Month: February 2014

Hybrid Clouds for SharePoint

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Hybrid cloud hosting provides the ultimate in control and flexibility. Combine the best characteristics of public cloud computing, virtualization and private dedicated infrastructure to build the most cost effective infrastructure for your business critical services, with the flexibility to scale your services in response to changing demand and workloads.

Cloud services such as SharePoint Online in Office 365 can be an attractive alternative to on-premises SharePoint business solutions, but for a variety of reasons, you might need to deploy specific solutions in the cloud while still maintaining your on-premises SharePoint farm. New functionality in SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online enables you to integrate services like search, Business Connectivity Services, and Duet Enterprise Online across the on-prem/cloud boundary.

In a hybrid SharePoint Server 2013/Office 365 environment, you can configure single-sign-on (SSO) to federate your on-premises Active Directory Domain(AD DS) domain with your Office 365 Enterprise tenant, just like you could in SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint Server 2013 also includes native support for OAuth 2.0 to enable server to server trust  relationships between SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online. A hybrid SharePoint environment uses this server-to-server trust relationship at the service level to deliver cross-boundary functionality and content on behalf of authenticated users.

This hybrid search solution enables functionality like the following:

  • Company A remote and branch office users can use SSO to log in to Company A’s SharePoint Online tenant (https://CompanyA.sharepoint.com) using their AD DS credentials (such as user@companya.com). When Company A users search for content, their search results include both content from https://CompanyA.sharepoint.com, and the same on-premises SharePoint content they would see if they were to search only the on-premises SharePoint farm.
  • Company B users can log in to the SharePoint Online tenant (https://CompanyA.sharepoint.com) using AD DS credentials provided by Company A. Company B user’s search results include content from both https://CompanyA.sharepoint.com and on-premises SharePoint, restricted to content which they are explicitly authorized to view.
  • Company C users are only given accounts in Office 365, so their search results do not include any on-premises SharePoint content.

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SharePoint-hosted app

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Add a cloud service to an existing app

If you already have a provider-hosted app for SharePoint that you want to host on Windows Azure, choose the web app project in the solution for the app for SharePoint. On the menu bar, choose Project, Add Windows Azure Cloud Service Project. A Windows Azure project, called Name Of The Web App Project Azure, is added to the solution for your app for SharePoint. A web role for the web project is also added to the project for the Windows Azure cloud service. The Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 sets the necessary project properties so that the web role can work with the app for SharePoint.
Converting an app for SharePoint to use Windows Azure web role

 

Add an app to an existing web role

If you already have a web role in a Windows Azure cloud service that you want to use as a host for a provider-hosted app for SharePoint, open the Windows Azure cloud project in Visual Studio, and then, in Solution Explorer, choose the web role project. On the menu bar, choose Project, Add App for SharePoint Project. A project for a provider-hosted app for SharePoint is created, called NameOfTheWebAppProject.Azure, and added to the solution. Visual Studio references the Windows Azure web role as the web project host for the app for SharePoint.

Adding an app for SharePoint to an existing web role

Adding an app for SharePoint to an existing web role

Types of hosting for apps for SharePoint
App for SharePoint Hosting Types

 

 

Microsoft Azure Drops Storage Prices To Match Amazon’s Latest Price Reduction

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Earlier this week, Amazon Web Servicesreduced its prices for its S3 cloud storage service and today, Microsoft is following suit with a price reduction for its own cloud storage services.

Locally redundant storage on Azure now matches Amazon’s prices and Azure Storage transactions are getting a 50 percent price cut, which matches Amazon’s latest price cuts. In addition, Microsoft’s Locally Redundant Disks/Page Blobs Storage is seeing a 28 percent price reduction.

Last April, Microsoft said it would match any AWS price drop, so today’s announcement isn’t surprising. Given that its new prices are effective worldwide, Microsoft argues, today’s price drop actually means that Azure storage will now be less expensive than AWS’s offerings in some regions.

In its announcement today, Microsoft also stressed that, while pricing is obviously important for its users, it also wants to offer “best in class reliability / scalability.” Specifically, the company argues that its redundant storage option means data will also be replicated in data centers that are at least 400 miles apart. Microsoft also argues that because its users get durable storage with their virtual machines at no extra charge – whereas AWS customers have to pay for storage space on EBS – its service can be significantly cheaper for customers who rely on this kind of storage for their apps.

Adobe Partners With Microsoft’s Azure To Power NBC’s Sochi Olympics Video Streaming

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NBC caught a lot of flak for its live video streams during the London Olympics, but for Sochi, the network promises to stream every event live. Just like during the London Olympics, NBC’s partner for making these streams possible (and authenticating cable subscribers) is Adobe – and Adobe itself is partnering with Microsoft to power the streams.

Adobe’s Primetime platform will power the video delivery and video ads on the NBC Sports website and the NBC Sports Live Extra App for iOS and Android. All events will be available live and on demand.

Just like last year, users in the U.S. who want to watch these streams need to be cable subscribers and Adobe will use TV Everywhere to authenticate subscribers. For the first time, Comcast X1 subscribers will also get access to live streaming of all of these events on this platform.

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Cord cutters, however, can only watch for 30 minutes (and five additional minutes per day) before they are asked to authenticate their accounts.

