Showing posts with label Azure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Azure. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I guess it's eBook week... eBook of the Day: “Data Science in the Cloud, with Azure Machine Learning and R" Report (Name-ware)

Machine Learning Blog - Download Free O'Reilly Report - Data Science in the Cloud

O’Reilly's new report, titled “Data Science in the Cloud, with Azure Machine Learning and R," shows how newer Cloud-based tools, combined with established techniques such as R, make sophisticated ML models accessible to a wide range of users. Through a practical data science example, with relevant data sets and R scripts available on GitHub, it helps you navigate through tasks such as:

  • Data management

  • Data transformation

  • Building and evaluating ML models

  • Producing R graphics

  • Publishing your models as web services

All this is done using a free account in the Azure ML cloud environment. You can ...

O’Reilly - Getting started with data science in the cloud

Large-scale machine learning, or predictive analytics, is having a powerful impact across many industries. By using machine learning, companies, governments, and not-for-profits are replacing guesses and seat-of-the-pants estimates with valuable data-driven predictions.

Deriving value from machine learning, however, is often impeded by complex technology deployments and long model-development cycles. Fortunately, machine learning and data science are undergoing democratization. Workflow environments make tools for building and evaluating sophisticated machine learning models accessible to a wider range of users. Cloud-based environments provide secure ubiquitous access to data storage and powerful data science tools.

To get you started creating and evaluating your own machine learning models, O’Reilly has commissioned a new report: “Data Science in the Cloud, with Azure Machine Learning and R.” We use an in-depth data science example — predicting bicycle rental demand — to show you how to perform basic data science tasks, including data management, data transformation, machine learning, and model evaluation in the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning cloud environment. Using a free-tier Azure ML account, example R scripts, and the data provided, the report provides hands-on experience with this practical data science example


Microsoft Azure - Data Science in the Cloud with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and R

The Microsoft Azure Machine Learning cloud platform provides simplified yet powerful data management, transformation and machine learning tools. R language scripts integrate with built in Azure ML modules to extend the platform. Additionally, models running in Azure ML can be published as web services.
You will be provided information on how to perform data science tasks including, data management, data transformation, and machine learning in the Azure ML cloud environment. You will learn:

  • Data management with Azure ML.
  • Data transformation with Azure ML and R.
  • Data I/O between Azure ML and the R Scripts.
  • R graphics with Azure ML.
  • Building and evaluating machine learning models with Azure ML and R.
  • Publishing Azure ML models as a web service.

    Free tier Azure ML accounts are now available with a Microsoft ID at

  • ...

    image image

    Here's a snip from this 58 page "report"

    Recently, Microsoft launched the Azure Machine Learning cloud platform—Azure ML. Azure ML provides an easy-to-use and powerful set of cloud-based data transformation and machine learning tools. This report covers the basics of manipulating data, as well as constructing and evaluating models in Azure ML, illustrated with a data science example.

    Before we get started, here are a few of the benefits Azure ML provides for machine learning solutions:
    • Solutions can be quickly deployed as web services.
    • Models run in a highly scalable cloud environment.
    • Code and data are maintained in a secure cloud environment.
    • Available algorithms and data transformations are extendable using the R language for solution-specific functionality.

    Throughout this report, we’ll perform the required data manipulation then construct and evaluate a regression model for a bicycle sharing demand dataset. You can follow along by downloading the code and data provided below. Afterwards, we’ll review how to publish your trained models as web services in the Azure cloud.

    For our example, we will be using the Bike Rental UCI dataset available in Azure ML. This data is also preloaded in the Azure ML Studio environment, or you can download this data as a .csv file from the UCI website. The reference for this data is Fanaee-T, Hadi, and Gama, Joao, “Event labeling combining ensemble detectors and background knowledge,” Progress in Artificial Intelligence (2013): pp. 1-15, Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

    The R code for our example can be found at GitHub.

    Working Between Azure ML and RStudio
    When you are working between AzureML and RStudio, it is helpful to do your preliminary editing, testing, and debugging in RStudio.

    This report assumes the reader is familiar with the basics of R. If you  are not familiar with using R in Azure ML you should check out the following resources:
    • Quick Start Guide to R in AzureML
    • Video introduction to R with Azure Machine Learning
    • Video tutorial of another simple data science example

    The R source code for the data science example in this report can be run in either Azure ML or RStudio. Read the comments in the source files to see the changes required to work between these two environments.

    Overview of Azure ML
    This section provides a short overview of Azure Machine Learning.

    You can find more detail and specifics, including tutorials, at the Microsoft Azure web page.

    In subsequent sections, we include specific examples of the concepts presented here, as we work through our data science example.

    Azure ML Studio...

    You also heard that Microsoft bought a firm that's a "leading commercial provider of software and services for R," Microsoft to acquire Revolution Analytics to help customers find big data value with advanced statistical analysis, right? Funny how that works.... :)

    Tuesday, February 03, 2015

    Cool eBook for the Day #2: Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure (Think "Azure 102")

    Microsoft Press - Free ebook: Microsoft Azure Essentials Fundamentals of Azure

    We’re happy to announce the release of our newest free ebook, Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure (ISBN 9780735697225), by Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan. This is the first ebook in Microsoft Press’s free Microsoft Azure Essentials series. Future ebooks will cover specific Azure topics, such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Automation, and others.

    Below you’ll find the ebook’s Foreword, by Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft, as well as its full Introduction. Enjoy!


    Download all formats (PDF, Mobi and ePub) hosted by the Microsoft Virtual Academy



    Microsoft Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform, providing a wide variety of services you can use without purchasing and provisioning your own hardware. Azure enables the rapid development of solutions and provides the resources to accomplish tasks that may not be feasible in an on-premises environment. Azure's compute, storage, network, and application services allow you to focus on building great solutions without the need to worry about how the physical infrastructure is assembled.

