Interoperability? Azure is open for business

You don’t go building a table with only a Hammer, do you? You need a diverse set of tools and materials to make any kind of project, be it furniture or advanced infrastructure. We’ve come to recognize this and have been working hard to ensure you have an awesome heterogeneous experience both on premises and in Azure.

To be completely honest, most of my professional career has been in the Windows world with the last 10 ish years working AT Microsoft.  I’ve supported projects that included Linux or OSS tech/apps here and there – generally involving whatever the developer / infrastructure folks liked to use and were comfortable working with at the time.  I am a big believer in the philosophy of “If you work in the IT space, you should keep your options open and work with as many technologies as you can”.

AzureNumbers

I have to update the numbers on this slide constantly when talking about Azure. The one square that gets a lot of attention is the Linux one. Approximately 20% of Azure IaaS workloads are running on Linux which is able to take advantage of all of the infrastructure and capabilities Azure has to offer – just like Windows VMS. If your on-premises environment isn’t an “All Windows” shop – DON’T WORRY… Microsoft Azure is ready and waiting for your heterogeneous Hybrid datacenter.

If you are looking for information about how to work with Azure and deploy Linux and OSS workloads on our cloud platform – the first place you will probably look is to your search engine of choice.  You are not alone. I was chatting with a documentation writer on our Azure team who mentioned while most enterprises rely on support contracts to gain access to resources and information when working on projects, Open Source folks tend to rely on community posts, support forums and online documentation when things go south.  We weren’t doing a great job with keeping up with all the updates and changes in a timely fashion, especially with our Linux and OSS docs. It was getting so bad that people were thinking we didn’t care.

Well – that is starting to change.

We recently announced a change to our documentation portal- opening it up for ANYONE to contribute, correct or author their own docs that will be found on Azure.com. All you need is a GitHub account, some guidance on how to contribute and know where our repository is found.  I recently shot a video during an internal Hack-A-Doc event where some folks from the Azure Virtual Machine team were participating in a mass GitHub and documentation process training. We are serious about wanting help to make this experience better – have a look at the video below:

As you can see, all of our investments in our cloud services is available equally to both Microsoft and Linux/OSS operating systems.  We’re getting our act together when it comes to documentation. I’ll be doing my part here by writing posts that include both Microsoft and Non Microsoft technologies – running on Azure.

When you are ready to run your heterogeneous on-premises workloads in a hybrid environment, we’re ready to support your efforts whole heartedly.

Live PatchAndSwitch episode Friday 27/2/2015 9 am PST

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UPDATE: Hey @PatchAndSwitch fans… Due to unfortunate circumstances, we’re going to have to RESCHEDULE tomorrows episode. 

It’s a little wonky, but a good laugh to enjoy and listen to Patch and Switch over a coffee or a beer on a Friday. It’s that time again, albeit a little late with getting the episode posted. This will be OUR LAST episode using the old technologies.

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(I’m sorry – I had to use the cheesy gifs…)

But fear not – we shall be back, hopefully while staying on schedule.  Our new solution should be ready now that we have moved into the new Bunker 2 weeks ago.

Countdown to Microsoft Ignite – Forum Q&A, Zambonies, The Bean and MORE

Here is the 4th installment of the Countdown to Microsoft Ignite show. Joey and I decide to take some Q and A from the Channel 9 forum and from “The Twitters” in order to answer your questions about Microsoft Ignite. You are welcome to post more questions here, in the forums or using the #MSIgnite hashtag on twitter and we’ll do our best to keep on answering them!

Of course we also include some more colour of Chicago in this one, including ME fulfilling every Canadian’s dream of riding a Zamboni on an NHL playing surface.

What else can I say.

Don’t forget to REGISTER for Microsoft Ignite - taking place May 4th to 8th in CHICAGO!

New Azure Planned Maintenance logs and Premium Storage details

A while back I chatted with Drew McDaniel about G-Series machines on Azure and he teased about Premium Storage (SSD based) availability in Azure. Well – that was enough to pique my interest, so I invited him back to talk about it in more detail.  He talks about Premium Storage and some more details on our “Scale Up” G-Series machines on this episode of The Edge Show.

But Wait – there’s more!

Kenaz Kwa comes along and gives us the details on the new availability of Log data around Planned Maintenance in Azure.  In the past – you knew your machines might have been rebooted due to scheduled maintenance, but not much more details. Now you can query and have access to detailed logs about the maintenance and restart details on each of your VMs – all via PowerShell. More info is always good when it comes to planned downtime.

Check out the full details in the video below:

Useful Links:

Azure News:

Connect with the Edge Team:




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Now what do I do? Next steps after signing up for an Azure Trial.

With the expanse of what Microsoft Azure can do – it can be daunting to roll up your sleeves and get started without further guidance. Let me get you on the fast track for learning what is possible in a way that is both simple to understand and relevant to what you are doing now.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A while back I started a Category called “Azure4ServerHuggers” – specifically designed to get you up and working with Azure if you are already experienced in the On-Premises world. I haven’t made the time to continue down that path of posts in a while – something I am going to change, starting now.

Lets set some ground rules about what you need to know in order to follow these ongoing posts.  Check out these two posts to get started:

  • Windows Azure–where do I sign up? – info on how to sign up for the Trial and all the background info you will need to know. Plus I do a “Quick Create” Windows Server virtual machine and connect up to it via RDP.
  • Installing the Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlet. – Lets face it – you can start in the GUI, but ultimately you need to start working with cloud services in an efficient manner with the proper tools. Get used to working on it via PowerShell.

Now lets work on a baseline sample test environment. My friend Joe Davies and the Azure documentation team have created a set of environments I will be using as my lab setup for all of these “Azure4ServerHuggers” posts going forward. These documents are called “Test Lab Guides” and are designed to have a consistent sample environment from which to start tests. We will ultimately be using the “Setup A Hybrid Cloud Environment for Testing” which looks like the graphic below.

hybrid-cloud-config

This setup can be done on a single Hyper-V or other virtualization box that has a public IP address associated with 1 network card.  Your CLIENT1, APP1, DC1 will be running in an isolated network which has the dual nic RRAS1 box connected to the Public internet. This setup assumes you configure your “corpnet” as per the “Base Configuration for Windows Server 2012 R2 – Test Lab Guide” and then further configure the RRAS1 box to act as your gateway.

But we aren’t going to jump there just yet…This is our starting point.

CorpNet

I wanted to show you where I was heading – a Hybrid Cloud environment that allows seamless access of cloud resources through a gateway, probably the most tangible method of useful connectivity a ServerHugger like me can grasp.

Ultimately, in order to use Azure – you just need an internet connected machine, a trial account and then use the GUI portal or PowerShell (you really should learn to use PowerShell with Azure, have I mentioned that yet?).  Go ahead! Get started with creating a few machines via the portal.  Don’t Worry – any resources you make in Azure are “confined” inside the datacenter and your subscription until you OPEN endpoints from the internet. Until you create a gateway to your private network – all connectivity and traffic has to go across the public internet.

While I am encouraging you to “play” with this before this series gets started – DON’T FORGET: All Public Cloud Services are consumption based and you will be charged for running systems up in Azure and other cloud providers.  Azure bills VMs by the minute based on size of machine and time running.  An A1 machine (1 core, 1.75 GB ram) will cost you $0.002 US a minute (approx. $0.13 an hour) to run but our largest G5 series machine (32 cores, 448 GB ram) costs $0.13 a minute (approx. $7.80 an hour).

Make sure you shutdown any machines you create which are not required after working with them in the lab – I’ll show you how to automate this in a future post.

If you are looking some consumable video content before we get started – I’d suggest checking out this list of courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy.

A couple of topics I will be covering in this series (list will grow over time):

  • Quick Create of a VM via new portal.
  • Creating a VM via Powershell
  • Creating Multiple VMs on the same vNet
  • Scale OUT (multiple VMs) and Scale UP (VM size and performance optimization)
  • Designing IaaS for higher availability to minimize service interruptions
  • Creating a Hybrid Environment
  • Having a PaaS Azure Website talk to a VM on a vNet
  • Migrating on-premises / other Cloud Provider VMs to Azure

Do you have suggestions for additional topics? Leave them in the comment area!

Microsoft Ignite countdown: The One About Getting Certified and Not-To-Miss Places in Chicago

Here is the third installment of the Microsoft Ignite countdown show – where Joey and I talk about all things certification.  Take advantage of the %50 off certification exams and all the study resources while you are attending this awesome technology event in Chicago from May 4th to 8th. We’re talking study halls, prep sessions and practice test resources – all targeted to help you pass whatever Microsoft exam you have in your sights.

(Personally – I plan on knocking off my 70-534 – Azure Architecture exam while I am on site.)

We’re also continuing to paint some more “Colour” about the host city: Chicago.  This time we’ve got some ideas on WHAT ELSE you can do while in town for the conference.  I tell ya – I loved the Art Gallery – definitely a must see!  Check out the video below for full details.

Don’t forget! Microsoft Ignite is May 4–8 in Chicago at McCormick Place. Register today.

Trust. You have to build it one step at a time

I think the title says it all. Working in Cloud environments with various cloud providers you start to realize your comfort level with their services comes down to how much you Trust your provider and the services they provide.  When issues come up – how they are handled and what measures are put in place to prevent them from happening again are small steps forward to continuing to build trust. I get asked the trust question a lot by customers who are considering using cloud services.

Today MSFT takes one more step forward by announcing we’re the first provider to adopt and adhere to ISO/IEC 27018 - an international standard for cloud privacy. It is one of many different ISO certifications and attestations that our cloud services achieve. This one is very cool as it relates specifically towards privacy and “Your Data”.  I suggest you have a read at Brad Smith’s blog post to get some more specific info and links.  Some quick points from his post I found interesting:  By adhering to ISO 27018, we’re committed to protecting your privacy and data in a number of ways:

  • You are in control of your data. Adherence to the standard ensures that we only process personally identifiable information according to the instructions that you provide to us as our customer.
  • You know what’s happening with your data. Adherence to the standard ensures transparency about our policies regarding the return, transfer, and deletion of personal information you store in our data centers. We’ll not only let you know where your data is, but if we work with other companies who need to access your data, we’ll let you know who we’re working with. In addition, if there is unauthorized access to personally identifiable information or processing equipment or facilities resulting in the loss, disclosure or alteration of this information, we’ll let you know about this.
  • We provide strong security protection for your data. Adherence to ISO 27018 provides a number of important security safeguards. It ensures that there are defined restrictions on how we handle personally identifiable information, including restrictions on its transmission over public networks, storage on transportable media, and proper processes for data recovery and restoration efforts. In addition, the standard ensures that all of the people, including our own employees, who process personally identifiable information must be subject to a confidentiality obligation.
  • Your data won’t be used for advertising. Enterprise customers are increasingly expressing concerns about cloud service providers using their data for advertising purposes without consent. The adoption of this standard reaffirms our longstanding commitment not to use enterprise customer data for advertising purposes.
  • We inform you about government access to data. The standard requires that law enforcement requests for disclosure of personally identifiable data must be disclosed to you as an enterprise customer, unless this disclosure is prohibited by law. We’ve already adhered to this approach (and more), and adoption of the standard reinforces this commitment.

Go read Brad’s article and check out the additional links – it makes for a good read.

