Tag Archives: Cloud

Blockchain hardware in your data center might not solve any problems

Blockchain could soon descend from the cloud to live in enterprise data centers.

Blockchain, an emerging technology that tracks the transactions of digital assets without a central authority, has primarily run from the public cloud. Now vendors have begun to explore how they can tap into this interest by supporting blockchain hardware uses on enterprises’ own IT infrastructure.

“It makes perfect sense to me, because the way I look at blockchain is as a replacement for a transaction engine and database,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in recent months has made moves to bring blockchain benefits to enterprises’ direct control. Earlier this month, Cisco joined the governing board of the Hyperledger Project, with an eye toward management and interoperability of network appliances. At Dell EMC World in May, meanwhile, the large hardware vendors barely mentioned blockchain.

And last week, Microsoft and Intel launched the Coco Framework, which runs blockchain on Microsoft Azure using Intel hardware. It’s designed to run on premises or in the cloud and be compatible with any ledger protocol, according to the companies.

Most of these efforts are still very nascent, and the vendors don’t yet have a lot of expertise, said Peter Harris, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights LLC in Austin, Texas.

IBM is the early leader in blockchain in part because it has many financial services and retail customers with transaction-heavy applications — but HPE has many airline and drug company customers with similar reliance on transactions, and some of those projects include an on-premises component to the blockchain hardware deployment, Moorhead said.

For example, the Digital Trade Chain Consortium, made up of seven European banks, has built a trade finance platform that uses IBM Blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric. Five of the banks use IBM Cloud and two built it in their own data center, said Keith Bear, vice president of global financial services at IBM.

The banks need nothing unusual to run the technology locally — it could be built on commodity hardware and x86 architecture, Bear said. The only reason to use blockchain on premises versus in the IBM Cloud is determined by a company’s own cloud policy or what its IT team is equipped to take on locally.

There is definitely a segment of the market that is looking to run blockchain in enterprise data centers and now they are looking around for help to do that.
Peter Harrisco-founder and research principal, Chain Business Insights LLC

All consortium banks agreed on the core blockchain functionality and interfaces with internal systems. The Digital Trade Chain Consortium uses IBM High Security Business Network (HSBN) in an IBM Cloud data center, based on LinuxONE, for the ordering service for all consortium members. HSBN is home to the secure infrastructure for the foundational elements of blockchain. Those that built their portion of blockchain locally must integrate with the blockchain API, monitoring and logging services and hosting, Bear said.

Meanwhile, HPE has conducted a pilot with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to buy and sell investment units on blockchain. But companies implementing production deployments of blockchain tend to use public cloud or generic infrastructure and wonder why it doesn’t scale, said Raphael Davison, global director of blockchain at HPE.

“If you take an app, put it on generic hardware and you kill the [java virtual machine], the transaction doesn’t go through, it just disappears,” Davison said.

HPE’s strategy to support blockchain is to use technology it acquired when it purchased Tandem in 2003, Davison said. Tandem is known for its NonStop transaction processing technology, which is commonly used for financial applications.

“If I am in the data center, I am betting my job on those transactions running, and today they are running on the NonStop,” Moorhead.

Blockchain on prem shouldn’t scare IT

Blockchain software does not appreciably differ from other enterprise data center applications, Harris said — but there is no specific reason that blockchain would run in an enterprise data center over the cloud, either. IT leaders will make the same decisions about where it runs as they would with a database or ERP, with considerations for security, performance and manageability, among other factors.

“It really comes down to a view of the world where you have decided you want a more controlled environment,” Harris said. “There is definitely a segment of the market that is looking to run blockchain in enterprise data centers and now they are looking around for help to do that.”

Almost all financial services companies have examined blockchain, but it is not yet deployed widely, said David Linthicum, senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners.

In fact, the push for blockchain in an enterprise data center comes from hardware vendors and is not driven by customer interest, he said. Blockchain’s distributed, complex nature could potentially cause performance problems and stress an enterprise’s network, he said.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at rgates@techtarget.com.

