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


If we haven’t met yet, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Steve Luper, the Worldwide Technical Director for Azure Managed Partners in Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group. My goals are a) to build a community of technical folks at partners delivering solutions on Azure, b) help partners with Azure enablement and c) provide a vehicle for partners to get access to engineering, competency and support resources within Microsoft.

If you celebrate one of the various holidays that occurred this past weekend, I hope that your celebrations were as happy as you wanted them to be!

If you received this directly from me then you are on my list and you will continue receiving my Learnings each month. If you would prefer to stop receiving it, please reply to me and I’ll remove you promptly. If somebody forwarded this email to you and you would like to begin receiving it from me directly each month, just email me at luperslearnings (at) microsoft.com.   

This month’s Learnings:

  • During March, I had the terrific opportunity to visit partners in Bangalore then attend the Microsoft Azure Conference 2015 and meet with more partners in Pune, India. It was an awesome experience for me getting to meet the local India team, learn about the Azure business in India, see some presentations, expo booths and other Azure related content plus spend quality time with dozens of partners during the week including (I can’t possibly list them all, please don’t feel bad if your aren’t listed here) Happiest Minds, BlueFin, Mactores, Minjar, Sysfore and CognoSys.

  • We are just weeks away from the all new Microsoft Ignite conference being held in Chicago in early May. Registration is closed as the conference is SOLD OUT. Will you be there? Let me know. I’ll be there and would love to connect!
    • ~20% of the >750 sessions are tagged as related to Azure.

    • The schedule builder tool is now live at myignite.microsoft.com

    • I will there all week and am recruiting Azure Product Management and Engineering folks to attend an exclusive networking 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.

    • If you can’t be there in person, you can tune in starting at 8:30AM CDT on 4 May, 2015 for the pre-show and Satya Nadella’s keynote. You will also be able to access over 600 on-demand sessions beginning 5 May.

  • For the last couple of months, I’ve been working on an Azure Partner Readiness Catalog (APRC.) Last week we released our first public release and I wanted to share it with this community right away.
    • What is it? – It’s a crowd sourced catalog of Azure technical readiness materials. At the moment, our trusted contributors are Azure focused Microsoft folks from around the world. The plan is to broaden the contributor community in phases for the balance of 2015. Since we just launched within the past week, there are around 150 entries (as of this writing) but it’s growing every day. Have a suggestion for something that should be in the catalog? Please let me know!

    • Why? – when I started in this role in October, I was told that if you look back a couple of years partners said “There’s just not enough readiness material around Azure.” On the other hand, today partners say “There’s too much readiness material around Azure, I don’t know where to find what I’m looking for.” This catalog’s goal is to begin to address that problem.

    • Take a look https://aka.ms/aprc and provide feedback using the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page.

  • Azure App Service – on 24 March, Scott Guthrie and Bill Staples introduced Azure App Service and showed how you can build cloud scale web and mobile apps faster than ever before and with less code. We also heard from customers 3M and Hogarth who talked about their experience using Azure for mobile and web development as well as Gartner analyst, Thomas Murphy, who shared trends in this area. Watch the recording.

  • Bill Staples also posted an overview blog post describing the integrated offering and how Azure App Service brings together the capabilities from Azure Websites, Azure Mobile Services, and Azure BizTalk Services into a unique while adding powerful new features.

  • On the heels of the Azure App Service announcement, Vishal Sood announced a new addition to the Azure App Service ecosystem with the release of Azure Media Services connector. Azure Media Services connector will enable you to build video and rich media into your apps and services without having to worry about the complexities associated with preparing and hosting video for delivery to a diverse set of devices.

  • Azure App Service has its own page, now. This is where you’ll find pricing, documentation and overviews of Web Apps (used to be Websites,) Mobile Apps (used to be Mobile Services,) API Apps and Logic Apps.

  • Some perspective from a few who cover Microsoft and Azure:
  • At the Microsoft Convergence conference held in Atlanta last month, our CEO, Satya Nadella announced the new Azure IoT Suite. The Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities, simplified billing and easy provisioning to help businesses connect, manage and analyze all of their “things.” It will be available in preview later this year targeting common Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios such as remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance.

  • In addition to the Azure IoT Suite announcement, we introduced a Quick Start offering and an IoT Leadership Program. Barb Edson’s post shares the details.

  • Some cool customer stories on IoT:
  • Last on the IoT topic, there’s a blog exclusively providing you IoT reading with more than a dozen posts in March.

  • Gartner has positioned Microsoft in the Leaders Quadrant in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS), based on its completeness of vision and ability to execute in the aPaaS market. Gartner defines aPaaS as “a form of PaaS that provides a platform to support application development, deployment and execution in the cloud.” You have full access to the report from 24 March.

  • Lee Corbett of the UK Azure team has published a nearly 40 page Azure handbook intended for UK CSVs and ISVs but you should check it out, too. As a partner, this material is provided to you under NDA and/or under Section 7 of the MPN Terms and conditions. It’s updated every three months (most recent update was 4 March.) Lee keeps it here for your easy reference.

