The Seamless Hybrid Cloud

27525399 - open window on white wall and the cloudy skyModern cloud computing offers enterprises unprecedented opportunities to manage their IT infrastructure and applications with agility, resiliency, and security, while at the same time realizing significant cost savings. The ability to rapidly scale up and down in the cloud opens countless doors of possibility to use compute and storage resources in innovative ways that were not previously feasible.

But getting to the cloud and managing both cloud and on-premises resources can be a daunting challenge. As a recent Gartner article explains, a Cloud Strategy is a must for organizations. That’s where we at AIS can help – we have years of experience and successes working with enterprises to develop a cloud strategy. We have the resources and expertise to then plan and execute, leveraging the latest technologies and best practices.

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azure-api-managementAIS’ CTO and noted Azure expert Vishwas Lele has a brand new course available at Pluralsight: Microsoft Azure API Management Essentials.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are increasingly considered “engines of growth” and are already fundamentally changing the way organizations do business. In this three-part course, you’ll learn about how the Azure API Management service can ensure that your current and future APIs reach their fullest potential.

First, you’ll learn why you should use API Management, and how to manage your API with the Azure service. Next, you’ll learn how to protect your API with rate limits, plus how to add caching to improve API performance. Then, you’ll learn about policies in API Management and C#-based Policy Expressions. Finally, you’ll learn about security in API Management.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a solid understanding of Azure API Management, its key capabilities, and how to host and secure your API (both internal and external). Get started right now!

WindowsAzureAs more and more businesses move their applications to the cloud, it’s clear that operation and log data analysis is a major component to the migrating process. That data is crucial to understanding the health and reliability of your cloud services with respect to scalability, resilience, uptime, and your ability to troubleshoot issues.

But how do you deal with all that operational data? How do you identify specific application issues such as exceptions raised from bugs in the code, troubling increases in processor or memory consumption, or slow response times?

It turns out that migrating your applications to the cloud is just the first step: Having a well-thought-out operational data and monitoring user story is just as important. Read More…

Welcome to part seven of our blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker Roles, Identity and Access with Azure Active Directory, Azure Service Bus and MongoDB, HIPPA Compliant Apps in Azure and Offloading SharePoint Customizations to Azure.

Motivation

No lengthy commentary is needed to communicate the growing importance of big data technologies. Look no further than the rounds of funding [1][2][3] that companies like Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR have attracted in recent months. It is widely expected that the market for Hadoop will likely grow to $20 Billion by 2018.

The key motivations for the growth of big data technologies includes:

  • The growing need to process ever increasing volumes of data. This growth in data is not limited to web scale companies alone. Businesses of all sizes are seeing this growth.
  • Not all data conforms to a well-defined structure/schema, so there is a need to supplement (if not replace) the traditional data processing and analysis tools such as EDWs.
  • Ability to take advantage of deep compute analytics using massively parallel, commodity based clusters. We will see examples of deep compute analysis a little bit later but this is a growing area of deriving knowledge from the data.
  • Overall simplicity (from the standpoint of the analyst/ developer authoring the query) that hides the non-trivial complexity of the underlying infrastructure.
  • Price-performance benefit accorded due to the commodity based clusters and fault tolerance.
  • The ability to tap into fast paced innovation taking place within the “Hadoop” ecosystem. Consider that Map Reduce, which has been the underpinning of Hadoop ecosystem for years, is being replaced by projects such as Yarn in recent months. Read More…

Welcome to part six of our blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed, HIPAA Compliant Apps with Windows Azure Trust Center,  Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker RolesIdentity and Access with Azure Active Directory and Azure Service Bus and MongoDB.

Motivation

Question: “How does an admin protect their SharePoint farm from poorly written custom code?” Answer: “Force custom code to run in the SharePoint sandbox mode.” Not quite! Turns out that running in a sandbox mode (as the name suggests, it is a restricted execution mode within SharePoint) is not very productive because of the performance penalty and very limited capabilities available to code running in it. A better approach is to move the code “outside” of SharePoint and into a “private” execution environment (so that the errant developers can shoot themselves in the foot, but not everyone else). Read More…

Recently, I sat down with hosts Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell of .NET Rocks! to chat about the architectural patterns of cloud development. If you’re not familiar with .NET Rocks! it is a weekly online talk show for anyone interested in programming on the Microsoft .NET platform. The shows range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness.

