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Category Archive for "Cloud Services"

Why You Shouldn’t Discount Discount Cloud Services Part 3

Part 1 Summary
In post 1 of this series, we discussed what a Discount Cloud Instance is and in what situations it can be beneficial to use. In summation, they are instances sold very cheaply as temporary resources to those who want to make use of them and they are most useful when being utilized for batch processing jobs that have a flexible or far-off completion date.
Part 2 Summary
In the second post, we introduced and compared the current offerings of these instance types from the three main cloud providers: Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. There are currently vast differences in how each provider offers and utilizes their Discount Cloud Instances, just as there are significant differences in how they offer cloud services in general. Amazon AWS offers spot instances, which feature the most flexibility and historical data access for users to optimize…

Why You Shouldn’t Discount Discount Cloud Services Part 2

In the first post of this series, we discussed what a Discount Cloud Instance is and when they are beneficial to use. In this post, we will look at the specific offerings by Amazon (EC2 Spot Instances) and Google (Preemptible VMs) and compare them to Azure’s Low Priority Virtual Machines. In addition to each having a different name, they also treat them in very different ways and have their own individual benefits and drawbacks.
Historical Data
When a provider is willing to provide historical data relative to the availability of their Discount Cloud Instances, it can allow potential users to analyze it for a number of different purposes. Most notably, being able to better time their requests so that they obtain the best pricing when otherwise they might miss their chance. Thus far, Azure does not seem to offer this data. Google…

Microsoft Cloud-Hybrid Integration Roadmap Announcement

Over the past several years, there has been a lack of clarity about Microsoft’s integration roadmap.  Various integration tools have been offered, rebranded and renamed, and ultimately retired.  With a lack of a published roadmap, it is hard to make an informed investment into an integration platform that needs to meet today’s needs and still be relevant into the future.
Since 2000, BizTalk has been around to meet critical on-premises integration needs.  Many customers have implemented complex business-critical solutions based upon BizTalk.   With the migration to the cloud and the advent of Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) offerings, there have been concerns about the future of BizTalk and its role in Microsoft’s integration strategy.
A recent announcement by Microsoft’s Jon Fancey, the Azure Integration Services PM Lead, attempts to clear up some concerns about Microsoft’s integration roadmap and lays the foundation for what…

Why You Shouldn’t Discount Discount Cloud Instances

The cloud is a very useful tool for a number of different purposes. Most notably, it removes the heavy burden of startup costs associated with needing new hardware when beginning or expanding a project. It can be used as your baseline resources for all everyday purposes, or simply something you tap into when you need extra computing power under a heavy load. Whatever your needs, there is no short supply of providers, nor is there a lack of options in terms of server power, speed, memory, etc. However, one currently underutilized type of cloud instance is also the best deal available, the Discount Cloud Instance. Throughout this three-part series blog post, I am going to explore the following: What these instances are, what the benefits and drawbacks are of utilizing them, which cloud providers are offering these instances and how…

Transforming the Retail Experience Using IoT and the Cloud

Successful retailers that attract today’s millennial shoppers have three key ingredients in their retail experience delivery:

Help find things that inspire
Help choose what is right
Help buy effortlessly

Online stores are increasingly better at attracting these shoppers and converting them into profitable customers. Physical storefronts are experiencing less foot traffic and conversion rates are lowering. The transformation challenge is thus clear. How can retailers deliver these same customer experience ingredients in the brick-and-mortar environment in ways that are simple, easy and memorable?
To drive traffic both storefronts focus on search and marketing. Ecommerce obviously has the advantage in terms of offering the customer convenience to explore the storefront anytime and from anywhere. For conversion, ecommerce storefronts focus on the following:

Extensive catalogs with digital content that showcases the merchandise.
Customer intimacy based on customer information.
A frictionless shopping journey with ease of search and navigation.

Physical storefronts have…

BP Selects Microsoft Azure for Company-Wide Platform as Part of its Modernization Program

Microsoft announced on July 25 that BP, a leading global energy company, has selected Microsoft Azure as part of its global cloud computing strategy.

