Artificial Intelligence and cognitive technologies are already transforming the way government agencies work. From predicting fraudulent transactions and detecting criminal suspects via vision APIs, to speech recognition and language translation, cognitive capabilities are a way to “augment/assist” government workers and complement their skills.

I had the opportunity to record a video on Azure Custom Speech Service with Steve Michelotti from the AzureGov team. Steve and I talked about how Azure Custom Speech Service can overcome most common challenges in speech recognition, including speaking style, technical vocabulary, and background noise.

Please take a listen and let us know your thoughts. We strongly believe that the innovative capabilities like Azure Custom Speech Service are a real differentiator when it comes to selecting a cloud provider.

First announced as a public preview in September 2017, Global VNet Peering is now generally available in all Azure public regions.

Similar to virtual network peering within the same Azure region, Global VNet Peering now lets you seamlessly connect virtual networks in different Azure regions. The connectivity between the peered virtual networks is routed through the Microsoft backbone infrastructure through private IP addresses. VNet peering provides virtual network connectivity without gateways, additional hops, or transit over the public internet. Global VNet Peering can simplify network designs which have cross-regional scenarios for data replication, disaster recovery, and database failover.

While similar, peering within the same region and peering across regions have unique constraints.  These are clearly identified in the Microsoft documentation, so check that out before you get started. Read More…

I am pleased to announce my latest Pluralsight course on PowerApps (Well…such is the nature of change in the cloud that there has already been a name change since I submitted this course for publication, only a few weeks back. The aspect of PowerApps covered in my course is now referred to as Canvas Apps.)

This course is designed for developers (both citizen and professional developers) interested in a low-code approach for building mobile applications.

Here’s some background on PowerApps, if you haven’t had a chance to play with it yet:

PowerApps is a productive low-code development platform. It allows you to very quickly build business applications that can run inside a web browser, on a phone or a tablet. PowerApps includes a web-based IDE (PowerApps Studio, a set of built-in cross-platform controls), an Excel-like expression language that also includes imperative constructs like variables and loops, and over 130 connectors to talk to any number of data sources — including SQL Server, Office 365, Salesforce, Twitter, etc. You can also use custom connectors to talk to your domain-specific data source.

Beyond the controls, language expression and connectors, PowerApps provides ALM support in the form of app versioning, app publication to various app stores, swim-lanes for development environments, authentication and authorization (via Azure AD), RBAC controls, and security polices like data loss prevention (DLP).  All in all, the PowerApps service seeks to significantly lower the bar for building and distributing cross-platform mobile applications within your enterprise.

For a concrete example of our use of PowerApps, please read how we built a cross-platform event app in less than a week. Also please check out a recent episode of DotNetRocks where we talk about PowerApps.

Finally, as part of the latest spring update, PowerApps is combining with Dynamics 365 for Sales, Marketing, and Talent applications to offer an enterprise high-productivity application platform as a service (known as Microsoft Business Applications platform). What this means for PowerApps developers is that:

  1. They can now take advantage of server-side logic
  2. They have access to a data-centric way of building declarative apps, known as model-driven apps (in contrast to canvas apps, which are built by dragging and dropping controls to a canvas).

For more information on the spring update, please refer to this blog post by Frank Weigel.

I hope you will find this course useful. Please reach out to me via this blog or Twitter if you have any questions or comments.

brainIf you’ve spent any time here at the AIS Blog, you already know how passionate we are about AI and Machine Learning. (We co-wrote the Playbook on it!) Many believe AI will also advance government; changing the speed, reliability, and ability for agencies to make more informed decisions and better deliver on their missions. The key to unlock the power of AI are the massive amounts of data that flood many agencies…but are often underutilized or even locked up due to lack of resources, knowledge of tools, and compliance.

Fortunately, cloud-based analytics capabilities allow this data to be turned into knowledge that can empower agencies to take advantage of AI capabilities that can help agencies make more informed decisions, drive efficiency and become more citizen friendly. Last night’s #AzureGovMeetup brought in a great lineup of industry experts to cover best practices and challenges for government with AI and analytics, top solutions and hands-on demos, and to contrast how the government is using AI today with their vision for the future.

ICYMI: Watch the full archived livestream here!

This month’s Meetup was standing room only, so be sure to RSVP for the May Meetup ASAP! These free events are open to the public and offer great opportunities for both learning and networking. We hope to see you there!

Follow the @AISTeam on Twitter and join the conversation about the #AzureGovMeetup.

Virtual Service Endpoints is a new feature for securing Azure Services (like Storage and Azure SQL Database) to your VNET. In other words, traffic to these services remains limited to the Azure backbone. Before the advent of this feature, clients could access these services via the Internet (as long as they were part of the IP address range specified using the firewall rules).

However, Virtual Service Endpoints is only available to resources connected to Resource Manager VNETs. This means that classic compute resources like VMs and Cloud Services cannot take advantage of these features out of the box.  This blog post describes an approach to overcome this limitation.

As shown in the diagram below, we have a classic VM (Vnet1-VM1) connected to a classic VNET (Vnet1-ASM). We want to take advantage of Virtual Service Endpoints for Storage. More specifically, we want a program executing on Vnet1-VM1 to access the storage in a manner that the traffic is completely limited to the Azure backbone.

