For the last few years, I have enjoyed participating in HOUR OF CODE – a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. In 2017, 154,012 Hour Of Code events were registered worldwide.

To show how much fun (and useful) coding is, I wanted the kids to build something real,  vs. simply making their favorite character walk left or right.  I decided to use the MIT App Inventor tool for my Hour of Code sessions. App Inventor is a browser-based tool that allows you to build your own apps.  We built a simple Android app to help parents reduce distractions while driving. Even though the app is super simple, the results are cool enough for kids to proudly show the app to their parents.

Here is a 10-minute video of the steps we followed to build and test the app: Read More…

As 2017 ends, it’s clear that while the enterprises (public sector and commercial) are increasingly moving to the public cloud, they face significant challenges. Earlier in the year, I wrote about bridging the chasm between the expectations from an enterprise regarding cloud capabilities and the actual out-of-the box features offered by cloud providers. Additional challenges include the foundational culture shift to cloud governance, DevOps and automation, security and compliance, and mapping an enterprise’s application portfolio to a complex array of cloud service options.

Here are five things you can do next year to better assist enterprises adopt the public cloud: Read More…

Microsoft AppSource is a great destination for discovering line-of-business SaaS offerings, ISV apps and services offered by SIs. Today, we are proud to announce that the AIS Service Catalog (ASC) is now available in AppSource.

You can now get started with ASC in just minutes by clicking here – simply login to AppSource and then onboard your Azure subscription to ASC. You can leverage ASC as a SaaS or deploy a dedicated instance of ASC inside your subscription. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

We believe that Service Catalog is an important part of any Enterprise DevOps Toolchain. This is why, after years of guiding enterprises and government agencies through their journey to Enterprise Cloud DevOps, we built ASC as a Service Catalog for Azure.

In a nutshell, ASC allows developers to quickly provision enterprise-approved resources in Azure. ASC’s features and key benefits can be broken into two high-level areas: Read More…

Azure Redis Cache Geo-Replication gives you the ability to link two Redis caches across Azure regions, thus establishing a primary/secondary relationship across the regions. So is this capability best-suited for Disaster Recovery (DR), High Availability (HA) or both? Let’s investigate.  Read More…

The Microsoft Azure team recently announced significant (up to 72%) discounts for customers willing to make one- to three-year reservations. Reserved Instances (RI) are not new, of course – Amazon Web Services (AWS) has had RI for a long time. But are there differences in how the Azure team rolled out RI?

For example: When does it really make sense to use an RI? Can RI discounts be combined with unique offers, like Azure Hybrid Benefit? Can customers cancel their reservation or exchange reserved VM types? What are some of best practices when making these decisions about one-year vs. three-year reservations?

We tried to answer many of these questions in the slide deck below, which we prepared for an internal briefing.

RI Essentials [PDF]

Hope this helps, and please let us know if you have any additional questions in the comments below!

Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with Steve Michelotti, Program Manager on the AzureGov team and talk about a Machine Learning (ML) application we built for a federal agency. This application is great example of how AIS leverages the latest innovations on the AzureGov platform to build applications that align with agencies’ missions – and go beyond IT support to directly assist in meeting the mission objectives.

Specifically, this application was designed to help analysts get personalized recommendations (based on their own preference settings, ratings provided by their co-workers) for stories they need to analyze as part of their daily work.

Brent Wodicka from AIS described this application in an earlier blog post. Read More…

In this video, we take a look at using Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK)—a unified deep learning toolkit from Microsoft.

The demo included in this video was part of our Ignite talk on cloud innovation with Azure Government. We use CNTK for an image detection problem: Identifying objects within the refrigerator.  Image detection is a harder class of problem than image classification, as image detection goes beyond classification to include localization of object(s) within an image. This is the reason for dropping down into the deep learning library. (Earlier in this presentation, Steve Michelotti showed the use of Cognitive API for image classification.)

We took Rimma Nehme’s excellent demo from BUILD 2017 and recreated it for AzureGov.

In a nutshell, we took the Marvel Universe Social Database and loaded it in Azure Cosmos DB as a graph database. Then we built a simple web page that invoked Gremlin queries against Cosmos DB.

The key theme of this demo is the ease with which you can create a globally distributed database that can support low latency queries against the Marvel Universe graph database. In the context of AzureGov (as shown below), we can seamlessly replicate the data across the three AzureGov regions by clicking on these regions within the Azure portal.

Here’s a quick look at the demo: