The recent announcement about the general availability of Windows Azure IaaS comes with the following key enhancements:

  1. Remote PowerShell is enabled by default when deploying Virtual Machine using PowerShell.
  2. Availability of trial images such as SharePoint in the image gallery.

These enhancements make it easy to deploy a SharePoint Farm in an automated manner using PowerShell scripts.

The goal of this blog post is to walk you through such a script. Read More…

It was great fun presenting at Windows AzureConf 2013. I would like to thank the entire AzureConf team (Cory Fowler and Brady Gaster in particular) and my fellow speakers for their valuable feedback.

Click here to watch the video recording of my session on channel 9.

You can find recordings to all other sessions (including Scott Guthrie’s keynote) via this link.

Many of you asked me for a copy of the code I used during my session. You can find all my code snippets and slides here. (Of course this is just sample code so please treat it as such!)

Additionally, Pluralsight has graciously offered to make my newly-released Windows Azure IaaS Course for Developers available for FREE beginning Monday, April 29 at 9:00 a.m. MDT, and keep it freely available for 48 hours (ending 9:00 a.m. MDT on Wednesday, May 1). This is a three-hour course that goes in much more detail on the Windows Azure IaaS topics:

Windows Azure IaaS Course for Developers

Please feel free to send me additional questions via my Twitter account. Thanks!

AIS is planning a second presentation of our newest SharePoint 2013 seminar in Reston, VA on May 15th. Last month’s seminar in Chevy Chase was a great, informative morning and we’re pleased to offer it again at a different DC metro area location for a wider audience. (Non-DC readers stay tuned; we plan to take this show on the road to other cities soon!)

After more than two years of early adoption research, analysis and technical readiness, AIS has determined that SharePoint 2013 has game-changing functionality as an application platform. This free half-day session will touch on all the new, compelling features of SharePoint and detail exactly how it can help you do more…with less.

  • Smarter Search
  • Simpler and Mobile-Ready UI
  • SharePoint App Store Model
  • Better Workflow
  • Social SharePoint
  • Easy Migration Tools
  • Lower Costs & more

AIS bloggers and team members Jason Storch and Chris Miller will be presenting and on-hand to answer any questions you have about SharePoint and how it can meet the specialized needs of your company or organization.

For more background, you can read our full SharePoint 2013 blog coverage by clicking here. We also have a short whitepaper available on The Top Reasons Your Business Will Love the New SharePoint. 

Click here to register for this event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Today I want to talk about a process we created for building out machines using Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) as part of our daily build process within Team Foundation Server (TFS).

As part of our nightly build process, we actually recreate the entire environment from scratch. We don’t use snapshots; we actually delete and provision a series of VMs. This may sound like overkill and I’ve seen other approaches that use snapshots and revert each night…and I think that’s great. Use what works for you. However, we wanted something that could not only exercise our code base, but also our scripts that we use for building our environment. In a way, this allows us to test both pieces at the same time.

At this point I should throw in the disclaimer that this blog post builds on one written by my colleague David Baber: Driving PowerShell With XML. We use the same XML-driven framework to build out our machines. In reality the process of removing and creating VMs is treated as just one “step” in our build-out process. Executions of other steps obviously follow, but this post is primarily concerned with standing up that environment. What happens next is up to you. Read More…

Every software development company tests their product before releasing it to their clients. Test engineers strive to deliver the product without any defects, but quite often a defect appears (and reappears) even with the best testing processes in place.  Automation testing utilization increases effectiveness, reliability, repeatability and test coverage.

The Agile methodology is implemented in many organizations, which requires more frequent regression testing as the sprints are short. The automation capabilities can help accomplish the Agile sprint-based regression testing and integration testing needs. Read More…

Being an IT professional, and an Army Lieutenant Colonel, I have a somewhat unique perspective regarding mobile application functionality related to military leaders. As a Battalion Commander (my current military position), I frequently need access to various pieces of information and forms while out of the office/on the road. If I have my military-issued laptop with me, and can find a Wi-Fi hotspot (or use tethering), I have access to the appropriate forms and information needed. However this isn’t always the most convenient…not to mention that I normally don’t even have my military-issued laptop with me. The same is true when I’m at home, sitting on the couch, watching TV with my family and don’t necessarily want to pull out the laptop.

