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DevOps: Connecting VSTS to Azure

Ken Muse

30 Jun , 2017  

DevOps is about increasing efficiency and eliminating barriers. There’s a lot of convenience in deploying directly from Visual Studio Team Services into the Azure cloud. With plugin based build and release pipelines, it’s very easy to quickly configure a release and see the results online. You can quickly configure a release to deploy to Azure and the wizards and settings will automatically configure the necessary permissions and credentials in the two systems. Everything just works … unless you’re running VSTS in a separate account or environment from the target Azure subscription. In this post, I’m going to walk you through the black art of manually connecting VSTS to an Azure subscription to enable automated release and deployment pipelines.

Getting started in VSTS

To demonstrate the problem and how to fix it, we’re going to create a very simple Release pipeline. In VSTS, begin by opening Build & Release. From there, you can choose Releases and create a new release definition by pressing the large “+” on the page and choosing to create a release definition.

Begin with an empty definition.

For the purposes of this demo, you do not need to associate it with any build artifacts. You can select Choose Later.… Read more

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How to Avoid a Docker Database Disaster

Blaize Stewart

14 Jun , 2017  


Containers are cool – and everyone and their mother is trying to get on board with them. While many applications are natural fit for containers in many cases, it feels like some applications are forced into containers so vendors can say, “Hey look at me! I do containers too!” This is particularly true of database vendors who are using container hype to sell their software. Imagine for a moment this not so unrealistic anecdote:  your CEO  just got back from a conference and heard all the really cool things that you can do with containers. He or she gives the edict to IT to containerize everything because he or she heard the sales pitch: “Containers can unify DevOps pipelines for databases, apps, and resources in IT. Containers are easier and faster to setup and install compared to virtual machines. Containers lower management needs and hardware requirements relative to VM’s by reducing infrastructure. All of this means huge costs saving. Wow! Aren’t containers great!?” So now, you’re faced with this edict and you have to figure out how to take a massive MS-SQL cluster, and containerize it… or do you?

Perhaps not on this scale, but this scenario is one that enterprises are facing every day.… Read more

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How To,Tutorial,Wintellect Blogs

DevOps and Docker: Creating Automated Builds with GitHub, Docker Hub, and WebHooks

Blaize Stewart

1 Jun , 2017  

Create Automated Builds

The GitHub repo used in this article can be found here.

One of the lesser known features of Docker is its ability to do cloud builds based on WebHooks from GitHub and Bitbucket. Bitbucket and GitHub integration works in Docker natively so that when code is pushed to a repository, Docker will download and deploy the code and build the image on Docker hub automatically with Docker Automated Builds.

Setting it up is easy. Logon to Docker Hub, and you can select from the Create menu, select Create Automated Build.

docker automated builds

This will take you to a page with two big buttons – one for Github and one for Bitbucket. Both work the same way – You first link your Github account with the Docker Hub account. This process is pretty straight forward. Once you link the accounts, you can now select the GitHub or Bitbucket repository you want to use. Once you select the repository, you can now create the build integration. Name the Docker Hub repository whatever you want then click Create.

Connect to GitHub

Now, you can git push your app to GitHub or Bitbucket with git, and it will then trigger a build on Docker Hub. The push will need to include a Dockerfile in the root of the git repo.… Read more

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Survey of the Azure Data Storage Landscape


18 May , 2017   Video

Differences Between the Azure Data Storage Optionsazure data storage

In this webinar with Ike Ellis, a 5 year Microsoft Data Platform MVP, you will learn about the Azure Data storage platform and where the best places are to store each type of data. With so many available options, one can be paralyzed with choice. This webinar seeks to ease that anxiety and provide direction for application developers and DBAs. This webinar includes info on Azure CosmosDB which was announced at Build 2017 to replace DocumentDB.

You’ll learn the differences between:

  • Azure Blob Storage
  • Azure Table Storage
  • Azure CosmosDB
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure SQL in a VM
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Azure Data Lake
  • Lots of other things supported:
    • Postgres, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis

You can download the demo source code and Survey of the Azure Data Landscape – Wintellect Slides.

See demos and review case studies so that you’ll have a complete view of how data is stored in Azure and how to choose great tools, leading your project down the path to success.… Read more

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New Webinar: An Introduction to Azure DocumentDB

Josh Lane

16 Jan , 2017   Video

In the last several years NoSQL database stores have emerged as viable and useful alternatives to traditional relational databases. While relational technologies like SQL Server will likely always have a place in the enterprise, the means to store data as documents or connected graphs vs. classic “rows and columns” is powerful and should occupy a first-class position in any modern enterprise developer’s toolbox.

Azure DocumentDB is true NoSQL-as-a-service; it provides a fast document-oriented data store that scales globally on the Azure cloud and provides familiar JavaScript and SQL-style query syntax. It has SDK integration with .NET, Node.js, and other developer platforms, and even offers protocol compatibility with MongoDB. Attend this one hour, demo-filled webinar to see DocDB in action and learn how you can start using it today!

