Luper's Learnings - Azure Technical Community for Partners (December 2014)


Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Steve Luper, the Worldwide Technical Director for Azure Managed Partners. I’ve been at Microsoft for 11 years in a number of different roles with many of them specifically focused on partners including several years spent with Office 365 partners in the US. In October, I joined the Worldwide Partner Group with a focus on Azure and partners around the world. My goals are a) to build a community of technical folks delivering solutions on Azure, b) help partners with Azure enablement and c) provide a vehicle for partners to get access to engineering, competency and support resources within Microsoft.

Please forgive the length of the intro content below. As this is the first monthly edition of Luper’s Learnings, I felt it necessary to provide a baseline. I promise that, while you may see this for the first couple of editions, the primary focus will be on meaty Learnings that you can use.

What this is:

  • Each month (beginning today) I will be sending an email to my list of folks who have elected to join the community and receive this monthly email.

  • This monthly email is one component of a worldwide community of technical people within partners delivering solutions that incorporate Microsoft Azure. Other components will include webinars / calls, in person community opportunities and online collaboration via Yammer.

What this is not:

  • It is NOT my intent to provide a newsletter that’s marketing heavy.

  • I really want to provide useful and usable resources for technical individuals at partners with Azure projects and practices.

  • There are already so many terrific communities and resources within local countries and Microsoft subsidiaries. I don’t want to duplicate or compete with those great resources. My plan is to complement those and help to ensure that partners outside of those countries have access to the same great information.

  • While I do want to help each and every partner, I can’t and won’t be personal technical support. I certainly want to help you discover technical support avenues that are appropriate for you and your customers’ organizations and am open to helping with escalation paths when all other avenues have been exhausted.

Who is this for: As mentioned above, I’m particularly interested in collaborating with Microsoft field teams (including PSEs, Azure BDMs and Partner TSes) to help to meet the needs of the below roles within Azure partners:

  • Pre-sales technical

  • Architects

  • Implementation

How can you participate:

  • If you received this directly from me then you are on my list and you will continue receiving my Learnings each month. If you would prefer to stop receiving it, please reply to me and I’ll remove you promptly.

  • If somebody forwarded this email to you and you would like to begin receiving it from me directly each month, just email me at luperslearnings (at)

    In the coming months, look for a monthly Lync call with topics of the community’s choosing with subject matter experts from the Azure Product Group and Engineering teams. Let me know topics of interest for you that would be relevant to the community.

  • Plan to join Yammer or other networks once we get those community components launched.

  • Look for a Partner Azure Technical Community presence at Events like Microsoft Ignite .


This month’s Learnings:

  • Microsoft Azure IaaS Deep Dive Jump Start is one of a number of Azure readiness offerings available on Microsoft Virtual Academy.

  • In subsequent months I’ll highlight any outstanding editions from Azure Friday. In case you haven’t spent time with it, there is a new edition (~10 minutes each) published every week (on Friday) and they run the gamut of Azure services including VM Extensions, Automation with PowerShell, Azure Service Bus (101,102,103,104), LAMP on Azure and even an Introduction to Redis Cache.

  • You are undoubtedly hearing this message pretty regularly… Support for Windows Server 2003 ends on July 14, 2015. We have a Widows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant to help you analyze your customers’ Windows Server 2003 workloads so that they can migrate off of W2k3. Microsoft Azure might be a terrific destination for some of those workloads.

  • Speaking of migration, the Azure Websites Migration Assistant was released about a month ago to help migrate to Azure Websites from existing websites that run on Internet Information Service (IIS) 6 or later. Full details in the announcement, Getting Started Guide, 14 minute video demo and the tool itself at

  • Microsoft is serious about having you and your customers trust us in the cloud. We make available Trust Centers for each of our cloud services. The Azure Trust Center includes terrific information you can share with your customers on security, privacy and compliance. The Resources section has almost 30 documents on these topics. Some recent highlights include Microsoft Azure Security and Audit Log Management, Security Management in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Red Teaming.

  • In November, Microsoft released MS14-066. Azure’s November release of the Azure Guest OS for Platform as a Service (PaaS) includes the security update for this vulnerability. Customers who have elected to receive automatic guest OS updates will receive the update automatically per the details at Azure Guest OS Releases and SDK Compatibility Matrix. PaaS customers who have automatic updates disabled will have to manually update. As Azure does not manage security updates inside IaaS Virtual Machines, customers are reminded to regularly apply security updates to their systems. Security Bulletin KB2992611 is available through Windows Update.

  • As you likely know, before services become publicly available in Azure, they usually go through a public preview period first. I’ll try to keep you up to date on new services entering preview and becoming generally available. Once such recent example is Azure Operational Insights. Operational Insights is a SaaS-based service tailored for IT operations teams managing resources both on-premises and in public clouds. Leveraging the power of Azure HDInsight, it gleans machine data across datacenter and cloud environments, and turns that data into real-time operational intelligence to enable better-informed business decisions. With Operational Insights search, customers can drill deeper into areas of interest that are highlighted by pre-packaged Intelligence Packs. Learn more about this new release and how you can sign up today at the Operational Insights Preview Page.

  • Do you want to get certified on Microsoft Azure? There are two certification exams now available (Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (beta) and Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions.)

  • Within the last 30 days or so, Azure Active Directory (AAD) Sync has been updated to support password sync and localized UX for installation. Azure AD Sync allows you to onboard to Azure Active Directory and Office 365. The download is available at and updated documentation can be found at

  • In honour (see what I did there?) of the Azure Australia Geo becoming generally available at the end of October, you might entertain yourself with the Sound of Azure. What you will hear is the sound of storage, database usage, virtual machines (compute) and Azure websites in during the Australian Preview in that Geo.

  • People are doing amazing things with Microsoft Azure! Some of those have been written up as Customer Stories like AccuWeather (US), JJ Food Service (UK), Zespri International (New Zealand) and GE Healthcare (UK). All of the current Azure case studies are viewable here.

  • Challenges keeping track of Azure’s Virtual Machine and Cloud Service Sizes? We’re here to help. This article, updated within the past couple of weeks, gives you all of the details in a single place.

  • Released in October, the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0 is available for download. Check out the blog post providing details of this tool for assisting you to convert virtual machines and disks from VMware hosts to Hyper-V hosts and Windows Azure or alternatively convert a physical computer running Windows Server 2008 or later server operating systems to a virtual machine running on Hyper-V host.

  • Lastly, if you don’t yet have the details, at the end of September, as promised at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft launched the new Cloud Platform competency. You can read about both the benefits and requirements here. From a technical perspective, one of the requirements is for individuals within partner organizations to pass one of the Azure Technical Assessments (Technical Assessment for Using Microsoft Azure for Datacenter Solutions, Technical Assessment for Using Azure for Data Analytics and Data Platform Solutions or Technical Assessment for Using Microsoft Azure for Application Development.) One individual must pass one of the above as a requirement of the Silver competency and two individuals much each pass one of the above as a requirement of the Gold competency. The assessments are available via Learning Paths. I passed the Technical Assessment for Using Microsoft Azure for Datacenter Solutions in November and would challenge you to attempt whichever is most appropriate for your skills and expertise.