Introducing the New Windows Azure at the Hartford Code Camp

On Saturday June 23rd I presented an updated version of my Windows Azure 2.0 Platform Overview at the Hartford Code Camp. Since there were quite a few major Windows Azure announcements on June 7th this was a major update of my existing presentation. In fact I was updating it until the night before the presentation. Read more of this post

Building Windows Azure Projects with Team Foundation Service

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

In the fall of 2011, Microsoft announced a preview of the Team Foundation Service, a cloud-based version of Team Foundation Server (TFS) powered by the Windows Azure Platform. This next generation of TFS doesn’t require any server component, as end-users can connect to the service over the internet from Visual Studio, and via the web-based administration console.

The preview initially enabled features software projects such as Work Item Tracking and Source Control. A subsequent release of the preview enabled the Build feature. The service now provides a pool of virtual machines running in Windows Azure that are standing by ready to compile, test, and package your applications. Having used the initial service for a couple of projects already, I was eager for the Build service to become available. To me, this rounded out the offering, and allowed me to run a TFS project with truly no on-premise computing need. Read more of this post

Ramping Up on the Windows Azure Platform: 200 Level

I was recently asked to put together some material for consultants with the goal of getting to a “200 Level” of knowledge on the Windows Azure Platform and its breadth of capabilities. I thought this would be an opportune time to revamp a previous “getting started” post that I did with some updated content. Below is a 10-hour self-paced training plan, design for bringing someone up to that 200 level…

Read: Understanding the Different Platform Components (~1 hour)

Take a few minutes to read a brief overview of some of the different features of the Windows Azure Platform. Think of these as building blocks. They can be used individually or together to solve problems and build applications. Read more of this post

Building Cloud-Portable and Cloud-Burstable .NET Applications with Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services

Building Cloud-Portable and Cloud-Burstable .NET Applications With Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services

Definitions

Cloud-burstable applications are those built using an application deployment model in which an application runs in a private cloud or corporate data center and bursts into a public cloud (or clouds) when the demand for computing or storage capacity spikes.

Cloud-portable applications are applications that can take advantage of multiple clouds in order t0 prevent lock-in and/or make the applications more resilient in the face of cloud outages.

Slalom Consulting's Bill Zack

Bill Zack serves as a Senior Architect with Slalom Consulting in New York where he drives cloud strategy, architecture, and execution on both Windows Azure and Amazon Web services. Bill served as President of the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) for over 7 years.

Motivation

It should be pretty clear why we want to build applications that are cloud-burstable. It would be a great advantage to be able to overflow our resource requirements into the cloud (or clouds). The advantage of this is that the company only has to pay for for extra compute and storage resources when they are needed. Read more of this post

Recent Windows Azure Project Highlights: Media, WS-Fed and More…

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

I haven’t been blogging as much in the past few months, but I have a good excuse. I have been heads down over the last few months working with several clients on different, innovative projects that leverage the Windows Azure Platform. From media processing to federated authentication to scalable services and database, Slalom Consulting has been doing great work in the cloud.

Project Highlight: Cloud-based Tax Form Application
Slalom has engaged with an existing tax and accounting firm to build a web-based tax form application that leverages several features of the Windows Azure Platform. The application is an ASP.NET MVC3 application running in Windows Azure compute as a Web Role. Information collected by the application is stored in a SQL Azure relational database. Asynchronous operations, such as data imports and exports, are executed in Windows Azure Compute as Worker Roles, and those operations are triggered by messages stored in Windows Azure Queues. Furthermore, documents related to the tax collection process are securely stored as BLOBs in BLOB Storage.

The web application is configured against the Access Control Service to allow users to authenticate via 2 identity providers. Employees of the firm, who manage their tax clients, authenticate with their corporate credentials via Active Directory Federation Services. Clients themselves authenticate via custom client identities. The client identity store sits behind a custom STS (security token service), also an ASP.NET MVC3 application leveraging Windows Identity Foundation, and running in Windows Azure compute. Read more of this post

The State of Storage in 2012—to the Cloud!

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin is an accomplished Microsoft systems developer and integrator, experienced in developing and deploying SharePoint and CRM solutions, integrating line of business applications, and leveraging existing infrastructure investments.

There is a great article in Information Week this week about the 2012 State of Storage that I wanted to comment on. If you don’t have a subscription, that’s okay. The basic premise is that solid-state drive (SSD) costs are really starting to drop and the idea of enterprise’s using SSD storage area networks (SANs), or higher numbers of SSDs in existing SAN technology, is starting to gain traction.

This is certainly true and will continue to provide great performance improvements for needed input/uutput operations per second (IOPS). It’s telling that to this day, many enterprise, including the five that I work closely with, are stuck in the traditional models of storage. This isn’t their fault–these kinds of sea-level changes take time and there are obvious risks to upending a trusted SAN solution. But the writing is on the wall: traditional massive storage arrays for both performance applications and archival/compliance/storage requirements are going to look very different in a few short years. Read more of this post

Windows Azure Real World Guidance Article on MSDN

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

I am pleased to announce that fellow Slalom colleague Stephen Roger and I recently had an article we wrote published on MSDN. Microsoft supports a collection of articles on MSDN called Real World Windows Azure Guidance, where people from the technology community can share real experiences on using the Windows Azure platform.

Our article, entitled Considerations When Choosing a Web Role Instance Size: How small should I go?, attempts to look at the topic of choosing a virtual machine size for your web applications when starting on Windows Azure from a cost and scalability angle. In the article we provide guidance on sizing decisions for web roles by:

  • Comparing performance of a web application under load for different instance sizes;
  • Factoring in a hypothetical usage pattern to understand scaling implications for instance sizes; and
  • Evaluating cost when scaling for different instance sizes.

Please check out the article when you get a chance!

Windows Azure Platform: Januaury 13th Links

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

Happy New Year everyone! My first blog of 2012 highlights some of the resources and news around the Windows Azure Platform that caught my eye over the last couple months. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but pieces that caught my eye in particular. Read more of this post

Slalom and the Windows Azure Circle Program

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

Slalom Consulting recently announced via this press release that it has been selected by Microsoft to join the Windows Azure Circle Program.  As Microsoft’s 2011 Online Services Partner of the Year, we continue to invest in our practice areas to deliver Microsoft Cloud Services to our clients.

What is the Windows Azure Circle Program?

Microsoft has created the Windows Azure Circle program to create a healthy partner ecosystem around Windows Azure and to ensure the success of System Integrator (SI) partners worldwide.  This program creates a partnership between Microsoft and the SI that will together bring great value in the delivery of Azure services to customers.  Entry into the program requires commitments from the partner to build a strong Windows Azure practice.  These commitments range from training architects, developers, and sellers on the Windows Azure Platform, to goals around practice and customer development.  In return, partners receive several benefits from Microsoft such as internal briefings, development and test platform resources, and the ability to deliver incentive programs sponsored by Microsoft. Read more of this post

Windows Azure Readiness with Slalom Consulting

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

Last week I blogged about how you can learn how your company can leverage Windows Azure in a session with Slalom Consulting. Take that design session to the next level with Slalom Consulting and our Windows Azure Readiness offering to build a pilot on Windows Azure around your application.

Why Meet?
Slalom helps organizations leverage the Windows Azure platform, turning the focus onto applications that provide business value instead of the infrastructure for running them. Companies can reduce management costs, increase productivity, and take advantage of new economics.

Slalom’s Windows Azure Readiness offering allows an organization to quickly understand the features and benefits of the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform, brainstorm use of the platform within your organization, and apply cloud development principles via a proof of concept exercise.

Read more of this post

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