Tag Archives: Azure

Microsoft seeks broader developer appeal with Azure DevOps

Microsoft has rebranded its primary DevOps platform as Azure DevOps to reach beyond Windows developers or Visual Studio developers and appeal to those who just want a solid DevOps platform.

Azure DevOps encompasses five services that span the breadth of the development lifecycle. The services aim to help developers plan, build, test, deploy and collaborate to ship software faster and with higher quality. These services include the following:

  • Azure Pipelines is a CI/CD service.
  • Azure Repos offers source code hosting with version control.
  • Azure Boards provides project management with support for Agile development using Kanban boards and bug tracking.
  • Azure Artifacts is a package management system to store artifacts.
  • Azure Test Plans lets developers define, organize, and run test cases and report any issues through Azure Boards.

Microsoft customers wanted the company to break up the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) platform so they could choose individual services, said Jamie Cool, Microsoft’s program manager for Azure DevOps. By doing so, the company also hopes to attract a wider audience that includes Mac and Linux developers, as well as open source developers in general, who avoid Visual Studio, Microsoft’s flagship development tool set.

Open source software continues to achieve broad acceptance within the software industry. However, many developers don’t want to switch to Git source control and stay with VSTS for everything else. Over the past few years, Microsoft has technically separated some of its developer tool functions.

But the company has struggled to convince developers about Microsoft’s cross-platform capabilities and that they can pick and choose areas from Microsoft versus elsewhere, said Rockford Lhotka, CTO of Magenic, an IT services company in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Rockford Lhotka, CTO, MagenicRockford Lhotka

“The idea of a single vendor or single platform developer is probably gone at this point,” he said. “A Microsoft developer may use ASP.NET, but must also use JavaScript, Angular and a host of non-Microsoft tools, as well. Similarly, a Java developer may well be building the back-end services to support a Xamarin mobile app.”

Most developers build for a lot of different platforms and use a lot of different development languages and tools. However, the features of Azure DevOps will work for everyone, Lhotka said.

Azure DevOps is Microsoft’s latest embrace of open source development, from participation in open source development to integrating tools and languages outside its own ecosystem, said Mike Saccotelli, director of modern apps at SPR, a digital technology consulting firm in Chicago.

In addition to the rebranded Azure DevOps platform, Microsoft also plans to provide free CI/CD technology for any open source project, including unlimited compute on Azure, with the ability to run up to 10 jobs concurrently, Cool said. Microsoft has also made Azure Pipelines the first of the Azure DevOps services to be available on the GitHub Marketplace.

Announcing Azure Pipelines with unlimited CI/CD minutes for open source

With the introduction of Azure DevOps today, we’re offering developers a new CI/CD service called Azure Pipelines that enables you to continuously build, test, and deploy to any platform or cloud. It has cloud-hosted agents for Linux, macOS, and Windows, powerful workflows with native container support, and flexible deployments to Kubernetes, VMs, and serverless environments.

Microsoft is committed to fueling open source software development. Our next step in this journey is to provide the best CI/CD experience for open source projects. Starting today, Azure Pipelines provides unlimited CI/CD minutes and 10 parallel jobs to every open source project for free. All open source projects run on the same infrastructure that our paying customers use. That means you’ll have the same fast performance and high quality of service. Many of the top open source projects are already using Azure Pipelines for CI/CD, such as Atom, CPython, Pipenv, Tox, Visual Studio Code, and TypeScript – and the list is growing every day.

In the following, you can see Atom running parallel jobs on Linux, macOS, and Windows for its CI.

atom2x

Azure Pipelines app on GitHub Marketplace

Azure Pipelines has an app in the GitHub Marketplace so it’s easy to get started. After you install the app in your GitHub account, you can start running CI/CD for all your repositories.

pipelines2x

Pull Request and CI Checks

When the GitHub app is setup, you’ll see CI/CD checks on each commit to your default branch and every pull request.

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Our integration with the GitHub Checks API makes it easy to see build results in your pull request. If there’s a failure, the call stack is shown as well as the impacted files.

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More than just open source

Azure Pipelines is also great for private repositories. It is the CI/CD solution for companies like Columbia, Shell, Accenture, and many others. It’s also used by Microsoft’s biggest projects like Azure, Office 365, and Bing. Our free offer for private projects includes a cloud-hosted job with 1,800 minutes of CI/CD a month or you can run unlimited minutes of CI/CD on your own hardware, hosted in the cloud or your on-premises hardware. You can purchase parallel jobs for private projects from Azure DevOps or the GitHub Marketplace.

