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

This is the June 2015 monthly edition of Luper’s Learnings. Are you still recovering from all the meat that came out of //build and Ignite? I know that I am! Well, here we are, in a new month and, since Azure operates at cloud speed, there’s even more Learnings to share. While I discussed Ignite at great lengths in the May edition of Luper’s Learnings, please bear with me as I share a few more highlights interspersed below.

This month’s Learnings:

  • For the last couple of months I’ve told you about the Azure Partner Readiness Catalog (APRC). My US colleague, Frank Campise just blogged about it last week. APRC is operating at cloud speed. We’ve had two releases in as many months with our third release coming in June. We’ve reached nearly 400 entries in the catalog in just a couple of months. There’s already a wishlist of capabilities that we want to add before the end of calendar 2015. It’s really intended to be a tool for you. So, what do you want it to do? If you think that it should do something that it doesn’t or if you find content that should be included, feel free to email me or use the Contact Us link on the site.

  • Have you been around Microsoft for a while? Every year at this time we hold our annual Worldwide Partner Conference. This year it’s being held in Orlando, Florida beginning on 12 July. While it’s not specifically targeted at a technical audience, there are great opportunities to Get Inspired, Connect, Experience, Learn, Network and Grow. And, of course, I’ll be there and would love to spend time with you. If you’re going to be there and would like to connect, let me know! If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time. Register here.

  • From Nicole Herskowitz' blog post, published 22 May – “Gartner recently published their Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Microsoft has been named a Leader based on the completeness of our vision and ability to execute in the IaaS market for the second year in a row.”

  • Identity, identity everywhere. Many, many partners tell me that they are building robust practices around Identity Management, SSO etc. Our strong offering to support this practice is Azure Active Directory. Within the past few days, the Azure Active Directory Developer's Guide was published to the Azure Documentation providing an overview, videos, quickstart guides, code samples and much more. Watch the fun 4:27 video featuring Gerald, the CIO on Azure Active Directory: Protect your business, empower your users.

  • Back in April, John Savill wrote a tutorial on how to Enable Azure AD end-user self-service password reset for WindowsITPro.

  • David Chappell, a recognized cloud industry expert delivered Microsoft Azure and its Competitors: The Big Picture session at Ignite. He discusses that ”Becoming a major player is essential to Microsoft’s long-term survival, yet there are plenty of competitors: Amazon Web Services, Google, and more. How do these compare to Azure? And what’s likely to happen going forward?” in this recorded session.

  • Several folks from the Azure documentation team (these guys – documentation & infographics) joined 60+ partners at the Networking Happy Hour I hosted in Chicago during Ignite. They were so impressed by the partners they met that they want to know if a handful of knowledgeable volunteers would be interested in advising them on some of their content plans for Microsoft’s FY16 (beginning in July.) The team will create end-to-end solution content based on key customer scenarios, like predictive analytics. These scenarios will integrate multiple technologies such as Storage, HDInsight, SQL Database, PowerBI, Machine Learning, and Data Factory. The team wants the content to be as relevant as possible and are looking for reviewers. Please let me know if you are interested.

  •  This week, Application Insights moved to a cloud-friendly pricing model with Free, Standard and Premium pricing tiers. Dale Koetke’s blog post from last week shares all the details.

  • Ok, this is a cool one. In mid May, Adarsh Solanki announced Hyperlapse for Azure Media Services. Hyperlapse is a result of over 20 years of computer vision research at Microsoft Research, combining video stabilization and time lapsing to create quick, consumable, beautiful videos from your long-form content. It’s in public preview now. Want to share helmet-cam footage of a snowboarding run? Use Microsoft Hyperlapse to smooth out the bumps with video stabilization and speed up your content into a consumable clip, without losing any of the action! Microsoft Hyperlapse gives your content the polished feel of a professionally-recorded run with specialized stabilization hardware/cameras. Please read the news and announcement.

  • In May, Nasuni released their 2015 State of Cloud Storage report. As Barb Darrow of Fortune reports, “A new report from cloud storage provider Nasuni ranks Microsoft Azure ahead of Amazon Web Services S3 and Google Cloud Storage for corporate storage.”

  • Speaking of storage… Abjihit Hana blogged about Connecting Azure Storage Using Add Connected Services in Visual Studio 2015 in early May.

  • Also in early May, during Ignite, Vaibhav Mathur of Perficient shared his short summary of New Capabilities in Azure Storage.

  • Done any cooking lately? Chef is generating lots of excitement these days. Take a look at the 15 minute video from Edge Show 141. You’ll learn how to use the new Chef Provisioning capabilities to provision machines and applications to Microsoft Azure in this demo heavy interview with John Keiser from Chef.