As Adobe’s VP of Primetime Jeremy Helfand told me, Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, (Updateturns out Verizon’s auto-login won’t be ready in time for the Olympics) and Midcontinent subscribers will not have to authenticate their accounts. Instead, the system will automatically recognize their accounts based on their IPs and grant them access to the programming. Adobe first tested this system with a more limited number of cable providers during the London Olympics. As Helfand noted, the idea here is to make it as easy as possible for viewers to get access to this online content.

In total, Adobe and NBC expect to stream more than 1,000 hours of video for all 15 sports and 98 events that are part of the Sochi Olympics.

In the back-end, Adobe will use Microsoft’s Windows Azure Media Services to power all of the encoding and streaming. This partnership, Helfand said, will continue even after the Olympics. As the broadcasters move from experimentation to going live with their online video streams for big events, he argues, they also need to ensure that the streams live up to their audience’s exceptions.

Adobe plans to continue this partnership with Microsoft after the Olympics are over and to offer it to other broadcasters as well.

Helfand also stressed that if the networks learned one thing from London, it’s that online doesn’t cannibalize TV viewing. The networks are, however, increasingly interested in finding ways to more effectively monetize these video streams. NBC will use Adobe’s Primetime platform to deliver its video ads during the Olympics for both live and on-demand streaming. This will allow the networks to push personalized ads to online viewers, which should be significantly more effective than just streaming the regular broadcast ads.

Migrating Custom Application or Products to Azure

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Katprotech provides existing applications for migration to the cloud by making use of proof-of-concepts before moving into production. We provide end-to-end solutions for migration, covering areas such as architecture, design, build, test, migration and deployment onto the cloud. Deploying multiple instances of the web role allows the website to scale to meet demand, and ensures that it provides the availability and reliability that Trey Research requires. Background processing tasks, which occur after a customer places an order, are handed off to a worker role. Trey Research can deploy multiple instances of the worker role to handle the varying load as customers place orders in the website.

Deploy All of the Data in the Cloud

Deploying all of the data in the cloud so that it is close to the Orders application can help to maximize performance and minimize response times, and removes the requirement to synchronize data between cloud and on-premises locations. It also allows Trey Research to take advantage of the scalability and performance of either Windows Azure storage or SQL Azure, both of which provide reliable, fast, and efficient data access for the application and make it easy to expand storage availability as required.

 

Steps for Create and Deploy a Cloud Service

 Prepare your app

  • Before you can deploy a cloud service, you must create the cloud service package (.cspkg) from your application code and a cloud service configuration file (.cscfg). Each cloud service package contains application files and configurations. The service configuration file provides the configuration settings.
  • The Windows Azure SDK provides tools for preparing these required deployment files. You can install the SDK from the Windows Azure Downloads page, in the language in which you prefer to develop your application code.

Before you begin

  • If you haven’t installed the Windows Azure SDK, click Install Azure SDK to open Windows Azure Downloads page, and then download the SDK for the language in which you prefer to develop your code.

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Why migrate to the cloud?

As a prelude to the architectural discussion, I want to re-iterate the common drivers for migration. Four classes of reasons stand out, and each of these then reappears when discussing the actual architectures. These reasons are orthogonal: they can all co-exist in varying degrees.

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  1. Scale. Suppose you have a web site that is simply too slow. You have identified the bottlenecks and know the best approach is to add front-end servers. The investment might be impractical – perhaps because of you need the servers only at extreme peak loads, or because getting the sufficient hardware would rip apart budgets you are unable to reconcile. Or, if you’re a startup, you simply may not have the money.
  2. Reliability. Your on-premise data center may have the capacity, but how is your geo-replication? For some apps, cloud can provide data security and service endpoint availability that far exceeds what you can do on-site with reasonable costs.
  3. Connectivity. Sometimes the essential benefit is the improved availability of your application. Maybe your IT department simply refuses to open your app to the world, or your application needs tunneled connections to several well-protected internal networks. Setting up Windows Azure Service Bus may well be easier than the political judo necessary to open the required connections.
  4. Flexibility. The cloud lets you set up – and tear down – resources at a phenomenal speed, and your request for extra machines or storage is not bounded by the spare capacity your datacenter may have. If a campaign website needs to prepare for a heavy-duty weekend, you may not have the servers available, and purchasing may be too slow or expensive.

What about costs? Notice that I didn’t mention cost reductions, even though you may quite well get considerable cost benefits. However, calculating the savings beforehand is often difficult. There are at least two scenarios where the cost argument works well: 1) continuing on-premises would incur non-linear costs (e.g. the investment required to found a totally server facility) and 2) when you need very elastic scaling (i.e. your peak load requires much more capacity than your average use).

Both these scenarios imply local investments that cannot be initially fully utilized – and perhaps never. This doesn’t mean that the cloud’s cost benefit only derives from capital expenditure. It’s just that the equations for operational expenditure become very muddled with details such as workforce costs for backup administration, estimated cost for loss of service and so on. Direct cost may be a reason to migrate, but it’s rarely the most important one.

Azure Migration solution portfolio includes:

  • Client Workshops on Cloud and Windows Azure.
  • Application Assessments for Cloud and Windows Azure.
  • Application Proof of Concepts for Cloud and Windows Azure.
  • Application Migration Delivery for Cloud and Windows Azure.
  • Migrate existing applications to Windows Azure
  • Support & maintain Windows Azure applications