Focus on… Azure Service Fabric!


Bookmark this short URL! https://aka.ms/focuson/asf (last updated: 20th June 2017)
N.B. this article will be periodically updated as a reference / index to relevant Azure Service Fabric resources.

Having just spent a week coding along side folk from our engineering teams with a number of customers as part of a hackfest focused on Azure Service Fabric, I wanted to take the opportunity to collate as many of the Service Fabric resources currently available into this single ‘Focus on…’ post, such that anyone can quickly skill-up in understanding how Service Fabric may benefit the evolution of workloads to microservices within your own businesses, but also where you may already be working with Service Fabric, gain further insight into some of the latest updates available and how it is currently being used out in the community.

 

>> Introducing… Azure Service Fabric!

Azure Service Fabric is a distributed systems platform that makes it easy to package, deploy, and manage scalable and reliable microservices, while also addressing the significant challenges in developing and managing cloud applications.

 

Video: Watch a 4-minute primer on Azure Service Fabric

 

Here at Microsoft, we’ve been on a journey to the cloud, just like our customers – to support our own internal evolution from on-premises to cloud and from monolithic to microservice-based applications, we created Service Fabric to deal with these challenges.

As a mature, feature-rich microservices application platform, Service Fabric provides built-in support for lifecycle management, stateless and stateful services, performance at scale, 24×7 availability, and cost efficiency, allowing developers and administrators to avoid complex infrastructure problems and focus on implementing mission-critical, demanding workloads that are scalable, reliable, and manageable. Service Fabric represents the next-generation middleware platform for building and managing these enterprise-class, cloud-scale apps.

 

Video: A brief history of Service Fabric

 

Service Fabric has now been in production use at Microsoft for over eight years, powering a range of services including Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Event Hubs, Intune, Cortana, Dynamics 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Within the largest of these clusters, Service Fabric manages hundreds of thousands of stateful and stateless microservices across hundreds of servers – in fact, over 30% of Azure cores globally are now managed through Service Fabric! You can create clusters for Service Fabric in many environments, not just in Azure but also on premises, on Windows Server, or on Linux, on any cloud platform. In addition, the development environment in the SDK is identical to the production environment – no emulators are involved. In other words, what runs on your local development cluster deploys in exactly the same way to clusters running in any other environments.

 

>> Documentation

For over a year now, docs.microsoft.com has been running as our new unified technical documentation experience; to learn more check out our blog post: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/teamblog/introducing-docs-microsoft-com. For additional documentation on Microsoft products or services, please visit MSDN (https://msdn.microsoft.com/) or TechNet (https://technet.microsoft.com/).

 

Service Fabric Documentation
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/service-fabric/

The primary documentation source for Service Fabric, updated in the open via GitHub (https://github.com/Microsoft/azure-docs/tree/master/articles/service-fabric). As a constantly evolving series of articles, I’ve only linked to some relevant highlights – visit the docs site for further detail on implementation, use, and more.

It’s also useful to be aware of the differences between Service Fabric on Linux and Windows, or where you may have used Cloud Services in the past and need to understand key differences before starting to migrate any code.

 

Azure Architecture Center
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/

The Azure Architecture Center is the official centre for guidance, blueprints, patterns, and best practices for building solutions with Microsoft Azure, curated by the Microsoft patterns & practices team.

 

>> Updates & Roadmap

As a the product continues to evolve, there are a number of locations to be aware of so you can subscribe to the latest updates and feature releases.

 

Azure Service Fabric Team Blog
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/azureservicefabric/

The engineering team maintain a public facing blog hosted on MSDN – I’ve included a number of relevant recent posts, but it’s worth keeping this site in your favorite RSS feed reader.

The team have also posted a number of Customer Profile posts to help detail how other customers have implemented Service Fabric.

There is also a regular community call hosted directly by the Service Fabric Team – details of these are also posted to the Service Fabric Team Blog with the last call having taken place Thursday 15th June 2017 @ 10am PDT.

 

Azure Blog
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/

Hear from Azure experts and developers about the latest information, insights, announcements, and Azure news in the Microsoft Azure blog.

 

>> Podcasts

Listening to Podcasts can be a great way to keep up to date, especially when you’re out and about, perhaps in the car on the way to work for example. While much of the Channel 9 content is also available in audio format, there are a number of podcasts that have covered Service Fabric in the past.

