Getting Started with Windows Azure and IaaS









Are you an active user of Windows Azure? Tried it and not convinced, or yet to give it a go? There are a whole range of resources available to help you get to grips with the Cloud and harness the power of Azure, and we have recently released a number of new free documents on top of what's already out there. More than that, we also have some free events planned to introduce the multitude of Azure services available and give you the chance to ask questions to Microsoft experts and partners. You can find a summary below, along with some great examples of how it all really works in practice.

Windows Azure on Your Terms Webcast

A hands-on training session that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own desk. This webcast, hosted by Tim Phillips from The Register and Matt Bishop from QA Training, will introduce and demonstrate how to get started with Windows Azure, including the recently released IaaS features. They will also explore creating Linux and Windows VMs, configuring virtual networks and applications.

The webcast will be running from 11 to 12 on the 10th October, and you can sign up on The Register.

#CloudPioneers Q&A

Following the Windows Azure on Your Terms webcast, we're hosting a live Twitter Q&A with a number of Microsoft Partners, including Matt from QA Training, ICS Solutions, Dot Net Solutions and Aditi. Continuing the theme of pioneering cloud services, we'll be coming to you live from on board another cloud pioneer, Concorde! Starting from 1pm on Thursday 10th October we are making ourselves available to answer any and all questions you have on Cloud and Windows Azure.

To get involved, Tweet your questions to @TechNetUK with the hashtag #CloudPioneers, or email with the subject line #CloudPioneers. Also, be sure to follow the discussion on the day and join the conversation by searching #CloudPioneers.

As an added bonus, we're also going to help one lucky Tweeter to take their first steps to a cloud (of sorts) with the chance to win their own Windows Azure helicopter! All you have to do to enter is Tweet us a questions with the hashtag #CloudPioneers. As always, Terms & Conditions apply.

Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals Free eBook

Authored by Mitch Tulloch and the Windows Azure Team, this completely free 130 page eBook covers a range of topics, starting with the different elements that make up Windows Azure and why you should be interested, before taking a deeper diver into compute, network, data and app services.

You can get the Windows Azure eBook right now here. Keep an eye on the blog for free eBooks on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 which are also coming soon.

Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server

"The Windows Azure Pack is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost for installation in enterprise and service provider datacenters, integrated with existing System Center and Windows Server environments."

This Overview Whitepaper contains a wealth of information on how the Windows Azure Pack can enable you to offer rich, self-service, multi-tenant services within your organisation that are consistent with Windows Azure.

The Latest Real-world Stories

This might sound all well and good in a sandbox scenario, but is effective in the real world? I've picked out a couple of recent highlights from the Microsoft Case Studies website below.

Santa Tracker Moves to New Service, Gives Real-Time Insight to More Than 22 Million

You may well have heard of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)'s annual Santa tracking service, watched by millions online every year to make sure they're tucked away asleep at precisely the right moment for their presents to be delivered. Last year they redesigned using Windows Azure Cloud Services to scale to a record number of users on mobile and desktop devices and deliver 91.5 million page views across a 48-hour period.

Read more

Online Video Provider Streams Live Events and Live Linear to Connected Devices

iStreamPlanet are the live streaming provider behind some of the biggest live events in the world, including the London 2012 Olympics and Sunday Night Football. They developed a solution to automate the resource-intensive process of managing around the clock video streaming, but were in need of infrastructure to host the new service. They've implemented a Microsoft-based Private Cloud environment, which also has the benefits of rich monitoring and management.

Read more

Telefónica Uses Hybrid-Cloud Strategy to Trim IT Costs by 15 Percent

Telefónica, one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers, are making sweeping changes in how they delivers IT services to the business. They're using a hybrid private-public cloud strategy, with the latter based on Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V which is enabling a two thirds reduction in the number of physical servers in their datacenter. They are planning on then connecting this private cloud to Windows Azure to increase workload flexibility and reduce the time it takes them to provide services to the business. 

Read more

Where can I do this stuff?

The best part is, it costs nothing to get a feel for Azure! All you need to do is head over to the Windows Azure homepage and sign up for a free month long trial. If you're just getting started, I'd then recommend one of Planky's Pop-Up Labs, and if you want to explore further there are lots of good free courses on the Microsoft Virtual Academy.