Office 365 admins can evolve as platform expands

A move to Office 365 can leave administrators feeling nonessential in the cloud productivity platform. But it’s not all bad news: The switch can spur IT teams to develop skills and empower end users to take full advantage of cloud services.

Microsoft has added a number of new services to the Office 365 suite over the years, creating an integrated enterprise collaboration platform. The company recently delivered SaaS offerings for business analytics with Power BI, a phone system through the Cloud PBX service, Skype for Business and the Yammer enterprise social network. With each new service rollout, end users must understand the capabilities of the applications.

This means that, as Microsoft pours development resources into its cloud products, Office 365 admins see their duties shift from system troubleshooters to internal marketers. Rather than wait for employees to file tickets, Office 365 admins must be internal marketers who sell users on the benefits of each app.

Administrators also can take on system integration functions. Microsoft developed a series of APIs to link its services to other products. Office 365 admins can use these tools to improve key areas, such as system security, or to work with business managers to develop procedures, such as an automated document workflow.

Translate high uptime into me time

Microsoft promises 99.9% uptime to Office 365 customers. What’s the perk of this high availability? It frees the support staff to focus on improving company processes, said Tim Clark, president of consulting firm C3 Solutions. IT staff learns about the latest features in the rapidly growing Office 365 collaboration platform and then shares those findings with users to maximize application use.

In-house app stores can ease the IT workload

Microsoft created an application store with its partners to offer a variety of tools and apps, which have a few benefits for admins. An in-house app store gives Office 365 admins a way to deploy and maintain corporate apps more easily. It simplifies the choices for users with a list of approved apps that the IT staff supports. Additionally, administrators can track downloads and employee usage trends.

The app store not only solves issues that have plagued users, but it also enables companies to keep up with trends in social media and remote workforces. Employees often get frustrated when scheduling meetings; the third-party add-in FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant uses automation to make the process less of a chore.

Also, social media has blurred the lines between personal and business offerings. For example, Starbucks developed an Office 365 application for users to schedule meetings at the local store. The Zomato Restaurant Finder helps executives determine where to go for a business lunch.

But enterprise app stores have downsides. They must work with a wide assortment of technologies and vendors. And supporting such heterogeneous environments — without breaking the budget — is difficult. For instance, allowing end users to bring any type of phone into the organization could strain Office 365. Therefore, a company can limit the number of phones it supports. Additionally, companies might need to add applications that Microsoft does not directly endorse.

What is Microsoft’s Office 365 strategy anyway?

Since the emergence of Office 365, there has been some question about what Microsoft’s plan for these services is all about. In this podcast, Scott Robinson, a SharePoint and BI expert, notes, “Microsoft has done a lot of repackaging, and sometimes, that is just to cover the fact that they haven’t finished a product.”

“Enterprises may want to integrate Slack into their collaboration platform,” said Joshua Trupin, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft.

Other integration needs can arise. Typically, consumer mobile device apps act independently of one another, but businesses must integrate them with Office 365. For example, if a company wants to tie its order management app to the logistics product, the customer often has to build and maintain these links.

Regimented approach can tame costs

Most organizations have a mix of apps — some run on premises and others in the cloud. Develop a standardized approach to provision and manage these apps, and keep a close eye on the licensing agreements to avoid any unexpected bills from cloud app vendors.

To track and ensure license compliance, Office 365 admins can use financial management tools from suppliers — such as Cloudability, Cloudyn and VMware with vRealize Business for Cloud — to keep cloud costs in line.

The notion that public cloud is less expensive than other alternatives also has been challenged recently. Some businesses that operated without a strict cloud pricing arrangement discover these offerings cost more than anticipated.

Wasabi Technologies takes on Amazon S3 on price, performance

Daring businesses to switch from Amazon to a company they’ve never heard of for cloud storage is a bold challenge. But Wasabi Technologies’ founders were so encouraged by its product launch that they raised another $10.8 million to fund a second data center.

Wasabi CEO David Friend said he expected the free trial of 1 TB for 30 days to attract a few dozen prospects when it became available on May 3. When more than 500 signed up, the Boston-based startup had to waitlist new subscribers until the week of May 17 to keep up with the server capacity demand.

