Book Review: Introducing Windows Azure For IT Professionals

IntroducingWindowsAzureForITProfessionalsRecently, I finished reading the Introducing Windows Azure For IT Professionals eBook.

The chapter(s) that I found most helpful were basically all of them! hence the majority of my highlights are from basically the entire book.

I’ve decided to share my highlights from reading this specific publication, in case the points that I found of note/interest will be of some benefit to someone else. So, here are my highlights (by chapter). Note that not every chapter will have highlights (depending on the content and the main focus of my work).

 

Chapter 01: Understanding Windows Azure

  • Not every business is ready to take advantage of the different types of cloud computing services available. To help you learn whether your business is ready for the cloud, Microsoft has a web-based Cloud Security Readiness tool that assesses the systems, processes, and productivity of your current IT environment and generates a custom noncommercial report that provides recommendations to help you evaluate the benefits of cloud computing. To use this free tool, go to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/jj554736.aspx.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) In this approach, the customer utilizes standardized cloud-based services such as document management or email that are provided by the hoster. This model views the customer as the user who consumes cloud applications, typically as a pay-as-you-go service.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) In this approach, the customer pays the hoster to run a virtual machine in the hoster’s cloud. The customer is responsible for configuring and managing the virtual machine’s guest operating system and applications. This model views the customer as the IT owner since the customer has complete control over what they can do with their virtual machine.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) In this approach, the customer develops and deploys applications for a specific application architecture. The hoster provides the application runtime, storage, and integration needed to run the customer’s application and is responsible for keeping the environment up and running, operating systems updated, and customer data safe. This model views the customer as the application owner since the customer is responsible for developing and maintaining the application. The customer is also responsible for data integrity and business logic.
  • For a pictorial view of the architecture of the Windows Azure platform that you can print and hang on your office wall, download the Windows Azure poster from the Microsoft Download Center at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35473.
  • To keep up with all the latest that’s happening with the Windows Azure platform, subscribe to the Windows Azure blog on MSDN at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/. Or simply visit http://www.windowsazure.com

 

Chapter 02: Windows Azure Compute Services

  • You can copy virtual hard disks (VHDs) from your on-premises environment into Windows Azure to use as templates for creating new virtual machines. And you can copy VHDs out of Windows Azure and run them locally in your datacenter.
  • In Windows Server 2012 every aspect of the operating system can be configured and managed using Windows PowerShell.
  • The Windows Azure PowerShell module is not provided as part of Windows, however it can be added easily.
  • All the available cmdlets in the Windows Azure module can be viewed using the command: Get-Command—Module Azure
  • If the Windows PowerShell environment was not launched via the Windows Azure PowerShell program, then the first step is to actually import the Windows Azure PowerShell module which is accomplished using the following command: Import-Module “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Azure\
    PowerShell\Azure\Azure.psd1”
  • Run the command below to see every template that is really available.
    Get-AzureVMImage | ft Label,ImageName,LogicalSizeInGB
  • For more detailed information on what Windows Azure Virtual Machines is and how it works, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/documentation/services/virtual-machines/.
  • More information on Windows Azure PowerShell can be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windowsazure/jj156055.
  • “Building Your Lab, Dev, and Test Scenarios in Windows Azure Infrastucture Services (IaaS),” which is available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/MDC-B370
  • “Best Practices from Real Customers: Deploying to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS),” which is available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/MDC-B361
  • “Crash Course on Automating Deployments in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. How and Which Tools?,” which is available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/MDC-B405
  • Windows Azure provides two deployment environments for cloud services: staging and production. The staging environment is where you can test your deployment before you “swap” it into your production environment by switching the virtual IP addresses (VIPs) by which your cloud service is accessed.
  • If you are using a web.config or app.config files, you should instead consider using a service configure (.cscfg) file.
  • You can enable WAD within your application or after it has been deployed into Windows Azure.
    WAD can be configured to collect the following data from a Windows Azure role instance:

    • Windows Azure logs
    • IIS logs (web role)
    • WAD infrastructure logs
    • IIS failed request logs
    • Windows event logs
    • Performance counters
    • Crash dumps
    • Custom error logs
  • WAD will store the data into a specific Windows Azure storage account, I recommend using a dedicated account so access can be segregated from any application data
  • For Operations, we recommend the Cerebrata Azure Management Studio. If you are already using System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor your service, you will be happy to know that WAD is fully compatible and you can alert and report on data just like your Windows Azure role instance is an on-premises server.
  • For more detailed information on what Windows Azure Cloud Services is and how it works, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/documentation/services/cloud-services/.
  • For a walkthrough on how to create and deploy a cloud service using Windows Azure Cloud Services, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/services/cloud-services/how-to-create-and-deploy-a-cloud-service/.
  • For a demo of how to create and deploy a cloud service using Windows Azure, watch the TechEd 2013 presentation titled “Build Your First Cloud App: An Introduction to Windows Azure Cloud Services,” which can be found on Channel 9 at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/WAD-B321.
  • To help you decide whether to host your web application using Windows Azure Web Sites, Virtual Machines, or Cloud Services, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/windows/fundamentals/compute/.
  • We might decide at some point to store more properties, and as long as dynamic schema is on, it modifies the table on the fly. It’s recommended that you turn that off (via the Configuration page) before going live.
  • For more detailed information on what Windows Azure Mobile Services is and how it works, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/.
  • For a tutorial on how to get started using Windows Azure Mobile Services, see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/tutorials/get-started/.
  • “Build Real-World Modern Apps with Windows Azure Mobile Services on Windows Store, Windows Phone or Android,” which can be found at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/WAD-B338.

 

Chapter 03: Windows Azure Network Services

 

Chapter 04: Windows Azure Data Services

 

Chapter 05: Windows Azure App Services

 

Chapter 06: Getting Started With Windows Azure

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