Category: Cloud Computing

What have I learned so far with Azure?

So I have been getting my hands on Azure recently and just wanted to blog about what I have learned so far so here goes (condensed version as wanting to get back to learning way more)

 

App Service Plans

  • What the different levels are Basic, Standard and Premium and what the differences are.
  • App service plans govern how you pay for it
  • Scale out – beef up the VM or the server
  • Scale up – run more than one instance etc.
  • You can have staging environments and automated backups
  • Consumption plan – only pay for what u use

What is Serverless?

  • There are still servers of course – you delegate the management of them to third party offerings
  • Use third party Paas wherever possible (for example documentDB)
  • Run your custom code on Azure Functions
    – respond to events
    – let the framework work out how many servers you need
    – Functions as a Service (FaaS)

Benefits of Azure functions?

  • Rapid and simple development module
  • Code it within the portal
  • Eliminate boilerplate
  • Extremely reach feature set
  • CI, Kudu, Easy Auth, Certs, Custom Domains, Settings etc. all included
  • Cost effective pricing – only pay for what you use
  • No servers to maintain
  • Automatic scaling

Next up is Azure Functions…

 

 

 


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Azure Learning plan

It’s time I got stuck into a learning plan and I’ve decided to start with Azure, something I really want to get my hands on more and use day to day.

My Azure Learning plan looks like this:-

Section 1: Basics of Cloud Computing and Azure Overview
In this section we will see what is cloud computing and its acronyms concepts. At the end, the video provide an overview on Microsoft Azure.
• The Course Overview
• Cloud Computing Acronyms and Concepts
• Microsoft Azure Overview
1.1 The Course Overview
This video will an overview on the entire course
1.2 Cloud Computing Acronyms and Concepts
In this video, we are going to take a look at several Cloud Computing Acronyms and Concepts.
• Understand Private Cloud, Public Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud
• Get to know IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, DRaaS, and BaaS
• Describe several cloud computing characteristics (Scalability, High Availability, Cost, Pay per use,…)
1.3 Microsoft Azure Overview
This video gives a high-level overview of the Microsoft Azure public cloud platform.
• Know the concepts of the Microsoft Azure datacentre’s
• Get an overview of Microsoft Azure components and Services
• Understand the different Azure platforms, Azure Service Manager, and Azure Resource Manager

Section 2: Introducing Azure Subscriptions
This section introduces us to the Azure subscriptions and helps us to deploy an Azure trial subscription.
• Azure Subscriptions
• Deploying an Azure Trial Subscription
2.1 Azure Subscriptions
This video will an overview on the entire course
2.2 Deploying an Azure Trial Subscription
In this video, we are going to take a look at what it takes to deploy an Azure trial subscription.
• Get free trial subscription details
• Know the description of ‘other’ free Azure resources that you can use without a cost
• Watch a walk through demo on how to set up your trial Azure environment

Section 3: Introduction to Microsoft Azure Management Portals
In this section we will be exploring Azure portals also further the videos explains Azure Management tools in detail.
• Exploring the Azure Portals
• Azure Management Tools
3.1 Exploring the Azure Portals
This video will an overview on the entire course.
• Understand what lists are
• See when lists are used
• Learn how to perform data manipulation with lists

3.2 Azure Management Tools
In this video, we are going to take a look at the main differences between the Azure Classic Portal and the Azure Resource Manager Portal.
• Explore the Azure Classic Portal
• Explore the Azure Resource Manager Portal
• Watch a demo on Azure portals