In addition to CI, Azure Pipelines has flexible deployments to any platform and cloud, including Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform, as well as any of your on-premises server running Linux, macOS or Windows. There are built-in tasks for Kubernetes, serverless, and VM deployments. Also, there’s a rich ecosystem of extensions for the most popular languages and tools. The Azure Pipelines agent and tasks are open source and we’re always reviewing feedback and accepting pull requests on GitHub.

Join our upcoming live streams to learn more about Azure Pipelines and other Azure DevOps services.

  • Keynote: Watch our live Azure DevOps keynote on September 11, 2018 from 8:00 – 9:30 AM Pacific Time.

  • Live training: Join our live Mixer workshop with interactive Q&A on September 17, 2018 from 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM Pacific Time.

You can save-the-date and watch both live streams on our events page. There you’ll also find additional on-demand videos and other resources to help get you started.

I’m excited for you to try Azure Pipelines and tell us what you think. You can share your thoughts directly to the product team using @AzureDevOps, Developer Community, or comment on this post.

Jeremy Epling

@jeremy_epling

Introducing Azure DevOps

Today we are announcing Azure DevOps. Working with our customers and developers around the world, it’s clear DevOps has become increasingly critical to a team’s success. Azure DevOps captures over 15 years of investment and learnings in providing tools to support software development teams. In the last month, over 80,000 internal Microsoft users and thousands of our customers, in teams both small and large, used these services to ship products to you.

The services we are announcing today span the breadth of the development lifecycle to help developers ship software faster and with higher quality. They represent the most complete offering in the public cloud. Azure DevOps includes:

Azure PipelinesAzure Pipelines

CI/CD that works with any language, platform, and cloud. Connect to GitHub or any Git repository and deploy continuously. Learn More >

Azure BoardsAzure Boards

Powerful work tracking with Kanban boards, backlogs, team dashboards, and custom reporting. Learn more >

Azure ArtifactsAzure Artifacts

Maven, npm, and NuGet package feeds from public and private sources. Learn more >

Azure ReposAzure Repos

Unlimited cloud-hosted private Git repos for your project. Collaborative pull requests, advanced file management, and more. Learn more >

Azure Test PlansAzure Test Plans

All in one planned and exploratory testing solution. Learn more >

Each Azure DevOps service is open and extensible. They work great for any type of application regardless of the framework, platform, or cloud. You can use them together for a full DevOps solution or with other services. If you want to use Azure Pipelines to build and test a Node service from a repo in GitHub and deploy it to a container in AWS, go for it. Azure DevOps supports both public and private cloud configurations. Run them in our cloud or in your own data center. No need to purchase different licenses. Learn more about Azure DevOps pricing.

Here’s an example of Azure Pipelines used independently to build a GitHub repo:

pipelinesbuild2x

Alternatively, here’s an example of a developer using all Azure DevOps services together from the vantage point of Azure Boards.

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Open Source projects receive free CI/CD with Azure Pipelines

As an extension of our commitment to provide open and flexible tools for all developers, Azure Pipelines offers free CI/CD with unlimited minutes and 10 parallel jobs for every open source project. With cloud hosted Linux, macOS and Windows pools, Azure Pipelines is great for all types of projects.

Many of the top open source projects are already using Azure Pipelines for CI/CD, such as Atom, Cpython, Pipenv, Tox, Visual Studio Code, and TypeScript – and the list is growing every day.

We want everyone to have extremely high quality of service. Accordingly, we run open source projects on the same infrastructure that our paying customers use.

Azure Pipelines is also now available in the GitHub Marketplace making it easy to get setup for your GitHub repos, open source or otherwise. 

Here’s a walkthrough of Azure Pipelines:

Learn more >

The evolution of Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) 

Azure DevOps represents the evolution of Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). VSTS users will be upgraded into Azure DevOps projects automatically. For existing users, there is no loss of functionally, simply more choice and control. The end to end traceability and integration that has been the hallmark of VSTS is all there. Azure DevOps services work great together. Today is the start of a transformation and over the next few months existing users will begin to see changes show up. What does this mean?

  • URLs will change from abc.visualstudio.com to dev.azure.com/abc. We will support redirects from visualstudio.com URLs so there will not be broken links.
  • As part of this change, the services have an updated user experience. We continue to iterate on the experience based on feedback from the preview. Today we’re enabling it by default for new customers. In the coming months we will enable it by default for existing users.
  • Users of the on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS) will continue to receive updates based on features live in Azure DevOps. Starting with next version of TFS, the product will be called Azure DevOps Server and will continue to be enhanced through our normal cadence of updates.

