Sunday, March 22, 2009

ArcReady: Architecting for the Cloud

Update: 3/28: Thanks for joining us in Mason, OH. Slide deck is here and on Slide Share here.

Thanks for joining us at ArcReady in Columbus, OH "Architecting for the Cloud". I hope everyone got some good information out of my "Cloud Services" session. I'll also be delivering this same session in Mason, OH this Friday. Thanks for coming and thanks to Brian Prince for offering the opportunity to present.


Architecting for the cloud
For our next ArcReady, we will explore a topic on everyone’s mind: Cloud computing. Several industry companies have announced cloud computing services . In October 2008 at the Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft announced the next phase of our Software + Services vision: the Azure Services Platform. The Azure Services Platforms provides a wide range of internet services that can be consumed from both on premises environments or the internet.

Session 1: Cloud Services
In our first session we will explore the current state of cloud services. We will then look at how applications should be architected for the cloud and explore a reference application deployed on Windows Azure. We will also look at the services that can be built for on premise application, using .NET Services. We will also address some of the concerns that enterprises have about cloud services, such as regulatory and compliance issues.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Columbus Exchange and Windows User Group (CEWUG): Unified Communications

One solution from Microsoft I've always been curious about but never had the time to dedicate to, Office Communication Server or OCS. Presence with instant messaging, VOIP, video conferencing...all kinds of neat stuff. The next meeting of will provide a full demo. Might want to check that out.

What: Columbus Exchange and Windows User Group (CEWUG)

Join Microsoft and BT to learn how Microsoft Unified Communications solutions help streamline communications between people and organizations, bringing together e-mail, calendaring, voice mail, IM/ presence, VoIP, audio, video, and Web conferencing. This interactive session will include a live demonstration of the Microsoft Unified Communications Solutions.

CEWUG Registration Link

Agenda:
  • 5:30 to 6:05: Welcome time; meet the MS steering committee, pizza and beverages
  • 6:05 to 7:05: Microsoft Unified Communications overview and demonstration
  • 5 minute break
  • 7:10 to 8:15: BT INS discusses how they saved money using Microsoft Unified Communications

Where: 8800 Lyra Dr, Suite 400 Columbus, OH 43240

When: Wednesday: March 25, 2009 5:30 to 8:15 PM

Presenters:
  • Michael Austin , Microsoft Unified Communications Group
  • Joan Windsor, BT INS

The goal of the CEWUG is to build relationships with peers, share expertise and involvement with the central Ohio IT community.

We will meet the 4th Wednesday of the month at the MS Columbus Office: 8800 Lyra Dr, Suite 400, Columbus, OH 43240

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Configuring a Development Sandbox for the Azure CTP

I'm getting up to speed on Azure and the other cloud SDKs and need to configure an environment for development, demos and learning. My experiences...

First off, if you've read my blog, you know I haven't installed non-productivity software on my core OS for years. Further, I don't get the warm and fuzzies installing CTP software on my core OS. I also love the recoverability and start-over-from-a-checkpoint features of virtualization. Virtual PC (VPC) houses all my development, demo and learning sandbox instances. So, let's start off with a VPC instance. For this to work well, ideally, you need a good 4GB of memory. Further to the ideal, you're running x64 so as to have access to the full 4GB of memory.

ACQUIRE AN AZURE SERVICES DEVELOPER KEY

To develop against Azure and/or .Net Services and SQL Services, you need an invitation code. Oooh, very exclusive. Pretty people to the front of the line! You can start the process here. If you run into problems, check this post here or the forums here. All invitations and registrations are managed out of Microsoft Connect.

Azure requires either Vista or Windows Server 2008. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a trial VPC download of Windows Server 2008.