The agreement will see BP move advanced workloads to Azure out of existing corporate data centers as part of the company’s modernization and transformation agenda – an agenda which is designed to deliver a sustainable step change in the company’s long-term performance.
By moving its proprietary data lake to Microsoft’s cloud platform, and utilizing Azure services, with state-of-the-art visualization and predictive tools, BP will enable rapid data analysis, with faster insights and decision-making.

 
“We have been impressed with Microsoft Azure Platform-as-a-Service, and its building block approach, particularly for our advanced workload requirements,” says Steve Fortune, Group CIO of BP.
“The Microsoft cloud provides the hyper scale needed for global businesses like BP to innovate quickly”, says Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK. “Microsoft Azure will help…

Overview of Azure Information Protection

Azure Information Protection allows administrators to define rules to classify corporate data, documents, emails, and other digitally stored information in the cloud, so that the information is protected automatically when the applicable criteria is met in an enforced configuration. Administrators can also set up the configuration so that end users with access to the originating documentation, can have the same options to do so on their own (when optional enforcement is permitted), based on suggestions when criteria matches are found within the sensitive data (e.g. structure of the numbers look like Social Security numbers, patient numbers, credit card numbers, wording in the document using terms like “confidential”, etc.).
Once protection labels are made, applied, and the data is protected, administrators can track the movement of the data and analyze where it flows, where it is stored, copied, shared, etc. This allows you to have a better understanding what kind of behaviors…

Log Management with Log4net and Microsoft Azure

Determining how to efficiently manage logs for your large scale application(s) can be a daunting task.  This is particularly important when running PaaS services, such as App Services, Web Jobs, and Azure Functions, where real-time access to application log files is not easily accessible. One effective solution leverages the log4net framework and a number of Microsoft Azure services for a surprisingly intuitive and scalable architecture.  Most logging solutions allow for similar customizations.  NLog is another popular logging framework that can also be customized to perform the same function. The following demo is done in C#.
How to Create a Custom Appender using Log4Net:
1)     Create an Azure Service Bus Queue.

This step requires that you have an active Microsoft Azure subscription. You will have to first create a new Service Bus in the Azure portal. Azure Service Bus is a scalable and robust platform for…

Inside the High-Tech, High-Stakes Race to Keep the Cloud Secure

At any point in time on any day of the week, Microsoft’s cloud computing operations are under attack: The company detects a whopping 1.5 million attempts a day to compromise its systems.

Microsoft isn’t just fending off those attacks. It’s also learning from them.
All those foiled attacks, along with data about the hundreds of billions of emails and other pieces of information that flow to and from Microsoft’s cloud computing data centers, are constantly being fed into the company’s intelligent security graph.

Microsoft invests about $1 billion in cloud security each year.
It’s a massive web of data that can be used to connect the dots between an email phishing scam out of Nigeria and a denial-of-service attack out of Eastern Europe, thwarting one attack for one customer and applying that knowledge to every customer using products including the company’s Azure computing platform,…

Five Ways Microsoft Helps you do Amazing Things with Data in the Cloud

1: Build data-driven apps that learn and adapt
Applications show intelligence when they can spot trends, react to events, predict outcomes or recommend choices—often leading to richer customer experiences, improved business process, or addressing issues before they arise. The three key ingredients to creating an intelligent app are:

Ingest data in real time
Query across historical and real-time data
Analyze patterns and make predictions with machine learning

With Azure, you can make your applications intelligent by establishing feedback loops, and applying big data and machine learning techniques to classify, predict, or otherwise analyze explicit and implicit signals. Today, apps for consumers and enterprises can deliver greater customer or business benefit by learning from user behavior and other signals.
Pier 1 Imports launched a mobile-friendly pier1.com, making shopping online easier. It enabled the selection of delivery options like direct shipment, picking up products in the local store,…

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