Friend said about 80 users have converted to paying customers, and Wasabi boosted the available storage capacity at its leased data center space in Ashburn, Va., from about 7 PB to more than 20 PB to stay 90 days ahead of demand.

Those customers are likely lured mostly by Wasabi’s claims that its cloud storage is significantly cheaper and faster than Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3). They may also find it encouraging that Wasabi founders Friend and CTO Jeff Flowers also started Carbonite, an early successful cloud storage player for consumers and small and medium-sized businesses.

Wasabi CEO David FriendDavid Friend

The founders also likely learned a few things from Flowers’ post-Carbonite efforts to build on-premises cold data storage for financial and security firms and service providers. Storiant, initially known as SageCloud, raised $14.8 million in equity and debt between August 2012 and May 2015. But Storiant shut down operations in November 2015 and sold off its intellectual property for a mere $90,000.

“They were selling hardware systems and ended up competing with EMC, Dell and HP, which I thought was a mistake,” said Friend, who was CEO and later executive chairman at Carbonite, as well as a director on Storiant’s board.

Wasabi Technologies raises $8.2 million in 2016

In 2016, Friend, Flowers and Storiant’s founding engineers shifted their focus back to public cloud storage at BlueArchive, now called Wasabi Technologies. The startup raised $8.2 million over two rounds in 2016 to get started.

Has Wasabi built a better mousetrap when people don’t realize they have a mouse problem? Or, is this a real issue?
Stu Minimansenior analyst, Wikibon

Wasabi added $10.8 million through a convertible note that will become equity when the company decides to raise a Series B round of funding. That will help finance the West Coast expansion to a colocation facility in San Jose, Calif., or Seattle, according to Friend. That would allow Wasabi to add automatic replication across multiple geographies for compliance, and to mitigate the risk of having all customer data in a single data center. Wasabi is also investigating expansion into Europe, a prospect that Friend said he hadn’t planned to pursue until next year.

“I’m a cautious, conservative kind of guy, and I don’t like just spending money without knowing what I’m going to get for it. But at this point in time, the market is almost limitless for this,” Friend said. “Every day, new opportunities show up at the company for amounts of storage that are more than we had in our whole second-year projection. If any of these big deals start to come in our direction, it’s going to be pretty impressive.”

Speed ‘blows people away’

Friend said the speed at which Wasabi’s software can read and write data is “what really blows people away.” It offers performance that he said is generally achievable only at higher cost with on-premises data center hardware. He said the Wasabi software takes control of disk write heads and packs data onto storage drives more efficiently and at higher speed than Linux or Windows operating systems can.

“We get our speed by parallelizing. The speed comes from breaking the data up and reading it and writing it simultaneously to many drives at the same time,” Friend said. He added that the data is distributed with sufficient redundancy to enable 11 nines of data durability, as Amazon does.

Friend said Wasabi keeps costs low by buying directly from hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturers at about the same price as Amazon does in the low-margin HDD business. He said Wasabi’s technology also enables longer disk life.

Wasabi charges a flat 0.39 cents per GB per month for storage and 4 cents per GB for egress. Competing public clouds vary prices based on the amount of data stored or transferred, the type of storage service — such as cold or nearline — and the requests made, such as puts and gets.

“Our vision is that cloud storage is going to become a commodity that’s out there for everybody to use. You don’t need three plugs in the wall for good electricity, so-so electricity and crappy but cheap electricity. You don’t need all these different kinds of storage as well,” Friend said.

Wasabi vs. Amazon S3 and Glacier

Friend said he expects most potential customers to compare Wasabi to Amazon S3. But one trial participant, Phoenix-based WestStar Multimedia Entertainment Inc., pitted Wasabi against Amazon’s colder, cheaper Glacier, Backblaze and Google Coldline in addition to Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure Backup and Rackspace.

WestStar vice president of information technology Chris Wojno said his company had a pressing need to back up more than 26 TB of video with an estimated data growth rate of 2.7 TB per month. WestStar produces The Kim Komando Show, a syndicated digital lifestyle radio program, and operates a multimedia website.

