The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
What is SQL Azure Labs?
Azure Labs is a place where we test concept ideas and prototypes. The projects in labs are experiments with no current plans to be included in a product and are not production quality. Instead it is a place where we want to share our current thinking and ideas in specific areas and solicit your feedback so we can shape our future direction.
What ideas are being offered?
This week SQL Azure Labs launched Microsoft Codename “Data Transfer” Lab on the SQL Azure Labs site. This lab provides Azure users with an easy-to-use Web application for importing their data into SQL Azure or Blob storage. Users can now transfer structured data and files into Azure using any standard modern browser.
One of the goals we have for this lab is to take the complexity out of typical operations, such as loading structured data in CSV and Excel files into SQL Azure. The lab service provides simple parsing, type discovery and conversion over files in a wizard-like experience.
The second goal we have for this lab is to learn from our users. We intend to use this lab to measure demand for the service and to shape the service based on direct customer feedback. We’ll use all the standard channels for collecting customer data: SQL Azure Labs Support Forum, webtrends, and application instrumentation. You’ll also notice surveys and pop-up questionnaires sprinkled throughout the lab during “down time.”
The SQL Azure Labs team intent is to keep this lab live for three months. They will continue to evolve the lab during this test period. They will be changing surveys and questions. They will be refreshing the lab with support for larger file sizes, multi-file transfer, simple conversions for more types of files into SQL Azure, and reliable transfer that handles dropped connections.
If you have feedback or suggestions about this lab or about, please feel free to contact the SQL Azure Labs team directly via the feedback link.
What to know more about Windows Azure services
If your interested in learning more or experimenting with Windows Azure please use the following 90 day trail offer
Next Tuesday, Dec 13th 2011 Microsoft will be holding a special Learn Windows Azure training event for developers.
The Event will provide a great way to learn Windows Azure and what it provides. You can attend the event either by watching it streamed LIVE online.
During the Learn Windows Azure event attendees will learn how to start building great cloud based applications using Windows Azure.
The event will contain an overview of Windows Azure, explaining the concepts and the core features and benefits. There will demos of how to build applications for it using .NET, Visual Studio and the Windows Azure SDK. In addition the event will go into detail on Cloud Data and Storage, how to use the Visual Studio Windows Azure Tools, how to Build Scalable Cloud Applications, and to close there will be an Q&A panel with Scott Guthrie, Dave Campbell and Mark Russinovich.
The free Learn Windows Azure event will start at 9am (PST) on Dec 13th. You’ll be able to watch the entire event live on Channel9 or attend it in person. Both options are completely free.
Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket, which was first announced as Microsoft Project Codename “Dallas”. The Windows Azure MarketPlace changes the way information is exchanged by offering a wide range of content from authoritative commercial and public sources in a single marketplace. This makes it easier to find and purchase the data you need to power your applications and analytics.
Find and publish applications and building block services for Windows Azure Directory available - https://datamarket.azure.com/browse/Applications
Data Sets The data market is simply a resource for discovering, purchasing, & selling data, Data can be hosted in Windows Azure or by the data provider All data available within the Data Market is exposed as OData services, present data providers include: Data.gov, Navteq, Greg London, etc. Directory & Commerce available today -https://datamarket.azure.com/browse/Data
So what are the benefits?
What new UK data is available?
Were pleased to announce that data.gov.uk Open Data web site is publishing the real-time Met Office Weather forecast data into the Windows Azure Datamarket SQL database so this is now accessible by Users/Developers from either data.gov.uk or Windows Azure DataMarket for free.
· What is already implemented is daily + 5 days weather forecast and hourly – next 3 hrs + 5 days forecast · We’re adding Met Office 3rd dataset – raw weather Observation data over the next week · Access dataset via Windows Azure MarketPlace https://datamarket.azure.com/dataset/0f2cba12-e5cf-4c6d-83c9-83114d44387a
Selling Data on DataMarket
Many popular apps and Web sites generate, store and consume large amounts of valuable data. But typically that data is only leveraged within the app for which it was created. With the introduction of WCF Data Services and OData, we had a simple way for developers to expose their data for broader use, offering a data services platform and making it easier for that data to be used not only within the initially intended application, but within third-party apps.
With DataMarket, there’s a simple opportunity for UK Universities to not only expose that data to apps they build, but also to generate profit by selling data they’re already required to store and maintain. DataMarket is built on Windows Azure and SQL Azure and allows publishers to create datasets for data that they host in SQL Azure. To learn more about how you can become a DataMarket publisher, check out blogs.msdn.com/b/dallas and http://blogs.msdn.com/datamarket.
Additionally for the UK Education sector there is a vast amount of open government data available here: http://data.gov.uk/appathon-2011 which can be used by academics and students whom wish to build or develop applications or services.
Microsoft yesterday revealed some details into the Windows Store
For those of you who aren't aware of Windows 8 http://dev.windows.com or the announcements of the Windows Store
Here are some links to enable you to get up to speed;
Windows Store Announcement video http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Previewing-The-Windows-Store ;
Application Cert Requirements http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694083
Making Money http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694084
In-App Purchases http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694067
all of those last 3 are linked from “Selling Apps” http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/apps/br230836
Windows Store for developers blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/
With Samsung accepting table pre-orders for January delivery and screen production now ramping up, it looks like I will be seeing a lot of the devices within teaching, learning and research in 2012.
A number of UK universities have now placed pre orders for the SUR40 and it looks like we may finally be moving towards seeing a consumer Surface table become a reality. Samsung have also announced some bold move looking beyond the Surface, Samsung has also hinted that it's looking for new applications for the PixelSense panels, and wants to "take the lead" in the touch display market.
Check out the video below, which explains a bit more about how PixelSense works.