Countdown to #MSIgnite – Pre-Day sessions and more places to eat

Have you seen that the Pre-Day speakers and sessions are listed now on http://ignite.microsoft.com ?  Add on one day of depth learning on over 17 topics the day before the official Microsoft Ignite conference starts. Joey and I cover off what’s available and how to register.  Also – in case you don’t know Chicago well – we’ve included a few more places to eat and drink in order to take care of your essential requirements of Coffee, Beer and Sky View social drinks.  Have a look:

Rick and Joey took us to their favorite hot-spots for coffee, hand-crafted beer, steaks, seafood, and cocktails. Watch the video, check out their websites, and add them to your dinning agenda.

La Colombe Coffee
These guys take coffee to a whole new level, with a roast for every taste—and then some. Open daily, 7:00am – 7:00pm, this is the perfect place to grab a cup on the way to the convention center, or to keep you going into the evening. Check out their cold pressed black coffee by the bottle. You may want to pick some up to bring home!

Website: http://www.lacolombe.com/
https://twitter.com/lacolombecoffee

Goose Island Beer Co.
Now that you’re awake, you may want to try some beer tasting… and this is the place to do it. Goose Island offers a mind-boggling array of craft brews, all made on-premises. New infusions are tapped every Monday, made with fresh fruit selected by the brewer from the local farmers’ market. They offer bourbon-aged beer, a process they pioneered, aging beer in whiskey barrels to bring the barrels’ character to their brew. Grab a bite to eat and a beer sampler. Warning: There are so many brews, you’ll have to visit more than once. Public tours offered Saturday and Sunday, with private tours by appointment.

Website: http://www.gooseisland.com
https://twitter.com/GooseIsland

Tavern On Rush
If steaks and seafood are on your agenda, Tavern On Rush is your destination. The chef’s Louisiana roots show through in the great Cajun flavors you’ll find on their menu, but they are most famous for their prime aged steaks and chops and some of the freshest seafood in Chicago. They offer white jacket/white cloth dining upstairs, the bustling and casual Tavern downstairs, as well as outdoor patio dining. For groups, two semi-private reception rooms and a private dining space can be reserved.

Website: http://www.tavernonrush.com/
https://twitter.com/TavernOnRush

Roof on the WIT
Travel 27 floors up to the panoramic views of downtown Chicago from Roof on the WIT. “Dress to impress” is the dress code for this intimate, modern bar and nightclub. It has a max capacity of 250, so we highly recommend a table reservation. Cozy up by the fire and enjoy a craft cocktail, wine, and something delicious from their eclectic small plates menu.

Website: http://www.roofonthewit.com/
https://twitter.com/ROOFontheWit

Keep watching for more tips on making the most of your experience at Ignite, and more ways to enjoy Chicago!

 

#PingShow 235 – Lumia Wireless Charger, Risk for Xbox and Office Touch!

Mark was out – I so I asked if my good buddy Joey could step in and help out with this episode of The Ping Show. As always – lots of fun talking about stuff… Have a look.

Yup – we’re back – covering the news items MSFTies are Ping’in each other about.

[T4:41] Microsoft’s new Wireless Phone Charger.

[T6:41] Cody’s App Academy – programming skills for kids.

[T8:14] RISK now available for Xbox One

[T9:44] Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi 2.

[T8:14] RISK now available for Xbox One

[T11:31] The Next Chapter of Office on Windows

 

Question of the Week!

[T13:44]  What territory is your go-to choice when playing Risk?

Chat with us throughout the week using  #PingShow on Twitter

Like us on Facebook http://facebook.com/ThePingShow


Interview with Jeffrey Snover: Windows Server Futures

One of the cool things I get to do (and I am still giddy about) is to get the opportunity to have a chat / interview with the likes of a Distinguished Engineer and lead architect for Windows Server and System Center – Jeffrey Snover.

My friends in the UK Subsidiary of Microsoft were holding their TechDays Online event and wanted me to act as a host / facilitator for Jeffrey’s keynote.

Who am I to turn down such an opportunity?

Tune in to hear what Jeffrey has to say and get a glimpse into what we’re planning for the next release.