Wojno calculated costs based on storing 39 TB of data and found Wasabi had the lowest per-month price per GB. If he chose Wasabi, his per-month cost would be $3,747.90 less than Rackspace, $1,590.80 less than Azure Backup, and $744.90 less than Amazon S3. The price differential was far less over Google Coldline ($120.90), Backblaze ($42.90) and Glacier ($3.90), according to his spreadsheet analysis.

Wojno also weighed the data recovery cost for 39 TB of backed-up video in the event of a disaster. Backblaze was least expensive at $780, compared to $1,560 for Wasabi and $3,900 for Glacier. But Wojno figured Blackblaze’s higher per-month storage fee than Wasabi would negate the savings.

Based on Wojno’s calculations, WestStar selected Wasabi Technologies for cloud storage. Wojno admitted he would have been suspicious of the new company had he not been familiar with Friend through his work at Carbonite, a former sponsor of the radio show. Komando, an owner of WestStar, last month invested in Wasabi after her company became a paying customer.

Wojno said WestStar spent about two weeks backing up 26.5 TB of video over a 200 Mbps connection with backup software from Wasabi partner CloudBerry Lab. He noted that WestStar received a complimentary CloudBerry license for his participation in a webinar with the vendors.

Friend said migrating data through transfer to a storage appliance, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Snowball, and transport by truck to the cloud storage provider is “an idea whose time has come and gone.”

“It’s much cheaper to go and put in a 10 Gigabit [Ethernet] pipe for a month, move your data and then shut it off, assuming you’re in a metropolitan area where such things are available,” Friend said.

AWS remains a formidable Goliath

Stu Miniman, a senior analyst at Wikibon, said Wasabi faces a stiff challenge against Amazon, the clear No. 1 cloud storage player. He said Amazon could lower costs as it has done in the past, or improve performance to respond to any perceived threat. Plus, he hasn’t heard many public cloud users complaining that storage is a problem.

“Has Wasabi built a better mousetrap when people don’t realize they have a mouse problem? Or, is this a real issue?” Miniman said.

Miniman said users might look to the free 30-day trial for new applications. He said the question is how long they’ll stick with the service over the long haul, especially if the initial application runs for only a limited time.

Opportunities with AWS customers

Friend said Wasabi Technologies is going after AWS customers who want to save money on their long-term data storage or keep a second copy of their data with a different cloud provider. Wasabi provides a free tool that customers can install in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to copy their S3-stored data to Wasabi automatically.

Friend said, thanks to Wasabi’s S3 compatibility, organizations using EC2 to host applications could leave the applications there and move data to Wasabi’s data center via Amazon’s Direct Connect, rather than store it in Amazon S3. He said Wasabi does not compete against Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage, which he said is designed for fast-moving data that doesn’t stay in memory long.

Friend said Wasabi uses immutable buckets to protect data against accidental deletion, sabotage, viruses, malware, ransomware or other threats. Customers can specify the length of time they want a data bucket to be immutable.

Oracle Cloud apps updated as Oracle extends EBS support

Oracle continues to push its cloud business with updates to Oracle Cloud apps. But the company is appeasing customers who prefer on premises by enhancing EBS support.

Oracle has updated its Oracle Cloud Applications with Release 13 to enhance its capabilities in customer experience, finance, HR and supply chain.

Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud received perhaps the biggest face-lift with the latest release, as Oracle introduced 200 features and six new products covering sales and operation planning, demand management, supply planning, collaboration, quality management and maintenance.

The update, analysts said, reiterated how much of a priority the cloud has become for Oracle, not just with these updated cloud applications, but also with other services, such as MySQL Cloud or the Oracle Mobile development platform.

“One of the key improvements across the suite of [Oracle] cloud applications is better insight, along with productivity and collaboration,” said Robert Sheldon, a technical consultant and TechTarget contributor.

“More and more, customers expect cloud-based services to provide ways of confirming how services are being used, what patterns are emerging and where bottlenecks might exist, along with other insights into the applications and users,” Sheldon said.