Click on the video above to view, and post your feedback in the comments.… Read more

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Learn About Azure Container Services in Latest Wintellect Webinar

Blaize Stewart

31 Oct , 2016   Video

Azure Container Services is one of the hottest implementations of Containers-as-a-Service for many reasons. Unlike many other CaaS implentations, ACS is pure Docker, yet it is fully backed and supported by many popular tools for Azure administration. When deployed, it is production ready, secure, and easily scaled.

This one-hour webinar will demonstrate the power and efficiency of ACS and how you can use it for your applications. Click on the video above to view, and give us your feedback in the comments.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

A Brief Tour of Azure IoT Hub

Josh Lane

29 Sep , 2016  

I’m preparing some material for a webinar on Azure IoT in mid-October (you are signed up, aren’t you?) and thought I’d do a quick intro to the basic concepts and moving parts.

Azure IoT Hub is a cloud-scale service for managing and securely communicating with large numbers of field devices (potentially millions at once); communication can occur from device to cloud, and also from cloud to device (for issuing commands or queries to devices). It’s standards-based so it works with many device types, a number of communications protocols and guest operating systems, and supports various network topologies. It also supports custom gateways for edge analytics, traffic optimization, etc. Finally, it integrates with a number of existing Azure services like Stream Analytics, Machine Learning, and Event Hubs to maximize scale and minimize time to insight.

Let’s walk through a sample Azure IoT Hub-based solution and see it in action. I live in Atlanta, GA USA and our public transit system provides geolocation and other metadata about buses and trains; we’ll use the bus data to simulate device activity in the field (each bus == a device) and use IoT Hubs, Stream Analytics, Azure Storage, DocumentDB, and some custom code to collect and present that data in a meaningful way.… Read more

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Microsoft Will Ditch Azure RemoteApp, Replace With New Citrix Service

Paul Ballard

12 Aug , 2016  

Microsoft plans to drop its Azure RemoteApp service over the next year, instead partnering with Citrix to develop new solutions for allowing remote access to Windows apps from a variety of devices.

Azure RemoteApp has given businesses the ability to deploy apps from the cloud to employees who are using PC and mobile devices running Windows, Mac OSX, iOS or Android.

Microsoft says its partnership with Citrix represents the next generation of such services, which it’s calling XenApp express:

“Customers have provided us consistent feedback that they want a comprehensive, end-to-end, cloud-based solution for delivering Windows apps. The best way for us to deliver this is with Citrix through XenApp “express”, currently under development. XenApp “express” combines the simplicity of application remoting and the scalability of Azure with the security, management, and performance benefits of XenApp, to deliver Windows applications to any employee on any device.”

Microsoft will continue to sell Azure RemoteApp through September 2016, but all support for the service will end September 1, 2017.  Meanwhile, Citrix will release a technical preview of XenApp express in Q4 of this year, with a general release set for early 2017, according to the company’s website.

The two companies will provide more details on XenApp express at a live virtual event on August 23.… Read more

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Microsoft in 2015: The Good, the Bad and the Works in Progress

Paul Ballard

29 Dec , 2015  

‘Tis the season for year-in-review stories, and the techie blogosphere is sounding off on Microsoft’s performance in 2015. It was a banner year for Redmond, most observers agree, despite a few stumbles. Microsoft made bold forays into newer areas like virtual reality and hardware, while leveraging its strong enterprise customer base to build its cloud business, and releasing an operating system that people actually were excited to use. Or as the headline of a recent Business Insider piece put it, “Everybody suddenly loves Microsoft–but the turnaround’s not over yet.

By far the biggest success was Windows 10, now running on more than 120 million machines. With a seamless user experience on desktop and mobile, the new operating system “has for the most part erased any lingering bad memories” from “the disaster that was Windows 8” as Paul Thurrott writes on Petri. Heavy hitters from Netflix to Pandora have recently announced apps built on the Universal Windows Platform, which allows developers to create for multiple devices at once. (There’s even a BB-8 app that lets you control an on-screen droid with voice commands. Merry Christmas, Star Wars fans!)

Critics have slammed Microsoft for failing to address privacy concerns about user data collected by Cortana, Windows 10’s virtual assistant, and for a pushy rollout that had Windows 7 and 8.1 users facing a barrage of prompts to update.… Read more

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Microsoft Drops IoT Gauntlet, What Will You Build?

Paul Ballard

22 Dec , 2015  

Microsoft,, and Arduino have launched a new contest they are calling “The World’s Largest Arduino Maker Challenge” with prizes for the best combination of Arduino, Windows 10, and Windows Azure.  With more than 1,000 winners receiving a new Arduino MKR1000 board there seems to be plenty of prizes to go around.  The top 3 winners will receive a trip to Maker Faire in Shenzen, New York, the Bay Area, or Rome (whichever you can get to for $1500) along with a $500 gift card and a platform to present your work at the Microsoft and Arduino booths.

The contest requires you to use either the Arduino UNO or MKR1000 to host a Windows 10 based Universal Windows App that utilizes the Windows Virtual Shields for Arduino API or Windows Remote Arduino.  Bonus points go to those who integrate their IoT device into Azure’s IoT stack using IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, or Machine Learning.

For more information, check out the Contest Brief and get building!… Read more

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