Category Archives: Azure

Top 5 Takeaways from the Microsoft ICA Boot Camp

I was a recent attendee at the Microsoft International Cloud Architect Boot Camp, where I had the opportunity to participate in hands-on sessions, working closely with Microsoft teams and specialists, as well as other Microsoft Partners. This boot camp contained exclusive content that Pragmatic Works gets access to as a partner and as a preferred service within the Microsoft stack.

Here, I’d like to share my top 5 takeaways from this event:

1. Commitment to Security – As a cloud solution architect, I’m asked many questions around security and Microsoft Azure. One thing that amazed me was the commitment that Microsoft has made to security. They spend over a billion dollars each year on security to ensure they are secure from all threats. Microsoft is also the #1 attack to surface in the world. They are truly committed to making sure that your data and surfaces are secure.

2. Security Certifications – Microsoft has passed over 70 regulatory and government certifications when it comes to security and standardized processes. Their second-place competitor, AWS, has only completed 44 of these certifications. Getting these certifications and adhering to certain security and regulatory standards can be expensive, but there is a significant benefit for enterprise, government and small/medium-sized businesses.

3. Right-sizing Their Environment – This can be a challenge for many companies. Microsoft’s internal teams have gone completely to Azure and are managing their platforms within Azure for SQL databases, virtual machines and all other services Azure offers. By doing some specific right-sizing and keeping watch on what’s offered, they lowered their workloads and kept their CPU at the 95th percentile, and more importantly, they were able cut down on spending for their internals needs – to the tune of over 3 million dollars a month!

4. Differentiators from AWS – AWS is currently the #1 cloud platform as far as revenue and volume. But Microsoft is quickly catching up and they’ve identified several differentiators from AWS. Some key differentiators, such as Azure Recovery Zones and other such services, which have been slow to come up, will have releases to general audiences by the end of 2018. MS does not see any other differentiators that will allow AWS to continue to hold that lead.

5. Connections/Partnerships – By having Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Skype and LinkedIn connections, as well as the commitments to partners and ISVs, gives Microsoft a competitive advantage over AWS in what their ecosystem looks like. A common complaint heard is how AWS doesn’t work well with, or cater to, partners, leaving them to figure it out themselves.

Azure Site Recovery in 3 Minutes

Having a data/disaster recovery site or plan in place is crucial today, whether for compliance or to ensure if anything does happen, then your business will still be able to operate. Today’s episode of Azure Every Day focuses on Azure Site Recovery.

Azure Site Recovery is Microsoft’s business continuity or data recovery service. With this service, you can move your VMs to the cloud, back them up or go site to site. To utilize this service, you’ll need to coordinate and set up replication between the sites and/or servers.

You have some options of how to do this. You can back up an Azure VM to another Azure VM in a different geo locale, or back up a physical server, VM infrastructure or Hyper-V up to Azure. The physical and VMware are real-time replications, as opposed to Hyper-V, where you can get it down to about a 30-second window.

Azure Site Recovery has many great features, such as:
Application Awareness – It knows what you’re running (i.e. SharePoint, SQL Exchange, Active Directory, etc.) Because of this, it’s able to easily stop in one location and start in another in the event of a disaster.
Region to Region Replication – If you want to take your replication from the East Coast to the West Coast, this is built into the service, so it’s easily done.
Encryption – From a security standpoint, it supports encryption at rest and encryption in transit. This is extremely helpful when you’re backing up from one Azure Virtual Machine to another, or from your local VMware infrastructure to Azure. This will all be encryption in transit, as well as at rest, when it lands in Azure.

Some other key features are the auto failover and auto failback capabilities, as well as continuous replication, so your RTO and RPO are easily met by working on this platform. You can also run automated recovery scenarios, so you can test your disaster plan without any impact to your environment.

Introduction to Azure Data Factory

Introduction to Azure Data Factory

Are you new to Azure, or looking to make the move and curious about what Azure Data Factory is? Azure Data Factory is Microsoft’s cloud version of a data integration and orchestration tool. It allows you to move your data from one place to another and make changes with it. Here, I’d like to introduce the 4 main steps or components of how Azure Data Factory works.

Step 1 – Connect and Collect

Connect and collect is where you define where you’re pulling your data from, such as SQL databases, web applications, SSAS, etc. You collect that data into one centralized location like Azure Data Lake or Azure Blob Storage.

Step 2 – Transform and Enrich

In this step, you take the data from your centralized storage and enrich it to further expand on your data using HDInsight operation, Spark or Data Lake analytics, for example.

Step 3 – Publish

Next is to publish the data to a place that it can be better used and consumed by the end users. Any BI tool, such as Power BI or reporting services are great choices.

Step 4 – Monitor

 

This last step is to monitor the data to be sure jobs are running, and data is flowing, properly. It’s also important to monitor to ensure data quality. Monitoring can be done with tools like PowerShell, Microsoft Operations Manager or Azure Monitor, which allow you to monitor inside the Azure portal.