A major challenge that customers face is the lack of visibility across its business space, so the latest Oracle Cloud apps update aims to help prevent business planning from being exposed, an Oracle spokesperson said. Supply chain collaboration aims to streamline a business initiative through demand, sales and operations planning, and supply planning.

Oracle EBS support remains

As Oracle makes an even bigger push into the cloud, the company also revealed plans to expand its support for its E-Business Suite (EBS) product line until 2030. Oracle said another major release of E-Business Suite is expected at an undisclosed time.

“While we are not announcing a date for the future ’12.X’ release, we are committing to support it through 2030 at least,” the statement, released as a PDF on Oracle’s website said. It went on to say that “this update to the Oracle E-Business Suite roadmap should reassure customers who run critical operations on EBS that their system will continue to be supported and enhanced for years to come.”

For many EBS customers who haven’t yet dipped into the cloud, this comes as a much-welcomed relief.

“Oracle’s messaging and marketing is around cloud, so this is a question we get quite often: whether Oracle would discontinue its EBS support,” said Alyssa Johnson, president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) in Dallas. “We’ve been able to reassure customers that are still using EBS products that Oracle is going to continue to support its on-premises products.”

Johnson pointed out that while Oracle’s tone of late has been focused on cloud, the company has also emphasized the hybrid model for its customers as far back as its annual OpenWorld conference last October, so it shouldn’t come as a total shock that Oracle has elected to extend its EBS support.

“We [at the OAUG] have always had a close relationship with [Oracle’s] product app teams, so we knew they were going to continue to support EBS even with their push into cloud products,” Johnson said. “They have a team specifically focused on on-premises licensing, and it helped to clarify with our members that Oracle will have support moving forward.”

Oracle’s central app design

Earlier this year, Oracle came under some heat after it doubled its cloud licensing requirements for Amazon Web Services and Azure customers.

The emphasis for Oracle cloud apps on understanding work flows is central to its design, and that shows in Release 13, Sheldon said.

“Rising expectations demand that customers — and, by extension, users — become a more central consideration when building applications,” he said.

In addition to updates to Oracle SCM, the company also updated its Customer Experience (CX) Cloud Suite, ERP Cloud and Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud. As of Release 13, Oracle CX Cloud added features to its Oracle Sales Cloud with enhanced mobile and data visualization capabilities, while Oracle ERP Cloud now includes more functionalities, including Dynamic Discounting and Multi-Funding. Oracle HCM Cloud introduced expanded user personalization and branding, as well as tier 1 localization support.

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What tools troubleshoot Autodiscover in Exchange Online?

Think a move to the cloud means you’ll never have to troubleshoot connectivity issues again? In reality, these…

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types of problems won’t disappear and might be more difficult to solve because you only have control and visibility into part of the application.

Various tools diagnose and troubleshoot problems with Autodiscover, a web service in Microsoft Exchange Online that enables mailbox admins to configure user profile settings.

Use the Outlook troubleshooting utility

Outlook has a built-in Autodiscover troubleshooting tool. To access it, hold down Ctrl and right-click the Outlook icon in the system tray. This brings up a box labeled “Test Email AutoConfiguration,” as shown in Figure 1.

Outlook Autodiscover tool
Figure 1: The Outlook Autodiscover tool displays how Office 365 sends Autodiscover information to the client.

This test shows how the client receives — or does not receive — Autodiscover information from Office 365. This tool runs as part of Outlook on the user’s PC: If the organization’s network configuration causes the Autodiscover problem, this tool responds as if the Autodiscover endpoint is offline. To get the correct results, run the test several times from both inside and outside the organization’s network.

Try the Remote Connectivity Analyzer

The Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer is a web-based tool that identifies issues with Office 365 applications (Figure 2). Click on the Office 365 tab and select the Outlook Autodiscover test under Microsoft Office Outlook Connectivity Tests.

Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer
Figure 2: Use the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer to address Office 365 problems.

The Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer runs tests external to the organization’s network. If these tests pass, but the test run from the Outlook client does not, the issue resides with network access to Office 365.

Run the Support and Recovery Assistant

The last tool to try is the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 (Figure 3).