With this technology the future may look like this sooner than expected.
Download the SDK and find training, documentation, and guidance on the new Surface development center at www.msdn.com/windows/surface/
Have you spent the time to understand the landscape of device distribution and decide how to prioritize the development of your application training curriculum?
Are you training or developing your courses to meet specific platform or versions?
The following pie chart below demonstrates how many different versions of Android are in use. The chart contains information relating to the number of devices and Android version that has accessed Android Market within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date noted below.
Data collected during a 14-day period ending on November 3, 2011 http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html
So what does all this mean?
The purpose of this graph is to demonstrate the shear number of versions which you need to support if your developing apps for the Android market, unfortunately from a teaching perspective this casts a number of issues on which version and API to choose.
With Windows Phone its so much more straight forward
All Windows Phones must have a particular minimum specification, so these are the very least you can expect to find on a device.
The Windows Phone specifications ensure that every Windows Phone has a consistent set of features that customers can rely on. This also provides developers with a base set of features they can build rich and creative applications upon.
A key issue with teaching Android is that you need to develop your application for the version that is at the very top of the chart, then your application is compatible with 100% of active devices (and all future versions), because all Android APIs are forward compatible. Or, if you develop your application for a version lower on the chart, then it is currently compatible with only a % percentage of devices indicated.
Again a huge issue is the API Support from each device. The following table specifies the API Level supported by each version of the Android platform.
Windows Phone application development
You write Windows Phone applications in exactly the same way as you write other applications for the Windows desktop. You use the Visual Studio IDE (Integrated Development Environment). You can debug a program running in a Windows Phone device just as easily as you can debug a program on your PC desktop. You can also create solutions that share components across the desktop, Windows Phone and even Xbox platforms. You can take all your Windows Desktop development skills in Silverlight and your console skills in XNA and use them on the phone. If you learn how to use the Windows Phone you are also learning how to write code for the desktop (Silverlight) or console (XNA).
This is great news for you as it means that you can write programs for Windows Phone without having to learn a lot of new technologies if you have previously written programs for desktop computers then the move to Windows Phone.
The Windows Phone Emulator The Windows Phone development environment is supplied with an emulator which gives you a Windows Phone you can play with on your PC desktop. If you have a PC system that supports multi-touch input you can even use this with the emulator to test the use of multi-touch gestures with your Windows Phone programs.
While the emulator is feature complete, in that it behaves exactly like a real phone would in response to the requests from your software, it does not mimic the performance of the actual phone hardware. Programs running on the emulator are using the power of your PC, which may well be much greater than the processor in the phone. This means that although you can test the functionality of your programs using the emulator you only really get a feel for how fast the program runs, and what the user experience feels like, when you run your program on a real device.
The emulator will allow you to test motion controlled programs by allowing you to tip and turn a “virtual” phone on your PC screen. The inputs to the program will reflect the orientation that you see on your screen. You can also pre-record a set of movements to allow you to perform repeatable tests using particular movements or gestures. There is also provision for location emulation. You can select on a map where you want the emulated phone to “be”. You can also input paths for the phone to follow and then replay these, so that you can create journeys to test location aware applications.
So if your interested in developing for Windows Phone download the necessary tools from Microsoft DreamSpark
If your interested in teaching Windows Phone in your curricula see Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources Center for a complete set of resources
If your interested in porting existing Android applications to Windows Phone take a look Windows Phone Interoperability Bridges site http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/
A service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes new social networking and cloud features which is great news for Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance members.
The Microsoft Dynamics® Academic Alliance is a program for member universities and colleges who wish to enhance the learning experience by integrating Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software in the curriculum.
These updates help position Microsoft in the new world of social networking and for Dynamics Academic Alliance members it will allow you to start bring the new aspects of social networking into your teaching.
“By bringing together new social-collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with familiar collaboration technologies such as Office, SharePoint and Lync, businesses will be able to expand their relationships with customers and gain even deeper insight and understanding,” wrote Brad Wilson, General Manager of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Management Group.
For more see www.microsoft.com/education/academic_alliance.mspx
Read success stories www.microsoft.com/education/dynamicsaa_stories.mspx
Faculty Connection Resources for Dynamics www.microsoft.com/faculty
Linkedin Group www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3000704
I had the pleasure of attending the 22nd Machine Evaluation Workshop in Liverpool.
Please find below a copy of the Microsoft presentation
Additionally please find some technical materials about how the Techila solution. Techila is a middleware plug-in, which enables your applications to securely harness the infinite capacity of the Cloud. The application does not need to be a special HPC application. It can be any regular application like Excel, MATLAB, R, Pearl, Python, Fortan, C/C++ .Net code. When using Techila, you just get access to the results faster.
Typical use cases for Techila and Microsoft Azure
More technical documents and some videos including language-specific tutorials can be found on the Techila web site at: http://www.techilatechnology.com/technology/technology-docs/
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
Cost Per Hour
2 x 1.6 GHz
4 x 1.6 GHz
8 x 1.6 GHz
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.
I have been asked a few questions recently regarding developing Windows Phone apps which can access Sharepoint 2010 resources.
The easy answer is… download the following toolkit on CodePlex, the toolkit will help simplify the task of building Windows Phone 7 applications based upon SharePoint 2010 servers running Forms Based Authentication. This toolkit also allows you to use the same libraries to build Silverlight desktop applications.
This first release requires your SharePoint 2010 installation to support Forms Based authentication but once you do that, building applications is fairly trivial.
This toolkit will allow you to do the following:
Once a list item is selected it’s passed to a data-driven page that correctly renders the form based upon the Meta-Data for that List from the server. This includes formatting and validation. The data can even be updated and added back to the server.
You can download the Toolkit from CodePlex at: http://sharepointwp7.codeplex.com