Recently, I sat down with hosts Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell of .NET Rocks! to chat about the architectural patterns of cloud development. If you’re not familiar with .NET Rocks! it is a weekly online talk show for anyone interested in programming on the Microsoft .NET platform. The shows range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness.

During this discussion I talk about how the cloud influences application design, focused on more asynchronous, scalable and flexible messaging focused architecture. While the patterns could be applied to any cloud technology, Microsoft Azure is particularly well-suited to these architectural patterns, providing services that cover each pattern approach for optimal results.

Click here to listen to “Cloud Patterns with Vishwas Lele.

Since PaaS and Windows Azure have both been in the news recently, thanks to a favorable report from Gartner, I thought it might be good timing to revisit a whitepaper I wrote on PaaS. 

There’s been a lot of talk about the different cloud-based services available today, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). While each of these services is unique, PaaS stands out from the mix. This is not to suggest that PaaS is somehow better than IaaS; that would be an improper comparison. In fact, as shown in the diagram below, PaaS simply builds on the capabilities offered by IaaS.

But if you are a developer, IT shop or an ISV responsible for building, deploying and maintaining solutions, leveraging PaaS is where you reap the maximum cloud-computing benefits. Read More…

If you have found yourself thinking…

“We want the cloud to be a seamless extension of our data center, not a walled garden. We want to use our existing IT setup and tools to manage on-premises and cloud-based applications.”

“We want to seamlessly move virtual machines from on-premises to the cloud and back.”

“We want to move existing applications to the cloud without the need to change the applications in any way.”

…then our upcoming Introduction to Windows Azure IaaS session is for you.

This free half-day session is for anyone who wants to better understand the Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. After a brief overview of the Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, we will focus on key IaaS concepts. Additionally, we will walk you through a number of scenarios enabled by Azure IaaS and several demonstrations. Learn about the new generally available features including virtual machines (with more size options), virtual networks, new image types (including SQL Server and BizTalk), lower pricing and much more. Read More…

I’ve been reading a lot about the sweeping organizational changes at Microsoft. It’s always interesting to analyze and attempt to interpret their strategy and internal politics. (For example, why is the Dynamics business still separate? Is it being positioned to be sold? Probably not, but fun to consider.)

However, I am more drawn to the larger changes the re-org is enabling. The external press always seems to be negative about the actions of Microsoft’s executive leadership ever since Bill Gates left.  While I may not agree with every choice Steve Ballmer has made, when you really stop and think about how they have transformed themselves over the past six years, it’s pretty amazing — especially when set in juxtaposition to the lack of change at other lumbering IT giants. Microsoft is well on their way to transforming from a worldwide monopoly of “Windows and Office” to a “devices and services” business. 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…

On Dec 6th, Brian Keller published an updated version of his very useful virtual machine and the corresponding hands-on-lab / demo scripts for Visual Studio 2012 Update 1.

This virtual machine includes existing (but upgraded) labs from 2010, as well as labs based on new features (see screenshot below).

I thought it would be nice to simply upload the VHD directly to Azure Blob Storage and provision an Azure PersistentVM based on it. This is surely the easiest way to try all the new ALM features.  And it almost worked! Except that the firewall on the virtual machine is turned on. As a result, I could not RDP into the Azure-based machine.

Read More…

In a previous blog post I discussed Windows Azure PaaS / IaaS hybrid scenarios. Together with my colleague Jack O’Connell (Infrastructure Specialist extraordinaire), we set up each of the four scenarios outlined in the previous post including:

  • Using Windows Azure Virtual Network to provision a VPN to connect our on-premised infrastructure with a Windows Azure datacenter.
  • Set up front-end and back-end subnets.
  • Provision a set of Azure IaaS Virtual Machines and Azure Web Roles.
  • Install System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications on Azure-based machines.
  • Install System Center Operations on-premises in order to manage Azure-based resources.

Watch the following video for a quick walkthrough of the scenarios in action:

Thanks to everyone who joined us for AIS and Microsoft’s Introduction to Azure IaaS event last month. As promised (and for anyone who missed it), here’s the full presentation from Vishwas Lele and Jack O’Connell. Click through the slideshow below, and feel free to ask any follow-up questions in the comments or contact us.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, Vishwas and Jack will be presenting this session again TOMORROW at Microsoft’s Malvern, PA office. All the details on that event can be found here. We hope to see you there, and please keep up with our Events Calendar for other presentations in your area.

I was recently asked to write my own custom performance metric and publish it to Amazon’s CloudWatch using PowerShell.

Part I: How do I get this thing running already?

I initially used this blog post as a general guide, but since I had some experience with PowerShell already, the real learning part for me was how to call the API through .NET. (There is a second part, which actually shows you how to publish the metric. Unfortunately, his test “Tutorial” namespace ended up in the wrong region [US East] as compared to my instance [US West Oregon].

I figured out the correct way to do this by teasing apart the free community scripts available on AWS, which I will discuss later (see Part 2).

Read More…

If you have found yourself thinking…

“We want the cloud to be a seamless extension of our data center, not a walled garden. We want to use our existing IT setup and tools (AD, SCOM etc.) to manage the on-premises and cloud-based applications.”

“We want seamlessly move virtual machines from on-premises to the cloud and back.”

“We want to start out by moving existing applications to the cloud without the need to change the applications in any way.”

…then our upcoming Introduction to Windows Azure IaaS session is for you.

Read More…