Support and Recovery Assistant
Figure 3: The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 walks the administrator through the diagnostic process with a series of questions to identify the Autodiscover problem.

The Support and Recovery Assistant asks a series of questions to assist administrators with various Office 365 issues. Depending on the test, the Support and Recovery Assistant might connect to Office 365 from the PC or from test resources that Microsoft maintains, such as the Remote Connectivity Analyzer.

If the Autodiscover issue remains unresolved, open a case with Microsoft Support.

Next Steps

Methods to correct mail flow trouble in Exchange

How Autodiscover works in a hybrid configuration

Free utilities to help admins monitor, manage Exchange

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Outlook

Have a question for an expert?

Please add a title for your question

Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever’s puzzling you.

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Reduce downtime with Azure Site Recovery service

The Azure Site Recovery service uses Microsoft’s cloud platform to prevent a halt in operations when issues arise. Azure Site Recovery moves workloads to and from different data centers — as well as both public and private clouds — to keep key services online and available.

What is Azure Site Recovery?

The Azure Site Recovery service has two elements:

  • The software and connections move VMs and services between two private data centers — either owned or rented by your organization — including Hyper-V and VMware VMs.
  • The Azure public cloud service acts as a data center stand-in and provides hot site disaster recovery capabilities. The Azure Site Recovery service also supports the hypervisors on Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Azure Site Recovery does not work with the Xen hypervisor.

New Azure portal offers advanced management

At one time, administrators needed PowerShell to set up Azure Site Recovery  to use Azure Resource Manager style deployments. IT shops can now use the new Azure portal to set up a new Azure Site Recovery environment, including a recovery vault.

This update enables IT to specify different VM sizes within the same account and set up fine-grained access to each resource based on user roles. Only the new portal supports fresh deployments, but it also can manage and support any existing deployments that began via the “classic” portal.

How to set up Azure Site Recovery

In addition to an Azure subscription, the organization needs an Azure storage account that holds data replicated from on-premises servers.

Log into the new portal to create a Recovery Services vault inside the storage account. Select New > More Services > Monitoring + Management > Backup and Site Recovery (OMS) to create VMs with replicated data; these failed-over Azure VMs also need access to an Azure network.

VMware shops will need a local VM to run the configuration server role that coordinates the data and communication with Azure and also handles the data replication processes. This VM is the process server and functions as a replication gateway — it caches, compresses and encrypts replication data, then sends it to Azure. The process server discovers other VMs and adds them to a replication configuration. The configuration server also acts as the master target server, which handles the replication after a disaster concludes and roles shift from Azure back to the on-premises locations.

The Azure Site Recovery service also supports the hypervisors on Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Azure Site Recovery does not work with the Xen hypervisor.

Windows and Hyper-V shops need either System Center Virtual Machine Manager in the on-premises environment to manage the VMs or the Site Recovery Provider that communicates with the service over the internet. They also must install the Recovery Services agent on non-Virtual Machine Manager hosts to manage data replication.

How does it work?

From there, the Azure Site Recovery service does most of the grunt work. It manages replication based on pre-programmed cycles of 1 minute, 2 minutes, 15 minutes and so on. After the initial seeding, Azure Site Recovery performs delta replication to save bandwidth. You can set up “exclude disks” to avoid replication of temporary files and page files.

Remember to set up a recovery plan that instructs the services where VMs go, on what schedule and in what order; this creates a recipe to follow if a disaster or business interruption occurs. You can then trigger a failback once the interruption concludes and return services to their normal operation and location.

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Announcing Microsoft Build Tour 2017

Figure 1 Sign-up at http://buildtour.microsoft.com

On the heels of the Build conferences these last few years, we have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of developers around the world. Their feedback and technical insight has helped us to continue the tradition and explore more technical depth.

Today, I’m excited to announce the Microsoft Build Tour 2017, coming to cities around the globe this June! The Microsoft Build Tour is an excellent way to experience Microsoft Build news first-hand, and also work directly with Microsoft teams from Redmond and your local area.