 

Azure Podcast
http://azpodcast.azurewebsites.net/

Short podcasts on Azure by Cale Teeter, Evan Basalik, Russell Young & Sujit D’Mello. Here are a number of previous episodes of relevance.

 

.NET Rocks
http://dotnetrocks.com/

.NET Rocks! is a weekly talk show for anyone interested in programming on the Microsoft .NET platform. The shows range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness. There have been a number of episodes covering Service Fabric and microservices in general.

 

>> Training

If you’re looking for a structured training approach, there are an increasing number of resources available online, curated both by Microsoft, partner organisations and other interested individuals.

 

Azure Learning Paths
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/learning-paths/

Use Azure learning paths to guide yourself through the documentation for our services so you can start to build effective cloud applications on Azure. There is a specific learning path available for Service Fabric:

 

Microsoft Learning
https://openedx.microsoft.com/

The material available via Microsoft Learning is slightly different than that traditionally found on Microsoft Virtual Academy, being a Microsoft curated Azure Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) catalog featuring in-depth courseware, videos, labs, and assessments. The current ‘Azure Application Deployment and Management’ MOOC covers detail on Service Fabric as part of module 3.

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy
https://mva.microsoft.com/

Microsoft Virtual Academy is a website for Developers and IT Pros, which offers free Microsoft training delivered by experts. There are a number of courses available on MVA, depending on your current level of Service Fabric knowledge – a good starting point I can recommend is the ‘Building Microservices Applications on Azure Service Fabric’, while the ‘Introduction to Microservices’ course covers the core concepts of microservices and 12-factor applications.

 

Opsgility
https://www.opsgility.com/courses/all/microsoft_azure

Opsgility is the leading Microsoft cloud technology trainer for developers and IT professionals, built around an esteemed network of industry experts and technical authors that includes MVPs and Microsoft Insiders in more than 10 countries. As part of the recently updated Visual Studio and Dev Essentials benefits (https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/visualstudio/2017/03/07/new-benefits-for-visual-studio-subscribers-and-dev-essentials-members/), you can now receive a 3-month free subscription to one of the most comprehensive video libraries of Microsoft Azure curriculum available.

There is currently one course on Service Fabric, which also includes a hands-on lab.

 

Pluralsight
https://www.pluralsight.com/

Unlimited online developer training, creative and IT courses authored by industry experts. Learn the most in-demand tech skills from Pluralsight’s extensive library. As part of the recently updated Visual Studio and Dev Essentials benefits (https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/visualstudio/2017/03/07/new-benefits-for-visual-studio-subscribers-and-dev-essentials-members/), you can now receive a 3-month free subscription to some of the most detailed developer focused courses available. This 3-month offer is also available through the free IT Pro Cloud Essentials program (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/hybridcloud/2016/04/20/microsoft-introduces-free-resources-to-help-it-pros-get-started-and-build-their-careers-in-the-cloud/).

Pluralsight don’t currently have specific Service Fabric courses as yet, but I can recommend a couple regarding microservices and clean architecture approaches.

 

Lynda.com / LinkedIn Learning
https://www.lynda.com/https://learning.linkedin.com/

Lynda.com is a leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Through individual, corporate, academic and government subscriptions, members have access to the Lynda.com video library of engaging, top-quality courses taught by recognized industry experts. All courses are also available through LinkedIn Learning, both of which support a 30-day trial account. One course was recently added covering microservices and Service Fabric, targeted towards developers.

 

>> Certification

While there isn’t a specific exam dedicated to Service Fabric, it does form part of the required curriculum within at least one exam, the ’70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions’, which forms part of the wider ‘MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure’ certification.

 

Microsoft Certification
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/learning/certification-overview.aspx

Get hired, demonstrate clear business impact, and advance your skills. Microsoft offers a wide range of online certification programs designed to take your career to the next level. The 70-532 exam is primarily focused towards those looking to develop solutions on Azure and so includes elements of Service Fabric within the curriculum – at a high level you need to be able to ‘Create a Service Fabric application; build an Actors-based service; add a web front end to a Service Fabric application; monitor and diagnose services; migrate apps from cloud services; create, secure, upgrade, and scale Service Fabric Cluster in Azure; scale a Service Fabric app’.

There is currently an offer available which discounts the cost of the exam, as well as bundle together some other useful resources – this includes if you’re looking to go the full hog towards the ‘MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure’ certification, as one of the bundles includes all three exam vouchers and supporting material.