    This ebook covers the fundamentals of Azure you need to start developing solutions right away. It concentrates on the features of the Azure platform that you are most likely to need to know rather than on every feature and service available on the platform. This ebook also provides several walkthroughs you can follow to learn how to create VMs and virtual networks, websites and storage accounts, and so on. In many cases, real-world tips are included to help you get the most out of your Azure experience.

    In addition to its coverage of core Azure services, the ebook discusses common tools useful in creating and managing Azure-based solutions. The ebook wraps up by providing details on a few common business scenarios where Azure can provide compelling and valuable solutions.

    Who should read this ebook

    This ebook focuses on providing essential information about the key services of Azure for developers and IT professionals who are new to cloud computing. Detailed, step-by-step demonstrations are included to help the reader understand how to get started with each of the key services. This material is useful not only for those who have no prior experience with Azure, but also for those who need a refresher and those who may be familiar with one area but not others. Each chapter is standalone; there is no requirement that you perform the hands-on demonstrations from previous chapters to understand any particular chapter.

    We expect that you have at least a minimal understanding of virtualized environments and virtual machines. There are no specific skills required overall for this ebook, but having some knowledge of the topic of each chapter will help you gain a deeper understanding. For example, the chapter on virtual networks will make more sense if you have some understanding of networking, and the chapter on databases will be more useful if you understand what a database is and for what you might use one. Web development skills will provide a good background for understanding websites, and some understanding of identity will be helpful when studying the chapter on Active Directory.

    This ebook might not be for you if…
    This ebook might not be for you if you are looking for an in-depth developer or architecture-focused discussion on a wide range of Azure features, or if you are looking for details on other public or private cloud platforms.

    The topics explored in this book include:

    • Getting started with Azure: Understand what cloud computing is, visit the management portals, and learn about billing.
    • Websites and Cloud Services: Learn about Azure Websites, from deployment to monitoring, and gain an understanding of the web and worker roles used in Azure Cloud Services.
    • Virtual Machines: Explore the basic features of Azure Virtual Machines, including how to create, configure, and manage them.
    • Storage: Read about the basics of Azure Storage, including blobs, tables, queues, and file shares.
    • Virtual Networks: Learn the basics of virtual networks, including how to create one, and why a virtual network might be necessary. This also covers site-to-site and point-to-site networking, as well as ExpressRoute.
    • Databases: Explore two relational database options available in Azure: Azure SQL Database and SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.
    • Azure Active Directory: Explore basic features of Azure AD, including creating a directory, users and groups, and using the application gallery.
    • Management Tools: Explore three common tools for working with Azure: Visual Studio 2013 and the Azure SDK, Azure PowerShell cmdlets, and the Cross-Platform Command-Line Interface
    • Business Scenarios: Explore four common scenarios for utilizing Azure features: development and test, hybrid, application and infrastructure modernization, and Azure Mobile Services.


    Need to introduce someone to Azure? This free 246 page eBook looks like a great starting point...


    Thursday, January 08, 2015

    My VM is larger than yours... (32 vCPUs, 448GB RAM, 6.59 TB SSD... oh my)

    Azure BlogVirtual Machines - Largest VM in the Cloud

    Today, we’re announcing the release of a new series of VM sizes for Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines called the G-series. G-series sizes provide the most memory, the highest processing power and the largest amount of local SSD of any Virtual Machine size currently available in the public cloud. This extraordinary performance will allow customers to deploy very large scale-up enterprise applications. G-series offers up to 32 vCPUs using the latest Intel® Xeon® processor E5 v3 family, 448GB of memory, and 6.59 TB of local Solid State Drive (SSD) space. ...



    Learn More

    If you would like more information on the G-Series VM sizes as well as other Azure VM Sizes then please see the following page for additional details: Virtual Machine and Cloud Service Sizes for Azure

    Now THAT's a VM! Nearly 1/2 TB of RAM, 7TB local SSD... yeah... wow. That would eat up my MSDN Azure credits in about 4 seconds... lol

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014

    Connect the IoT Dot's with help from (Connect your tiny IoT devices to Azure...)


    image is an open source project by Microsoft Open Technologies created to help you get tiny devices connected to Microsoft Azure and implement great IoT solutions taking advantage of Microsoft Azure services such as Azure Stream Analytics, Machine Learning or HD Insight.

    As part of the project you will find code samples, configuration scripts and guides that will help you set up tiny devices and configure Microsoft Azure services to make the most out of the data produced by your devices.

    Starting with a basic scenario, the intent is to make the project grow with more devices types, more scripts to provision and configure Azure services and more "Getting Started" guides to help you implement full end to end solutions yourself.

    As a first sample, we have created a simple end to end solution, from device all the way to a Website, that consists in displaying in real time on a web page raw temperature and humidity data generated from an Arduino board equipped with a weather Shield as well as alerts and processed data generated by Microsoft Azure Stream analytics based on the raw data from the device. We are using a Raspberry Pi, acting as a gateway, to send the data from the sensor up to Microsoft Azure Event Hub service. Azure Stream Analytics

    Check out the Wiki to try out your first project!

    Connect The Dots - Quick Start

    The MS Open Tech project illustrates how to connect sensors and devices to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, and use Microsoft Azure to analyze and visualize the resulting data streams.