This year, we’re bringing the Microsoft Build Tour to these locations:

Dates

City

June 5-6 Shanghai, China
June 8-9 Beijing, China
June 12 Munich, Germany *
June 13-14 Seoul, Republic of Korea
June 14-15 Helsinki, Finland
June 19-20 Warsaw, Poland
June 21-22 Hyderabad, India
June 29-30 Sydney, Australia

The Microsoft Build Tour is for all developers using Microsoft platform and tools. We will cover a breadth of topics across Windows, Cloud, AI, and cross-platform development. We will look at the latest news around .NET, web apps, the Universal Windows Platform, Win32 apps, Mixed Reality, Visual Studio, Xamarin, Microsoft Azure, Cognitive services, and much more.

We also want to go deeper into code, so this year we’re bringing the tour as a two-day* event. You can decide to attend just the sessions on the first day, or sign-up for a deep (and fun!) hands-on experience on the second day.

  • Day 1: Full day of fast-paced, demo-driven sessions, focusing primarily on new technology that you can start using immediately in your projects, with a bit of forward-looking awesomeness for inspiration.
  • Day 2: Full day hackathon where you’ll use the latest technologies to build a fun client, cloud and mobile solution that meet the requirements of a business case given at the beginning of the day. Seating is limited for Day 2, so be sure to register soon!

In most locations, on both days, we’ll also have a Mixed Reality experience booth where you’ll be able to sign up for scheduled hands-on time with Microsoft HoloLens and our latest Windows Mixed Reality devices.

To learn more and register, visit http://buildtour.microsoft.com. Can’t make it in person? Select cities will be live-streamed regionally to give you a chance to view the sessions and participate in the Q&A.

We can’t wait to see you on the tour!

*Munich is a single day, session-focused event.

Azure Resource Manager templates ease private cloud struggles

Private cloud improves certain management capabilities, but it’s difficult to control cloud applications, which…

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often consist of multiple cloud services and resource instances. Azure is no different, though Microsoft hopes to change that with its management portal.

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) is a management portal that lets admins roll a cloud application’s components — virtual machines, storage instances, virtual networks, databases and third-party services — into a group for easier management. Introduced in 2014, ARM lets administrators deploy, change and delete cloud app components as a single template-driven task.

ARM also works with Azure Stack, which enables administrators to build Azure Resource Manager templates for Azure PowerShell, Azure command line interface (CLI), the Azure portal, REST API, and various development tools. The portal lets administrators and developers create Azure Resource Manager templates that deploy and manage cloud apps on premises or in Azure. By comparison, traditional tools, such as Microsoft System Center, do not have native integration nor do they support Azure Stack. However, Microsoft Operations Management Suite reportedly can work with Azure Stack when OMS agents are installed.

ARM lets administrators deploy, change and delete cloud app components as a single template-driven task.

Azure and Azure Stack include networking resources — virtual networks and load balancers – as well as other resources, such as compute and storage instances with attributes unique to the particular resource. ARM gathers resources into resource groups; organizations use these templates to build the environment. Orchestration features in Azure Resource Manager templates enable users to call any combination of Azure resources as a single task and produce a desired operating state.

ARM requires an Azure subscription, which provides access to role-based access control (RBAC) and provides a level of granular access to Azure resources. RBAC establishes roles and correlates those roles to scopes of action, resource groups or individual resources. For example, admins create an application — or a resource that an application uses — that only certain administrators can modify or delete to secure cloud deployments. They also can customize policies to tailor deployment behaviors, such as enforcing region limitations or naming conventions.

With ARM, admins assign advanced tracking tags to resources and resource groups. These tags organize resources and shows business leaders how much a group of Azure or Azure Stack resources costs, which is helpful for budgeting. Audit features track resource activity so admins can monitor resource use and speed troubleshooting.

ARM is an integral part of Azure and Azure Stack — not a separate management tool such as System Center. Its APIs connect the varied interfaces, namely the Azure portal or Azure CLI, to Azure and Azure Stack. Those tools then connect to the underlying compute, storage, network and other resources and services.

