Category Archives : Cloud Strategy



Azure Strategy and Implementation Guide – free download

This blog post is co-authored by Joachim Hafner, Cloud Solution Architect 

We’re pleased to offer a free e-book for those of you who are new to Azure or in the beginning stages of planning a cloud migration: the Azure Strategy and Implementation Guide for IT Organizations. As cloud solution architects, we hear a lot of the same questions from customers who are starting to think about their cloud implementation process. This motivated us to write this e-book, which provides guidance in the form of a blueprint which customers can follow to help form their cloud strategy.

Whether you are starting with Azure or doing more general research regarding how IT teams navigate cloud implementation, this guide offers a balance of broadly applicable advice and Azure specifics for you to consider. Here is an overview of what is covered:

Chapter 1: Governance – This chapter covers the starting points, from the aspirational “digital transformation” to the important tactical steps of administration and resource naming conventions. Get an overview of topics such as envisioning, to cloud readiness, administration, and security standards and policy. Chapter 2: Architecture – This section takes a longer look at security, touches on cloud design patterns, and




Five webinars to catch you up on hybrid cloud
Five webinars to catch you up on hybrid cloud

If you need to get up to speed on how to work best in a hybrid environment, we’ve collected five of our most-viewed webinars from the past year for your binge-watching pleasure. These on-demand sessions cover a variety of topics essential to individuals who find themselves needing to work on their hybrid mixed on-premise and cloud strategy:

1. Delivering innovation with the right hybrid cloud solution

If you don’t yet have a plan to take control of your mixed on-premises and cloud infrastructure, simplifying each user’s identity to a single credential can help you easily manage and secure services and create a data platform that simplifies security.

The on-demand delivering innovation with the right hybrid cloud solution webinar covers how to:

Consolidate identities and create a consistent data infrastructure. Unify development with help from Azure Stack application patterns. Select and use the best data platform, no matter your cloud model. 2. Migrating to a hybrid cloud environment: An insider’s walkthrough of 3 key methods

Your company has created a cloud strategy, or maybe you are playing catch-up to an employee-driven move to the cloud. Completing that move in an orderly way is a top priority.

Migrating to a hybrid cloud




Join Microsoft at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe

If you’re in Warsaw, Poland March 12-15, you’ll want to come and join Microsoft at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe. This conference is a great opportunity to come together with high-performance computing leaders and practitioners. Microsoft will be there to talk about how Azure enables our customers to run true HPC workloads in the cloud.

Associate Professor Dariusz Mrożek from Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice will deliver a keynote titled “Accelerating scientific discoveries in protein bioinformatics with Microsoft Azure cloud platform”. In addition, we will be delivering a half-day of hands-on workshops on March 15. The workshop will include:

Deploying Linux RDMA Infiniband cluster with Azure CLI. Deploying HPC cluster from CycleCloud template. Azure Batch AI training lab. OpenFOAM simulation in Azure Marketplace UberCloud container.

The workshop will demonstrate different ways of using Azure for running HPC jobs. Instructors will start with an introductory presentation of HPC services on Azure and the workshop environment, followed by a hands-on lab session in which they will go step-by-step with the participants through the lab content. Participants will also receive free Azure passes and will be able to execute the labs following the instructor guidance or at their own pace.

If you’re coming to




B-series burstable VM support in AKS now available

We are thrilled to announce the availability of B-series VM’s, burstable VM’s in Azure Container Service (AKS).

Burstable VM’s (B-series) are significantly cheaper compared to standard and optimal recommended VM’s like Standard_DS2_V2. B-series VM’s are particularly suited for development and test environments where performance requirements are bursts rather than consistent. In fact, B-Series provides the cheapest cost with bursts CPU usage and thus reduces development and test environment costs significantly. We hope that this addition will significantly reduce the cost of learning Kubernetes AKS, building proof of concepts on Azure Container Service (AKS), running dev/test workloads, etc.

The following configurations are available today.

SKU Type VCPUS GB Ram Data Disks Max IOPS Local SSD B1s Standard 1 1 2 800 2GB B1ms Standard 1 2 2 1600 4GB B2s Standard 2 4 4 3200 8GB B2ms Standard 2 8 4 4800 16GB B4ms Standard 4 16 8 7200 32GB B8ms Standard 8 32 16 10800 64GB

In comparison, a Standard_DS2_V2 node costs greater than five times the B1/B2 SKU’s today. Check the latest VM pricing.

To get started log on to the Azure portal and search for Container Service (managed). As you follow the AKS create cluster workflow, you will




Unlock Query Performance with SQL Data Warehouse using Graphical Execution Plans

The Graphical Execution Plan feature within SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is now supported for SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW)! With a click of a button, you can create a graphical representation of a distributed query plan for SQL DW.

Before this enhancement, query troubleshooting for SQL DW was often a tedious process, which required you to run the EXPLAIN command. SQL DW customers can now seamlessly and visually debug query plans to identify performance bottlenecks directly within the SSMS window. This experience extends the query troubleshooting experience by displaying costly data movement operations which are the most common reasons for slow distributed query plans. Below is a simple example of troubleshooting a distributed query plan with SQL DW leveraging the Graphical Execution Plan.