Once you have successfully passed your exam, Microsoft has partnered with Acclaim to award badges for your certifications.

 

>> Presentations

Throughout the year, Microsoft hosts a number of public events allowing both in-person and online attendance, while common to all is on-demand access to the recordings of most, if not all sessions presented. These are often given by the engineering teams working closely on the Service Fabric product itself, or by experienced architects who are working deep in the field in implementing Service Fabric to solve customer’s business challenges.

 

Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover Show
https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Cloud+Cover/

Presented as a weekly show, Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover is your eye on the Microsoft Cloud. Join Chris Risner and Thiago Almeida as they cover Microsoft Azure, demonstrate features, discuss the latest news + announcements, and share tips and tricks. Over the past 12 months there have been a number of sessions focused on Service Fabric, in particular a 3-part series which provides good coverage of Service Fabric components.

 

Build 2017 – 10th to 12th May 2017
https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2017

Microsoft Build (often stylised as //build/) is an annual conference event held by Microsoft, aimed towards software engineers and web developers using Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies. First held in 2011, it serves as a successor for Microsoft’s previous developer events, with the most recent held just last month and so currently provides some of the latest updates regarding Service Fabric.

A number of customer case studies were also presented, showing more specific Service Fabric implementations.

Finally, a couple of sessions discussed upcoming features with Service Fabric and compute services in general.

 

Ignite Australia 2017 – 14th to 17th February 2017
https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/Australia-2017

Although maybe known for the primary once per year Ignite conference, last held in Atlanta back in September 2016, a number of local events also share the Ignite brand, most recently in Australia on the 14th to 17th February 2017.

 

IglooConf 2017 – 19th to 20th January 2017
https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Iglooconf/Iglooconf-2017

The IglooConf was a two-day one-track 10-speaker learning festival for all things Azure back on the 19th to 20th of January 2017 held at Microsoft Flux, Helsinki. Alan Smith presented how Service Fabric Reliable Actors can be leveraged in cloud-based applications. Starting with a detailed overview of the actor model, he explained the key concepts of the actor model and introduced telemetry processing for a demo fitness application.

 

Connect(); // 2016 – 16th to 17th November 2016
https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Connect/2016

Connect(); is Microsoft’s annual developer event, most recently held back on 16th to 17th November 2016 and included a panel discussion about how you can build microservice applications leveraging a number of Azure technologies, including Azure Functions, Service Fabric, and Azure containers.

 

Ignite New Zealand 2016 – 25th to 28th October 2016
https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/New-Zealand-2016

Another local Ignite event was held in New Zealand back in October 2016, not long after the main Ignite event last held in Atlanta back in September 2016..

 

Ignite 2016 – 26th to 30th September 2016
https://ondemand.myignite.microsoft.com/videos/

Microsoft Ignite brings together the best of previously individual conferences – Microsoft Management Summit; Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and TechEd conferences – into a single annual event, last held 26th to 30th September 2016 and showcases the company’s enterprise products and services, while providing incredibly valuable IT training. It also provides plentiful opportunities for IT professionals to get together for collaboration and networking. Be sure to register for this year’s Ignite conference, being held 25th to 29th September 2017 in Orlando: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ignite/default.aspx.

 

Microsoft UK TechDays Online – 12th to 16th September 2016
https://channel9.msdn.com/events/TechDaysOnline/UK-TechDays-Online-September-2016

As a regular scheduled event (which last took place back in September 2016), TechDays Online is Microsoft UK’s biggest online conference for techies, broadcast from the Microsoft Campus in Reading. Over the last 5 years, TechDays has become synonymous with quality technical content for Developers and IT Pros. The event focus was Data and DevOps, with a session dedicated to Service Fabric.

 

>> Books & Magazines

Technology in the cloud space is changing at such a rapid pace that generally by the time a book hits the shelves it can already be partly out of date. There are a few options regarding books covering Service Fabric, as well as a few articles covered in MSDN Magazine.

 

Microsoft Press Store
https://www.microsoftpressstore.com/

Microsoft Press books, eBooks, and online resources are designed to help advance your skills with Microsoft Office, Windows, Visual Studio, .NET and other Microsoft technologies. There is currently one published book, dedicated to Service Fabric.

