Luper's Learnings - Azure Technical Community for Partners (January 2015)

Happy New Year!

If we haven’t met yet, 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 second 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. Thanks for your tolerance, I’m planning to drop the intro content in February.

What this is:

  • Each month (started in December) 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:

  • Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President recently said “Microsoft loves Linux, and we’re excited to be the first cloud provider to offer a new rendition of one of the most popular Linux platforms in the rapidly growing Azure cloud. By delivering the new cloud-optimised Ubuntu Core image on Azure, we’re extending our first-class support for Linux and enabling freedom of choice so developers everywhere can innovate even faster.” Read ubuntu’s announcement of Snappy Ubuntu Core here. Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols also covered the announcement on ZDNet.

  • Lots of additional info, coverage etc. on Microsoft loving Linux --

  • Do you watch the Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover Show? It’s your eye on the Microsoft Cloud. There have been nearly 170 episodes since Cloud Cover started almost 5 years ago. Episodes last month covered Azure Diagnostic Improvements and Advanced Redis Cache. Join Chris Risner and Haishi Bai as they cover Microsoft Azure, demonstrate features, discuss the latest news + announcements, and share tips and tricks

  • I recently learned that the Microsoft Azure Support team has a blog. For the most part it’s a quiet and low traffic blog but when issues of significance occur (like last month’s problems with Azure VM Windows Activation) the team posts support info on their blog.

  • Way back in October (a long time ago in cloud time) Jason Zander, Azure Corporate Vice President, posted a summary of key announcements made on the Azure G series VMs, Premium Storage, partnerships with CoreOS and Cloudera and more. Over the last couple of months we’ve seen more details on all of these topics but this post has a good summary as well as a good reminder to keep an eye on the Azure blog.

  • Since I just mentioned the Azure blog, I’ll encourage you to look at any / all posts that are of interest to you around topics like Virtual Machines, Networking, Database and Big Data but, specifically the Announcements topics are a really good place to keep up with what’s going on in the world of Azure. There were 11 Announcements in December on topics ranging from Docker to Microsoft Azure Government, Azure Media Services and Premium Storage.

  • The December update to the October announcements around Premium Storage, RemoteApp (more info below), SQL Database Update and more was posted by Scott Guthrie. Yah, it’s a long post but there’s a TON of great info about services that were updated and became Generally Available in December.

  •  I told you last month about the first two exams available for Azure (Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions) and (Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions.) There is now a third exam available in beta (Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions.) I’ve personally challenged myself to take and pass the Infrastructure exam this month. How about you? Let me know if you take it and how you do!

  • As mentioned above, Azure RemoteApp is now Generally Available. It allows you to help your customers’ employees stay productive anywhere, and on a variety of devices - Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android. Company applications run on Windows Server in the Azure cloud, where they’re easier to scale and update. Employees install Microsoft Remote Desktop clients on their Internet-connected laptop, tablet, or phone—and can then access applications as if they were running locally.

  • I frequently get asked about how to price an Azure solution. While your customers rely on your expertise to design, size and spec a solution including Azure, you can use the Azure Pricing Calculator to assist with that task. Please do keep in mind that the prices provided by the calculator are based on prices in the US regions and do not include variations by region. Once you have your baseline, please ensure that you check the individual service pricing pages and select your region.

  • An additional tool is the Microsoft Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool (updated last week.) It too will help to quickly assess running cost of the existing on-premises workload on Azure. Again, please keep in mind that the pricing data for this tool is for United States. You will want to consult local pricing information for pricing specifics for other countries. A number of months ago, Courtenay Bernier posted an overview and walkthrough of this tool.

  • In October the Partner Enterprise Architect Team (PEAT) posted 5 hours of webinars discussing running SAP workloads on Azure. Might be a good starting point if this is an interesting topic for you.

  • If you want a great example (or even an actual solution) of an ISV leveraging Azure, SimpleTix built a white-label ticketing solution for Resorts, Festivals & Conferences leveraging Microsoft Azure along with a ticket scanning app for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows tablets and Windows phones. Read the one page mini-case study to learn more.

  • Every week (including this Friday, 9 January at 10:00 AM Pacific Time) there is a 30 minute live demo of Microsoft Azure with one of our Microsoft Evangelists. Feel free to attend or share with your customers.

  • Even though things tend to slow down in December, Rajesh Goli, Program Manager found time to announce that Azure Backup became available in Australia and China. While that news is important, he also gave two powerful examples of using Azure to Back Up your Enterprise. Read about both Branch Office Backups and Long Term Retention as possible use cases in his post.

  • Speaking of Backup, Symon Perriman, Senior Technical Evangelist, held a short interview on Real-world Data Protection Manager with the Cloud with Dik van Brummen of SaaSPlaza and Shreesh Dubey from the Backup team at TechEd Europe. Shreesh, Dik and others also presented an hour long session on Cloud Integrated Backup at the conference.

  • Finally, to close out the January Learnings, if you didn’t have a chance to participate in the awesome three day Integrate 2014 event, you can download many of the presentations and watch a number of the recorded sessions here.

Coming next month --- In February, I’m planning to have some content specifically around Compliance and Security in Microsoft Azure. If you have other topics you’d like me to include, don’t hesitate to reach out!