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

November, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    MATLAB and R on Windows Azure via Techila


    Techila is a middleware solution for High Performance Computing that enables existing applications to utilize more computing capacity. I believe that the key problem in business and operational computing is the lack of application performance. There are enormous amounts of computing capacity available using Windows Azure cloud service.

    Techila allows applications to utilise all available computing capacity. To try demonstrate this a great example of the benefits of Techila and the Windows Azure with Techila integration is a case study, which Techila did with a leading cancer researcher. The researchers in question had a project, which would have taken 15 years. He had developed his research application in MATLAB. He used the Windows Azure with Techila integration to boost the performance of his application with the combined power of 1200 Windows Azure instances. This allowed him to complete the project in 4,5 days! Being able to do something in 4,5 days, which usually takes 15 years gives a real competitive advantage.

    Techila develop the solution in close co-operation with end-users and system administrators from the very beginning.

    Techila has selected Pharma, Economics/ Financial, and Universities/ Academia as the key markets because of the fact that they are strong on Techila's home market, Finland. But I want to emphasize that unlike many other distributed computing solutions, Techila is a fully horizontal middleware, which can be used in any segment and which can increase the performance of any application: The code can be a MATLAB application, or it can be R (or C/C++, Java, Perl, Python, Fortran,...) They also offer an open API, which can be used to connect any ISV application (3DSMax, SAS, COMSOL, Sungard,...) to the Windows Azure capacity.

    Also please find below a demo of run a 2-day long computation in a couple of minutes using 500 Azure instances using MATLAB:


    Techila with R language can be found here:

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Want to programme Kinect, Windows Phone, Gadgeteer & other Microsoft Technologies with C#



    Learn to programme in C# over the course of 24 episodes, our friend Bob Tabor from will teach you the fundamentals of C# programming.

    Learn the skills and concepts applicable to video games, mobile environments, and client applications.

    The following tutorials and videos walk you through getting the tools, writing code, debugging features, customizations and much more! Each concept is broken into its own video so you can search for and focus on the information you need.

    Download the entire series' source code

    Watch all 24 Episodes

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    How much will Azure cost?



    Over the past few days I have had lots of question from academic’s in relation to COST the No1 Question being how much will the cloud or more specifically Microsoft Windows Azure cost?

    To try and help others struggling with this question here is a quick summary .

    Microsoft Windows Azure processor core costs are extremely cost effective for short periods of use. The pricing table below gives the list pricing (this drops by 20% under an Azure Enterprise agreement and there are specific pricing for addition of Azure to EES).


    Compute Instance Size



    Instance Storage

    I/O Performance

    Cost Per Hour

    Extra Small

    1.0 GHz

    768 MB

    20 GB




    1.6 GHz

    1.75 GB

    225 GB




    2 x 1.6 GHz

    3.5 GB

    490 GB




    4 x 1.6 GHz

    7 GB

    1,000 GB



    Extra Large

    8 x 1.6 GHz

    14 GB

    2,040 GB




    So if your looking to undertake some workload using  128 cores based on small instances, the hourly cost would be $15.36 which is about £10.  The benefit is huge in that you  can literally just pay for a few hours if that is all you need. So you don’t need to make the huge upfront capex and opex investments in terms of some of the following. The time taken between requirement and installation physical resources such as servers, network hardware, software, storage, additional staffing resources, heating, lighting, cooling and power for your equipment.



    Windows Azure Storage is metered in units of the average daily amount of data stored (in GB) over a monthly period.


    Standard pay-as-you-go pricing for storage

    $0.14 per GB stored per month based on the daily average

    $0.01 per 10,000 storage transactions



    So if you required 10TB you would be looking in the region of £900 per month (before discounts),  which includes making 3 copies of the data for resiliency. It also then becomes readily accessible to supported users. There are also some charges for data transit, but we don’t charge for loading data in, downloads  are $0.15 per GB, so this should stay relatively small unless the whole 10TB is moved about regularly. If your interested in learning more about Windows Azure please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SkyDrive Update & Improvements



    Today we announced a long list of improvements for Microsoft SkyDrive. W

    The improvements are a big step forward especially for the growing number of customers using SkyDrive to share and access Office documents.

