Luper's Learnings – Azure Technical Community for Partners (February 2015)


This month’s Learnings:

  • Shortly after I sent the January edition of Luper’s Learnings, Corey Sanders, Director of Program Management for Azure posted a blog post titled Azure is now bigger, faster, more open, and more secure. In it he discusses the Azure Key Vault Public Preview, availability of the new G-Series VMs, and availability of the first Docker image in the Azure Marketplace.

  • Readiness colleagues of mine recently released some cool offerings for partners. There are three online games for sales, presales, and technical audiences. Not only are they fun but they will help you study various Azure concepts and test your knowledge in a competitive (and fun) online game environment.

  • If your company holds either the Silver or Gold Cloud Platform Competency then you qualify for our new Signature Cloud Support offering for Azure based solutions. Complete details are in this article. I would be very interested in hearing your feedback (compliments, complaints and suggestions) on this new offering for Azure partners.

  • Azure University is coming soon to a location near you (most likely.) We have several tracks in MANY announced locations for sales, architects and implementers. Please see the table below for the summary of locations and registration links.

 

Dates

Location

Track

Registration

10 – 11 Feb

Melbourne, Australia

Solution Sales

Link

10 – 11 Feb

Melbourne, Australia

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

12 – 13 Feb

Melbourne, Australia

Hands on Technical

Link

16 – 17 Feb

Tokyo

Sales and Pre-sales technical

Link

23 – 24 Feb

Dubai

 

 

24 – 25 Feb

London, UK

Solution Sales

Link

26 – 27 Feb

London, UK

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

3 – 4 March

Singapore

Solution Sales

Link

3 – 4 March

Singapore

Hands on Technical

Link

5 – 6 March

Singapore

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

3 – 4 March

Frankfurt, Germany

Solution Sales

Link

3 – 4 March

Frankfurt, Germany

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

3 – 4 March

Shanghai, China

Solution Sales

Link

5 – 6 March

Shanghai, China

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

3 – 4 March

Mississauga, ON, Canada

Solution Sales

Link

5 – 6 March

Mississauga, ON, Canada

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

9 March

Dubai

Solution Sales

Link

10 March

Dubai

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

11 – 12 March

Dubai

Hands on Technical

Link

10 – 11 March

Belgrade, Serbia

Solution Sales

Link

10 – 11 March

Belgrade, Serbia

Hands on Technical

Link

12 – 13 March

Belgrade, Serbia

Technical Architecture (Pre-sales technical)

Link

30 – 31 March

Reading, UK

Hands on Technical

Link

 

  • Even though Azure moves at the speed of cloud and even though services spend time in public preview before becoming Generally Available, I get asked pretty regularly what’s in progress for new or updated Azure services and features. I’m happy to be able to report that the Cloud Platform Roadmap has now launched and is publicly available.

  • Recently, I was asked where to find guidance on running SAP, Oracle, MySQL in addition to SharePoint in Azure IaaS VMs. This section on MSDN in the Azure documentation includes 20+ guides to do just that and is updated regularly.

  • You’ve seen me write about the Azure Certification exams already. I’m bringing them up again to call out several very interesting points:
    • In an email to all of Microsoft’s Sales and Services employees in January, Kevin Turner, our COO announced that Microsoft employees in technical roles are expected to achieve an Azure technical certification between now and the end of September at the latest. Of course, it only stands to reason that technical individuals within partners delivering solutions that include Azure should also achieve an Azure technical certification to demonstrate that they have depth of knowledge across key Azure scenarios.

    • Wanting to practice what I preach, I prepared for, studied for, did many, many labs then passed Exam 70-533, Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions in January. Be sure to look at the Skills measured sections on the above page. Recognizing that everybody’s learning style is different, I want to give you the top suggestions I used to prepare but you may find that you need a different approach.

      • I attended the 20533A Microsoft Official Curriculum course including completing all of the labs.

      • I watched hours of videos on Microsoft Virtual Academy including some of the 50 courses specifically tagged for Azure.

      • It’s hard to overemphasize how important it is to review relevant Azure documentation and pricing including awareness of differences in capabilities of different tiers of service (Basic, Standard etc.)

      • It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyhow) spend lots and lots of time hands on with Azure including both the current and preview portals.

    • Exam Pack savings are back! Now you can save up to 25% on packs of certification exams. I recommend buying these packs to help your team update their skills and get certified. If you buy 10, you save 25% and if you buy 5 you save 15% 

    • Vouchers must be purchased by May 31, 2015 and can be used throughout 2015, expiring December 31, 2015. You also have the option to take your exams from anywhere with online proctored exams.

    • Learn more about Exam Packs and see qualifying exams (yes, all three Azure exams qualify.)

    • Should you happen to take an exam and not pass it, the Second Shot offer is available now. Second Shot gives you the chance for a free retake if you don’t pass your exam the first time. This offer is good for initial exams that are scheduled and taken before May 31, 2015, with 30 days allowed between the initial and second exam. Online proctored exams will need to be retaken online, and in-person exams retaken in-person. Read the details.

    • If you would like some help getting your team ready for their exams, you can find everything you need with partner learning paths which detail the training courses required to achieve specific goals. Learning paths are available by Microsoft product, competency, partner type and role. You can even create custom learning plans for your team and track their progress to ensure they’re getting the training they need. Find your learning path.

