Adding Azure to an Enterprise Agreement


It’s now easier than ever for customers to add Windows Azure to their Enterprise Agreement (EA).

You commit upfront to a monthly amount that you feel will cover all your needs, and that monetary commitment can be utilised in any way within Azure.

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Previously, you would receive great payment terms for your monetary commitment but – should you go over that amount (known as “overage”) – the extra usage would be charged at much higher rates. This effectively punished organizations who thought “wow, this Azure stuff is cool” – but no more, Overage is now charged at the same rates as the initial agreed amount. This makes increasing the usage of Azure a much more compelling proposition.

See Josh Waldo’s full post here:

http://www.digitalwpc.com/Community/Perspectives/Pages/Windows-Azure-added-to-Enterprise-Agreement-Use-it-to-power-your-solutions-.aspx?wt.mc_id=corp_mpn_tw_dwpc_joshwaldoazureagreement#fbid=7Lt8ur4Ygjd

Windows Azure: Free Developers Course


Windows Azure is a key part of Microsoft’s “Cloud” strategy moving into the future but of course, it needs people to use it and develop for it for it to be truly successful. They are piloting a new way of training developers & architects Azure, via self paced, web based training…best of all it’s FREE!

The method is one that I’m quite familiar with which aims to offer the best features of classroom training without the hassles and expense of travel, hotels, being out of the office for days etc. It utilises:

  • Interactive Live Meeting sessions with a tutor
  • On-line videos
  • Hands on Labs
  • E-Learning
  • Weekly Assessments

to cover off the topics, and you don’t need to go anywhere! The course lasts for 6 weeks from:

May 10th – June 18th

and covers:

Week 1 – Windows Azure Platform
Week 2 – Windows Azure Storage
Week 3 – Windows Azure Deep Dive and Codename "Dallas"
Week 4 – SQL Azure
Week 5 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Access Control
Week 6 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Service Bus

and did I mention it’s FREE?!

This is aimed at developers, architects, programmers and system designers and recommends at least 6 months experience programming in .NET and Visual Studio.

It will take around 4 to 5 hours a week to research and complete the tasks and there are timelines etc for submitting the work. However, successful completion gets you a “Microsoft Certificate of Completion” :-)

This is a new approach from Microsoft and one that I hope will be expanded out to other product areas.

Register:

You can find more information and sign up here:

https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032449971&Culture=en-GB

If you’re technically minded and interested in Azure, sign up…and get any colleagues/friends that would be interested to sign up too!

I’ve registered and am looking forward to it so hopefully I’ll see you there :-)

Windows Azure MSDN Benefits


It was announced a little while ago that MSDN Premium subscribers would receive a number of free Windows Azure hours as part of their subscription:

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and these would be, as expected with MSDN, for test and dev only.

However, I saw over on Eric Nelson’s blog that this is no longer the case. Microsoft have:

“decided to lift this restriction so that you will be able to use your Azure benefits for normal (production) use, if needed”

From January 4th 2010 the introductory Azure offer gives a huge 750 compute hours per month!

As Eric points out, the above offer expires after 8 months so don’t rush to sign up if you’re not going to make use of it straight away…make sure you get your “money’s” worth ;-) After that time period, the level of free access drops down as per the below chart:

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This is a great way of making Azure easily available to the 1000’s of developers with MSDN subscriptions. It will allow them to test it as a solution, show the company how it will benefit them and then easily move to a production environment with reduced admin and cost.

See Eric’s post here.

Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2009 Day 1


Today was the first day of Microsoft’s PDC with a keynote from Ray Ozzie & Bob Muglia and, as you’d expect from “The Ozmeister” (as I’m now calling him!), the “Cloud” featured pretty heavily in the form of Windows Azure.

Windows Azure Launch Date: Windows Azure will officially launch 01/01/10 (January 1st 2010) and, as a little sweetener, the 1st month will be free :-)

WordPress runs on Windows Azure: This is pretty cool – who knew?!

Oddly Specific runs on Windows Azure: From the creator of “I Can Haz Cheezburger?” comes a new site “Oddly Specific”. Funny AND runs on Windows Azure.

Back off, grabby mcgee.

Microsoft Project Dallas: This is an “information and brokerage service” designed to allow access to commercial and reference data from people such as:

  • Associated Press
  • NASA
  • National Geographic
  • UN

and more.

The aim is to create Data As A Service (DAAS) and let data become a commodity…this could be huge!

Microsoft Project Sydney: This will enable you to connect existing in-house/on-premise services with those running in the cloud on Azure. This is a huge leap forward for Azure becoming an integral part of corporate environments.

Microsoft AppFabric: Windows Server AppFabric is:

“set of integrated technologies that make it easier to build, scale and manage web and composite applications that run on IIS”

It has 3 main parts to it which are:

  • Caching
  • Workflow Management
  • Service Management

What was once known as “Dublin” is now makes it easier to build/manage services using Windows Workflow Foundation & Windows Communication Foundation.

Another codename that’s been wrapped into AppFabric is “Velocity”. I haven’t heard of this before but it provide caching capabilities to

“provide high-speed access, scale, and high availability to application data”

You can see more info and some AppFabric samples here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/windowsserver/ee695849.aspx

These are the main points I’ve picked up today from Twitter using the hashtag #PDC09 as I’m not in L.A myself :-( As more details become available, I’ll update this/do some new posts.