Learn more

To learn more about Azure DevOps, please join us:

  • Keynote: Watch our live Azure DevOps keynote on September 11, 2018 from 8:00 – 9:30 AM Pacific Time.

  • Live training: Join our live Mixer workshop with interactive Q&A on September 17, 2018 from 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM Pacific Time.

You can save-the-date and watch both live streams on our events page. There you’ll also find additional on-demand videos and other resources to help get you started.

We couldn’t be more excited to offer Azure DevOps to you and your teams. We can’t wait to see what amazing things you create with it.

How does AD DS differ from Microsoft Azure Active Directory?

While Active Directory Domain Services and Microsoft Azure Active Directory appear similar, they are not interchangeable.

Administrators exploring whether to move to Azure Active Directory for enterprise authentication and authorization should understand how the cloud-based platform differs from the traditional on-premises Active Directory.

Distinguish on-premises AD from Azure AD

Active Directory (AD) is a combination of services to help manage users and systems, including Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) and Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS). AD DS is the database that provides the directory service, which is essentially the foundation of AD.

AD uses an X.500-based hierarchical framework and traditional tools such as domain name systems to locate assets, lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) to work with directories both on premises and on the internet, and Kerberos and NT LAN Manager (NTLM) for secure authentication. AD also supports the use of organizational units (OUs) and group policy objects (GPOs) to organize and present assets.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory is a directory service from Microsoft’s cloud that handles identity management across the internet using the HTTP and HTTPS protocols. Azure AD’s flat structure does not use OUs and GPOs, which prevents the use of the organizational structure of on-premises AD.

Instead of Kerberos, Azure AD uses authentication and security protocols such as Security Assertion Markup Language and Open Authorization. In addition, the AD Graph API queries Azure AD rather than LDAP.

Structural differences between Azure AD and AD DS

Microsoft Azure Active Directory cannot create domains, trees and forests like AD DS. Instead, Azure AD treats each organization like a tenant that accesses Azure AD via the Azure portal to manage the organization’s users, passwords and permissions.

Administrators can use AD DS and Microsoft Azure Active Directory separately or use both for a single AD entity.

Organizations that subscribe to a Microsoft cloud service, such as Office 365 or Exchange Online, are Azure AD tenants. Azure AD supports single sign-on to give users access to multiple services after logging in.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory is different from Azure Active Directory Domain Services. Where Azure AD provides fewer features than on-premises AD, Azure AD DS serves as a more full-featured domain controller that uses LDAP, domain joining, Kerberos and NTLM authentication. Azure AD DS is a complete version of AD in the Azure cloud.

When to consider a combination of AD DS and Azure AD

Administrators can use AD DS and Microsoft Azure Active Directory separately or use both for a single AD entity. For example, an application hosted in the cloud could use on-premises AD, but it might suffer from latency from authentication requests that bounce from Azure to the on-premises AD DS.

Organizations have several options to implement AD in Azure. For example, an organization can build an AD domain in Azure that integrates with the local AD domain via Azure AD Connect. This creates a trust relationship between the domains.

Alternatively, an organization can extend its on-premises AD DS to Azure by running AD DS as a domain controller in an Azure VM. This is a common method for enterprises that have local and Azure resources connected via a virtual private network or dedicated connectivity, such as an ExpressRoute connection.

There are several other ways to use a combination of the cloud and on-premises directory services. Admins can create a domain in Azure and join it to the local AD forest. A company can build a separate forest in Azure that is trusted by the on-premises AD forest. Admins can use AD FS to replicate a local AD DS deployment to Azure.

Announcing general availability of Azure IoT Hub’s integration with Azure Event Grid

We’re proud to see more and more customers using Azure IoT Hub to control and manage billions of devices, send data to the cloud and gain business insights. We are excited to announce that IoT Hub integration with Azure Event Grid is now generally available, making it even easier to transform these insights into actions by simplifying the architecture of IoT solutions. Some key benefits include:

  • Easily integrate with modern serverless architectures, such as Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps, to automate workflows and downstream processes.
  • Enable alerting with quick reaction to creation, deletion, connection, and disconnection of devices.
  • Eliminate the complexity and expense of polling services and integrate events with 3rd party applications using webhooks such as ticketing, billing system, and database updates.

Together, these two services help customers easily integrate event notifications from IoT solutions with other powerful Azure services or 3rd party applications. These services add important device lifecycle support with events such as device created, device deleted, device connected, and device disconnected, in a highly reliable, scalable, and secure manner.