  • I mentioned Azure University in great detail above. Another opportunity for deep technical readiness on Azure is the all new Microsoft Ignite conference being held in Chicago in early May. This is the Microsoft’s, unified enterprise technology conference. It will bring together the best of previously individual events – the Management Summit, the Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and TechEd. The best and brightest minds will be all in one place to talk cloud infrastructure and management, productivity, big data and the internet of things, unified communications, mobility and more.
    • At the moment, there are descriptions of 74 Azure sessions taking place at Ignite (almost a quarter of all sessions currently available in the Session Catalog.) How many of them can you attend?

    • We even wrote a “Convince Your Boss” email for you if you need help justifying your attendance.

    • Oh yeah, I’ll be there! And, I’ll be hosting an exclusive happy hour for attendees who work for Azure partners. Email me at luperslearnings (at) microsoft.com if you will be attending, want to receive an invite to the happy hour and have a chance to win some goodies during the conference.

    • Register now as it’s going to be a huge conference in high demand.

    • Keep an eye on @MS_Ignite for updates.

  • So many partners tell me that their customers “aren’t quite ready for the cloud.” One of the best ways to combat this is to ease them towards the cloud with hybrid solutions and approaches. In the latest (Part 16) in the Build a Hybrid Cloud series, my pal Keith Mayer along with Andy Syrewicze  focus on how to migrate existing server workloads from Hyper-V, VMware and Amazon AWS to Microsoft Azure using the Microsoft Migration Accelerator for Azure tool. Other editions in this series in the past few months include (Part 15) Building Your Hybrid Cloud - Getting Started with Automating the Hybrid Cloud using PowerShell and (Part 14) Building Your Hybrid Cloud - Disaster Recovery to the Cloud with Azure Site Recovery.

  • Speaking of hybrid, Azure Pack is an important component of the hybrid cloud story. Hans and Marc, popular experts and MVPs, collected their experience into a OneNote based wiki that can be viewed any time online or offline. It’s a truly valuable source of the information from experts directly from the field.

  • Bob Familiar of The Undocumented API wrote to tell me that he appreciates Luper’s Learnings but that I tended to have a bit of a bias towards infrastructure topics and that he had posted a two part blog series about Microservices. Well, he’s right, I tend to be more of an infrastructure guy than a dev guy but I’m more than happy to share part 1, Modern Apps and Microservices and part 2, RefM – A Microservice Case Study in his blog series both published last month.

  • Forrester Research recently published their “Predictions 2015: CIOs Accelerate the Business Technology Agenda” This brief says that in 2015, digital disruption will change the nature of competition, forcing firms to obsess about creating superior digital experiences across the entire customer life cycle and that many CIOs have the technical expertise and cross-functional business purview to help drive this level of innovation, but they are too often still seen as nothing more than the leader of a cost center. It also predicts three key things that successful CIOs will do in 2015 to lead their firm’s digital transformation. Be sure to register and download this interesting brief.

  • Last year Aptera released an easy-to-digest infographic because “Everybody loves infographics” to help us understand the tests run by cloud storage company Nasuni for their annual report, stacking Amazon S3 and Azure up against providers like Google, Rackspace, and HP in a few key areas.

  • To close, I promised content specifically covering Security, Compliance and Privacy topics in Azure. Below you’ll find many resources (starting with about 130 pages of white papers) to help you have discussions with your customers around these topics.
    • Protecting Data in Microsoft Azure – a 39 page whitepaper written for an IT Pro audience.

    • Protecting Data and Privacy in the Cloud – a 16 page whitepaper that discusses the ways in which Microsoft ensures our services protect privacy.

    • Security Management in Microsoft Azure - a 17 page whitepaper that discusses steps for enhancing remote management security while administering Microsoft Azure environments including cloud services, Virtual Machines and custom applications.

    • Microsoft Azure Network Security – a 16 page whitepaper providing guidance on securing network communications for applications deployed in Microsoft Azure.

    • Microsoft Antimalware for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines – a 21 page whitepaper providing an architectural overview of Microsoft Antimalware for Azure including supported scenarios and configurations for enabling, configuring, and deploying protection for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines.

    • Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Red Teaming – a 20 page whitepaper covering Microsoft’s strategy and execution of Red Teaming and live site penetration testing against Microsoft managed cloud infrastructure, services and applications.

      • Learn how Microsoft simulates real-world breaches

      • Understand how we conduct continuous security monitoring and practice security incident response to validate and improve the security of Microsoft Azure and Office 365

      • Gain visibility into procedures that you should consider when deploying and managing cloud based assets in a secure manner.

    • Microsoft achieved Level-1 certification with the Multi-Tier Cloud Security Standard for Singapore (MTCS SS), for Office 365 and Azure.

    • For Azure in Australia, we received a letter of compliance with the Australian Government Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP), which enables public sector customers to process, store and transmit Unclassified Sensitive data in Azure.

    • And, as you’ve heard me say before, the Microsoft Azure Trust Center is the authoritative place to find what Microsoft is saying about Security, Compliance and Privacy in Azure.

    • Bonus – this week, while meeting with partners in Egypt I was asked about how Microsoft handles demands from Law Enforcement around the world for customer data. We are very transparent about this and have been publishing our Law Enforcement Requests Report twice per year for a couple of years now. Keep in mind that these requests encompass enterprise services like Office 365 and Azure as well as consumer services like outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) and Xbox Live. In the first half of 2014, Microsoft disclosed content in response to 2.6% of the total number of law enforcement requests received. During that same timeframe, Microsoft only received five requests from law enforcement for five users associated with an enterprise customer. In all five cases, the requests were rejected or law enforcement was successfully redirected to the customer.

Coming next month --- In March, I’m thinking about sharing content specifically around ExpressRoute. If you have other topics you’d like me to include, please let me know what they are!


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