    In a typical topology, sensors (here several Arduino Uno R3 boards with Arduino Weather Shields) connect to one or more local IoT Gateways (here Raspberry PI devices), which relay the data to Microsoft Azure Event Hubs. Once in the cloud, the data streams are fed into a web dashboard and to near real-time analytics engines (here Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics, in this case to generate averages and alerts across all devices). The real-time data streams, average, and alerts are then visualized in a Microsoft Azure Website, which can be viewed with any HTML5-capable browser. The high level architecture for the ConnectTheDots.IO project is shown in the figure below



    I've only been doing my Coding4Fun Hardware Friday posts for how long (Hint: I start my 5th year next month) and this is the first I've seen this project. Oh sure, it's only been out a few months, but still this is a space I watch out for and I'm just now seeing this? You know what this says? Says we need more IoT blogs and shows! Funny that Channel 9 is doing just that, with the Internet of Things Show :)


    [Found via Secret Microsoft Communications - IOT: Connect the dots by MS Open Tech, gets your UNO connected to the cloud!]

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Visual Studio 2013 Community, Azure VM style...

    Just Monday I blogged about playing with Windows 10 on an Azure VM, Want to play with Windows 10? Have Azure? One quick VM Gallery Visit and you're in..., now here's an example of how you can play with the new Visual Studio 2013 Community edition on a Azure VM too...

    Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition Azure Virtual Machines

    We recently announced a new version of Visual Studio.What was interesting in the announcement of Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition which would replace the existing Visual Studio Express and Professional and that it would be a free development


    Well we ended up hosting Visual Images in the Azure Image Gallery so now you can spin up an image in the Microsoft Azure VM portal which has Windows Server 2012 R2 and Visual Studio Community Edition 2013 so even if you don't have a Windows 8 desktop you can us your MacBook or even a iPad or Android Tablet to build and deploy apps across all platforms using Visual Studio


    Getting Started

    So its really easy to provision a Windows Server 2012 R2 with Visual Studio Community Edition already installed what neat is that the VM has all the Windows 8 and Azure SDK installed.

    Windows Server 2012 R2 is pretty close to Windows 8 So you get a very modern development environment so you can build apps for Windows phone, Windows 8, Android and iOS.

    So is it difficult to setup as I don't use Windows 8?

    To set this up it takes around 9 clicks and a short wait of between 5 and 8 minutes…."

    BTW, as you can see in the above snap, you can play with the latest beta of Visual Studio 2015 on a VM too... :)

    Monday, December 08, 2014

    Want to play with Windows 10? Have Azure? One quick VM Gallery Visit and you're in...

    You don't have an extra PC/notebook/what-ever laying around and don't have access to one with Hyper-V (or other hypervisor) but you have access to Azure via MSDN (or other route)? Then you can start playing with Windows 10 in about 5 minutes...

    Microsoft Developer Switzerland News - Try the Windows 10 Technical Preview now without having to install it first!

    If you are willing to try it out without having the hassle of upgrading one of your PCs, you may want to consider the possibility of having it running “in the cloud” and accessing it through a remote connection on your PC. This very little invasive approach requires only the Remote Desktop client and minimizes the requirements on your hardware.

    All you need is a valid MSDN subscription and access to Microsoft Azure.

    On Microsoft Azure you can find a fully preconfigured virtual machine, to which you can connect in just a few clicks. Below, you can find the required steps.

    First, you need access to Microsoft Azure. If you don’t have a subscription yet, fortunately there are a few ways to do so for free.

    How to gain access to Microsoft Azure for free:


    ... and this post walks you through all the steps (and it's not hard at all). I did it while on the train home today, how cool is that? :)

    Thursday, December 04, 2014

    Mine[craft] your Azure - Minecraft servers now in the Azure Marketplace

    Kurt Shintaku's Blog - INFO: Minecraft Servers added to Azure Gallery/Marketplace

    Do you have an Azure account or an MSDN subscription?
    Do you or folks in your family play Minecraft?



    Microsoft Azure Marketplace - Minecraft Server

    Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.

    It can also be about adventuring with friends or watching the sun rise over a blocky ocean. It's pretty. Brave players battle terrible things in The Nether, which is more scary than pretty. You can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds more like your cup of tea.

    This gallery package will set up a preconfigured Minecraft server running on Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS. You can connect to it using the DNS name (e.g. of the virtual machine on port 25565.


    Ahhh.... So we finally know why Microsoft has been working so hard to add Linux support to Azure... :P

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Getting started with AzureML with the End-to-End tutorial...

    Continuous Learning - End-to-End Predictive Model in AzureML using Linear Regression

    Machine Learning (ML) is one of the most popular field in Computer Science discipline, but is also the most feared by developers. The fear is primarily because it is considered as a scientific field that requires deep mathematical expertise which most of us have forgotten. In today's world, ML has two disciplines: ML, and Applied ML. My goal is to make Machine Learning easier to understand for developers through simple applications. In other words, bridge the gap between a developer and a data scientist.  In this blog, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide for building a Linear Regression model in AzureML to predict the price of a car. You will also learn the basics of AzureML along the way, as well as its application it in real-world by creating a Windows Universal Client app.

    What is AzureML?

    AzureML is meant to democratize Machine Learning and build a new ecosystem and marketplace for monetizing algorithms.  You can find more information about AzureML here.

    Why AzureML?

    Because it is one of the simplest tools to use for Machine Learning. AzureML reduces the barriers to entry for anyone who wants to try out Machine Learning. You don’t have to be a data scientist to build Machine Learning models anymore.

    Logical Machine Learning Flow

    Figure below illustrates a typical machine learning process with end result in mind.






    AzureML is a new and highly productive tool for Machine Learning. It may be the only tool that lets you publish a machine learning web service directly from your design environment. Machine Learning is a vast topic and Linear Regression models discussed in this article only scratches the surface of the topic. In this article, I went over a stale dataset to showcase AzureML as a predictive analytics tool. You can apply the same procedures and components for Classification and Clustering models. Finally, my goal was in writing about Applied Machine Learning. I am not a Data Scientist, but now with all the productive tools, I feel that I can put to work some of the great algorithms that scientists have already invented.

