Luper's Learnings - Azure Technical Community for Partners (July 2015)
This is the July 2015 monthly edition of Luper’s Learnings. Celebration abounds! As I write this, it’s the afternoon of 1 July here in Redmond. I hope that my Canadian friends had a Happy Canada Day. Today also marks the 1st day of Microsoft’s FY16 fiscal year, this weekend in the US we’ll celebrate our Independence Day holiday (my manager is British, it’s ok) and, finally, starting in just over a week, we’ll celebrate with thousands of partners at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, Florida. I’ll be there, will you? If you’ll be there, follow me on twitter, email me and let’s get together! Check out the WPC Session Catalog, too.
Before I share this month’s Learnings…
Pretty regularly I get asked about Azure Roadmaps. In a couple of previous Luper’s Learnings I've told you about our new Cloud Platform Roadmap. I'd like to expand on that by sharing my Roadmap Continuum concept this month. Hopefully, this approach will resonate with you and you can leverage it in your customer discussions. If you have feedback or ideas on this approach, please share them with me!
Historically, we have had discussions with customers about roadmaps for on-premises products like Windows Server, Exchange, SQL Server etc. These enterprise class, on prem server offerings have had new releases about every 2 – 3 years. When the development and release cycles where multiple years, it absolutely made sense to help customers have visibility to what capabilities were coming a year or two or more down the road so that they could plan their upgrades and deployments. These days, we’re operating at cloud speed so a similar roadmap discussion wouldn’t really give a customer a look too far out but more about that below.
The end goal for any Azure feature or service is to reach General Availability (GA) when customers are expected to pay for the service, have complete access to support and have a Service Level Agreement (SLA.) Fortunately for all of us, we usually get access to these new features, enhancements and services much sooner than the 2 – 3 years that we may have had to wait in the past. And… our feedback can influence the next enhancements and improvements.
Let’s take a minute to compare the days of old (just a few years ago) with today’s release cadence and planning process forAzure. As mentioned above, those big, installable, delivered on DVD enterprise servers may have had multi year planning, development and ship cycles but, watch @CoreySandersWA discuss in this short video, that Azure is “constantly shipping”, “we ship something every day, somewhere in the world.” Corey also talks about the all up planning process which is done in 6 month cycles and, of course, he mentions the agile process use as we ship and revise plans on an ongoing basis within that broader planning process.
As a feature or service gets closer to being ready, we typically run a Private Preview for a small group of customers and partners. This would be pretty comparable to our Technology Adoption Programs (TAPs) associated with on-premises solutions. These usually last for some number of weeks or months (or longer depending on the maturity and complexity of the offering) and allow participants to give real time feedback to the engineering team to help them progress the functionality towards Public Preview. These Private Previews are usually for customers and partners who have been nominated by a Microsoft colleague and have very high expectations of rapid deployment and regular, bi-directional feedback.
You probably already know this but before a feature is “released” it goes into Public Preview for a time. Services in Public Preview are usually offered at a discounted cost or, even for free. At this point, the feature is pretty close to release but Partners and Customers get a chance to kick the tires, provide feedback and get their feet wet before we start charging the full price for it. As of today, there are 22 features in Public Preview for customers and partners to evaluate and they are subject to the preview supplemental terms.
Circling back to close where I started, the publically available Cloud Platform Roadmap has been available for some time and provides a snapshot of what we’re working on in the Cloud Platform business. Use the roadmap to find out what we’ve recently made generally available, released into public preview, are still developing and testing, or are no longer developing all in one place. This is a great site to support your customer conversations about Azure, roadmaps, cloud speed and cloud as compared to on-premises solutions.
And, as has been the case for an eternity, we are able to make NDA Roadmaps available to customers and partners on a 1:1 basis. Of course, the participants must have a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place and the roadmap delivery must come from a Microsoft employee. Depending on the customers’ goal with this discussion, you’ll certainly recall, as I said above that we plan Azure services a much shorter time in advance than we used to with non-cloud solutions so any visibility that a customer would get will be in pretty general terms and, most often, no narrower a time frame than the calendar quarter in which we are targeting a release.
If I were to do a quick picture of the concepts I’ve represented above, it would look something like this:
As I mentioned before, I’d love to hear your feedback on this discussion approach and your suggestions on how to improve it.
On to the Learnings from the last month…
Since I’m writing this on Canada Day, it’s only fitting that I start with the announcement made just under a month ago that we are bringing Azure data centers to Toronto and Quebec City in 2016.
And… why stop with Canada? Read the blog post from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President of our Cloud and Enterprise group that talks about the private preview of Azure coming to India this month and expansion of our datacenter in the Netherlands.
I’m incredibly proud that we’ve just completed the 3rd public release of the Azure Partner Readiness Catalog (APRC). It’s a place where we crowd source and constantly update a catalog of readiness content for partners. Take a look and let me know what you think. https://aka.ms/aprc.
A week ago, the team posted on the Active Directory Team Blog that Azure AD Connect & Connect Health is now GA! Azure AD Connect is now generally available for all Azure AD customers including Office365 customers. It’s the single tool and experience for connecting your on premises directories to Azure AD, whether you are evaluating, piloting, or in production. Also, Azure AD Connect Health is also now generally available for our growing number of Azure AD Premium customers. It is a cloud based service and a key part of our effort to help monitor and secure your cloud and on-premises identity infrastructure.
Khalid Mouss posted a blog post about how to consume Azure services through existing Azure SDKs, Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI. Azure CLI – Command Line Interface, is cross platform and is supported on Linux, Mac and Windows clients. He demonstrates how to take advantage of the newly released Azure CLI Docker image to quickly get going with Azure CLI regardless of what client OS or Linux Distribution you’re using as long as you have access to Docker host.