Section 4: Implementing an Azure Virtual Machine Architecture
This section defines the architectural design of the Azure VM and how to deploy it.
• Azure VM Architectural Design
• Deploying Your First Azure Virtual Machine
• Deploying a More Complex Azure VM Architecture
• Handling Azure VM High Availability
4.1 Azure VM Architectural Design
In this video, we are going to take a look at the following: (a) Azure Resource Groups (b)Azure Virtual Network (c)Azure Storage Azure Virtual Machines.
• Get to know what are Resource Groups and how to architect them
• Understand the different Azure Storage accounts and their characteristics, and the highlights of Azure VNets
• Know the Azure Virtual Machine sizes and different images available today
4.2 Deploying Your First Azure Virtual Machine
In this section, we are going to take a look at Azure Virtual machines, going through different aspects of the creation process, deployment, and management.
• Take a walk through of what settings and parameters are required for successful deployment of an Azure VM
• Get to know what are the key Azure Virtual Machine requirements (Basics, VM size, settings and optional features)
• Understand how to deploy and manage your first Azure VM: demo walk through
4.3 Deploying a More Complex Azure VM Architecture
This video has three main sections, helping you in understanding how to deploy more complex Azure VM architectures. It will make clear most of the deployment process in Azure relies on automation and scripts.
• Explain the Azure MarketPlace templates
• Uncover the GitHub Azure QuickStart templates
• Use Visual Studio to automate your Azure VM architecture deployment process
4.4 Handling Azure VM High Availability
In this video, we discuss two prime features of Azure public cloud, allowing for a high available Azure VM architecture.
• Explain Azure Virtual Machine High Availability SLAs
• Get to know what are Azure Availability Sets and why to use them
• Demo walk through configuring Azure Availability Sets

Section 5: Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Templates
In this section we will learn what Azure Resources are and how to create customized ARM templates.
• Deploying Azure Resources from Community Templates
• Creating Your Own Customized ARM Templates
• Automating Azure VM Deployment Using Configuration Management
5.1 Deploying Azure Resources from Community Templates

In this video, you will learn the following: (a) The structure of an ARM template (b) Deployment from GitHub QuickStart Templates Deployment from Azure QuickStart Templates on azure.com
• Know what is the purpose of an Azure ARM template, and how is it structured
• Understand the key aspects of deployment of Azure Resources from the GitHub published QuickStart Templates
• Learn the key aspects of deploying Azure Resources from the Azure.com templates gallery
5.2 Creating Your Own Customized ARM Templates
This video is all about learning to build your own customized Azure ARM templates from Visual Studio
• Get an overview of the creation process in Visual Studio
• Demo walk through on how to create an Azure ARM template out of Visual Studio
• Deploy Azure Resources using automation
5.3 Automating Azure VM Deployment Using Configuration Management
In this video, we are going to take a look at what Azure VM Configuration Management means, discussing several of these Configuration Management tools, describing PowerShell DSC, Azure VM Extensions, and highlighting Chef and Puppet
• Learn the different definitions of Configuration Management and several well-known Configuration Management tools
• Get an overview of PowerShell DSC and VM Extensions in general and observe a demo on PowerShell DSC
• Do a walk through of Chef and Puppet

Section 6: Implementing Azure Identity
This section gives detailed explanation on deploying, creating and integrating Azure directory.
• Deploying Azure Active Directory
• Integrating On-Premises Active Directory with Azure AD
• Advanced Features of Azure Active Directory
• Integrating Azure AD with SaaS Applications
• Azure Active Directory Application Proxy
6.1 Deploying Azure Active Directory
This video is all about Azure Active Directory; starting from what exactly Azure Active Directory is, you’ll learn about the different versions and SKUs; we’ll quickly touch on Azure AD Domain Services, B2B, and B2C and close this video with a deployment walk through.
• Get to know what is Azure Active Directory
• Understand the Azure Active Directory versions, SKUs, and the differences between them
• Get an overview of Azure AD Domain Services, B2B, and B2C scenarios
6.2 Integrating On-Premises Active Directory with Azure AD
This video clearly teaches you how to establish a hybrid Azure identity solution, integrating cloud with on-premises Active Directory.
• Get to know what is the Azure AD Connect tool and how to use it.
• Understand what is Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS)
• Watch a demo on AD Connect in action
6.3 Advanced Features of Azure Active Directory
In this video, I’ll discuss several advanced features of Azure Active Directory
• Understand Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
• Know the company branding
• Get know what is advanced reporting
6.4 Integrating Azure AD with SaaS Applications
In this video, we are going to take a look at the current issue with using multiple identities and where Azure Active Directory can be of help.
• Understand the challenges with SaaS applications and authentication handling
• Get to know the use of Azure Active Directory help in optimization and streamlining cloud authentication and identity
• Understand what is the Azure Access Panel and how to enable and use it
6.5 Integrating Azure AD with SaaS Applications
In this video, we are going to take a look at the current issue with using multiple identities and where Azure Active Directory can be of help.
• Understand the challenges with SaaS applications and authentication handling
• Get to know the use of Azure Active Directory help in optimization and streamlining cloud authentication and identity
• Understand what is the Azure Access Panel and how to enable and use it