    Some more Datasets you can play around with

    1. Daily and Sports Activities Data Set link
    2. Farm Ads Data Set link
    3. Arcene Data Set link
    4. Bag of Words Data Set link


    There's a free tier for Azure ML that was announced week before last, so if you've been yearning to play in a Machine Learning sandbox, Azure ML and this post will get you started!

    Wednesday, October 08, 2014

    Explorer Azure Media Services with the new Azure Media Services Explorer Tool (with source too)

    Azure BlogAnnouncements - Media Services - Managing Media Workflows with the new Azure Media Services Explorer Tool

    Several months ago, a broadcaster asked me to provide a tool with a User Interface to upload, encode and manage assets with Azure Media Services. They wanted to easily, and without code, test our cloud encoding and streaming services before asking their developers to do the integration with their current system. The Azure Media Services management portal provides some of the features but has some limitations too (asset upload is limited, no possibility to call all the processors or to see detailed information on entities, not all API features are exposed, etc.).

    For a few months, the tool has been trialed by several customers and based on their feedback it is time to release it widely.

    So, I am pleased to announce the new Azure Media Services Explorer tool!

    It’s a Windows Forms tool based on the Azure Media SDKs that can be used by non-developers to test media workflows, monitor activities on their Azure Media Services accounts, or do just about anything that the full API allows you to do today without writing a line of code.


    You can find the installation package on

    We are also pleased to announce that the full source code for this tool is published to GitHub as well to help you better learn our APIs and integrate features into your own applications.

    This sample tool will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months. Check for updates! And please provide your feedback and suggestions to

    Summary of features

    Asset upload/download/management

    • Asset upload from files, folder, in batch mode, with a watch folder
    • Asset import from Azure Storage or from any http source
    • Asset download to local, and export to Azure Storage
    • Asset files management (upload or delete) within an existing asset
    • Duplicate/merge assets

    Process assets

    • Encode with Azure Media Encoder (standard and custom presets, video stitching, audio or video overlay, etc)
    • Extract keywords and TTML caption files with Media Indexer
    • Encrypt with static packagers: PlayReady encryptor, MP4 to Smooth, Smooth to HLS, storage decryptor, multi MP4 validator
    • Generate thumbnails for your existing assets
    • Call any Media Processor generically
    • Manage jobs (progress, priority…)
    • List all available processors in your account

    Live streaming

    • Enable live channels and programs (creation, start, stop, delete, reset)
    • Live preview playback, program playback

    Publish assets

    • Dynamic encryption setup (AES, Common Encryption) and key/license delivery service
    • SAS and streaming locators creation/deletion
    • Playback assets with web based players (Silverlight, Flash, HTML5/Dash)
    • Manage streaming endpoints management (creation, deletion, settings)

    Display and reporting

    • Display detailed information on assets (locators, protection), jobs (tasks), live channels, programs, streaming endpoints
    • Send email report for jobs and assets
    • Links to players and online documentation, and offline help file for Media Services

    Note: you can select multiple assets, jobs, channels or programs for some features.

    A first example..."

    Two things I really dig about this (okay, three). The tool itself, making it easy easy to play with Azure Media Services. That it's based on the public API that we can all use to create our own like tools and that the source for this tool is available too. I've been interested in Media Services, wondering if it would let a little guy, a one man op, create my own cloud based studio and broadcasting solution. So instead of all the work and infrastructure required for sites like  Channel 9 or, that it would lower the bar? I don't think it's there yet, but it sure is getting closer.


    Related Past Post XRef:
    Wrapping your head about Azure, one infographic at a time... Windows Azure Infographics

    Some tips, information, libraries, and tools for building a video consumption app for Win8

    Updated Microsoft Media Platform Player Framework for Windows 8 RP Released
    Building your first HTML Metro Style app with the Style Smooth Streaming Player walk through
    MMPPF - Getting started guide for the Silverlight Microsoft Media Platform
    That's smoooootttthhhh... The Smooth Streaming Client SDK Beta and Player Framework Beta for Windows 8 Metro

    IIS Transform Manager 1.0 (RTW) An extensible media transform engine with "watch folder" job submission, queuing, management, integrated media transcoding/container format repackaging
    IIS Media Pack 1.0 – Helps make IIS7 a happy, media serving, camper

    Tuesday, October 07, 2014

    BKVM, to the cloud! "Creating training virtual machines in Azure" using the BKVM (VS 2013 HOL/ALM VM)

    Naked ALM - Creating training virtual machines in Azure

    I am teaching the Managing Projects with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2013 class next week in Cheltenham and for that I need 16 VM’s based on the Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 ALM Virtual Machine. To make life easier I will be creating training virtual machines in Azure.

    If you have ever had to teach a training course, especially a technical one, it’s the equipment that is the most painful thing to configure. Azure has matured a lot over the last few years and although I have configured training in Amazon’s AWS service I wanted to go all Microsoft.

    The kind of tough thing is that the virtual hard disk (VHD) used by the virtual demo machine form Brian Keller is 80GB. And yes, I have to upload that beast to Azure.

    Uploading your Hyper-V virtual machine

    The first task is to download and install the Azure PowerShell using the web platform installer. This will get all of the pre-requisites and install them for you.



