We’re fascinated by the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and the truly transformative opportunities it offers our customers. We’ve been digging deep into machine learning, computer vision and other AI capabilities for quite some time now, and believe they will grow into a significant part of our business. We’re not alone: IDC predicts 75 percent of developer teams will include cognitive and AI functionality in one or more applications this year.

“A lot of the sales process for AI and ML is centered around education…people are not calling asking for either specifically.”
– Vishwas Lele AIS

To assist companies looking to build an AI-focused practice, Microsoft recently released the AI Practice Development Playbook with guidance and resources around developing an AI strategy, gaining the required skills, plus how to market and sell these cutting-edge offerings. AIS is proud to be a contributing expert and co-author of the Playbook, along with our fellow Microsoft partners and other leading AI data scientists.

Get your copy of the AI Playbook right here. We’d love to hear what you think of it!

 

Calling all SharePoint users! AIS is sponsoring this month’s Meetup for the Triangle SharePoint Users Group at our Durham, North Carolina office.

The session will start with an overview of SharePoint Custom Forms, which can be developed by Angular JS. We’ll review how to build repeating table information stored into parent/child SharePoint lists. You’ll watch a demo of custom dashboards using REST APIs to display data from multiple SharePoint lists, plus walkthroughs of real-world situations for SharePoint Apps and PowerApps.

Space is limited so RVSP here to claim your spot!

When: Thursday, February 15, 2018
5:45 p.m.
 to 8:00 p.m

Where: 4721 Emperor Blvd
Suite 350
Durham, NC 27703

RSVP today!

Introducing Consul…

As the distributed systems we build continue to grow, both in number and types of services, we need better tools to discover these services, check if the services are healthy, and to provide a common and consistent configuration store. This is where “Consul” comes in: Consul is completely distributed, highly available, and scales to thousands of nodes and services across multiple datacenters.

It allows clients to always have consistent and up-to-date information of their datacenter infrastructure, which includes a datacenter-wide services and nodes discovery, health checks, and key/value storage. Internally, it uses a consensus-based election and the gossip protocol to communicate between the nodes.

Consul decouples the discovery, configuration mgmt. and health checks out of the application and facilitates them via configuration, or with very minimum code changes. Developers do not have to use the brick-and-mortar approach to build a custom solution of their own to achieve the same functionality.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through installation and a few processes, including health checks, configuration management, and service discovery. Read More…

Join us tomorrow for a free webinar with AIS’ CTO and Microsoft MVP Vishwas Lele on Microsoft PowerApps and Flow. This webinar is designed to show you how to easily create PowerApps applications, and how to best take advantage of the recently introduced PowerApps custom visual for Power BI.

Vishwas will showcase a PowerApps application that is essentially a “portal” for existing Line of Business Enterprise Applications (inventory, contracts, etc.) and Services (Dynamics, O365, DropBox, etc.) Through the use of PowerApps features like the out-of-the-box connectors, integration with Flow and mobile enablement, you’ll learn how easy it is to build an app that allows users to have all the information they need in one location and on the device of their choice.

The webinar kicks off TOMORROW at 10 a.m. ET. Watch it right here or on Microsoft’s Power BI YouTube.

Microsoft PowerApps and Flow have been generally available since late 2016. They’re both tools that allow business users to streamline business processes without the use of code. Microsoft positioned PowerApps as their recommended replacement for InfoPath as the business user’s forms designer, and Flow as their replacement for SharePoint Workflow.

While these are welcomed replacements, both solutions also provide a broader level of support to the Microsoft stack and across a wide array of third-party applications.  I’ve recently been working with PowerApps and Flow to replace some internal applications, as well as to build proof-of-concepts for our existing clients. Here’s what I think of each, both separately and when putting them together… Read More…

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…

2017 was another great year overall here at AIS, and also marked the fifth anniversary of our blog! We hope you enjoyed reading and found our posts helpful and interesting. We’re all pretty passionate about what we do here, and look forward to sharing more thoughts, insights and solutions in 2018 and beyond!

As we close out the year, here are the top 10 most read and shared blog posts of 2017:

1) Office 365 Groups vs. Microsoft Teams by Jason Storch

2) Lift & Shift: Migrating Legacy Applications to Azure Cloud by Nasir Mirza

3) Dockerization of Azure PaaS (Beyond Azure Container) by Vishwas Lele

4) Managed Images in Azure (Create & Deploy) by Justin Baca

5) Building Stateless Microservice Using Microsoft Service Fabric Series by Kasi Srinivasan

6) Azure PaaS Options: When to Use What? by Vishwas Lele

7) A three-way tie (!) for Parts One, Two & Three of Automated Deployments with Azure Resource Manager Templates, Azure Automation, & Octopus Deploy by Harun Davood

8) It’s Time to Review the Failure Modes of Your #cloud App(s) by Vishwas Lele

9) Pattern Matching vs. Deep Learning by Vishwas Lele

10) A Fix for the SharePoint Search Query/Result Mismatch by Clint Richardson

Happy New Year to all our readers and bloggers! Be sure to follow AIS on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn so you’ll never miss a post.

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_viktorus'>viktorus / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

I thought Per Werngren made some important observations in his recent article for Redmond Channel Partner Magazine. His main point: System Integrators (SIs) need to evolve their business models or risk disintermediation. As workloads are migrated to AWS and Azure, automation replaces the need for people to perform those tasks. This automation enables governance and compliance to standards, while also setting the stage for better downstream, fully-automated management, monitoring and operations. This, of course, further reduces the need for people performing in those roles,

Meanwhile, the new generation of intelligent PaaS services for predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. are also replacing jobs once done by hand. These new tools allow us to build better and more intelligent applications.

Despite all this potential for automation, we still regularly see organizations allowing contractors to move workloads manually. It’s simply in a staffing contractor’s best interest to have people do this, despite it being a time-consuming and error-prone process. But why would an SI recommend automation and reduce their long-term revenue? Read More…

Earlier this year AIS had the opportunity to complete a research project using HoloLens, Microsoft’s mixed reality development platform. Exploring the Microsoft HoloLens was a fascinating experience, and for me, quite a novel one as well.  I’ve admittedly never become caught up in any virtual or augmented reality experiences, or even played any first-person perspective video games. (I have an Xbox One console in my living room, dutifully serving as a glorified Blu-ray player and online video streamer.) In fact, one of the reasons I went with an Xbox was a desire to develop and deploy apps to it, once Microsoft delivered on its promise of unifying all of its platforms.

So lacking a firsthand appreciation of immersive computer-generated experiences, having the ability to see and interact with computer-generated objects inside my real physical space was quite engaging. Read More…