Section 7: Azure Monitoring and Diagnostics
In this section we will learn about Azure monitoring and operation management suite, also we will explore Azure application insights.
• Azure Built-In Monitoring
• Operations Management Suite
7.1 Azure Built-In Monitoring
In this video, we are going to take a look at several concepts around Azure monitoring and diagnostics
• Get to know the built-in monitoring features Azure provides
• Understand Azure Service Health and Azure Boot Diagnostics
• Learn how to configure alert notifications and customize your monitoring
7.2 Operations Management Suite
Even with several built-in monitoring and diagnostics features, Azure is sometimes limited in output, especially in a hybrid or enterprise oriented environment. That’s where Operations Management Suite (OMS) comes to the rescue!
• Understand what is Operations Management Suite (OMS) and how to deploy it
• Extend Operations Management Suite with Solution Packs
• Use OMS Log Search and Log Analytics

Section 8: Azure Disaster Recovery Solutions
This section gives thorough explanation on Implementing Azure for Azure VMs. The section also further explains the concept Azure Site Recovery (ASR)
• Implementing Azure Backup for Azure VMs
• Implementing Azure Backup (Hybrid)
• Azure Site Recovery (ASR) in Hyper-V and Non-Hyper-V Scenarios
8.1 Implementing Azure Backup for Azure VMs
Backup is still a vital point in providing a system’s high availability and disaster recovery, even when running as a public cloud virtual machine. While the Azure platform provides excellent uptime compared to most on-premises datacenters, one should not forget to take backup into account.
• Understand why we use backups for Azure Virtual Machines
• Know how to configure Azure Backups of Azure VMs, as well as how to restore an Azure VM
• Demo walk through the backup and restore operation
8.2 Implementing Azure Backup (Hybrid)
This video will teach you all about using Azure backup in a hybrid topology setup, mainly using Azure Backup solution as a target for your on-premises backups.
• Get to know what does it take to use Azure as a backup target
• Deploy Azure Backup (agent-based) and deploy Azure Backup Server
• Watch a demo on implementing Azure backup in a hybrid scenario
8.3 Azure Site Recovery (ASR) in Hyper-V and Non-Hyper-V Scenarios
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) provides organizations with a true disaster/recovery solution for VM workloads, no matter where they are running. Using an intelligent “write change” replication, an async copy of your VMs are available in Azure and provide RPO/RTO of minutes instead of hours in most other DR solutions.
• Understand what is Azure Site Recovery (ASR)
• Deploy ASR for Hyper-V workloads
• Deploy ASR for non-Hyper-V workloads (Amazon AWS, VMware, Azure Classic VMs, and physical servers)

Section 9: Creating and Managing SQL Services in Azure
This section explores on creating and deploying SQL Azure. At the end, the section gives an overview on managing the SQL server and databases running in Azure.
• Deploying SQL VM Solutions
• Creating a SQL Azure DB Solution (PaaS)
• Managing SQL Server and Databases Running in Azure
• SQL Database (Backup and Restore)
9.1 Deploying SQL VM Solutions
This video is oriented around using the Azure infrastructure (IaaS) platform, to deploy Virtual Machines running SQL Server.
• Know what SQL Server VM Solutions can be deployed in Azure
• Understand how to deploy SQL Server VM solutions from an Azure ARM template
• Watch a demo on how to deploy SQL Server VM from a template in the Azure Portal
9.2 Creating a SQL Azure DB Solution (PaaS)
This video explains the core concepts of using SQL Azure hosted databases, relying on the PaaS aspect of Azure platform. Hosting SQL databases in Azure gives you a lot of flexibility and scalability out of the box, which makes it an ideal candidate for public cloud.
• Understand what are the main differences between SQL Server VM and SQL Azure
• Deploy a SQL Azure database solution
• Explain Azure SQL Database Tiers
9.3 Managing SQL Server and Databases Running in Azure

This video combines the management aspect of SQL databases, irrelevant from where they are running (on-premises, in-Azure VMs, or in-Azure PaaS)
• Learn how to manage SQL Server VM solutions running in Azure
• Learn what it takes to manage your SQL Azure hosted databases
• Demo
9.4 SQL Database (Backup and Restore)
This video details the flexibility of using Azure for storing your SQL database backups.
• Get to know how to integrate SQL Server VM Solutions’ backups with Azure
• Understand how to manage SQL Azure database backups
• Watch a demo on SQL backup and restore with the help of Azure platform services