Also, tomorrow’s keynote is going to include talk of Internet Explorer 9 (that’s right NINE!) so I’ll be covering that ASAP… :-)

Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2010 & Seagate


Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager (DPM) is soon to arrive in it’s 2010 incarnation (first half 2010) so this week’s TechEd Conference is revealing a host of new features.

DPM is currently a Windows focused product which, while not surprising, is quite limiting in many corporate IT environments these days. So with 2010, Microsoft have joined together with Seagate and OEM’d their i365 software to extend protection to heterogeneous environments including:

  • Linux
  • Unix
  • Netware
  • IBM iSeries
  • Oracle
  • VMWare

A great list…but you’ll notice no Mac support :-)

This will instantly remove one of the main barriers to DPM adoption in enterprises,as many places have at least a few Linux/Unix servers running in their datacenters.

Microsoft will also be offering online backups via Seagate’s EVault service and datacenters. It includes data compression and data de-duplication to reduce bandwidth hit and has:

“a network of SAS 70 Type II certified, Tier 3 and 4 hosting facilities, WAN optimised backup and recovery, disaster recovery experts and processes, and a 12-year track record protecting data for over 22,000 customers across the globe”

according to Seagate.

What I find strange is that this doesn’t utilise any of Microsoft’s online services…in particular Microsoft Azure. With BPOS offering an online hosted archive, it seems strange that this technology can’t be extended to store other, non email, data too.

Is using eVault just a temporary measure until Azure is fully up and running? I don’t know but I would expect that it’s in the long term plan to fold all this inside Azure…maybe some kind of Seagate purchase will happen?!

I’m also keen to find out if the data compression and de-duplication are offered to customers who choose to back up on-site to local tape, NAS, SAN etc. De-Dupe is one of the big features Symantec are touting for the next release of Backup Exec (14 I guess to keep with superstition); if MS are including that too then it will really steal some thunder!

Thanks to The Register for this…

Microsoft “Geneva”: Single Sign On & Online Services


Microsoft Geneva:

“provides companies with simplified user access and single sign-on, for on-premises and cloud-based applications in the enterprise, across organizations, and on the Web to facilitate collaboration, increase security and reduce cost.”

 

There are 3 components to Geneva which now have more official names:

Geneva Framework = Windows Identity Foundation: provides developers pre-built .NET security logic for building claims-aware applications

Geneva Server = Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) 2.0: a security token service (STS) for issuing and transforming claims, enabling federations, and managing user access

Geneva Cardspace = Windows Cardspace: helps users navigate access decisions

The aim of Geneva is to provide a true “Single Sign On” (SSO) experience to users across the various platforms that they come across, be they corporate and/or personal.

For example, once a user is logged in with their corporate domain credentials they could then access Microsoft Online Services such as Hotmail, MSDN, LiveSpaces etc; without being prompted to enter their @hotmail/@live credentials. All this requires is 1 Geneva Server and a Windows Live Tool currently called “Microsoft Online Services Federation Utility”.

Federation Gateway

The Microsoft Federation Gateway is a cloud based identity service, that extends beyond your corporate domain out into the internet. This is the hub for all the connections users want to make to external MS technologies, be it Azure, Live or BPOS (MS use CRM Online as an example on the MSDN site).

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The above shows the federation of identities between partners. An example of how the data flows between the different points of the SSO setup can be seen below:

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You can find more information about the Microsoft Federation Gateway on MSDN here.

A slide from PDC 2008 showed an example of Geneva working with a BPOS component for the US:

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The full 1hour+ video of the “Identity Roadmap for Software + Services” presentation video from PDC 2008 can be viewed here on Channel 9.

I know that BPOS, Microsoft’s hosted offerings of Exchange & Sharepoint (among others) will start using ADFS 2.0 at some stage next year. Most likely when the 2010 versions are deployed to the cloud, which I expect to be around late calendar Q3 so August/September. This is where I’m particularly keen to see what Geneva can do for SSO…it should make it pretty much seamless for corporate users whether they’re accessing on-site applications such as Exchange, their Online brethren, custom developed applications, hotmail, MSDN and more…and that will be excellent!

I use a variety of different MS Online Services and have at least 3 different logins for them…I’ll be interested to see if Geneva can look after that for me :-) BPOS currently comes with a separate SSO client which needs to be installed for each user and comes with it’s own unique set of issues, so having a corporate wide SSO would definitely be better. Also, you currently need to re-enter your details for OWA with BPOS as it’s on an HTTPS connection…I assume Geneva would remove that need?

Some great technical documents, step-by-step guides and Virtual Machine demos of Geneva can be found on the Technet site here.

Microsoft Cloud Database Testing


Project Huron, one of Microsoft’s group of cloud-based teams, are asking customers to get involved with testing a first release of their online database synchronization effort; which will be done via the Azure platform & SQL Data Services.

The Huron team said “We are looking for are any customers that are looking to share SQL Server or SQL Compact databases via the cloud and have an existing project that would warrant this functionality…”

The team’s blog says “The goal is to remove the typical complexities (configuration, scalability, security, etc) involved with sharing database information between local databases such as SQL Server and SQL Compact and provide simple UI tools for configuration and sync components developers can embed in existing applications.”

Screen mockups:

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For those of you that are interested in being an early adopter for this-fill in this short email form here:

Project Huron Early Adopter Contact Form