The view below displays the estimated execution plan for a query. As we can see, this is an incompatible join which occurs when there is a join between two tables distributed on different columns. An incompatible join will create a ShuffleMove operation, where temp tables will be created on every distribution to satisfy the join locally before streaming the results back to the user. The ShuffleMove has become a performance bottleneck for this query:





Customer success stories with Azure Backup: Russell Reynolds

This is the first of a blog series which presents success stories from customers with Azure Backup. Here we discuss how Azure Backup helped Russell Reynolds

Customer background

Russell Reynolds is a global leadership and executive search firm which helps their clients with assessment, executive search, and leadership transitions within boards of directors, chief executive officers, and other key roles within the C-suite. Having moved to Azure to reduce their IT and datacenter costs, the company started to look for an alternative to their tape backups which was proving both cumbersome and expensive. Enter Azure Backup.

How Azure Backup helped

With Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manager they backup their VMWare workloads locally and to Azure cloud where they can be retained up to 99 years eliminating their needs for tapes. They used the Azure Backup Offline Seeding capability to copy their initial 10 TB of data to cloud. Thereafter, Azure Backup transfers only incremental data during daily backups, reducing storage consumption and need for huge bandwidth.

“Even though we used very reputable partners for tape handling, it always made us nervous when our data left our facilities”, says David W.Pfister, Director of Global Distibuted Infrastructure and Client




Compliance assessment reports for Azure Stack are now available

A few months ago, we announced we were performing a compliance assessment on Microsoft Azure Stack, today we are happy to share that the compliance assessment is done and available to you.

Knowing that preparing compliance paperwork is a tedious task, we precompiled the documentation for our customers. Since Azure Stack is delivered as an integrated system through hardware partners, we are in a unique position to perform a formal compliance assessment of Azure Stack that applies to all our customers. This resulted in a set of precompiled compliance documents that customers can now use to accelerate their compliance certification process.

We are glad to announce that Coalfire, a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and independent auditing firm, has audited and evaluated Azure Stack Infrastructure against the technical controls of PCI-DSS and the CSA Cloud Control Matrix, and found that Azure Stack satisfies the applicable controls.

In the assessor’s words:

“It is Coalfire’s opinion that Microsoft Azure Stack integrated system, reviewed between July 2017 and October 2017, can be effective in creating a PCI DSS compliant infrastructure and to assist in a comprehensive program of compliance with PCI DSS version 3.2.”

“It is Coalfire’s opinion that Microsoft Azure Stack as deployed




Azure Standard support now offers the highest value support for production workloads amongst major cloud providers

Our Azure customers have three common needs from their cloud support plan:

A fixed monthly cost that is affordable and simple to forecastFast response time for critical casesA plan that covers their entire organization and eliminates guesswork in how many support plans are needed and who can use them

We are pleased to announce important updates for Azure Standard support. With these changes, Azure now offers the most cost effective and predictable support offering amongst major cloud providers.

Azure Standard support now includes:

A significant price drop to a fixed cost of $100 USD per month, so forecasted support costs are completely predictableFaster initial response time, now at 1 hour for critical casesContinuing our current offering of unlimited 24×7 technical and billing support for your entire organization

Get Azure Standard support now >>

Click here for more details, eligibility, and frequently asked questions.

Azure is continuously improving and expanding the range of options to help you accelerate your cloud journey. From the built-in Azure Advisor service that provides free, proactive, and personalized best practice recommendations, to direct connection with Azure engineers through multiple levels of Azure support. There are also unique support options for different types of




Announcing the extension of Azure IP Advantage to Azure Stack

Azure IP Advantage now covers workloads deployed to Azure Stack. As customers rely on Azure Stack to enable hybrid cloud scenarios and extend the reach of Azure to their own data centers or in hosted environments, they increasingly need to navigate unfamiliar IP risks inherent in the digital world. The Azure IP Advantage benefits, such as the uncapped IP indemnification of Azure services, including the open source software powering these services, or the defensive portfolio of 10,000 patents, are available to customers innovating in the hybrid cloud with Azure Stack.

Customers use Azure Stack to access cloud services on-premises or in disconnected environments. For example, oil and gas giant Schlumberger use Azure Stack to enhance its drilling operations. Customers such as Saxo Bank also use Azure Stack in sovereign or regulated context where there is not an Azure region, while reusing the same application code globally. With Azure Stack, customers can rely on a consistent set of services and APIs to run their applications in a hybrid cloud environment. Azure IP Advantage IP protection benefits now cover customers consistently in the hybrid cloud.

With Azure IP Advantage, Azure Stack services receive uncapped indemnification from Microsoft, including for the open source




How cloud speed helps SQL Server DBAs
How cloud speed helps SQL Server DBAs

A few years ago, the Microsoft SQL Server product team introduced a new cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Azure SQL Database, which shares the SQL Server code base. Running a cloud-first service required significant changes to the legacy SQL Server engineering model which took years of investment in order to fully enable. With these engineering model changes came big benefits which positively impacted both Azure SQL Database and SQL Server.

Even if you are a SQL Server database administrator who isn’t using Azure SQL Database today, you’ll still be seeing benefits from Microsoft’s investments in the cloud. This blog post will review how engineering model transformations, driven by cloud requirements, resulted in several improvements in how we build, ship and service SQL Server. 

Features arrive faster

In the earlier days of SQL Server (2005 through 2012), SQL Server had roughly three-year long engineering cycles. For each planned release of SQL Server, a significant amount of planning would go into the up-front design, using a waterfall-like software development process coordinated across different teams. This included the generation of functional specification documentation by program managers, design specifications by developers and automated testing code developed by testers. 

Once SQL Server finally shipped, customers could take years to