June, 2011 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

June, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    High Performance Computing Training Resources for academia



    For those interested in High Performance Computing using Windows HPC Server 2008R2 and Windows Azure please see the following training materials available at download.microsoft.com

    A number of academic worldwide including participants from TCCAP, collaborators from MSR Cloud futures conference, and Azure, HPC TSPs are already using the samples and utilities we exclusively provide as an important part of their Azure solutions. 

    The online version allows you to access the content quickly, and more conveniently.  This training kit is intended for use by people who are familiar with Windows HPC Server 2008R2, and wish to learn how to use the Azure burst scenario, which is described in the article Windows HPC with Burst to Windows Azure: Application Models and Data Considerations.

    Link to all MSDN Training courses online:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/trainingcourses

    Link to HPC with Azure burst Training course: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/HPCAzureBurstTrainingCourse

    Status Update on Sp2 training content: We are almost ready with 3-4 exciting new samples that is coming at the beginning of July that covers MPI on azure, invoking Scheduler REST interface on Phone 7 (Mango) and BLAST DNA sequencing with REST enabled web interface. 

    Preview video of MPI on azure, invoking Scheduler REST interface on Phone 7 (Mango)


    Parametric Sweep

    Parametric sweep provides a straightforward development path for solving delightfully parallel problems on a cluster (sometimes referred to as "embarrassingly parallel" problems, which have no data interdependencies or shared state precluding linear scaling through parallelization). For example, prime numbers calculation for a large range of numbers. Parametric sweep applications run multiple instances of the same program on different sets of input data, stored in a series of indexed storage items, such as files on disk or rows in a database table. Each instance of a parametric sweep application runs as a separate task, and many such tasks can execute concurrently, depending on the amount of available cluster resources.


    Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is an architectural style designed for building distributed systems. The SOA actors are services: independent software packages that expose their functionality by receiving data (requests) and returning data (responses). SOA is designed to support the distribution of an application across computers and networks, which makes it a natural candidate for scaling on a cluster. The SOA support provided by Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 is based on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), a .NET framework for building distributed applications. Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP1 improves SOA support by hosting WCF services inside Windows Azure nodes, in addition to on-premises nodes.

    Excel Offloading

    The execution of compute intensive Microsoft Excel workbooks with independent calculations can be sometimes scaled using a cluster. The Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP1 integration with Windows Azure supports User Defined Functions (UDFs) offloading. Excel workbook calculations that are based on UDFs defined in an XLL file can be installed on the cluster’s nodes (on-premises and/or Windows Azure nodes). With the XLL installed on the cluster, the user can perform the UDF calls remotely on the cluster instead of locally on the machine where the Excel workbook is open.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Imagine Cup idea becomes a referenced Health Application


    Amazing story of the power of the Imagine Cup. This months Microsoft Health Tech Today 


    We are excited to announce this week’s episode of Health Tech Today, features a country winner of the 2011 Imagine Cup Windows Phone 7 competition with Lifelens from a team of students from UCLA, University of California, Davis, Harvard and the University of Central Florida.

    Lifelens was designed in less than six months, this app came out of as the U.S.A winning entry to Imagine Cup 2011  Windows Phone 7 Application competition. Lifelens is a revolutionary new mobile app to detect malarial parasites.

    This demonstrates the power and exposure of the Imagine Cup and how the Imagine Cup is an exciting opportunity for the academic community, with the power and exposure of showcasing a student application on the frontier of mobile medicine.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    UK Office Trainers join round table discussion with Microsoft Learning



    On Monday 13th June 2011, I attended a number of meetings at the University of York, UK, the University had a specific event entitle Office 2010 and Beyond! after the event the University of York IT Academy team hosted a round table event with 17 Microsoft Certified Trainers ‘MCTs’ who specialise in training Microsoft Office technologies. 


    The trainers, many of whom had travelled from all over the UK, joined Andrew Bettany, from the University of York IT Academy and member of the Microsoft Learning Advisory Council, and Wendy Johnson, Senior Product Manager, Office Certification at Microsoft Learning (Redmond, WA) and myself from Microsoft UK.

    The discussion was organised to follow an IT Industry event at the University’s new Ron Cooke Hub building. During the afternoon we showcased what is new and "cool" in the Office/SharePoint arena - each presenter had just 30 minutes each to impress the audience of nearly 100 attendees. 



    Following the public event, 17 MCTs held an informal roundtable discussion with Wendy which provoked lively discussion and provided a range of suggestions and feedback regarding Microsoft Office Specialist certification, training and the value of being an "IW" (information worker) MCT. 