    While I've highlighted the BKVM (aka VS 2013 HOL/ALM VM ) a number of times (as you can see below), as well as Azuring it, but this post by Martin Hinshelwood is one of the most complete I think. Plus I think this is the first time I've seen it used this way, as an Azure training room. If you are thinking about using the BKVM on Azure (or other VM's) you owe it to yourself to check out this book (I mean post... ;)


    Related Past Post XRef:
    VS 2013 HOL/ALM VM now with Update 3 (VS 2013.3)

    24! [Hands-on-Labs and Demo Scripts now available in the big BK Visual Studio 2013 ALM VM] + [Bonus: Azure'ing it too...]
    Happy VM Day! The Visual Studio 2013 RTM ALM Virtual Machine is now available
    The HOL "Building a Release Pipeline with Team Foundation Server 2012" thing
    Featuring Agile Planning and Portfolio Management with TFS2013 in these Hands On Labs
    Visual Studio 2013 ALM and HOL VM now available...
    VS2012 Update 1 ALM VM and HOL / Demo Scripts now available
    The VS 2012 ALM Virtual Machine and VS 2012 Update 1 (In short, there's an updated VM coming, don't install it on this VM if you don't have too)
    The big BK has updated the Visual Studio 2012 RC ALM Virtual Machine and Hands-on-Labs
    VS 11 ALM DemoMates updated for the Beta
    Visual Studio/TFS11 ALM Demo's... Mate! See the VS/TFS 11 ALM's hands-on-labs in DemoMate form
    Visual Studio 11 ALM VHD's, VirtualBoxed (and even on x86 hosts too)
    Want to play with Visual Studio 11 & TFS 11 Dev Preview but don't want to install it (and have access to a Hyper-V server)? Here's a VHD just for

    Microsoft Azure Web Site Cheat Sheet

    Microsoft Azure Web Site Cheat Sheet

    Howdy, Cloud Adventurer!

    You’ve stumbled across the Microsoft Azure Web Sites Cheat Sheet – The quickest reference for getting to know Microsoft Azure Web Sites on the web. If you’re looking for some tutorials on how to develop solutions on Microsoft Azure Web Sites check out the Microsoft Azure product site or the Microsoft Azure Training Kit.

    Browse around this one page reference for information on command-line tools for managing your Microsoft Azure Web Sites. Take a quick look at the features that are offered on Microsoft Azure Web Sites then start exploring the wonderful world of Microsoft Azure!


    Hate to say this, but you know I've not created a Azure Web Site yet? Nope. I feel so... un-web like. Sounds like marching orders doesn't it? When/If I DO finally get off my fat butt (we'll fat'ish... I am losing weight ;) this site will come in really handy.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2014

    "Microsoft Azure [VM] 101" (Or How do I use all those MSDN Azure Credits? Or VS "14" CTP Azure VM in minutes... )

    Northwest Cadence - Microsoft Azure 101

    I have been using Amazon’s AWS for the last couple of years. I grew accustomed to the interface and felt pretty comfortable spinning up new images to help in my development work or creating demos for clients or just to research some new technology. However, as a proud owner of a MSDN subscription it was hardly financially prudent for me not to make the switch over to Azure, especially in light of the many improvements Microsoft has made to the platform. My goal in this article is to provide some guidance to people like me who are beginning their Azure journey. I will not be discussing the pros and cons of Azure over AWS or vice versa. I will simple be providing an introduction to Microsoft Azure for those who may need it.

    Signing Up

    This should be the easy part, right? In most cases, I am sure that it is. In my particular case it was a bit more painful, but only because there was a glitch in the process where my MSDN subscription did not get linked correctly to my Azure account. However, Joe C, an Azure support engineer, fixed me up moments after I submitted a support request. I give Microsoft an A+ on the focus they are giving support of Azure customers.

    The first thing you will need is a Microsoft account. I know, kind of obvious, right? After logging in with your Microsoft account, you proceed to link that account to an Azure subscription. There are a few pricing options to pick from including a pay-as-you-go and subscriptions linked to your MSDN or Enterprise account. Once you get through the initial signup process you are taken to the management portal where the true adventure begins



    This Azure VM focused "101" looks like a good resource for those who've yet to jump in. I comment allot about the Azure MSDN credits, the VM's you can get their, like the VS "14" CTP2, etc. But for those who've never used it before (No, I'm no looking at you co-workers... no really, I'm not... :/) this article is a great way to get started. And best of all it comes from outside of Microsoft from a company that does training for a business...

    Wednesday, July 09, 2014

    eBook of the Day: "Developing big data solutions on Microsoft Azure HDInsight" (aka Hadoop on Azure eBook @ 367 pages...)

    Microsoft Downloads - Developing big data solutions on Microsoft Azure HDInsight – eBook Download

    This guide explores the use of HDInsight in a range of use cases and scenarios such as iterative exploration, as a data warehouse, for ETL processes, and integration into existing BI systems. The guide is divided into three sections:

    • “Understanding Microsoft big data solutions,” provides an overview of the principles and benefits of big data solutions.
    • “Designing big data solutions using HDInsight,” contains guidance for designing solutions to meet the typical batch processing use cases inherent in big data processing.
    • “Implementing big data solutions using HDInsight,” explores a range of topics such as the options and techniques for loading data into an HDInsight cluster, the tools you can use in HDInsight to process data in a cluster, and the ways you can transfer the results from HDInsight into analytical and visualization tools to generate reports and charts, or export the results into existing data stores such as databases, data warehouses, and enterprise BI systems.

    Version: 1.0

    File Name:

    Developing big data solutions on Microsoft Azure HDInsight.pdf


    Date Published: 7/8/2014



    Only 346 pages from patterns and practices group on HDInsight (aka Hadoop)... :/

    Tuesday, July 08, 2014

    Jump into WAP with this two day Windows Azure Pack: IaaS Jump Start July 16, 17 (Online and Free)

    Jeff Alexander's Weblog - Jump Start: Windows Azure Pack Infrastructure as a Service!

