Milliman - an Azure Case Study

Milliman – Cloud Innovators in the Life Insurance Industry Milliman is a great example of a company leveraging Azure extensively and in very innovative ways. In this post I have asked Paul Maher, CTO – Integrate & MG-ALFA, to share some insights on the work his team are doing with Integrate™ (their flagship Cloud solution…

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CentOS cluster in Azure - Part 1

I have been working on Azure Resource Manager templates for a while. They are an interesting way to describe and deploy complex configurations in Azure. In particular, I have developed a template to deploy a CentOS 6.5 cluster. It will soon be published in the main Azure repository on github, but if you are interested…

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DFS in Azure

Often we want to use Azure's scalable storage to deploy file servers. For geographically distributed infrastructures, it makes sense to establish a distributed file system (DFS) that spans across regions, both for availability and reach.  Here is a summary of the steps required to do so: Create a vnet in each desired datacenter, ideally with…

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How Many Cores for the Job?

That is quite a common question. Experienced systems engineers have accumulated knowledge over the years that they distill into a few rules of thumb, e.g.: Given a certain hardware configuration, for software package A with an input size of X, on average you'll need Y cores. On Azure, the hardware configuration is known and you…

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Generic Resource Scheduler for Azure

GeReS (Generic Resource Scheduler) for Windows Azure is now available as a beta release on Codeplex. It is a simple batch job manager written in C# (or Python for the older version). Geres provides: Command line utilities (e.g. qsub, qlist, jobcancel, joblist) to queue tasks for computation, check on their status, cancel them. 3 task…

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Endpoints, firewalls and other annoyances

When you deploy a HPC cluster on Azure, you typically want to run some application in it besides those provided in the azure samples. Those applications may require their own ports to be opened on the internal network and endpoints to be established for both internal and external communication. There is no hpc cluster manager…

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Azure Connect - a vpn between Azure and your machines

Azure Connect is a service that lets you establish a vpn tunnel (for want of a better word) between a virtual machine running in Azure and another running on premises. The connection is point-to-point, meaning that you will need to configure it on every machine involved. Nonetheless, it is a valuable tool when you need…

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Azure billing clarification

A quick clarification: Azure allocates resources to your role as long as it is deployed, whether it is running or not. Billing starts when the deployment is complete and finishes when it is deleted. Roles that are deployed will be billed for the deployed hours, whether they are running or not. In summary, if you…

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Put a VM on Azure

I have summarized here all the steps you need to take in order to deploy an Azure VM. Step 1: Get your certificates I assume that you have an active Azure subscription and you have installed visual studio 2010, the azure sdk and tools and activated the VM role. You will need a management certificate…

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