    Here’s a video that quickly walks you through the changes to the service.

    For further details of the improvements see the SkyDrive team blog

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud Computing Curricula Resources



    Microsoft Faculty Connection Cloud Computing with Windows Azure platform curricula resources.

    If your interested in developing curricula resources on cloud computing you need to check out these great resources

    Suggested Resources on Cloud Computing with Windows Azure platform

    Overview of Cloud Computing and the Windows Azure Platform: an Academic Perspective

    Windows Azure Platform Virtual Labs

    If your interested in Windows Azure please use the following 90 day trail offer

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    DreamSpark Apphub Registration



    DreamSpark has partnered with Windows Phone 7 and the App Hub! Now, you get the same tools professional developers and designers have, and you can sell your mobile applications and make money! Along with all the free applications, we're waiving the $99 registration fee and giving you the first 100 application submissions for free!!

    App Hub is the place to distribute and merchandise your applications for Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE Indie Games.

    To get registered:

    • Go to the App Hub Registration page.
    • When prompted make sure you register as a Student.
    • Complete the App Hub registration process.
    • Use the tools you downloaded to create applications and share your creativity with the world.

    Problem or issues registering?

    Are you having trouble with App Hub registration to submit Windows Phone Apps? Did you get this error?

    We’re sorry, an error has occurred.

    We have detected an error while processing the page you were looking for. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please try again.


    The following guidance has been issued on this issue.

    Please visit
    Click My Accounts
    Click Update Billing Account Information
    Re-Enter password.

    Verify that the information in the site matches what you have enter in App Hub, Also verify your account information at

    If the error persists, try clearing your Cache and using another browser.

    If you have verified all your information and still receive the error, please provide screen shots of your account information so that we can better assess the issue and it email it to App Hub Support <>

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    New Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface Is Available to Pre-order Starting Today


    Many UK Universities are already using Microsoft Surface to conduct some amazing teaching learning and research.


    Samsung and Microsoft announced today that a new, more versatile Microsoft Surface device is now available for pre-order, the near final stop on its journey from lab to marketplace. You can now visit the Samsung website to find a local reseller and place an order for the Samsung SUR40. Shipments are expected to start early next year.

    The Samsung SUR40 was just named a 2011 “Best of What’s New” award winner by Popular Science magazine and is featured in a special awards issue currently on newsstands. Corinne Iozzio, senior associate editor at Popular Science, said the magazine’s editors were impressed with the update to the original Surface, a 2008 “Best of What’s New” winner. 

    The new device is also popular with academics, researchers and developers, a number of UK Universities are already using the Surface 2.0 software developer kit (SDK) which was released at MIX11 in April. The SDK features an input simulator that enables developers to write Surface applications on any Windows 7 PC.The SDK allows developers to write a single application that can adapt to all sorts of types of hardware. This makes for a great investment: they can target Microsoft Surface hardware as well as any Windows 7 touch-enabled PC. This is a flexible platform so developers can create the best user interface for the person actually using the computer.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    jQuery Mobile Open Source Framework Support for Windows Phone



    jQuery Mobile version 1.0 was announced this week. Microsoft is  pleased to use this exciting occasion to reinforce our commitment to supporting popular open source mobile frameworks.  As many of you aware aware Microsoft recently supported PhoneGap by adding support for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), and now we are moving up the stack to improve support of jQuery Mobile on Windows Phone 7.5.

    jQuery Mobile framework is a Javascript HTML5-based user interface system for mobile device platforms, built on the jQuery and jQuery UI foundation. The Jquery RC3 blog published earlier this week outlines, Windows Phone performance has improved quite dramatically as shown by the two showcase apps:

    • 226% improvement in rendering the form gallery, bringing it down from 5 to 2.2 seconds
    • 20x improvement in rendering the complex 400 item listview, from 60 seconds to 3 seconds

    The jQuery team has additional performance optimization tips for Windows Phone in the change log that saves additional performance time in certain scenarios.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Big Data Solution SQL Server, Apache Hadoop and Windows Azure


    Big Data Solution

    Microsoft’s end-to-end roadmap for Big Data embraces Apache Hadoop™ by distributing enterprise class Hadoop based solutions on both Windows Server and Windows Azure. The roadmap includes Microsoft BI tools such as SQL Server Analysis Services, Reporting Services and even PowerPivot and Excel. This enables you to do BI on all your data, including those in Hadoop.