    Learn how Windows Azure Pack brings the benefit of the cloud to your data center

    Enterprises today desire the flexibility and affordability that cloud environments offer, while service providers want the ability to support more enterprise customers. Windows Azure Pack (WAP) builds on the power of Windows Server and System Center to deliver an enterprise-class, cost-effective solution for self-service, multi-tenant cloud infrastructure and application services that run in your data center on your hardware, giving you the benefit of the cloud, with the customization and control you desire.

    WAP brings Microsoft Azure technologies to the data center, addressing a number of key requirements for those who want to embrace the service provider model for delivering IT services. Microsoft Azure and WAP tie into the Microsoft vision for the Cloud OS, a hybrid cloud solution that helps enterprises transform their current infrastructure to deliver agility and cost effectiveness. With the Cloud OS, companies can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support user productivity wherever they are and on whatever device they choose.

    This free course, “Windows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a Service” Jump Start, on July 16 and 17, focuses on WAP’s IaaS, including self-service and automation of virtual machine roles, virtual networking, clouds, and SQL Server, along with System Center and third-party integration.


    Windows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a Service Jump Start

    IT Pros, you know that enterprises desire the flexibility and affordability of the cloud, and service providers want the ability to support more enterprise customers. Join us for an exploration of Windows Azure Pack's (WAP's) infrastructure services (IaaS), which bring Microsoft Azure technologies to your data center (on your hardware) and build on the power of Windows Server and System Center to deliver an enterprise-class, cost-effective solution for self-service, multitenant cloud infrastructure and application services.

    Join Microsoft’s leading experts as they focus on the infrastructure services from WAP, including self-service and automation of virtual machine roles, virtual networking, clouds, plans, and more. See helpful demos, and hear examples that will help speed up your journey to the cloud. Bring your questions for the live Q&A!

    Live Event Detail

    When: July 16–17, 2014, 9:00am–1:00pm

    What: Fast-paced live virtual session

    Cost: Free

    Audience: IT Pros

    Prerequisites: This course is open to anyone interested in establishing cloud-style architecture in the data center.

    Day One

    • Introduction to the Windows Azure Pack
    • Install and Configure WAP
    • Integrate the Fabric
    • Deliver Self-Service

    Day Two

    • Automate Services
    • Extend Services with Third Parties
    • Create Tenant Experiences
    • Real-World WAP Deployments


    A boy can wish to have his own little slice of Azure inside his firewall (um... that sounds... um... a little weird... anyway...)

    If a private cloud sounds interesting but you'd rather buy it as an appliance'ish, Mary Jo Foley has a few sources that say we might see Azure In A Box coming back, Microsoft to try again to deliver an Azure 'cloud in a box' appliance


    Related Past Post XRef:
    "Deploying Windows Azure Pack" series
    Step-by-Step into your own private cloud, with the Windows Azure Pack and System Center
    Deploying your own little cloud... "Deploying Windows Azure Pack" series
    Windows Azure Pack (#WAPack), Related Blogs, Videos and TechNet Articles wiki round-up
    Taking the Bus to the next stop... Why you, Dev and IT, should be looking at the Windows Azure Pack.
    TechEd NA 2013 Day 1 Announcement Round-up - VS 2013, TFS 2013, InRelease, SQL 2014, Server 2012 R2, BizTalk Services, Azure-in-a-box and even more Azure...

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    Play with a demo of the new Microsoft Azure RemoteApp right now...

    In the Cloud - Microsoft Azure RemoteApp Demo

    At TechEd this week, I had the privilege to announce the release of Microsoft Azure RemoteApp preview, a new service from Microsoft that provides Windows applications from a finished Azure service.

    Since the launch of the preview, the team also enabled an Azure RemoteApp demo that allows you to experience the end-user aspects of the service on your choice of iOS, MacOS, or Windows devices in less than 5 clicks.

    There are already thousands of unique users testing the service, and the team is working hard to increase the capacity.  The demand has been so high that it is, understandably, taking us time to go through all the approvals.  But don’t worry – we’ll get to everyone (we already have thousands of cores allocated to supporting this preview).

    To experience the demo for yourself, click here.  Also, to read more about the demo experience, the RDS team has written a detailed post about the preview.


    This demo lets you play with just released RemoteApp feature right now, with hardly any setup. Just install the RemoteApp utility and go! It's really pretty neat and the hybrid scenario is  something I'm going to have to take a good look at.




    Thursday, May 01, 2014

    "Deploying Windows Azure Pack" series

    Windows - Deploying Windows Azure Pack (Part 6)

    "The sixth and final article in this series completes the walkthrough of the express deployment of Windows Azure Pack.

    If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

    Reviewing the deployment scenario

    Figure 1 shows where we are in our scenario for performing an express deployment of Windows Azure Pack. So far we have completed the following tasks in our virtual test environment running on the Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V host named HOST30:


    At this point we are now ready to install Windows Azure Pack on WAP01 using the express deployment scenario approach. The sections below cover the following:

    • Installing Windows Azure Pack
    • Configuring the installation
    • Verifying the installation

    Installing Windows Azure Pack

    To install Windows Azure Pack you must use the Microsoft Web Platform Installer. The latest version of this installer is version 4.6 and it can be obtained from the Microsoft Download Center. Once you've download the installer, double-click on it to launch it. The initial screen of the installer will look something like this:



    Another great series to get you going with Azure Pack. Remember, Azure Pack is a way to bring the cloud inside your firewall...