Here is how it works:

As of today, this capability is available in the following regions:

  • Asia Southeast
  • Asia East
  • Australia East
  • Australia Southeast
  • Central US
  • East US 2
  • West Central US
  • West US

  • West US 2
  • South Central US
  • Europe West
  • Europe North
  • Japan East
  • Japan West
  • Korea Central
  • Korea South

  • Canada Central
  • Central India
  • South India
  • Brazil South
  • UK West
  • UK South
  • East US, coming soon
  • Canada East, coming soon

Azure Event Grid became generally available earlier this year and currently has built-in integration with the following services:

Azure Event Grid service integration

As we work to deliver more events from Azure IoT Hub, we are excited for you to try this capability and build more streamlined IoT solutions for your business. Try this tutorial to get started.

We would love to hear more about your experiences with the preview and get your feedback! Are there other IoT Hub events you would like to see made available? Please continue to submit your suggestions through the Azure IoT User Voice forum.

Talend tool targets Azure data integration for analytics use

A new bulk data uploader from Talend seeks to boost Azure data integration, specifically for users of Microsoft’s Azure SQL Data Warehouse cloud service.

The Talend tool’s immediate targets are the large data volumes now held in Azure Blob Storage or Azure Data Lake Storage repositories. Getting such data into Azure SQL Data Warehouse to support analytics uses can take considerable effort. Offered as part of the Talend Cloud Summer ’18 release, the software handles data in bulk and streamlines workflows via an interface that allows users to select data preparation steps.

Although integration specialist Talend calls the new technology an uploader, a common first use case is for what might be described more as a cross-loader — that is, a tool for moving data around once it is in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Such tools are useful, according to IDC analyst Stewart Bond, because some fundamental data-handling rules apply whether the data resides in a data center or in the cloud.

“The cloud is [akin to] a data center that data will move across,” Bond said. “That is why we’re seeing the major cloud providers build, partner with or acquire data movement and integration capabilities.”

Be aware of the blob

The shift to cloud-based object storage — Azure Blob Storage, in Microsoft’s case — changes the details, but not the overall tenor of data integration work, Bond added.

Stewart Bond, analyst, IDCStewart Bond

“Having data in a cloud data lake or blob storage that needs to be moved into a cloud data warehouse is no different than having data in staging areas in the data center prior to moving it into an on-premises data warehouse,” he said. “Putting data in the cloud doesn’t make it any cleaner or less messy than it would be anywhere else.”

For Microsoft cloud users, tools like Talend’s help move data “from Azure source to Azure destination,” so it can be more easily accessed for analytical querying, according to Vincent Lam, head of cloud product marketing at Talend, based in Redwood City, Calif. “You have all this data that has been aggregated [in the Azure cloud], which is terrific. But it’s hard to use,” he said.

Initially, when it comes to the cloud and data, “the data warehouse is the killer use case,” Lam continued. He said global bulk data moves such those supported by the Talend uploader are key to improving Azure data integration performance.

Gen2 of Azure data warehouse incarnate

Putting data in the cloud doesn’t make it any cleaner or less messy than it would be anywhere else.
Stewart Bondanalyst, IDC

These days, the target for Azure data integration jobs is often Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft’s competitive answer to Amazon Redshift and other cloud data warehouses.

The data warehouse technologies themselves are at the center of a cloud computing arms race, with updates coming regularly. For example, Microsoft released a second-generation version of its cloud data warehouse in late April; last week, it made the Azure SQL Data Warehouse Compute Optimized Gen2 service tier available in France and Australia, increasing the number of Azure regions where the updated software can be used to 22.

Gen2 introduces unlimited columnar storage capacity and boosts both computing power and query performance by five times over the first incarnation of Azure SQL Data Warehouse, according to Microsoft. The company also claimed that Gen2 can run up to 128 concurrent queries — four times more than the initial version, which Microsoft still offers as a lower-end option now known as Gen1.

Cloud integration tools in context

For Microsoft, specialized tools like the Talend bulk data uploader expand the scope of Azure data integration. That is important because filling cloud data warehouses with data for analytics applications is a first step for nascent cloud efforts in many organizations.

IDC’s Bond said tools for moving data within clouds like the AWS and Azure ones are incorporated into integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) offerings. He included Informatica, Tibco, SnapLogic and Talend as iPaaS vendors, among other providers.

Moving data to the cloud generally is complicated, too, Bond said. He cited Talend, Attunity and others among providers of technologies that can alleviate some throughput constraints and accelerate data movement to the cloud.

