AIS is proud to announce we’ve officially joined the Microsoft FastTrack for Azure program! Microsoft FastTrack for Azure provides direct assistance from Microsoft and a Microsoft partner to help customers build their desired cloud-based solutions with maximum speed and confidence. AIS will work side-by-side with Microsoft engineers to guide our mutual customers from setup, configuration, and development to production, focusing on the following Azure solutions:

  • Development and test
  • Backup and archive
  • Disaster recovery
  • Line of business applications (database migration, app modernization, app “lift and shift”)

The FastTrack program will guide you through the three key phases of a successful cloud journey: Envisioning, onboarding, and deployment to quickly realize the business benefits of moving to Azure. It’s a process we here at AIS know very well, so we’re looking forward to helping even more customers take their first steps into the cloud.

Ready to get started?

FastTrack for Azure is available to select Azure customers in the United States, Canada and Australia. You can find out more here or contact us for more information.

 

 

Recently we collaborated with Microsoft and Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV) on a project to assess the viability and value of several Azure services. Specifically, we were asked to demonstrate how the cloud-based platform could be used to retrieve, store, visualize and predict trends based on data from multiple sources. In order to demonstrate these capabilities, we built an ASP.NET MVC application leveraging the following Azure components:

  • Azure App Services
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Azure Power BI Embedded
  • Azure Storage

Figure 1: ProspectSV Application Architecture depicts how the system uses these four Azure components. This diagram also describes which external data sources are used and where that data is stored.
Read More…

It’s no secret that cloud computing empowers organizations to deliver better government. While cloud adoption is still in its early stages, how to take advantage of these new technologies is already at the forefront of every government IT department.

This month’s #AzureGov Meetup was content packed and highly interactive, with the following speakers and presentations:

82 Days: How SBA Went from Cloud Launch to ATO in Less Than 3 Months
Guy Cavallo, deputy CIO of the Small Business Administration @guycavallo

Emerging Tech: How Blockchain is a Powerful Tool for Government
Susie Adams, CTO, Microsoft Federal @AdamsSusie

Red Pill or Blue Pill? Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Cloud, or Both?
Colin Stevenson, Senior Manager, Pivotal @cwsteve

(FULL presentation videos are now available on the Microsoft Azure Government Meetup’s YouTube channel! Check them out here.)

Don’t miss next month’s Meetup! These events are FREE and open to the public. Great food and beverages are provided, along with ample networking time. RSVP online for the August 30th event! If you can’t make it, be sure to follow @aisteam on Twitter for photos, videos and other insights throughout the night.

At the Microsoft BUILD 2017 Day One keynote, Harry Shum announced the ability to customize the vision API. In the past, the cognitive vision API came with a pre-trained model. That meant that as a user, you could upload a picture and have the pre-trained model analyze it. You can expect to have your image classified based on the 2,000+ (and constantly growing) categories that the model is trained on. You can also get information such as tags based on the image, detect human faces, recognize hand-written text inside the image, etc.

But what if you wanted to work with images pertinent to your specific business domain? And what if those images fall outside of the 2,000 pre-trained categories? This is where the custom vision API comes in. With the custom vision API, you can train the model on your own images in just four steps: Read More…

The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) is certainly exciting for government agencies, but it also brings many challenges (namely security and devising a clear strategy for integrating a still-evolving technology).

Last night’s #AzureGov meetup was a great evening of networking, demos, use cases and best practices for government agencies looking to quickly and securely deploy IoT.

Last night featured two speakers from Docker Public SectorChris Cyrus, vice president, and Andrew Weiss, lead engineer  –  who joined the Microsoft Azure Government team to discuss how containers are changing the way software is built and procured in government. They presented demos of Docker Containers deploying IoT in the cloud and gave insights into best practices and customer use cases for government IoT.

In case you missed it, @aisteam was there and livestreamed the event. (Videos below.) Read More…

Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) offers the powerful ability to accord permissions based on the principle of “least privilege.” In this short video, we extend the idea of Azure RBAC to implement a JIT (just in time) permission control. We think a JIT model can be useful for the following reasons:

1) Ability to balance the desire for “least privilege” with the cost of managing an exploding number of fine-grained permission rules (hundreds of permission types, combined with hundreds of resources).

2) Allow coarse-grained access (typically DevOps teams need access to multiple services) that is “context aware” (permission is granted during the context of a task).

Of course JIT can only be successful if its accompanied with smart automation (so users have instant access to permissions that they need and when they need them).

Interested? Watch this 15-minute video that goes over the concepts and a short demonstration of JIT with Azure RBAC.

Over the years, AIS has leveraged “Excel on Server” to enable power users to develop their own code.

Consider a common requirement to implement calculations/reports that adhere to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) standards. These types of reports are often large and complex. The calculations in the reports are specific to a geographical region, so a multi-national company needs to implement different versions of these calculations. Furthermore, over time these calculations have to be adjusted to comply with changing laws.

Traditionally, these calculations have been implemented using custom code, and as a result, suffer from the challenges outlined above, including the high cost of development and maintenance, requirements being lost in translation, the lack of traceability, and the lack of a robust mechanism for making a quick change to a calculation in response to a change in a standard. This is where the power of Excel on Server comes in.

As you may know, Excel on the server is available via in two forms: Read More…

The microservice architecture has been very popular in the industry past few years and we’re learning about the successful adoption of this architecture. The higher rate of architecture style adoption is due to the echo system that’s evolved around this architecture and benefits realized by the organizations. In this blog post, I’ll introduce the microservice, walk through steps to build more of a “Hello World” stateless microservice using the Microsoft Service Fabric, and deploy the microservice to local service fabric environment.

Before we dive in to the building of the stateful microservice let’s look at the basics of the microservice, purpose and types of microservice. Read More…

How do you get better uptime than the cloud? Two clouds!

AIS’ CTO Vishwas Lele stopped by the .NET Rocks podcast this week to talk about our experiences building ultra-reliable applications, both on-premises and in the cloud.

The discussion digs into the decisions around reliability – it’s easy to want it, but will you pay for it? It’s important to calculate the cost of downtime, as that helps set the budget for what it takes to stay up. And that leads to a conversation about how you build highly reliable software – it can’t just come from the infrastructure, there is code involved as well! And the next question is – how do you make your app work in two different clouds?

Listen to the full show at the .NET Rocks! website here.

Another month, another great #AzureGovMeetup in Washington, D.C. Last week’s Meetup was all about the hybrid cloud (storing data both on-premises and in the cloud), a critical part of government IT transformation.

Keeping up with ever-changing IT environments is a challenge for most organizations, so we discussed how agencies can gain visibility and control across their hybrid cloud, along with choosing the right tools, management and recovery, and improving security and protection. The Meetup also featured updates on the latest technologies and upcoming plans from the recent Microsoft Build 2017 conference.

AIS’ CTO and Azure MVP Vishwas Lele and Cloud Architect Harin Sandhoo both gave great presentations, along with Microsoft Cloud Solution Architect, Brian Harrison. In case you missed it (or want to watch again), you can watch the entire Meetup right here: Read More…