    Related Past Post XRef:
    Step-by-Step into your own private cloud, with the Windows Azure Pack and System Center
    Deploying your own little cloud... "Deploying Windows Azure Pack" series
    Windows Azure Pack (#WAPack), Related Blogs, Videos and TechNet Articles wiki round-up
    Taking the Bus to the next stop... Why you, Dev and IT, should be looking at the Windows Azure Pack.
    TechEd NA 2013 Day 1 Announcement Round-up - VS 2013, TFS 2013, InRelease, SQL 2014, Server 2012 R2, BizTalk Services, Azure-in-a-box and even more Azure...

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    Azure Cloud App Discovery Preview - See the cloud apps your users are using...

    Active Directory Team Blog - A new Azure AD module in preview: Cloud App Discovery

    Howdy folks,

    Today I have the privilege to announce the preview of our new Cloud App Discovery features. These new features give IT visibility into which cloud apps are in use within the organization. You can try it for free here.

    I've had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of enterprise customers this year, and one of the consistent things I've heard from them is "I know people are using SAAS apps in my company, but I don't know which ones".

    All of these customers expressed concerns about unauthorized access to corporate data, possible data leakage and other security risks inherent in the application. And since they didn't even know how many apps or which apps were being used, even getting started building a plan to deal with these risks seems daunting.

    Our new Cloud App Discovery service is our first step to help answer that question. It enables IT to easily determine which cloud apps are in use in the organization. IT can then take steps to integrate the applications with Azure Active Directory.


    Hi everyone,

    I'm Girish Chander and for the last three months I've been driving the effort to design and build our Cloud App Discovery features. These features address one of the top pieces of feedback we've heard from customers. "Help me find out what apps my employees are using, so I can manage these applications better"

    With Cloud App Discovery, IT can:

    • Get a summary view of total number of cloud applications in use and the number of users using cloud applications
    • See the top cloud applications in use within the organization
    • See top applications per category
    • See usage graphs for applications that can be pivoted on users, requests or volume of data exchanged with the application
    • Drill down into specific applications for targeted information
    • Easily proceed to integrate an application with Azure Active Directory

    Here's how you can try it out for yourself


    A comprehensive view into all applications discovered, in the apps page.

    Click on the 'apps discovered' tile on the dashboard to:

    1. Get a categorized view of all the cloud applications discovered.
    2. View Top applications within each category.
    3. Filter applications by category.
    4. Sort applications by recently discovery, most number of sessions, most volume of traffic and most number of unique users.



    Ability to drill into a specific application on a per-app page

    You can click on a specific application from the dashboard or the all apps page to drill down into a specific application. You can see:

    1. Total number of unique users that have used the application
    2. Total number of web requests made to the application
    3. Total volume of data uploaded and downloaded to the application.
    4. Usage trends over time across above pivots
    5. Link to integrate the application with AAD to provide users with SSO and give IT more control.


    This could be one of those "plausible deniability" killer things. Parsing web filters, proxies, etc might be more effort than is feasible. This makes it a little to easy to gather, explore and report on. On one side, I think this is kind of cool. On the the, this gives me the creeps. Yeah, yeah, I know all my work traffic is already being tracked, logged, etc, but this almost makes it too easy. I'm glad there's a client side install for it though. Makes it a little more controlled and controllable.

    But if I were an IT guy and was concerned about all the stealth clouding going on, I think I'd jump on this (so much for the creeps... lol)

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Step-by-Step into your own private cloud, with the Windows Azure Pack and System Center - Step-by-Step: Getting Started with On-demand Private Clouds using Windows Azure Pack

    As I’ve been traveling and speaking to IT Pros about the great scalability, resiliency and offerings in our Microsoft Azure public cloud platform, there’s also been lots of interest around deploying our free Windows Azure Pack (WAP) to bring the power and consistency of the same self-service Azure portal user interface to on-demand Private Clouds provisioned in an on-premises datacenter.


    In this article, we’ll step through the process of setting up Windows Azure Pack in a lab environment for provisioning and delegating VM private clouds. Along the way, I’ll call out the specific details that I found helpful to successfully build my own lab environment.

    What is Windows Azure Pack?

    For a technical overview of the Windows Azure Pack, check out this great Microsoft TechEd session:

    In addition, Thomas Maurer, MVP for Cloud and Virtualization, has written a great article that describes the overall architecture of Windows Azure Pack:

    What are we building?

    Windows Azure Pack certainly has the ability to scale to support very large Private Cloud environments consisting of multiple datacenters.  However, in this article, we’ll get started by building a basic lab environment that consists of the following four (4) VMs:

    • System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) management server VM
    • SQL Server 2012 database server VM
    • Service Provider Foundation (SPF) server VM
    • Windows Azure Pack (WAP) server VM

    To configure all four (4) VMs in your lab environment, you’ll need a virtualization host with at least 16GB RAM and 300GB available disk space.


    image ..."

    You guys know how much I dig this idea, of having all that's good about Azure, inside my firewall, avoiding all the "security" and "OMG, the cloud? AAAHHHHhhhhhhh..." angst.


    Related Past Post XRef:
    Deploying your own little cloud... "Deploying Windows Azure Pack" series
    Windows Azure Pack (#WAPack), Related Blogs, Videos and TechNet Articles wiki round-up
    Taking the Bus to the next stop... Why you, Dev and IT, should be looking at the Windows Azure Pack.
    TechEd NA 2013 Day 1 Announcement Round-up - VS 2013, TFS 2013, InRelease, SQL 2014, Server 2012 R2, BizTalk Services, Azure-in-a-box and even more Azure...