    Key Benefits
    • Broader access of Hadoop to end users, IT professionals and Developers, through easy installation and configuration and simplified programming with JavaScript.
    • Enterprise ready Hadoop distribution with greater security, performance, ease of management and options for Hybrid IT usage.
    • Breakthrough insights through the use of familiar tools such as Excel, PowerPivot, SQL Server Analysis Services and Reporting Services.


    Technical Considerations

    On the more technical front, we have been working on a simplified download, installation and configuration experience of several Hadoop related technologies, including HDFS, Hive, and Pig, which will help broaden the adoption of Hadoop in the enterprise.

    The Hadoop based service for Windows Azure will allow any developer or user to submit and run standard Hadoop jobs directly on the Azure cloud with a simple user experience. Therefore it doesn’t matter what platform you are developing your Hadoop jobs on -you will always be able to take a standard Hadoop job and deploy it on our platform, as we strive towards full interoperability with the official Apache Hadoop distribution.

    This is great news as it lowers the barrier for building Hadoop based applications while encouraging rapid prototyping scenarios in the Windows Azure cloud for Big Data.To facilitate all of this, we have also entered into a strategic partnership with Hortonworks that enables us to gain unique experience and expertise to help accelerate the delivery of Microsoft’s Hadoop based distributions on both Windows Server and Windows Azure.

    For developers, we will enable integration with Microsoft developer tools as well as invest in making Javascript a first class language for Big Data. We will do this by making it possible to write high performance Map/Reduce jobs using Javascript.For end users, the Hadoop-based applications targeting the Windows Server and Windows Azure platforms will easily work with Microsoft’s existing BI tools like PowerPivot and recently announced Power View, enabling self-service analysis on business information that was not previously accessible. To enable this we will be delivering an ODBC Driver and an Add-in for Excel, each of which will interoperate with Apache Hive.

    Finally, in line with our commitment to Interoperability and to facilitate the high performance bi-directional movement of enterprise data between Apache Hadoop and Microsoft SQL Server, we have released two Hadoop-based connectors for SQL Server to manufacturing.

    The SQL Server connector for Apache Hadoop lets customers move large volumes of data between Hadoop and SQL Server 2008 R2, while the SQL Server PDW connector for Apache Hadoop moves data between Hadoop and SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). These new connectors will enable customers to work effectively with both structured and unstructured data.

    For more information see

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    New curricula material and resources for Windows Phone 7.5

    Windows Phone Programming in C# (Windows Phone Version 7.5)


    Main Text – FREE Ebook Windows Phone Programming in C# by Rob Miles
    The main text is provided as a Word document and PDF file. This contains the entire text, broken into chapters.

    The Demos folder contains a folder for each of the chapters that have demonstration programs.

    Teaching Content
    For each of the chapters there is a folder with the presentations and lab content for that chapter. Each presentation is for that section of the chapter and has a corresponding folder containing the demonstrations for that chapter. The Demonstration slides in the presentation contain step by step instructions for that demonstration in the slide notes. Note that not all the demonstrations have sample projects associated with them, for these demonstrations the program will be created during the presentation.

    The first 9 chapters also have a lab document which contains a set of lab exercises for that chapter. Some of the lab documents also have answer documents.

    The following chapters are covered in this material:

    1. Windows Phone
    2. Introduction to Silverlight
    3. Visual Studio Solution Management
    4. Constructing a Program with Silverlight
    5. Isolated Storage on Windows Phone
    6. Using Databases on Windows Phone
    7. Networking with Windows Phone
    8. XNA on Windows Phone
    9. Creating Windows Phone Applications
    10. Windows Phone Marketplace

    To download this great resource simply visit Microsoft Faculty Connection Resource

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