During this discussion I talk about how the cloud influences application design, focused on more asynchronous, scalable and flexible messaging focused architecture. While the patterns could be applied to any cloud technology, Microsoft Azure is particularly well-suited to these architectural patterns, providing services that cover each pattern approach for optimal results.

Click here to listen to “Cloud Patterns with Vishwas Lele.

Welcome to part five of our blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed Azure Web Sites, Azure Worker RolesIdentity and Access with Azure Active Directory and Azure Service Bus and MongoDB.

Motivation

Let’s face it, security, privacy and compliance are the key concerns when it comes to adopting any public cloud platform. To alleviate such concerns, Windows Azure team has setup a Windows Azure Trust Center website to provide the latest updates on these topics. Windows Azure complies with several international, country and industry-specific compliance requirements including ISO 27001, FedRAMP, PCI-DSS and HIPAA. In this blog post we are going to focus on building HIPAA compliant applications on the Windows Azure platform.  Read More…

In case you missed our webinar, “What’s New In Azure?” last week, we’ve made the entire session available to you on our You Tube Channel.

In this session we share BIG NEWS from the Azure Build 2014 Conference. This includes tooling enhancements, new features across several Azure services including mobile services, storage, IaaS, service bus, web sites. We also review many of these key enhancements, as well as dive deeper into a few of these announcements such as Resource Group Managers and the new Azure tooling.

Give it a look and share with your colleagues today. Read More…

Welcome to part three of a blog series based on my latest PluralSight course: Applied Windows Azure. Previously, we’ve discussed Azure Web Sites and Azure Worker Roles.

Motivation

Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) is another important building block offered as part of the Windows Azure platform. You can think of WAAD as a repository for your organization’s directory data in the cloud. Directory objects include users and groups along with their identity and access information.

By externalizing the directory data into a common location (WAAD), it is possible to provide a single sign-on and sign-out experience for enterprise applications, as well as SaaS offerings.

While WAAD is a cloud-based service, you can use it for on-premises in addition to cloud-based applications. Read More…

Welcome to the first of an ongoing blog series based on my latest PluralSight course, Applied Windows Azure.

“Applied Windows Azure” as the name suggests, is about utilizing various building blocks to develop practical, meaningful and cost-effective applications that run on Windows Azure.

This course is broken up into 10 modules (listed below). Within each module, after motivating the use of the relevant building Azure building blocks, I cover the core concepts, key mechanisms and design tradeoffs. Of course, no course can be complete without looking at some code – so  I’ll walk through important parts of an application built specifically for each module.  All source code is provided as part of this course.

Finally, the focus is on breadth learning — the ability to operate across the Windows Azure building blocks in a coherent and productive way.  My hope is that the viewer walks away from this course with an idea to apply these Windows Azure building blocks/patterns to a challenge specific to their own domain.  I encourage the viewers and readers to reach out to me at @vlele or comment below anytime to continue this discussion. The value of a course of this type is greatly enhanced by a two-way conversation.

List of Course Modules:

  • Readymade Execution Units with Azure Web Sites
  • Compute Intensive Apps with Azure Worker Roles
  • Identity & Access with Windows Azure Active Directory
  • HIPAA Compliant Apps with Windows Azure Trust Center
  • Loosely Coupled Apps with Azure Service Bus and Mongo DB
  • Offloading SharePoint Customization to Windows Azure
  • Mobile Services as a backend for any app (not just mobile apps)
  • Integration with Windows Azure BizTalk Services
  • “Big Compute” with Azure HPC Services for Excel
  • “Big Data” with Windows Azure HDInsight

I am going to assume some basic understanding of Windows Azure building blocks. If you are new to Azure, there is some excellent material on MSDN and Windows Azure Toolkit to get you started.

Here’s how each blog post for this series will be structured: For each scenario, we start out with the key motivation for the building block, followed by a discussion of scenarios where this building block may be applicable. Next, we will cover the core concepts in detail by walking through a diagram or some sort. Finally, we will look at some of the key design considerations and tradeoffs associated Azure Web Sites. Read More…