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Is a Private Cloud that cloud that seems to hang over your head? Nope, it's [read this..]

    simple talk - cloud - Private Cloud, What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

    Private cloud’ is often presented as being the solution for all your computing issues. It promises benefits such as cost savings, energy savings, rapid deployment and customer empowerment. But what exactly is ‘private cloud’? Why are people reluctant to consider using private cloud? In this article I’d like to explain a bit more about private cloud, its definition and implementation, and the choices you have to make before adopting private cloud.

    What exactly is cloud?

    Before we can go into the technology, we have to take a closer look at the definition of cloud technology. A good place to start is the “National Institute of Standards and Technology” or NIST definition which states, "cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."


    Also listed in the NIST definition are four "deployment models", this defines how and where the cloud infrastructure is built:

    • Private Cloud – this is a cloud infrastructure dedicated for only one customer. A private cloud can be located in the customer’s own datacenter or computer room but it can also be hosted in a service provider’s datacenter. A private cloud can be managed by the customer, by the hosting provider or by a 3rd party. The customer however is responsible for all costs of the solution at all times.
    • Public cloud – this is a cloud infrastructure that’s available for everyone, regardless whether the customer is a consumer or a (large) company. Public cloud is available just like electricity from a wall outlet or water from a tap. Again Office 365 is a great example of a public cloud solution and so is the Microsoft Azure solution.
    • Community Cloud – this cloud infrastructure is shared amongst multiple organizations or consumers with a shared goal or interest. Managing a community cloud can be done by one of the organizations or outsourced to a 3rd party.
    • Hybrid Cloud – this cloud infrastructure is a combination of the three above mentioned cloud infrastructures. In Microsoft Office 365 for example it is possible to have multiple mailboxes stored in Microsoft’s datacenters, but have this combined with Exchange servers and thus mailboxes on-premises. Together this is one large, hybrid messaging system.


    Private Cloud

    Now that we’ve seen the official definition of cloud and in particular private cloud, it’s time to have a look at the implementation of a private cloud.

    Private cloud is all about flexibility and this can be achieved by using virtualization, whether it be Microsoft’s Hyper-V (with all System Center solutions around it) or VMWare. But the realization of private cloud goes beyond virtualization. According to Gartner, a successful implementation of private cloud depends on:


    What’s in it for the organization? ...

    How is it implemented?

    When looking at private cloud implementations there are two options:

    • The private cloud is implemented in the customer’s own datacenter;
    • The private cloud is implemented in the service provider’s datacenter.



    Private cloud is characterized by flexibility, flexibility that is achieved by on-demand self-service, resource pooling and a measured service. This means that end users, which can be departments or business units, are responsible for their own computing resource needs rather than the IT departments. The IT department is responsible for the overall infrastructure but no longer for the individual resources. End users can create their own resources, have to pay for its usage and can destroy resources when no longer needed.

    In a typical private cloud implementation, virtualization is used and, in a Microsoft environment, this is the Windows Azure Pack or WAP. WAP is a hosting solution that's targeted towards enterprises and service providers that want to offer private cloud solutions.

    Using private cloud solutions gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility, both technically and financially since you monitor and charge the actual usage. This might well be the future of computing!



    You've heard me go on and on about "Private Clouds," but maybe you, or those in your IT group, aren't really sure what that means or how it helps them help you. This article is a nice starting point for that discussion. (This reminds me of the "What's Intra/Extra/Inter..." conversations, remember those? Oh, you kids... lol ;)

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

    24 cloud design patterns and 10 related guidance topics, one eBook - "Cloud Design Patterns" (PDF, ePub)

    Microsoft Downloads - Cloud Design Patterns – Book Download

    This guide contains twenty-four design patterns and ten related guidance topics that articulate the benefits of applying patterns by showing how each piece can fit into the big picture of cloud application architectures. It includes code samples and general advice on using each pattern. 

    Version: 1.0

    Date Published: 2/27/2014

    CloudDesignPatternsBook-PDF.pdf, 5.8 MB
    CloudDesignPatternsEPUBebook.epub, 3.4 MB

    Containing twenty-four design patterns and ten related guidance topics, this guide articulates the benefit of applying patterns by showing how each piece can fit into the big picture of cloud application architectures. It also discusses the benefits and considerations for each pattern. Most of the patterns have code samples or snippets that show how to implement the patterns using the features of Windows Azure. However the majority of topics described in this guide are equally relevant to all kinds of distributed systems, whether hosted on Windows Azure or on other cloud platforms.


    Related Resources


    Some snaps from the PDF;

    [sigh... snaps removed because it seems Blogger doesn't like my posts with images today (getting a real helpful 500 error when an post has any image in it)... sigh]


    This guide from the Microsoft patterns & practices group, produced with the help of many people within the developer community, provides solutions for common problems encountered when developing cloud-hosted applications.

    The guide:
    • Articulates the benefit of applying patterns when implementing cloud applications, especially when they will be hosted in Windows Azure.
    • Discusses the problems that the patterns address, and how these relate to Windows Azure applications.
    • Shows how to implement the patterns using the features of Windows Azure, emphasizing benefits and considerations.
    • Depicts the big picture by showing how these patterns fit into cloud application architectures, and how they relate to other patterns.

    The majority of topics described in the guide are equally relevant to all kinds of distributed systems, whether hosted on Windows Azure or on other cloud platforms.

    Our intention is not to provide a comprehensive collection of patterns. Instead, we chose what we think are useful patterns for cloud applications—taking into account the popularity of each one amongst users. Neither is this a detailed guide to the features of Windows Azure. To learn about Windows Azure see

    [Insert my usual, "Don't reinvent the wheel if you don't have to" blurb here...especially when there's free resources available ]


    Related Past Post XRef:
    Cloud Design Patterns (24 design patterns, two primers, eight guidance topics and 10 sample applications)
    Windows Azure Guidance - Cloud Design Patterns Alpha drop...