Next Steps

How to effectively use Azure Resource Manager

Navigate through the Microsoft Azure portal

Build and manage Windows containers in Azure

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Introducing Microsoft’s new Ad Monetization Platform

Earlier this week, we kicked off our annual developer conference Microsoft Build in front of over 5,000 developers at Washington state convention center with viewers watching the event live around the world. During the keynote and other live sessions, we had several announcements that featured tools and services for PC, Tablet & Web developers to monetize and acquire through the Microsoft’s new ad monetization platform.

Microsoft’s new ad monetization platform brings together innovative consumer ad experiences, federated cloud based smart mediation service, and best-in-class universal user acquisition and engagement service in a single platform, so you can maximize your ad revenue and grow your app business by deeply engaging with your users.

Let’s take a closer look at the major announcement.

Maximize your ad revenue

Ad monetize your app with the new Microsoft’s ad mediation platform

Microsoft ad mediation platform

In-app advertising continues to represent more than one-third of the revenue that developers make from writing apps for the Microsoft Windows platform. As part of our continuous commitment to maximize developer monetization through ads, we are excited to announce Microsoft’s ad mediation service, a federated cloud-based ad mediation service designed to help app developers maximize their ad revenue. The ad mediation service along with the Microsoft Advertising SDK are the two key components of Microsoft’s new ad monetization platform that dynamically optimizes ad network configurations to drive the highest yield for the developers and deliver innovative ad experiences for consumers.

Microsoft’s ad mediation service is now available to all developers through the Dev Center. Read more about this announcement here.

Choose the right ad experiences

Drive app advertising revenue by seamlessly integrating the right ad treatments into your app by our rich set of ad formats. Wide variety of formats means you have lots of choices to provide the best user experience.

Interstitial ads

We are also excited to announce the launch of interstitial banner ads support in the Microsoft Advertising SDK. Interstitial banner ads have been one of the top Windows Dev Center feature requests since we introduced support for interstitial video ads. Read more about this announcement here.

Native ads

Microsoft Advertising SDK now supports native ads. Native ads allow developers to create and implement highly immersive ads that fit their app experiences. Developers can now stitch beautiful ad experience completely native to their apps using the new capability provided by the SDK. This feature is currently available as a limited preview to participating developers/publishers.

Please contact aiacare@microsoft.com to get started.

Empowering app growth for Windows developers

Ad campaign to acquire & re-engage with users

Microsoft Universal User Acquisition Platform offers unparalleled self-served tools from Windows Dev Center & REST APIs to help developers promote & re-engage with users. Dev Center App Install Ad Campaigns underwent a major usability improvement. The new workflow helps developers automate campaign targeting, and creative generation to find your most valuable users based on your in app conversions. These innovative experiences are currently available for Insider users and will be generally available to everyone along with the overall Dev Center changes. Developers who haven’t used ad campaigns can read about the full suite of capabilities here.

Auto designed interstitial, native and playable ads

We have enabled adding banner interstitial ads to the creative mix without the developer having to create the artwork. Just click on one check box in the creative section and the banner interstitial that can scale across different device resolutions gets created. The best part of this capability is that you can also use the same ad for your house and community campaigns, which are completely free of cost. Just use the latest SDK to enable interstitial ads in your app, and then opt in to house and/or community ad campaigns.

You can promote your app through native ad experiences now. All the elements that are used to create an auto-generated ad like app title, logo, tagline and price etc. will now be sent as assets to the app developer showing the ads so that they can be stitched in an experience native to the app. All new ad campaigns will have these ads automatically created in the backend using the same elements that the user selects for creating ads in the campaign.

Developers can create a three-minute interactive version of the app as an ad using this capability. This feature is in developer preview and developers can sign-up for getting their apps streamed at aiacare@microsoft.com. Read more about this capability here.

What’s next

We look forward to helping many more developers build and grow successful businesses. At Microsoft //Build 2017, we have shared essential insights and best practices on how to drive growth with Microsoft’s new ad monetization platform. You can take part too by viewing the live streamed and pre-recorded sessions ad monetization and user acquisition.

Check out the new website for more details, then give the features a try! If you’ve got suggestions to make these features even more useful, please let us know at Windows Developer Feedback.