    Andrew Bettany, who organised the event, said "It has been a fantastic day.  Particularly great to see so many MCTs attend the event, readily engaging with each other, sharing ideas, best practice and exploring ways to develop and improve the program and community.  There was a real eagerness to repeat this type of event again."

    The discussions were extremely interesting.  It was clear that the academic sector has seen large growth, year on year, for "MOS" (Microsoft Office Specialist) certification. Collectively the group estimated that the audience had taught 250,000+ learners during their careers.  There were some fascinating insights from MCTs on how they value the status of being an MCT whilst at the same time most preferred to describe themselves as "Certified Office Experts”.

    The Microsoft IT Academy Programme offers educational establishments extensive benefits and the opportunity to deliver Microsoft’s popular I.T. Training and Qualifications to their Students, Staff and wider community.

    Click here to find out which Microsoft qualifications you could deliver.

    Members benefits include:

    • FREE Microsoft eLearning (over 250 courses)
    • FREE Microsoft Software Licenses
    • Massive discounts on Microsoft Certifications and Courseware
    • FREE MSDNAA & TechNet Plus Subscription
    • FREE Microsoft Certified Trainer Membership
    • And much, much more.....
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Do you want your University to become a Microsoft BizSpark Network Partner



    Microsoft BizSpark: Helping startups succeed with all the right resources

    Microsoft® BizSpark™ is a global program that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.

    BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate.

    All we need to proceed is for the university to assign a programme owner. There is a straightforward agreement, which you may need to pass by your legal department, but just to give you some assurance, this has not caused any issue for the more than 2,000 organisations around the world that have already signed up as Network Partners.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Faculty Connection–Registration for Faculty only curricula



    To download software from the Faculty Connection site or to access faculty only material in the Faculty Connection Resource Center a faculty member will need to become verified. What this means is the person will need to submit proof they are a faculty member and not a student.

    There are two options to accomplish this:

    • The first option is to submit any of the following information (to a company called e-academy who works with Microsoft to validate the faculty):
      • A link to the school's web site showing their name listed as a faculty member.
      • A copy of their current faculty ID.
      • A letter from the school that shows they are a current faculty member.
    • The second option involves the use of a Personal Invitation Code. This code is generated and is given to a faculty member to use when they follow the verification process.

    If you try to download software or faculty only material you will see a Get Verified Now! button.


    As you follow the process they will get to a screen that allows you to either enter the Personal Invitation Code or click the Manual Verification link. (See screen shot below.)


    So if your a UK academic and interested in faculty only material contact us via the Faculty Connection Linkedin Group and simply ask for a Personal Invitation Code.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The development of Windows Phone applications in academia


    “Phone Apps” are fast becoming a huge growth market and I know many UK institutions are looking to how to incorporate mobile development within the academic curricula.

    Additional for Windows Phone development many vendors and partners are now looking at how to develop mobile apps for Windows Phone based on XNA, Silverlight, HTML5 and .NET technologies. This has resulted in a demand for developers with these skills sets..

    This opportunity will no doubt only get bigger with the recent announcement of Windows 8 and to help academics, researchers and the development community understand Microsoft’s future technologies the Build Conference has been created. The Build conference will take place 13th – 16th of September 2011 and as UK academic, administrator or researcher you will receive and educational discount for attendance.


    Additionally with Microsoft DreamSpark, the student and academic community can get for FREE the same tools professional developers and designers have, and additionally allow students and academic to upload Windows Phone applications and the ability to sell mobile applications via the Windows Phone MarketPlace.


    Using DreamSpark means you also get a FREE Development App Hub account waiving the $99 registration fee and giving you the first 100 application submissions for free.


    We have additionally supported academics with curricula resources via the Faculty Connection resources site. The Faculty Connection resource allows you to download an entire curricula on Windows Phone Development and we have provided numerous additional resources for academics wishing to teach Microsoft development Technologies and software to to students.

    We have additionally built numerous video and online resources aimed specifically at Windows Phone developers for example you can watch Rob Miles from the University of Hull, screencast containing a step-by-step demonstration of the process to upload your first Windows Phone 7 application to the AppHub.

    The AppHub contains a vast amount of information and FAQ on how to develop for Windows Phone. simply visit http://developer.windowsphone.com


    We really look forward to hearing about your implementation of Windows Phone development.


    Finally if you would like to share your experience or discuss the opportunities of Windows Phone development within academia or working with potential vendors on student projects and applications. Please don't hesitate to get in touch via the Faculty Connection UK Linkedin Group.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What Microsoft application can be virtualised and supported?