Section 10: Implementing Azure Web Apps
In this section, we will see an overview on Azure Web Apps and plans. Further, we will learn building scalable Web App Solutions.
• Azure Web Apps and Plans – An Overview
• Deploying Web Apps
• Configuring Azure Web Apps Settings
• Azure Web Apps Monitoring and Diagnostics
• Building Scalable Web App Solutions
10.1 Azure Web Apps and Plans – An Overview
This video is part of a larger section, in which you’ll learn about Azure platform services. The key components you’ll see are Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and Logic Apps. This first video focuses on Azure Web Apps and how to deploy and manage them.
• Get an overview of Azure Web Apps and Web Apps Services
• Understand why we use Azure Web Apps
• Get to know the different Azure Web Apps plans available today
10.2 Deploying Web Apps
In this video, we are going to take a look at what it takes to deploy Azure Web Apps.
• Learn to deploy Azure Web Apps from the Azure Portal
• Learn to deploy Azure Web Apps from Visual Studio
• Learn the different ways to publish Web App content
10.3 Configuring Azure Web Apps Settings
This video is all about the configuration settings of an Azure Web App (and thus all other Azure App services if you want).
• Configure the Web Apps general settings
• Configure Web Apps authentication and authorization
• Perform Web Apps backups and manage SSL certificates
10.4 Azure Web Apps Monitoring and Diagnostics
We already discussed Azure monitoring and diagnostics in a previous video; but this one is specifically around Azure App Services monitoring
• Monitor Azure App Services from the Azure Resource Manager Portal
• Use specific monitoring and diagnostics for Azure Web Apps
• Uncover Azure Application Insights
10.5 Building Scalable Web App Solutions
Deploying Azure Web Apps shouldn’t always be that hard. But for most enterprises the challenge is keeping up with performance, which is a huge business driver for migrating your web applications to a public cloud platform such as Azure.
• Use Staging and Production deployment slots (Continuous Integration/(CI))
• Use Continuous Deployment (CD)
• Explain the scaling features per App Tier

Section 11: Azure Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Components
This section introduces us to the Azure Paas Solutions, Azure queue storage and table storage and finally Azure Machine Learning.
• Introduction to Azure PaaS Solutions
• Azure Queue Storage and Table Storage
• Introduction to Azure Machine Learning
• Azure Non-SQL Database Solutions and Cache
• Azure IOT Solutions and Components
• Azure Security Center
11.1 Introduction to Azure PaaS Solutions
In this video, we will highlight several of the common Azure PaaS components, which basically means stepping away from managing the underlying infrastructure side of the Azure datacenters.
• Get to know what is PaaS and how to describe it
• Get an overview of Microsoft Azure PaaS Services and components
• Explain PaaS characteristics
11.2 Azure Queue Storage and Table Storage
This video will teach you all about using Azure Storage Account components, specifically around application integration.
• Understand the Azure queue storage
• Know the Azure table storage
• Secure the storage account integration from your applications
11.3 Introduction to Azure Machine Learning
Azure Machine Learning (ML) allows organizations to run high density, high volume based calculations and predictions. It is often used in an industrial or scientific context.
• Understand why to use Machine Learning
• Understand Azure solutions enabling data science
• Get to know the Azure Machine Learning process and algorithms
11.4 Azure Non-SQL Database Solutions and Cache
We already discussed SQL database on Azure in a previous video. But SQL Server is not the only database technology available on Azure, as you will learn from this video.
• Get an overview of DocumentDB and MongoDB as non-SQL database solutions
• Get an introduction to MySQL and how to use it within Azure
• Get an overview of Redis Cache and how to use it
11.5 Azure IOT Solutions and Components
IOT (short for Internet of Things) is becoming a very important topic in the IT space, and basically in about any industrial segment. By connecting devices to the Internet, they become ‘smarter.’ In this video, I’ll describe the different aspects of IOT, and how it relates to Azure.
• Get to know why is Internet of Things (IOT) a big thing, and about IOT devices
• Understand the Azure IOT reference architecture
• Know the Azure Event Hub, IOT Hub, and Azure Stream Analytics
11.6 Azure Security Center
In this last video, I’ll talk about Azure security features, and more specifically about the “Azure Security Center.” This is a centralized dashboard, giving you real-detailed information and views on all-things security in your Azure environment.
• Get to know what is Azure Security Center
• Deploy Azure Security Center
• Watch a demo on using Azure Security Center

Time to get stuck in….