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is one of the fastest growing trends. Currently offering DRaaS is complex to set up and manage. This recorded Ignite session shows you how to set up and offer DRaaS with integration of the on-premises Windows Azure Pack and Azure Site Recovery.

  • While on the topic of Azure Site Recovery, ASR has tested and provides support for many applications. Read the May 4 blog post on the subject.

  • Azure Machine Learning Studio comes with a large number of machine learning algorithms that you can use to build your predictive analytics solutions. These algorithms fall into the general machine learning categories of regression, classification, clustering, and anomaly detection, and each one is designed to address a different type of machine learning problem. Brandon Rohrer shared an Azure Machine Learning Algorithm Cheat Sheet that will help you choose the appropriate algorithm for your need.

  • Brought to my attention last week, Anthony Bartolo’s blog post on DevOps Basics: Swapping Azure Website Deployment Slots.

  • On 15 May the PowerShell team announced that the Azure PowerShell DSC Extension v1.10 released. Full release notes for their extension are here. DSC is not new but, if it’s new to you, you might also want to check out Automating VM Configuration using PowerShell DSC Extension from the Azure blog, Pushing DSC configuration to an Azure VM from PowerShellMagazine, Bootstrapping a PowerShell DSC Pull Server and Client from Opsgility and DSC with Azure and Azure Pack from Kristian Nese.

  • Coming this year, Age of Ascent from Illyriad Games. It’s a massively multiplayer online (MMO) epic space game, powered by Microsoft Azure. The next play test is scheduled on 13 June. I know that you’ll want to play but, also be sure to read about how it’s delivered using Azure.

  • On the SQL Server blog, Tiffany Wissner posted that “…at Microsoft’s Ignite conference, we demoed the first sneak peek of Azure SQL Data Warehouse. …there is strong customer demand for a data warehouse solution in the cloud to manage large volumes of structured data and to process this data with relational processing for fast analytics.” In her Top reasons why enterprises should choose Azure SQL Data Warehouse post she gave details of the service, the short Build announcement video and the five reasons why enterprises should pick it.

  • Depending on your company’s partner / competency level with Microsoft, your organization is entitled to Azure internal-user rights (IUR.) An MPN administrator will likely have to activate it but, if you aren’t taking advantage of this available Azure spend yet, please read the details here.

  • One of the important announcements that came out of build was about Azure Service Fabric. It provides a high control platform that enables developers and ISVs to build cloud services with a high degree of scalability and customization. A brief overview blogged by Mark Russinovich. Additionally, check out the recording of his BUILD session in which he introduced Azure Service Fabric and live demoed it scaling up to 50 machines running over 250,000 operations/second on Azure.

  • I always enjoy sharing partner and customer case studies with you (as I’ve done in recent months.) It’s particularly nice to get to share partners’ own case studies as well. Fuse Collaboration Services in the UK posted a case study about migrating Northamtomshire County Council’s SharePoint implementation to Azure. Have a good case study? Please let me know about it.

  • In the May Luper’s Learnings I shared a handful of Azure Automation resources with you. I have another blog post that I wanted you to take a look at. Chris Sanders’ post on Azure Automation: New Graphical and Textual Authoring Features

  • The Partner’s Guide to The Rise of Microsoft Azure sponsored by Veeam and recently published byt Redmond Channel Partner is a quick read that’s pretty bullish on Azure, its credibility, investments, growth and the partner opportunities.

  • I almost feel like it’s a hidden gem. Visual Studio Online provides services for teams to share code, track work, and ship software – for any language, all in a single package. It’s not an IDE, it’s everything else. It provides a set of cloud-powered collaboration tools that work with your existing IDE or editor, so your team can work effectively on software projects of all shapes and sizes. Why am I mentioning it now?, you ask. Thanks for asking. As Brian Harry mentioned in a mid-May blog post, we expanded the availability footprint to include Australia. And, if you have MSDN, the Advanced access level is included. If not, pricing is tiered and charged per user per month.

  • On April 8th, we released the Azure DocumentDB Data Migration Tool, an open source solution that imports data to DocumentDB from a variety of sources. In May, support was added for Azure Table storage and URL support for JSON, CSV and MongoDB export files. More info here.

  • Among the announcements at Build that I missed sharing with you was the announced support for Cloud Foundry, an open source PaaS platform that is cloud agnostic and supports running applications in multiple languages including Java, Ruby, Python etc. Want to learn more about Cloud Foundry on Azure?

Thanks for sticking with me and making it to the bottom of the June Luper’s Learnings. If you have topics you’d like me to include, please let me know what they are!