JDA Partners with Microsoft to Power Data-Driven Digital Transformations in the Cloud

JDA to build cognitive SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure to deliver an intelligent, Autonomous Supply Chain to customers


Scottsdale, Ariz.
August 01, 2018

JDA Software, Inc., today announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to enable JDA to build cognitive SaaS solutions on the market-leading Microsoft Azure cloud platform. This will, in turn, accelerate JDA’s vision to deliver an Autonomous Supply ChainTM through an infusion of advanced, intelligent cloud platform capabilities. This partnership further advances JDA’s innovation initiatives along with its recently announced definitive agreement to acquire Blue Yonder.  Blue Yonder is a market leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions for retail and supply chain. These announcements support JDA’s strategy to develop more cognitive and connected solutions to power digital transformations and create competitive advantage for its customers.

“JDA’s supply chain solutions provide a faster response to demand signals from consumers, cognitive insights, and intelligent decisions based on edge sensors. Microsoft Azure will fuel our ongoing SaaS momentum as JDA applications deliver seamless customer experiences across cloud, on-premise, and edge solutions,” said Girish Rishi, chief executive officer, JDA. “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft accelerates JDA ‘s mission as the supply chain platform company, enabling our broad ecosystem of joint partners and developers to further leverage our AI/ML-based solutions.”

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group, Microsoft said, “Microsoft Azure is driving new levels of organizational productivity and intelligent data-driven experiences, making it the ideal platform to bring JDA’s vision of an Autonomous Supply Chain to life. The powerful combination of JDA’s proven applications with Azure will empower customers to take advantage of real-time insights for smarter business decisions and profitable business growth.”

Victoria Brown, research manager, IDC said, “This partnership between established, trusted providers, uniting cloud services via Microsoft Azure, and supply chain via JDA addresses a gap in the supply chain ecosystem as cloud becomes a prerequisite for enterprises today as they embark on their digital supply chain transformations. Cloud-based supply chain deployments account for only about 40 percent of deployments today, and this new, trusted partnership could send that on an upward trajectory quite quickly.”

JDA’s solutions optimize the entire supply chain from end to end – from supplier to factory, transportation network to warehouse, store to consumer – through its market-leading solutions offerings. JDA is the only company named a leader by Gartner across all five Magic Quadrants that cover supply chain and retail merchandising solutions.  Joining forces with Microsoft for go-to-market and the development of forthcoming JDA SaaS solutions on the Azure platform will reap a number of immediate benefits to JDA’s more than 4,000 customers, including in the following key areas.

JDA to build cognitive, connected SaaS solutions on Azure

  • This partnership accelerates JDA’s SaaS solutions roadmap including those next generation solutions built on JDA LuminateTM, JDA’s next generation cognitive, connected supply chain platform
  • JDA’s customers will be able to tap into Microsoft’s large global footprint and global alliances network, while leveraging Azure’s large compliance portfolio, embedded security, enterprise-grade service level agreements, and industry-leading support.

JDA and Microsoft go to market together to digitally transform supply chain and retail operations

  • The companies will join forces in the market to drive digital transformations across key verticals such as retail, manufacturing and logistics with their combined solution portfolios
  • JDA’s leading supply chain and retail solutions highly complement Microsoft’s enterprise business application solutions and will now serve as the cornerstone to Microsoft’s supply chain practice offerings

JDA Luminate ControlTower TM is  the first solution built on Azure

  • JDA’s SaaS roadmap includes a first-of-its-kind digital control tower — JDA Luminate ControlTower – a virtual decision center that provides real-time, 24/7 end-to-end visibility into global supply chains that will serve as the nerve center of their operations and identify bottlenecks and propose resolutions before they occur
  • Using Azure as the development platform for JDA Luminate ControlTower will accelerate JDA’s ability to deliver this key component of the autonomous supply chain.

Additional Resources:

 

Tweet this: JDA Partners with @Microsoft to Power Data-Driven #DigitalTransformations  in the Cloud and Deliver an #AutonomousSupplyChain http://bit.ly/2AqMOQg

 

About JDA Software, Inc.

JDA Software is the leading supply chain software provider powering today’s digital transformations. We help companies optimize delivery to customers by enabling them to predict and shape demand, fulfill faster and more intelligently, and improve customer experiences and loyalty.  More than 4,000 global customers use our unmatched end-to-end software and SaaS solutions to unify and shorten their supply chains, increase speed of execution, and profitably deliver to their customers.  Our world-class client roster includes 75 of the top 100 retailers, 77 of the top 100 consumer goods companies, and 8 of the top 10 global 3PLs.  Running JDA, you can plan to deliverwww.jda.com

 

Social Networks:

Web: https://jda.com

Blog: https://blog.jda.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JDASoftwareGroup

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jdasoftware/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/jda-software

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JDASoftware

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JDASoftware

 

“JDA” is a trademark or registered trademark of JDA Software Group, Inc. Any trade, product or service name referenced in this document using the name “JDA” is a trademark and/or property of JDA Software Group, Inc.

