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


Wow… it’s October. Where, oh where did 2015 go? I hope that everyone has a terrific last few months of the calendar year. As I’m writing this, it’s Friday evening in my hotel in Stockholm, Sweden where I’ve spent two days meeting with awesome Azure partners. I hope that you have or had a terrific weekend, depending on when you read this. From Stockholm I’m heading to visit partners in Finland, UK, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium over the next couple of weeks. I’m so excited to see some of you in person! I should also mention that last week I was in Vancouver and Calgary, Canada to meet with Azure partners in Western Canada. We had some great discussions and an Azure Evening event where topics included IoT and solutions that it offers for oil and gas customers and Linux and Open Source Software running on Azure. Partners really make my job a blast!

Here are topics I’ve run across and my Learnings from the last month…

Did you get to participate in AzureCon? All I can say is WOW! There was so much good content and exciting announcements. I couldn’t participate realtime but, luckily, all of the sessions are available on demand. You can see the list and watch the sessions at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/azurecon/. Or, if you are like me and will find yourself spending hours on airplanes, you can use the cool PowerShell script that Alex Brisebois created to download all of the sessions then watch them on your Surface device on your flights :). I’ve captured many of the announcements below.

    • Azure Security Center will soon be in preview. It is a new Azure service that gives you visibility and control of the security of your Azure resources without impeding agility and helps you stay ahead of cyber threats even as they evolve.

    • Azure File Storage is now generally available. Read about Usage Scenarios, File Explorer, Pricing and more.

    • Bigger and badder D series VMs? Yup. Now with 35% faster CPUs, latest generation of CPU the Dv2-series instances are the next generation of D-series instances that can be used as Virtual Machines or Cloud Services. They carry more powerful CPUs which are on average about 35% faster than D-series instances, and carry the same memory and disk configurations as the D-series. Dv2-series instances are based on the latest generation 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon® E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processor, and with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 can go to 3.2 GHz. Dv2-series and D-series are ideal for applications that demand faster CPUs, better local disk performance, or higher memories and offer a powerful combination for many enterprise-grade applications. As of today, Dv2 is only available in Central US, North Central US, West US, and East US 2 regions.

    • SQL Data Warehouse, the Industry’s first enterprise class cloud data warehouse that can grow, shrink, and pause in seconds is now in public preview.

    • Forbes (really) covered the announcement of the N-Series VMs that will include NVIDIA GRID 2.0 GPU capabilities.

    • Yousef Khalidi updates us on the seven ExpressRoute announcements around Office 365, Azure Government Cloud, more partners, simplified billing and more.

    • Take a look at what Oliver Chiu has to say about the general availability of HDInisght on Linux as well as Ranga Rengarajan’s info on Azure Data Lake.

    • Azure IoT Suite is now available for purchase. You can learn about Microsoft Azure and the Internet of Things and Get Started  with the IoT preconfigured solutions.

    • We announced the next phase of our support for containerized applications on Azure. Azure Container Service builds on our work with Docker and Mesosphere to create and manage scalable clusters of host machines onto which containerized applications can be deployed, orchestrated, and managed.

    • Azure DevTest Labs will be entering Private Preview allowing you to Quickly provision development and test environments, minimise waste with quotas and policie, Set automated shutdowns to minimise costs and more across Windows and Linux environments. Sign up for the private preview to get an early look.

    • India Regions (Central, South & West) are now available to volume licensing customers and partners with a local enrollment in India. The India regions will open to direct online Azure subscriptions in 2016.

    • Azure Compute Pre-Purchase Plan is a new pricing program designed for customers with steady state, predictable workloads on Azure. With this new offer, customers who pre-purchase Azure compute for one year can realize cost savings of up to 63 percent. This plan will be available globally starting Dec. 1.

    • It’s possible that I missed some AzureCon news. If you want to be sure, you might check out Jason Zander’s summary.

  • Guess what I heard? Azure seems to have the most powerful VMs in the public cloud. In his post, Corey talks about the GS series VMs and shares a Mark Russinovich demo of that raw power. Remember not to leave these puppies running accidentally as they are a bit pricey to just play with.

  • AADB2B and AADB2C are now in preview. Would you like some words with those letters? Alex  Simons made the announcement in mid September accompanied by a post with more detail.

  • You know the Preview Portal? The one that’s been in preview for quite some time? They are making progress! Leon Welicki announced more than a dozen improvements just over two weeks ago.