A diagram of a classic VM connected to a classic VNET
Read More…

AIS is excited to offer a truly unique opportunity for software engineers interested in building a career in Azure. In partnership with a long-time client, AIS is building a first-of-its-kind Azure Cloud Academy in Carmel, Indiana.

Together we will hire, train and mentor 400 software engineers in Azure over the next two years.

AIS will place Azure architects, mentors and senior staff to lead the Cloud Academy and follow-on customer projects. We’ll then seek software engineers in more junior trainee roles to go through the academy and learn Azure. We’ll also help our client in the sourcing, assessment, interviewing, and selection process for their additional roles.

Why Azure Cloud Academy? 

As anyone in the IT marketplace knows, there are simply not enough system and software engineers in the world today for all the work that needs to be done! This is especially true for new technology areas such as public cloud infrastructure like Azure, which has seen unprecedented, accelerated growth over the past few years. AIS built up our Azure staff and practice from the ground up as there just weren’t enough candidates in the job marketplace.

As a result, we already have a great deal of experience sourcing the right candidates, and the managing them through training and hands-on mentoring to build their skills so they can contribute to our world-class project teams. Now, with the Azure Cloud Academy, we’re ready to do that on a much larger scale! Read More…

Last week, I had the pleasure to be a guest on the .NET Rock podcast. I talked to Carl and Richard about the Microsoft Business Application Platform, which organizes the huge suite of tools available in Azure, along with PowerApps and PowerBI, to create a great place to build applications that run on Windows, iOS and Android.

I also talked about moving up into a higher layer of coding using Logic Apps and Azure Flow to pull together the various sources of data that already exist in your organization, including Office, SharePoint, SalesForce and so on. You already have the data, so how do you surface it in an app that your users actually like to use?

And finally, we discussed the PowerApps spring update that brings both server-side logic and model-driven apps.

Listen to the full podcast here!

The AIS Talent team is participating in many exciting technical community and education events this Spring in the Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis areas. Please come join us to network and build relationships with your fellow technical professionals, plus learn about the awesome career opportunities available here at AIS!

April 5th – 6th

The Ivy Tech Competition at Ivy Tech Community College

Held at the Indianapolis campus of the largest IT tech college in the country, this event will challenge 300 IT students across eight different tech competitions! (Check out the competition summaries here.)  The event also includes a 50-employer job fair. AIS is a Silver Sponsor and will be participating as a job fair exhibitor on Thursday April 5th, and Tom O’Connell will be attending the IT competition on Friday April 6th. Come show us what you’ve got!

April 7th

NOVA CodeCamp

A free event for Developers, by Developers! We’ve been participating in NOVA CodeCamp in Reston, VA for over 10 years and are proud to be a Platinum Sponsor for 2018! Our own Shiv Kumar will be presenting on “Programming with Intent,” and our wonderful Talent team will conduct a repeat session of their popular “Ask the Recruiter” session during lunch. We’re expecting between 100 – 200 Developer attendees this year, so RSVP today!

April 14th – 16th

Indy.code()

Indy.Code() is a three-day software development conference in downtown Indianapolis. With over 100 breakout sessions and hands-on workshops covering all aspects of software development, Indy.Code() is a must-attend event for any serious software professional. AIS is a Gold Sponsor and members of our Talent team will be attending and manning our sponsorship booth to network with prospective candidates. Space is limited and registration closes on April 9th, so register now!

April 21st

Global Azure Bootcamp (Reston, VA)

This month, on April 21st, Azure user communities from around the world will come together for the sixth great Global Azure Bootcamp event! Each user group will organize their own one-day deep dive class on Azure. The result is thousands of people learning about Azure and joining together online under the social hashtag #GlobalAzure! (Check out a full map of locations here.) AIS is participating in the Reston, VA event as a sponsor and once again, our Talent team will be manning our booth to network with prospective candidates. The event is currently sold out but be sure to get yourself on the waitlist here.

We hope to see you at one (or more!) of these great events this Spring. Be sure to check out our Careers page as well to see a full list of the many, MANY great job and career opportunities available here at AIS. 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”…otherwise known as Murphy’s Law. I couldn’t find a better phrase to describe a recent problem we encountered at AIS Managed Services.

I’ve been a part of the Managed Services practice at AIS for quite some time now. As part of this practice, we provide proactive and reactive support to various clients. Internally, we support the AIS Internet site and the AIS Blog, as well as multiple enterprise-level commercial and federal customers. This blog post covers the challenges of availability monitoring, related to a downtime incident right here on the AIS Blog. Read More…

Our own Senior Infrastructure Engineer Daniel Suenkel recently hosted a Breakfast and Learn to share his knowledge and passion for Azure OMS with his AIS colleagues. Continuing with his theme, he explained why Azure OMS truly is the “One Tool to Rule Them All!”

In addition to the material that he provided in his previous blog (Azure OMS: One Tool To Rule Them All), he provided a deeper dive into what Azure OMS is and exactlywhat is offered in each service. Continue reading to find out why Azure OMS continues to be the “One Tool To Rule Them All”… Read More…