It’s 2017 and it’s official: Government agencies want to move to the cloud. But they are often unprepared for the transition, or stuck in the middle of a confusing process. So this week, AIS and Microsoft kicked off the new year with a terrific AzureGov Meetup full of valuable information, training resources and demos on exactly where and how to start a successful government cloud journey.

The full line-up of cloud experts includied David Simsik, Cloud Practice Manager at AcceleraDan Patrick, Chief Cloud Strategist at OpsgilityBrian Harrison, Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft, and AIS’ own Vishwas Lele, who presented a demo of the AIS Service Catalog offering, which is specifically designed to ease cloud adoption for government agencies.

See below for some photos of this (packed!) event and a video of Vishwas’ Service Offering presentation. For future DC AzureGov Meetup dates and details, go here. We hope to see you next time!

(Check out our Cloud Adoption Framework for more on how AIS can take you step-by-step through the Cloud Journey here.)

Companies are adopting Docker containers at a remarkable pace and for a good reason – Docker containers are turning out to be key enablers for a micro-services based architecture.

As a quick recap, Docker containers are:

  • Encapsulated, deployable components that can run as isolated instances
  • Small in size with a fast boot-up time
  • Include tools that enable containerized application images to be easily moved across the public cloud and on-premises
  • Capable of applying limits on physical resources consumed by any given application

Given the popularity of Docker containers, it should come as no surprise that the Azure platform already provides first-class support for a container hosting solution, in the form of Azure Container Service (ACS). ACS makes it simple to create a cluster of Virtual Machines that can run containerized applications. ACS relies on popular open-source tools – with Docker as the container format, and a choice of Marathon, DC/OS, Docker Swarm and Kubernetes for orchestration and scheduling, etc. All this makes it possible to easily run containerized workloads on Azure in a portable manner.

But the Docker containerization story on Azure does not stop here.

It is also being weaved more and more into existing PaaS offerings, including Azure Batch, Azure App Service and Azure Service Fabric. Let’s briefly review the latest developments to see how Docker integrates with Azure PaaS: Read More…

22106868_sYou’re an enterprise. You’ve done your research. You’ve read the whitepapers. You’ve heard all the success stories (along with a few cautionary tales). Perhaps you’ve already taken your first steps into the cloud, but want to embark on a larger-scale public cloud adoption strategy.

But what does that look like for your enterprise? The journey is different for you – for everyone, really. And you certainly don’t want to make it up as you go along.

Here are five important things you need to map out before you start your public cloud journey. We’re confident in this roadmap because we’ve been along for the ride before. We’ve helped many large enterprises and agencies successfully adopt and implement their own unique cloud strategies. Read More…

msgovcloudThis is an overview of a solution built by AIS with Microsoft for a federal client in the DC area. The client’s goal was to be able to automate the setup and takedown of virtual machine sandboxes on the fly. These sandboxes are used by the client’s developers to do security testing of their applications.

Goals

The first step of this project was to help the federal client provision their own Azure Government subscription, with some assistance from Microsoft. We then wanted to document the client’s on-premises environment so that it could be accurately replicated within Azure. The next step was to actually build and deploy the Azure services and scripts in the cloud environment. Lastly, we wanted to be able to define and implement automation use cases, such as the provisioning of an entire sandbox, or just specific machines within that sandbox. Read More…

In this video blog, AIS’ CTO Vishwas Lele walks us through provisioning a Docker Swarm cluster using the Azure Container Service (ACS). Docker Swarm is a native clustering technology for Docker containers, which allows a pool of underlying Docker Hosts to appear as a single virtual Docker host. Containers can then be provisioned through the standard Docker API. The Azure Container service takes care of provisioning the underlying Docker host virtual machines, installing the required software (Docker plus  Docker host), and configuring the cluster. Once the cluster is provisioned, Vishwas demonstrates connecting to the master node to spin up containers on the cluster which hosts an ASP.NET application.

You might also like: 

The Seamless Hybrid Cloud

Enterprise #DevOps: A Service Catalog Driven Approach

Windows Azure Planning: Moving an Application into Production

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Make no mistake, most organizations and government agencies are—at least in part—software companies. The backbone of the services and products they sell, the internal business processes they use, and the customer feedback mechanisms they rely on are all built on software. Even in the age of software as a service (SaaS) – a modern organization’s portfolio of applications and the specifics of how these apps are used influence its most important decisions.

So while it’s easy to understand that software is a foundational component to modern business, often the decision to invest in building or offering software to users must also be accompanied by a more specific, anticipated return on that investment. That process can go like this:
Read More…

Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite provides a seamless transition from raw data to intelligence: Real, meaningful data for real, meaningful business decisions. 

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the need for real-time processing and data analytics has become paramount. As a part of the Cortana Intelligence Suite, Microsoft offers Azure Stream Analytics (ASA) as a fully-managed cloud service for analyzing complex event and data streams at near real time. Read More…

Machine learning An Azure Machine Learning News Aggregator Solution

Here is an overview of a personalized, machine-curated delivery of news and related significant data in the public domain powered by Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services, built by AIS.

A Little Background

Today’s 24-hour news cycle produces a vast amount of publicly available information about events occurring all over the globe. Imagine the data that is produced in a single hour, let alone in a single day. Now imagine having the responsibility of distilling that data into actionable information for a single team or individual. It would quickly become overwhelming! This was the reality for our client. They have offices and teams all over the world, and each team was seeking personalized views of data relevant to their region, mission and preferences. But by implementing machine learning technology, AIS developed a solution to help break through the noise. Read More…

Data Analytics, Cortana Intelligence Suite, Data Visualization The Cortana Intelligence Suite is a fully managed data analytics platform that offers a range of services aimed at helping businesses find meaning in all of the data they are collecting. This post will dive into the services that are offered by the platform. Prior to discussing these services in detail, let’s take a quick lap around data analytics specific to goals, what to expect when building and maturing a competency for your business, and challenges businesses experience while on this journey. After laying this groundwork, we’ll discuss the Cortana Intelligence Suite in a bit more detail and provide a list of the services offered by the platform. Additionally, we’ll cover how the Cortana Intelligence Suite can offer the tools needed to implement a robust strategy to address the key challenge areas we’ve described. Read More…

Innovations in devices, platforms and applications have advanced many user experiences – and user expectations. Voice activated digital assistants like Siri and Cortana have given users new ways to interact with services and information.

In light of this, interfaces like trusty web forms may seem a bit dated… perhaps it’s time to consider a more natural, conversational interaction with users.

A Pizza Bot

A sample Pizza Bot interaction (image courtesy of Microsoft from this article).

Read More…