CONFIGURE WINDOWS SERVER 2008 VPC

  • Make sure you have Virtual PC 2007 with SP1 installed
  • Download the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) file and expand
  • Within the Virtual PC Console, select: New >> Create a virtual machine >> provide a name and location >> Windows Server 2008 >> Adjust the RAM to at least 2GB if not 2.5GB (2560MB) >> An existing virtual hard disk (browse out to the VHD file you downloaded above and expanded) >> Finish
  • Fire up the VPC instance and log in (credentials are on the download page)
  • (TIP: If you need to flip between the window frame and Full Screen, it's Right-ALT + Enter)
  • Suggestion: Right-mouse on the desktop, Properties, Screen Saver: None.
  • Start >> Administrative Tools >> Server Manager (may already be up when you log in)
  • Click on Add a Feature
    • Within .NET Framework 3.0 Features, select the .NET Framework 3.0, (and within that...) select WCF Activation, (and within that...) select HTTP Activation and finally but optionally Windows PowerShell
    • Install
  • Click on Add a Role
    • Select Web Server (IIS)
    • Click Add Required Features
    • Under Role Services, select ASP.NET (click Add Required Role Services if prompted)
    • Install
  • Create a share to your core OS
    • Within the window frame of the VPC instance, select File...Install or update...additions
    • Run Setup.exe and follow the instructions to install the additions. Restart if prompted.
    • Within the window frame of the VPC instance, select Edit...Settings
    • Select Shared Folders. Click Share Folder...
    • We're setting up a share to all this software we're about to install which you've downloaded (or will). Typically, I have an Installs directory housing all my software installation files.
  • Firewall: I'm not 100% sure this is required but I enabled port 1433 through the firewall for SQL Server. Instructions.

INSTALL THE SOFTWARE

Download or copy and then install all this software into the folder on your core OS which we just shared to the VPC. I typically just install from the share. This conserves space and prevents the virtual hard drive from expanding unnecessarily.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Visual Studio Team System 2010 Hands on Labs

Thanks to Randy Pagels for organizing and for all enjoyed this event in Columbus yesterday. Feel free to post any questions/comments here and we'll get them answered.

One question that came up inquired about support for Sharepoint development within TFS/VSTS 2010. The Visual Studio team answered with a resounding: "Yes, Sharepoint is a first class citizen in TFS 2010".

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Go Virtual! Save your Soul.

I haven't installed a development tool (production or beta/CTP) on my core OS for years. I do all my development, presentation preparation and learning / experimentation on Virtual PC (VPC) instances. (Ok, my clients pony up development machines for client work but...and no developing / architect jokes) Also, these are not VPCs I created. Certainly, one needs to license these instances properly when used in a production environment (vs. testing/evaluation) but leveraging a VPC will save you loads of time and effort (and headaches).

To be clear, I don't recommend this approach if you need to actually learn how to install and configure a product and/or operating system. If you're studying for your MCSE, it likely behooves you to actually install it a few times rather than leveraging an existing virtual instance.

But, if you want to learn how to leverage or use the product rather than how to install and configure it, go out to your favorite search engine or search.microsoft.com and download the VPC instances Microsoft so generously provides. These often 12-month expiry instances provide ample time to create a presentation demo or a proof of concept for a potential client. Investment in setting up and configuring the OS, SQL Server, MOSS, VSTS/TFS, etc in order to leverage your product of interest: ZERO (well, except the time to download perhaps).

As an example, I leverage the Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation Server VPC instance for all my VSTS/TFS demos and client presentations. Recently, I started leveraging the Windows 2008 Server VPC trial instance for some Azure presentation work--Azure requires Vista or Windows 2008...yes, I'm still on XP...talk to my infrastructure guy :( Personally, I think Windows 2008 Server looks awesome. Do I want to set it up and configure it? Err, no.

If there's no existing instance configured the way you like, take it upon yourself to create a VPC for your team. (Again, disclaimer: license this up properly.) The folks on my MOSS infrastructure / config team kitted out a tremendous Windows Server 2008 with MOSS Enterprise, SQL Server 2008 and all the goodies. Now, the folks on the MOSS development team can benefit and get right to work learning and developing--their key focus.

Save yourself some time and energy--go virtual!