 

MSDN Magazine
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/

MSDN Magazine brings you solutions to the real-world problems you face every day. The MSDN Magazine is published monthly by Microsoft and 1105 Media, and is available in printed or digital formats. The MSDN Magazine is available free of charge to Visual Studio subscribers in the USA; low “postage only” rates are also available for Visual Studio subscribers worldwide.

 

Safari Books Online
https://www.safaribooksonline.com/

Safari Books Online is a digital library providing on-demand subscription access to thousands of books, videos & interactive learning tools from the world’s leading publishers — anytime, anywhere. If you have an account, you’re able to access the ‘Programming Microsoft Azure Service Fabric’ book from Microsoft Press. There are a few other books not wholly dedicated to Service Fabric, but do cover some aspects in relation to the core subject material.

 

>> Labs

We’re now at the point past theory where hands on access and practice is required. Even if you don’t have an Azure subscription, you can still develop and test locally or spin up a free ‘Party Cluster’. There are a number of structured labs available, as well as guidance on how to start building out your first clusters and Service Fabric services.

 

Microsoft Azure Service Fabric – Try for Free!
https://aka.ms/tryservicefabric

Party clusters are free, limited-time Service Fabric clusters hosted on Azure and run by the Service Fabric team where anyone can deploy applications and learn about the platform. For free! Just sign in with an account of your choice and we’ll give you information on how to connect to your cluster and deploy your applications. No subscriptions required.

Your cluster runs for an hour, then it’s automatically taken down. At that point, all your applications will be removed and you’ll have to connect to a new cluster to keep partying. You can only connect to one party cluster at a time, but you can come back as many times as you like.

The source code has been published and made available via GitHub.

 

Azure Service Fabric Team Blog

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/azureservicefabric/

While already highlighted earlier, a couple of getting started labs have also been published via the Team Blog.

 

Service Fabric Documentation
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/service-fabric/

The primary documentation source for Service Fabric, updated in the open via GitHub (https://github.com/Microsoft/azure-docs/tree/master/articles/service-fabric), which also contains a number of lab guides. Firstly, you’ll need to get your development environment configured appropriately, dependant on your chosen platform.

Next, the follows lab guides get you developing your first set of Service Fabric applications.

Once you have code, you can then run through deploying locally, then running through deployment onto a Service Fabric cluster.

 

Opsgility
https://www.opsgility.com/labs/all

Opsgility is the leading Microsoft cloud technology trainer for developers and IT professionals, built around an esteemed network of industry experts and technical authors that includes MVPs and Microsoft Insiders in more than 10 countries. As part of the recently updated Visual Studio and Dev Essentials benefits (https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/visualstudio/2017/03/07/new-benefits-for-visual-studio-subscribers-and-dev-essentials-members/), you can now receive a 3-month free subscription to one of the most comprehensive video libraries of Microsoft Azure curriculum available.

There are currently a couple of Service Fabric labs available via Opsgility, covering both deployment on Windows and Linux.

 

>> Code Samples

Various sample and introductory code snippets, to help with building out applications on Service Fabric, and automate cluster deployment along with associated services.

 

Azure Code Samples
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/samples/

Learn to interact with Azure services through code. A number of Service Fabric code samples are published via the Azure Code Samples library.

All Azure Code samples are available via GitHub.

 

Azure Quickstart Templates
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/templates/

Deploy Azure resources through the Azure Resource Manager with community contributed templates to get more done. Deploy, learn, fork and contribute back. With Resource Manager, you can create a template (in JSON format) that defines the infrastructure and configuration of your Azure solution. By using a template, you can repeatedly deploy your solution throughout its lifecycle and have confidence your resources are deployed in a consistent state.

The Azure Quickstart Template library contains a number of ARM templates to support Service Fabric deployment.

All Azure Quickstart Templates are available via GitHub.

 

>> Community

There are a large number of users of Service Fabric out in the community, with many taking the time to document and share their experiences of Service Fabric. I’ve included a selection of individuals and articles here, but please let me know if you’ve found and can recommend other good resources.

 

Cloud Solution Architect
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/cloud_solution_architect/

From the global teams of Cloud Solution Architects across Microsoft, this blog presents a place where many of the CSAs published guest posts, which has included a couple on Service Fabric.

 

AzureCAT Guidance
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/azurecat

CAT stands for “Customer Advisory Team” who work with customers that act as feedback Advisors back to our product teams, by working on engagements with those customers and building ground-breaking solutions! We then have unique lessons we’ve learned from those solutions. And, thus, we publish them back to you to show you these insights, architectures, lessons learned, best practices, and emerging patterns, with Microsoft products, like Azure, SQL Server, Power BI, Visual Studio (and dev tools), and more!