 

JDA Software, Inc.
15059 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 400
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

###

Microsoft Azure platform sparks partner offerings

With Microsoft Azure platform revenue doubling, channel partners are rolling out services and products to spark further adoption and consumption of the public cloud environment.

A number of Azure-oriented partner offerings were unveiled at Microsoft Inspire 2018, the company’s annual partner conference, which concludes today, July 19, in Las Vegas. The launches run the gamut from hybrid cloud bundles to workspace products, but all aim to take advantage of Azure’s market momentum and its status as a pivotal Microsoft platform.

Jason Zander, executive vice president of the Microsoft Azure team in the company’s cloud and AI group, said Azure experienced 100% year-over-year consumed revenue growth. That growth, he said, translates into partner momentum, noting that every dollar of Azure cloud consumption drives $5 of partner services business.

In addition, the Microsoft Azure platform lies at the heart of the company’s vision of a ubiquitous computing fabric that extends from the edge to the cloud.

“The core of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge is Microsoft Azure,” Zander said.

Partners build on the Microsoft Azure platform

Partners showcasing offerings for the Microsoft Azure platform at Inspire included Dell EMC, which expanded its Azure Stack hardware bundle debuted in 2017. Azure Stack extends the Azure public cloud to private settings, such as service provider or end customer data centers.

Dell EMC’s new Azure Stack additions include an all-flash VxRack Azure Stack configuration option, an automated hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) patch and updated orchestration tool, and SecureVM integration available via Azure Marketplace. In addition, Dell EMC now lets customers and partners acquire Azure Stack through its Cloud Flex pay-as-you-go consumption model, which the company offers to encourage adoption of its HCI product line. Dell EMC treats its Azure Stack hardware bundles as an HCI offering.

The upshot for Dell EMC’s channel partners is the ability to rapidly roll out Azure Stack to customers, said Paul Galjan, senior director of product management and engineering for Azure Stack at Dell EMC.

Chart showing top IaaS providers worldwide
Microsoft Azure has solidified its position among the top IaaS options.

“From a channel partner perspective this is something their customers are interested in,” Galjan said. “Any customer that has a Microsoft cloud strategy will be talking to them about Azure Stack.”

Azure-based offerings on the rise

One of the clear takeaways from Inspire is the rise in Azure-based solutions.
Max PrugerChief revenue officer, CloudJumper

Meanwhile, CloudJumper, a workspace-as-a-service platform provider, launched Cloud Workspace for Azure at Microsoft Inspire 2018. The platform links together CloudJumper’s Cloud Workspace Management Suite with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop modern infrastructure (RDmi). The integration provides increased visibility into users’ Azure, Office 365 and Cloud Workspace experiences, according to the company.

Max Pruger, chief revenue officer at CloudJumper, cited the uptick in offerings around the Microsoft Azure platform as a key development at the partner conference.

“One of the clear takeaways from Inspire is the rise in Azure-based solutions, as organizations further integrate their cloud-forward IT initiatives,” he said. “Microsoft is capitalizing on this, and the conference is relaying their vision to build out the modern workspace with the integration of [Office] 365, Azure Active Directory Sync and RDmi — all built on top of the Azure stack.”

Other partners showcasing Microsoft Azure platform offerings include Atmosera, a managed Azure solutions provider based in Beaverton, Ore. The company featured its Three-Tier Azure Management Suite at Microsoft Inspire 2018. The suite delivers managed, comanaged and self-managed Azure solutions.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity — and an equal amount of pressure to do so — for Microsoft partners to innovate, embrace new capabilities and leverage Azure for business outcomes,” said Jon Thomsen, CEO at Atmosera.

The Complete Guide to Azure Virtual Machines: Part 2

This is part 2 of our Azure Virtual Machines Guide following our previous article Introduction to Azure Virtual Machines. In part 1 we created a virtual network for our VM, now we will create a network security group and finally deploy our VM.