AspConf – My Review

Last week we had AspConf – “aspConf is a virtual conference focused on one thing: showcasing the ASP.NET stack as the platform for great web applications.

Over 2 days they had 5 virtual rooms used to present lots of fascinating stuff on .Net, including talks about all manner of things in the Asp.Net world.

The sessions on both days covered topics such as, Async in .Net 4.5, Glimpse, TDD, Azure and Cloud Computing and lots lots more, you can read more about the sessions here.

Although it had some technical difficulties, due to its popularity I may add, the conference is an awesome way to learn for free – and free is always good. It’s a superb way to learn about content you havent had time to look at it, or new technologies you havent heard of. Hopefully next year they might try to use something different from livemeeting.

If you missed any of the session then fret not, most of them if not all of them were recorded and put up on Channel 9 here

I only managed to see sessions from day 2 so I am off to go watch more content on Channel 9 – a great resource for free learning.



Host your MVC app in the Cloud with AppHarbor

Deploy your MVC 3 application to the cloud and have it hosted for free, you can even get 20MB SQL Server for free should your app use a SQL database backend.

If your unfamiliar with Appharbor let me introduce you.

AppHarbor

“AppHarbor is a fully hosted .NET Platform as a Service. Appharbor can deploy and scale any standard .NET application.”

Deploy and host host your application for free using GitHub to publish the content to Appharbor – couldnt be easier and ultra fast, and did I mention its free?

GitHub

Basically build your application locally – put it up onto Github, setup the Github service hook ( cut and paste 2 lines) and job done – AppHarbor will build your code and deploy it and host it in the cloud for you!

The following are the steps to deploying a blank MVC 3 project to Appharbor using Git and Github, if your unfamiliar with Git and Github then its worth spending some time reading up on both, Git is very straight forward to get going and GitHub is the site to host your git content.

I will assume you have git installed and setup a local repository on your machine – let’s get started.

  1. Open Up Visual Studio 2010 and create an empty MVC 3 Application, I chose an Internet Application and didn’t select to add a Unit Test Project.
  2. I changed the text on the main page that will do for now. Then I copied the contents of the solution and the folder to my Github local repository folder.
  3. Go to Github and create yourself an account – this is free and allows you to put up your code – very useful for open source projects or you can use it to publish to Appharbor like we are about to do.
  4. Create a new Repository on GitHub as below and GitHub will show you the steps to adding the code to your repository on GitHub, similar to the screen shot below.

    Github Repo

    Go ahead and follow these steps to add your content onto GitHub.

  5. Now we want to add a .gitignore file into the git repository so that when we deploy to AppHarbor it builds without any issues. Create a .gitignore file and add this into your repository – the contents of my .gitignore file was as follows:-

    [Bb]in
    [Oo]bj
    *.suo
    *.user
  6. At this point our source code is up on GitHub and now we want to deploy it from GitHub to AppHarbor – this step is very easy indeed and makes everything worthwhile and definitely worth any effort in having to learn git and setup accounts on both GitHub and AppHarbor.
  7. Log onto your AppHarbor Account and then create a new application as below:-

    AppHarbor

  8. Now click on the Build URL link on the blue part of the screen shot below:-

    AppHarbor

    This copies the url you need to paste into GitHub in order for it to deploy your code to AppHarbor, firstly paste this link from your clipboard into notepad.

  9. Here is the url for a potential app:-

    AppHarbor Build URL

  10. Ok now go back to GitHub and go to the admin link once you are on the page displaying your GitHub repository.

    GitHub Admin Link

  11. Click on Service Hooks on the left hand side and then select AppHarbor – this is where you need to be careful to paste in the Slug from the notepad link we have and then paste in the authorization code into the correct part within GitHub as below:-

    AppHarbor Details

  12. Back to AppHarbor and we should see something like the screenshot below, AppHarbor has built my code and deployed it, clicking on the ‘Go To Your Application’ link will show you the app deployed to the url for your site hosted on AppHarbor – free.

    View App

Conclusion
AppHarbor is really cool and very handy indeed, after deploying your first app you can deploy straight from GitHub just by pushing up file changes. Its superb, also comes with a host of add-ons, please go check it out now.