You may have noticed pretty regular updates to Gartner’s various magic quadrants lately. It’s exciting to be able to say that Azure keeps showing up! @Alex_A_Simons arranged complimentary access to Gartner’s recently published Identity and Access Management as a Service MQ.
Introduced at Ignite, the Microsoft Operations Management Suite, is a new hybrid management solution that extends the value of System Center and helps manage corporate workloads no matter where they run - Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware, or OpenStack. We have now enhanced our hybrid management portfolio further with a new OMS add-on for System Center, support for physical and VMware virtual machines in Azure Site Recovery, new capabilities in Azure Backup, and enhanced support for System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manager. Read today’s blog post for full details.
Earlier this year, we highlighted a number of new compliance milestones for Microsoft Azure, including that Azure was the first cloud computing platform to conform to ISO/IEC 27018, the only international set of privacy controls in the cloud. Just a few weeks ago, Tom Keane announced that Azure Added a Global Array of New Certifications, including US DoD DISA Level 2. You can always find Azure’s most up to date compliance footprint details at the Azure Trust Center.
As you likely know, Linux and other open source workloads are first class citizens on Azure. Khalid posted in June about Azure Linux VM Infrastructure Monitoring and Diagnostics.
Now that I’ve brought up Linux, you can expect to hear from me periodically how Azure is the perfect platform for Linux and Open Source workloads, not just for Microsoft technologies. Take a look at what David Giard has to say on the topic. And expect to hear about it from me in much more depth in coming months!
As of this week, Azure Resource Manager offers general availability and support for Azure Virtual Machines, virtual networks, load balancer network interfaces, public IP addresses, network security groups, VPN gateways and Application Gateways.
Speaking of Azure Resource Manager, Inside the Microsoft Cloud posted a brief how to for Enabling Notepad++ as an Editor for Azure Resource Manager Templates
James Staten talks about the fact that Azure (and other cloud providers’) SLAs are key but may not fully close the loop for some companies. Read about Cloud Success Comes in Completing the Cloud Handshake.
Simon Waight of Kloud in Australia recently posted details for Setting Distribution Mode for Azure Internal Load Balancing.
Sr. Content Developer Joe Davis shared steps that show you how to customize a set of Azure PowerShell commands that create and pre-configure a Windows-based Azure virtual machine by using a building block approach. You can use this process to quickly create a command set for a new Windows-based virtual machine and expand an existing deployment or to create multiple command sets that quickly build out a custom dev/test or IT pro environment.
If you are a developer interested in Azure Web Apps, be sure to grab the free Microsoft Press ebook in PDF, Mobi or ePub format.
I got to sit down with Steven Borg and Lori Borg of Northwest Cadence and learned a bit about their Azure business. Of course, that prompted me to peruse their blog where I found some interesting recent articles on PaaS Architecture: Designing Apps for the Cloud and 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Azure VMs.
Have I ever pointed you to the Cloud Platform News Bytes Blog? If I haven’t, or if I did and you didn’t take a quick peek, you should. With small bytes a couple of times each month, the team does a decent job summarizing what’s announced and what’s available.
You know that Windows 10 is coming later this month… Right? I figured that I’d share a few cool connection points between the forthcoming Windows 10 and my passion, Microsoft Azure.
The recorded Ignite session Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Windows 10: Better Together for Work or School
Nickolaj Andersen’s (@NickolajA) walkthrough from a couple of weeks ago on how to Join a corporate owned Windows 10 device to Azure Active Directory with automatic Intune enrollment
Redmond Magazine's coverage of Microsoft Aligning Azure Active Directory for Windows 10 Mobile Device Management Scenarios
Last week Azure SQL Data Warehouse opens for Limited Public Preview. At the Build conference in April, we announced Azure SQL Data Warehouse, our new enterprise-class elastic data warehouse-as-a-service. Now, it is open for Limited Public Preview.
In Edge Show 148, Taylor Brown, Microsoft Senior Program Manager, talks about Windows Containers on Ch9 Live at Ignite 2015. Taylor clarifies and demystifies different technical aspects of Windows Containers and answers many of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that are not found anywhere else.
In Public Preview, the Azure Billing Alert Service allows an administrator for an Azure subscription to create customized billing alerts that help monitor and manage billing activity for Azure accounts.
Are you about Redis Cache? In mid June, Pranav Rastogi shared the Azure Redis Cache Updates for June 2015.
Raj Singh of Cheval Partners blogged about his experience and learnings on How to migrate from Standard Azure Virtual Machines to DS Series Storage Optimized VM’s.
Giridhar Mosay told us that Azure Backup is Now Available in Central US, North Central US, South Central US, East US2, Brazil South making it available in 17 regions worldwide as of 9 June.
The Azure Podcast – With 83 episodes in the can and a few short podcasts on Microsoft Azure by Cale Teeter, Evan Basalik & Sujit D'Mello every month, this is worth a couple minutes of your time.
We just released an updated version of our Azure sales readiness online game. This is an update to the game I told you about a couple of months ago. The original approach was to help partners prepare to take their Azure assessments. The updated Azure sales mission is much more robust: it now gives partners everything they need to prepare them to sell Azure – including more in-depth topics, role play scenarios, and lots of videos.
The game is available on a PC browser at http://play.mlevel.com/mpnazuresales. You can log in using your Microsoft Account / Live ID.
If you would prefer to play on your mobile device you can download the mLevel app from any of the major app stores. After you launch the app, type the code “MPNAzureSales” in the email field. Once directed to the Microsoft login page you can login with your Microsoft Account / Live ID and the Azure Sales game will populate.
Thanks for sticking with me and making it to the bottom of the July Luper’s Learnings. If you have topics you’d like me to include, please let me know what they are!