Creating the Network Security Group (NSG)

A network security group is like the firewall for our VM, it is required in order to provide any access to our VM, so it’s important we set this up before deploying one. To create one, we simply select Create a resource on the left-hand side of the Azure management portal and type in “Network Security Group”. We will be presented with the proper blade to create one, so click Create:

Now we need to fill in some fields to create our NSG. For this example I’ll name our NSG “LukeLabNSG”, then we will select the subscription that we want to use this NSG on as well as the resource group. Then we will select the location of the Azure data center that this NSG will be located at. Once everything is filled out we click Create:

We wait for the NSG to deploy and once completed, we can view it by clicking on All Services on the left-hand side and selecting Network Security Groups:

We can now see our new NSG, and we can further configure it by clicking on the name:

We need to assign a subnet to associate this NSG with, select Subnets on the left-hand side:

Now click the Associate button so we can find our subnet and the virtual network that we created in part 1. Remember, we created this when we set up the Virtual Network:

We can now see that we have the LukeLabVnet1 virtual network that we created and the LukeLabSubnet assigned to this network security group. Click Ok to configure:

Select Inbound security rules on the left-hand side. We want to enable RDP access to this VM so that we can connect to it. Also note that for the purpose of this demo we are going to allow RDP access via the public internet, however, for a production environment this is not best practice. In a production environment, you would set up a VPN connection and use RDP over the VPN as it is much more secure. To create our new rule we will select the Add button:

If we wanted to do any sort of advanced configuration of allowing specific ports we could input the information in these fields here, however since we are just doing RDP and it is a common port, Microsoft has already created a list of commonly used ports so that we can easily select enable them. To do this, we will click the basic button at the top:

Now we simply select RDP from the Service drop-down list and the proper information will automatically be filled in. Then we put in a description of the rule and select Add. Also, note that Azure gives us the same warning about exposing RDP to the internet:

Now we’ve set up our NSG, we can finally deploy our VM.

Deploying a Virtual Machine

Now that we have our Virtual Network and Network Security Group created, we are ready to deploy the Virtual Machine. To do this, select the Create a resource button on the left-hand side and type in Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. Select the Windows Server 2016 Datacenter from the list and select Create:

Now we need to fill out the form shown here to configure our Virtual Machine. For the purposes of this demo, I named mine “LukeLabVM01”. You also need to give it a username and password (use a strong password!). We’ll select the resource group and the Azure data center location where this VM will be hosted at. “East US” in this case. Clicking Ok will then bring us to the next step:

Select the compute size of the VM that you would like to deploy. The estimated pricing is on the right-hand side:

NOTE: The pricing shown here is for compute costs only. If you need a more detailed breakdown, take a look at the Azure Pricing Calculator

Now we need to fill in the last set of configuration settings. We need to create an availability set, this is very important to understand because it cannot be changed unless the VM is rebuilt. (I’ll be putting together a future post on working with availability sets, so stay tuned for that!). In this example, we’ve simply created an availability set here during the deployment process and named it LukeLabAS1. We then assign our virtual network and subnet that we created in part 1:

Under Network Security Group, click Advanced and select the NSG that we created in the previous steps. Then click OK to verify the settings:

If all of the settings pass the verification process, we now are given the option to deploy the VM. Click Create and we will need to wait for the VM to finish deploying.

Once the deployment process is finished, we can see the newly created VM under Virtual Machines. Click Start to power on the VM if it is not already running:

Then click on the VM name and select Connect at the top to get connected to the VM:

Azure gives us two options, SSH or RDP. In this demo we will RDP to the VM, so select the RDP tab and click on Download RDP file:

Once the RDP file is downloaded, open it up, select connect and input the credentials that we made when we configured the VM:

Now we have access to our VM, and I’ve verified that the hostname of the VM is the one we specified in the deployment settings by bringing up a command prompt:

Wrap-Up

The flexibility of the cloud allows us to stand up Virtual Machines very quickly and it can be a very advantageous solution for applications that need to scale out on massive levels, or situations where investing in hardware doesn’t make sense due to the longevity of the application. However, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to building and managing cloud resources and being aware of each component is critical to the success of running your workloads in the cloud.

What have your experiences with Azure VMs been like so far? Have you found they fit well in your playbook? Have you experienced difficulties? Have questions? Let us know in the comments section below!

The Complete Guide to Azure Virtual Machines: Part 1

Azure Virtual Machines make an already hugely flexible technology in virtualization even more adaptable through remote hosting.

Virtual machines are a part of Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that allows you to have the flexibility of virtualization without having to invest in the underlying infrastructure. In simpler words, you are paying Microsoft to run a Virtual Machine of your choosing in their Azure environment while they provide you access to the VM.