  • It’s always fun to share a handful of geeky things just because. Here they are for April.
    • Preview 2 of Azure Active Directory Connect is available. It was updated on 20 March with new capabilities including upgrade from Dirsync and AAD Sync, support for additional sync options, Additional Tasks and "Pilot Mode".  The  Azure AD Connect wizard Public Preview provides a guided experience for integrating one or multiple Active Directory forests with Microsoft Azure AD.  Optionally you can configure Exchange Hybrid deployment, password change write-back, AD FS and Web Application Proxy.

    • Trevor Sullivan shared a Simple Azure VM RDP PowerShell Script because he …”uses PowerShell on such a regular basis, and…” because he “… generally dislikes pointing and clicking in GUIs”

    • Simon Timms tells us a bit about how he uses WebJobs and Deployment Slots in Azure

    • two10degrees has available an Azure Speed Test that measures the latency from your web browser to the Blob Storage Service 15 Microsoft Azure Data Centers.

  • I recently learned that there was a Strategic Architect Forum 2015 held here in the Seattle area at the end of January and was inspired to share some of the Azure related content from it. It covers top trends and perspectives including slides, recordings and insights from Scott Guthrie and Mark Russinovich as well as topics including Running MySQL in Azure and Hybrid Identity.

  • Bonus: Since I mentioned running MySQL on Linux VMs in Azure, I better give you the recently posted Performance Tuning MySQL Database on Azure Linux VM’s blog post.

  • Did you know that there are more than a dozen, free Azure infographics available? These technical infographics are excellent for learning and training. Zoom into details, download, or print.

  • You can also leverage architecture blueprints, scenario based diagrams that help you to build new solutions quickly on topics ranging from DevOps to hybrid cloud storage to live media streaming. Be sure not to overlook the Azure Symbol / Icon set. Read Rob Boucher’s background on these resources.

  • There’s a recently updated tool called the SQL Database Migration Wizard that is designed to help you migrate SQL Server 2005/2008/2012/2014 databases to Azure SQL Database. This page on CodePlex gives you all of the details. You’ll find download links to support migration from different versions of SQL Server, a video walkthrough, Migration cookbook links as well as a link to the TechNet Virtual Lab where you can try out the tool in a lab environment.

  • In this community, we are all experts on Azure J but our customers might not all be. There’s a terrific set of videos about Getting Started with Azure. It shows how to sign up and deploy a solution in under 5 minutes plus gives short overviews on creating Windows Server or Linux Virtual Machines, creating an ASP.NET website and creating a Node.js app. Of course, these videos will never replace partners but they might be an interesting, hands on way to help get your customers (and sales folks?) introduced to azure.

  • Storage, Backup and Disaster Recovery are usually great Azure workloads for customers to understand and for partners to implement. Good things going on in these areas in March. We strive to enable Availability on Demand with a variety of Azure provided capabilities.
  • Sometimes I worry that I sound like a broken record. One of the strongest benefits that Microsoft and Azure allow you to offer to your customers is our enterprise software history and the ability to deliver solutions that aren’t just on-premises or just cloud but rather hybrid, a combination of on prem and cloud. I thought that you might be interested in the handful of below resources to help understand, share and deliver on the concept of hybrid.
  • Clearly, I’ve got Azure religion but I realize that sometimes you need help when working to get customers to be believers. This month I want to share ten of the new customer stories that were published in the month of March. You want to talk about traction? Look below. And, as I’ve already shared with you, hundreds of Azure customer stories are here for your reference.

 

Customer

Country

Partner

Brainsonic

France

 

Changi Airport Group

Singapore

CHS Engineering Services

eSmart Systems

Norway

 

Frunze

Ukraine

 

JLL

US

 

Medianet

Tunisia

 

Petrobras Argentina

Argentina

Algeiba IT

The MANN+HUMMEL Group

Germany

Objektkultur Software

TopShou

UAE

Idea to Life

zkipster

Switzerland

 

 

  • It’s not a case study at present but the 11 March ComputerWeekly story of an Azure based system, developed at McDonald's Sweden, being named best-in-class across the global fast food organisation's global operation is too good not to share.

  • While I’m discussing less technical topics, we consistently receive feedback from our internal field sellers and Azure partners regarding the difficulty in creating Azure cost estimates for customers.  Based on the feedback, the US team released the first scenario based calculator to significantly simplify the effort of creating Azure cost estimates. In addition to scenarios, they also provide users the flexibility of creating estimates by selecting the individual Azure services similar to the current excel based calculators. Watch Martin Pichardo’s recorded overview of the Microsoft Azure Cost Estimator Tool and download the latest tool here (please keep in mind that the tool is released for United States and that you should consult local pricing information for other countries.)

  • One last plug… in a few weeks, on 25 April to be precise, the third annual Global Azure Bootcamp will be held. In 2014 it was held at 136 different locations. This year, there are almost 200 locations around the world confirmed. Be sure to check out locations near you for this year’s one day deep dive class to help get up to speed on developing Cloud Computing Applications for Azure.

  • Watch for the May 2015 edition of Luper’s Learnings coming to you during the first week of May, from Microsoft Ignite. 

If you have topics you’d like me to include, please let me know what they are!


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