  • I just learned about the Partner Apps Blog. Started in July by the Go-To-Market Services team, this blog features apps for multiple Microsoft development platforms. A few Azure apps highlighted in September are from Cloudera, Phyzit and unidesk.

  • Sometimes we get too hung up on IaaS offerings -- VMs, networking and the like. Remember that Azure’s PaaS offerings are second to none. If you haven’t had a chance to check out  Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps or Logic Apps that are part of Azure’s App Service, you should head over to https://tryappservice.azure.com/. You can play for an hour even without an Azure subscription.

  • I’ve talked before about the new Azure Resource Manager (ARM) deployment model. Once of the questions I was asked recently is “What is the difference between Virtual Machines and Virtual Machines (Classic) in portal.azure.com?” Fortunately, this question has come up before and there’s a pretty good explanation in the community forum. Also here is a reminder of some of the differences and improvements that ARM offers.

  • Do you use Application Insights in Azure? If you use it in the Azure Portal, terrific. If you are still using the version that was provided via the Visual Studio Online portal, you better switch now as the old version will become read only next week per Dale Koetke’s post.

  • I’m sure that you know that Azure lets you set limits and alerts for services in your subscriptions. Jason Roth’s post, updated just over a month ago, offers comprehensive details on those limits.

  • The jet.com story was featured at AzureCon. Jet.com decided to work with Microsoft Azure in part, by the .NET development platform—and Visual F# in particular—which was a good fit with the microservices architecture used to build Jet.

  • Scott Hanselman’s tweets and posts are frequently informative and entertaining. This post in early September on The Butterfly Effect of Technology Community was both of the above.

  • Azure Tour – A one day, free in person event has added additional dates and is now coming to 20 cities around the world starting with Philadelphia next week and running through March. I plan to be at one or two of them, just have to decide which ones. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

  • I told you last month about the technical monthly webinars on Hot Azure topics being driven out of the UK. I have permission to invite Azure partners from outside the UK to these sessions. Below are registration details for the next four sessions. I’ll provide you with info for January and beyond in the coming months.

      • 22 October – 08:00  Pacific, 16:00 GMT –  RemoteApp - Discover RemoteApp on Azure and how to utilize it to deliver corporate and off the shelf applications to multiple vendor device formats, whilst keeping your data safe in the Azure Cloud.  This is a technical event (Level 300) delivered directly from the Microsoft Product teams in Redmond. Register.

      • 12 November – 08:00  Pacific, 16:00 GMT –  ML & Power BI Machine Learning, Azure data and analytics and Power BI offer a uniquely powerful combination.  Hear from the Microsoft product group in Redmond on how to combine and utilize these feature in Azure for cutting edge data analytics. (Level 300). Register.

      • 24 November – 08:00  Pacific, 16:00 GMT –  Dynamics AX7 on Azure - Dynamics AX7 launches on Azure later on in the year.  Discover how it works on Azure, how it utilizes Azure’s cloud capabilities and the key AX7 features.  This is a technical Level 200 webinar. Register.

      • 10 December – 08:00  Pacific, 16:00 GMT –  Linux and Open Source on Azure - Over 20% of the servers in Azure are running Linux and Open Source Software (OSS). Discover why Linux and OSS runs like a dream on Azure and how to utilize Azure’s cloud features.  This is a technical level 300 webinar delivered from the Microsoft product group in Redmond. Register.

  • What’s up? That question comes up (to me, to you, from you, from your customers etc.) all the time. You should keep the Azure Status page including History by service and all up plus service specific RSS feeds handy.

  • With a similar mission of helping keep us up to date on all things Azure, you might want to follow @AzureWeekly on Twitter and/or subscribe to the newsletter that comes out every Sunday.

  • Want to geek out a bit? We have realized that both the cloud and the enterprise depend on high-speed, highly available networks to power their services. This makes it critical for network operators to be able to control their own destiny by rapidly adding to their network features they need while keeping out feature changes that increase risk and complexity. The Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) is our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches. It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux. ACS allows us to debug, fix, and test software bugs much faster. It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs. Read more in Kamala Subramaniam’s post from 17 September.

  • Remember, the Azure Partner Readiness Catalog, https://aka.ms/aprc is your resource for finding Azure technical readiness content in one place and that back issues of Luper’s Learnings are now available via the archive at http://blogs.technet.com/b/luperslearnings for your convenience and perusal.


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