 

Premier Developer – Premier Support for Developers Team Blog
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/premier_developer

Microsoft Premier Support for Developers provides end-to-end managed support across the full Microsoft developer platform: on-premises, hybrid, or in the cloud—helping your company throughout the development lifecycle. By working side by side with experts from Microsoft and engaging in training programs, workshops, and labs, we will help your organization to enhance skills, to develop with Microsoft standards and recommended practices in mind, and create more secure and high performing applications.

Members of the PSfD team regularly post to the Premier Developer blog, which has included a number of articles on Service Fabric.

 

Operations Management Suite Blog
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msoms

Microsoft Operations Management Suite is an IT management solution for the era of the cloud; SaaS for IT Professionals. This the blog for the OMS team.

 

Enterprise Mobility and Security Blog
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility

Enterprise software for true mobility solutions. Get a cloud solution built to deliver apps and data access across all devices, while helping keep your business secure. This is the blog for the EM+S team.

 

Mark West
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/containerstuff

Mark West, a developer at Microsoft, currently working with applications on Containers – his blog covers patterns and notes on how to get your Apps Working on Containers.

 

Tsuyoshi Ushio
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/livedevopsinjapan@sandayuu

Working for Microsoft as a Senior Technical Evangelist, his blog has a focus on DevOps.

 

Ross Smith
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/softwaresimian/@ross_p_smith

Ross Smith is a Technical Evangelist here at Microsoft, working with test driven development (TDD), continuous integration, code coverage, code analysis, specialising in automated builds and deployment.

 

Larry Wall
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/ncdevguy/

With a current focus on Azure technologies as a Senior Cloud Consultant at Microsoft, Larry has posted a number of Service Fabric articles to his blog.

 

Rahul Rai
https://rahulrai.in@rahulrai_in

Rahul Rai, a programmer and technophile working as a consultant at Readify, Sydney, Australia who recently presented the ‘Architectural Patterns for Hyperscale Service Fabric Implementations’ at Ignite Australia (https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/Australia-2017/ARC231). He currently posts various aspects of Service Fabric to his blog.

 

Gonzalo Ruiz
http://gonzowins.com/, @GONZALORUIZCA

Gonzalo Ruiz, previously working as a Lead Cloud Architect here at Microsoft, now working as CTO at the Microsoft London Accelerator, has a couple of interesting posts on his blog regarding the use of Application Gateway and Microsoft Bot Framework with Service Fabric.

 

Joni Collinge
http://dotjson.uk/@dotjson

As a Developer at Microsoft, among his other posts, Joni put together a useful video on setting up CI/CD to Service Fabric via VSTS.

 

Brent Stineman
https://brentdacodemonkey.wordpress.com/@brentcodemonkey

In his role as a Technical Evangelist with the Technical Evangelism and Development (TED) team within Microsoft’s corporate Developer Experience (DX, formerly DPE) group, he pursues his passion for cloud and works with an even more complex problems while knocking down the barriers of cloud adoption.

 

James Sturtevant
http://www.jamessturtevant.com/@jsturtevant

Currently working as a Technical Evangelist here at Microsoft, working with developers, Students and Startups to help them build innovative applications using Microsoft’s leading edge technology for a mobile first, cloud first world. On his personal blog, there are a number of interesting articles in regards to Service Fabric.

 

Andrei Dzimchuk
https://dzimchuk.net/@dzimchuk

As a software architect at ScienceSoft, more recently mostly focused on Microsoft Azure and .NET, he actively shares experiences and knowledge on his blog and at various local events as a speaker.

 

Claus Asbjørn Sørensen
https://blog.geist.no/@clausasbjorn

Claus Sørensen, founder of Geist AS and working as an independent contractor wrote a series of posts last year to his blog, as a primer to getting Service Fabric up and running.

 

Dzone
https://www.dzone.com/@DZone

DZone serves technology professionals with the knowledge, tools, and strategies they need to build the future. DZone.com is one of the world’s largest online communities and leading publisher of knowledge resources for software developers. Every day, hundreds of thousands of developers come to DZone.com to read about the latest technology trends and learn about new technologies, methodologies, and best practices through shared knowledge.

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