One of the biggest misconceptions I see in the workplace is that managing Cloud Infrastructure is the same as or very similar to managing on-premise infrastructure. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Cloud Infrastructure is a whole new ball game. It can be a great tool in our back pockets for certain scenarios but only if used correctly. This blog series will explain how you can determine if a workload is suitable for an Azure VM and how to deploy it properly.

Why Use Azure Virtual Machines Over On-Premise Equipment?

One of the biggest features of the public cloud is its scalability. If you write an application and need to scale up the resources dramatically for a few days, you can create a VM in Azure, install your application, run it in there and turn it off when done. You only pay for what you use. If you haven’t already invested in your own physical environment this is a very attractive alternative. The agility this solution provides software developers is on a whole new level compared to before and enables companies to become more efficient at creating applications, and being able to scale when desired is huge.

Should I Choose IaaS or PaaS?

When deploying workloads in Azure, it is important to determine whether or not an application or service should be run using Platform as a Service (PaaS) or a Virtual Machine (IaaS). For example, let’s say you are porting an application into Azure that runs on SQL. Do we want to build a Virtual Machine and install SQL or do we want to just leverage Azure’s PaaS services and just use one of their SQL instances? There are many factors in deciding whether or not to use PaaS or IaaS but one of the biggest is, how much control do you require for your application to run effectively. Do you need to make a lot of changes to the registry and do you require many tweaks within the SQL install? If so, then the virtual machine route would seem a better fit.

How To Choose The Right Virtual Machine Type

In Azure, the Virtual Machine resource specifications are cookie cutter. You don’t get to customize down to the details of how much CPU and Memory you want. They come in an offering of different sizes and you have to make those resource templates work for your computing needs. Making sure the correct size of VM is selected is crucial in Azure, not only because of performance implications for your applications but also because of the pricing. You don’t want to be paying more for a VM that is too large for your workloads.

Make sure you do your homework to determine which size is right for your needs. Also, pay close attention to i/o requirements. Storage is almost always the most common performance killer, so do your due diligence and make sure you’re getting the VM with the proper IOPS (Input/Output Operations per  Second) requirements. For Windows licensing, Microsoft covers the license and the Client Access License if you’re running a VM that needs CALs. For Linux VMs the licensing differs per the distribution.

Before we go and create a Virtual Machine inside Azure, let’s go over one of the gotchas that you might run into if you’re not aware. In Azure, since everything is “pay as you go”, if you’re not aware of the pricing at all times, you or your company may be getting a hefty bill from Microsoft. One of the common mistakes with VMs is that If you don’t completely remove your VM you can still get a charge. Simply just shutting down the VM will not stop the meter from running – you’re still reserving the hardware space from Microsoft so you’ll still be billed. Also when you delete the VM, you are going to have to delete the managed disk as well separately. The VM itself is not the only cost applied when running virtual machines.

Getting Started – Creating the Virtual Network

We will now demonstrate how to configure a Virtual Machine on Azure and getting connected to it. First, we will need to create the virtual networking so that the VM has some sort of network to talk out on. Afterward, we will create the Network Security Group which is like the “firewall” to the VM, and then finally we will create the VM itself. To create the Virtual Network, log into the Azure Portal and select “Create a Resource”. Then click on Networking > Virtual Network:

Azure Virtual Machines

Now we can specify the settings for our Virtual Network. First, we’ll give it a name. I’ll call mine “LukeLabVnet1”. I’ll leave the address space default here but we could make it smaller if we chose too. Then we will select our subscription type. You can use multiple subscriptions for different purposes, like a Development subscription and a Production subscription. Resource groups are a way for you to manage and group together your Azure resources for billing, monitoring, and to access control purposes. We already have a resource group created for this VM and its components so I will go ahead and select that. If we wanted, we could create a new one on the fly here. Then, we fill in the time zone which is Eastern for me. Next, we’ll give the subnet a name because we can create multiple subnets on this virtual network later, I’ll call it “LukeLabSubnet”. I’ll leave the default Address space for the subnet out since we are just configuring one VM and setting up access to it. Once we are done we will hit “create:

Now, to get to our newly created Virtual Network, on the left-hand side of the portal we select “Virtual Networks” and click on the one we just deployed:

We can configure all of our settings for our Virtual Network here. However, for the simplicity of the demonstration we will leave everything how it is for now:

Now that we have our virtual network in place, we will need to create our Network Security Group and then finally deploy our VM which will we do in part 2 of this series. As you can see there are a lot of components to learn when deploying VMs in Azure.

Comments/Feedback?

If you’re unsure about anything stated here let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to explain it better.

Have you tried Azure Virtual Machines? Let us know your verdict!