    We get lots of questions over what applications can be virtualised and supported by Microsoft…

    The following web site from the Windows Server teams gives you comprehensive guidance on all Microsoft products and if they can be virtualised and support using products such as HyperV, VMWare, Citrix etc.

    Server Virtualization Validation Program






  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Thinking Digital 2011 and Microsoft Vision of the Future




    Last week I spent a few days in Newcastle at the awesome Thinking Digital Conference. Thinking Digital is a wonderful mix of innovation, technology and great thinkers.

    The conference even caught the attention of The Guardian that wrote several articles about it.

    Steven Bathiche from the Applied Sciences Group at Microsoft presented at the event and won the prestigious title of the ‘speaker of the event award.’

    Steven showed of some of the work Microsoft has been doing on the ultimate display the following video give a insight into his research.

    Hear this great interview by Christian Payne (aka @Documentally) with Steven Bathiche from the Applied Sciences Group at Microsoft.

    And also a great video from my colleague Sara Alison – Evangelist for Microsoft UK – and reporter for Ubelly.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    University of Southampton High Performance Computing (HPC) Case Study


    hpc2008 south_corp_logo

    Have you thought about a HPC resource built on Windows Technology?

    For the past 30 years, the University of Southampton has been a leader in high performance computing (HPC). As computational research expanded beyond the fields that traditionally use it, demand grew for a user-friendly HPC interface. Well last year the University of Southampton responded by partnering with Microsoft and Netapp to create a Windows based system that is rated among the 100 fastest supercomputers in the world.

    For more details of this case study click here and for more case studies of Microsoft technologies visit http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft helping develop students skills and product awareness at Birmingham City University




    Birmingham City University has embedded Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) and MSDNAA resources into it’s curriculum.

    “We’re able to engage students in achieving industry recognized certifications which will significantly increase their opportunities of employment.”
    Rehan Bhana, ITA Manager, Birmingham University

    Employability is an explicit priority across the whole of Birmingham City University “deeply embedded into all our courses”, particularly at the Faculty of Technology Engineering and the Environment.

    “It’s achieved by a combination of student support structures, excellent networking with business, and attention to curriculum content, with full use of ‘vendor specific’ programmes including Microsoft ITA”
    Associate Dean Peter Rayson.

    “It’s not just a short-skills based course,” says Rehan Bhana. “It’s a career development plan.”

    A student enrolling for BSc (Hons) Information Communications Technology and Computer Networks, as well as associated professional development programmes, will encounter ITA material within an industry scenario, proving their knowledge and skills to gain awards such as Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).

    One of fifty across the globe, Birmingham City University was nominated to pilot the delivery of the new MTA program. Around 100 ITA students attempted one, two and some, three separate areas of study. Over 150 exams were taken in the first term of academic year 2010/2011 with a success rate of 60% for a pass mark of 70%.

    “Using the MTA exams as formative assessments has not only increased the value of our globalised curriculum but enhanced the student learning experience by introducing a feedback mechanism from beyond the classroom”  Rehan Bhana

    By developing their competitiveness in the IT Skills market, students from Birmingham University have found that they stand out when applying for summer jobs and work placements above others with this skills gap.

    “Our students emerge as confident hybrid managers with a unique mix of technical and managerial competency, whose skills are in demand in the IT industry and beyond.” – Birmingham course description.

    With the arrival of cloud computing, having strengths in many area’s of IT is fast becoming more sort after.

    A recent Microsoft White Paper on the impact of Cloud technology on IT careers, (A Guide to the Cloud. Career Opportunity for IT Pros) suggests that the gap will widen as businesses strive to come to terms with profound change.

    “Put bluntly, the role of the ІT professional is being transformed, demanding a new set of technical and managerial skills, blurring the lines between business and technical decision making and placing ІT much closer to the heart of business strategy.”

    Engagement with ITA brings benefit not only to IT students but to all students and staff, because it makes a very comprehensive range of Microsoft software available via MSDNAA. With the wide menu of available programmes and qualifications makes it possible to deliver significant areas of staff Career Professional Development (CPD) efficiently and cost-effectively.

    “The University has made significant savings,” says Rehan Bhana going on to explain that on two recent occasions the ITA delivered in-house CPD for both academic and technical staff in the area of MS Project Server Microsoft Project Server and Windows 7. The overall commercial value of these courses would exceed £30,000, delivering the programs in-house has reduced this cost by 30-40%.

    If you would like to share your experience of MSDNAA and IT Academy please get in touch.

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