An Alternative

A better solution would allow me to use my tablet or phone. As a leader, a small fraction of the electronic forms that I need to complete on a recurring basis are: quarterly performance counselings and annual evaluation reports on subordinates; approving and signing of various personnel and supply actions; and submitting award requests. Read More…

Yesterday, Microsoft announced the general availability of its offering of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). They join an already-crowded market of IaaS providers, but this offering gives all companies the ability to offload workloads that have traditionally run in a company data center to the cloud. Welcome, Microsoft — the water is fine.

This announcement also represents a major chunk of Microsoft’s family of Azure offerings…and in my opinion, a stepping stone many companies simply must take in moving out of the traditional data center and into the cloud.  The following diagram shows the stepping stones out of the traditional data center:

Read More…

Congratulations to StorSimple for building an innovative product that Microsoft was recently inspired to acquire. For those of you who have not had a chance to look into StorSimple yet, it offers an interesting hybrid storage capability: on-premises storage, combined with Windows Azure-based storage. Simply drop their storage appliance in your network and start using it as a storage device. You can expect capabilities similar to any enterprise-class storage device, including high availability through dual-controllers, battery-backed memory and RAID.

Under the covers, however, the StorSimple appliance will seamlessly spread your data between its three types of storage: high performance flash SSDs, high-capacity SAS disk drives and Windows Azure-based cloud storage — essentially giving you access to virtually unlimited amounts of storage. However, the technique to automatically move the data between high-cost and media is not new. For years, the industry has referred to this technique as HSM – Hierarchical Storage Management, or tiered storage. However, HSM products such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and Oracle’s SAM-QFS are considered high-end products and are typically outside the reach of most small- to medium-sized businesses. This is why some believe that StorSimple may have an opportunity to bring HSM to the masses.

So why is this interesting? Read More…

At AIS, we work with clients to help define the overall vision, scope and detailed requirements for the applications they want to build. I recently had the opportunity to work on a project where a client wanted to reach a new set of users through a Windows Store app that was based on an existing iPad app.

We had a very short timeline and limited budget to work with. That was the bad news… The good news was that we were able to use Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) — in this case the TFS 2010 version — in conjunction with Visual Studio 2012.  This gave us the opportunity to leverage new PowerPoint 2013 storyboarding stencils for defining the app’s User Experience (UX), and TFS for efficiently creating and managing our product backlog.  We also used Visio 2013 for visually defining the overall functional scope and high-level release plan for the app.

In this post, I’ll share how we used these tools to rapidly define the requirements for the app, and talk about some topics related to converting the iPad app information architecture to a Windows Store app information architecture. Read More…

We recently deployed a five-node CRM 2011 topology using Windows Azure IaaS with the following objectives:

  • Understand how a multiple node CRM setup can be provisioned using Windows Azure IaaS. Specifically, how the networking capabilities offered by the Windows Azure platform (i.e. stateless load balancing) map to the CRM requirements.
  • Develop an automated way to provision and de-provision a CRM setup. This is not only useful for dev and test scenarios, but also for production scenarios where it is notoriously difficult to conduct capacity planning before acquiring the necessary hardware. For example, it is hard to know upfront what CRM functional building blocks (aka CRM roles) the business stakeholders will want to focus on, such as async processes, sandbox, reports, etc. By dynamically scaling out the “needed” features on demand, we can enhance the business agility of the CRM.
  • Offer our customers an educated choice between CRM Online (no setup costs but less control) and CRM On-Premises (extensive setup costs but complete control).
  • Take advantage of hybrid apps that combine CRM capabilities with Windows Azure services, such as Windows Azure Active Directory, mobile services, etc.

Read More…