecture. While the patterns could be applied to any cloud technology, Microsoft Azure is particularly well-suited to these architectural patterns, providing services that cover each pattern approach for optimal results.

Click here to listen to “Cloud Patterns with Vishwas Lele.

AIS will be presenting a new series of Azure ‘n’ Action Café webinars in early 2014. We will have expert speakers offering new and exciting content in a convenient “lunch and learn” online format, one Wednesday a month, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST.

Our first presentation date is Wednesday, January 29. You won’t want to miss this session, as we’ll cover both updates to Azure and new ways to extend your data center.

In this session we will share an example Platform as a Service (PaaS) Web Role workload in Azure.  This workload will help you understand how Azure constructs can be used in support of different scenarios.

The workload we’ll discuss makes use of the following Constructs:

  • A private data center extended into multiple Azure Regional Data Centers (East Coast / West Coast) with IPSEC tunnels
  • The on-premises AD / DNS infrastructure extended into Azure IaaS
  • An on-premises SQL Server 2012 Server database supporting a High Availability Group (Synchronous) with a local primary and a remote secondary located in Azure IaaS
  • The PaaS Web Role Load Balanced across data centers using Azure Traffic Manager

Click here to register!

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 to manage on-premises and cloud-based applications.”

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

“We want to move 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.

This free half-day session is for anyone who wants to better understand the Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. After a brief overview of the Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, we will focus on key IaaS concepts. Additionally, we will walk you through a number of scenarios enabled by Azure IaaS and several demonstrations. Learn about the new generally available features including virtual machines (with more size options), virtual networks, new image types (including SQL Server and BizTalk), lower pricing and much more. Read More…