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

November, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    22nd Machine Evaluation Workshop HPC, Windows Azure and Techila moving your workload to the cloud


    hpc2008windowsAzureLogo SQL Azure thumb

    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:

  • 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

    SharePoint 2010 Windows Phone 7 Toolkit



    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:

    1. Authenticate against a Forms Based SharePoint 2010 server.
    2. Downloads lists of data from the server.
    3. Create built-in, prepackaged filters to limit the data without writing CAML.

    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:

  • 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

    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

    Researchers are developing games that combine real-world and digital experienc




    Learn how researchers are developing games that combine real-world and digital experiences in their quest for a unified game layer for education that improves academic outcomes and enables new types of educational research.

    In collaboration with Microsoft Research, a research group comprised of university faculty, staff, and students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) delved into the everyday travails of college life—from academia to social activities—and developed a real-world game, Just Press Play, which helps students earn a digital reward for the ultimate achievement: collegiate success.

    It began with a simple question: “Why can’t students earn digital rewards for being awesome?” A research group comprised of university faculty, staff, and students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) decided to find out.


    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    To learn more:

    · Read the blog

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Call for Content: Partner Support for ChronoZoom



    Call for Content: Partner Support for ChronoZoom

    ChronoZoom serves as a "master timeline" tying together all kinds of specialized timelines and electronic resources, and aspires to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences and to unify all knowledge of the past. We are seeking humanities scholars and scientists from fields like geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, astronomy, and cosmology to work with us to develop the broadest possible view of the past by providing content to help us build the timelines for the Cosmos, Earth, Life, Pre-Human, and Human histories. If you can support ChronoZoom, please submit relevant content, including videos, images, text, PowerPoint slides, documents, chart data, table data, and Excel data. All content must be available under a Creative Commons license.

    Download ChronoZoom

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    2011 Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop HPC, Windows Azure and Techila moving your workload to the cloud



    The forthcoming 2011 Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop will be held on 29 and 30 November 2011 at a new venue - the Adelphi Hotel Liverpool.

    This Workshop is now established as a leading national event dedicated to distributed high performance scientific computing. The principle objective is to encourage close contact between the research communities from the Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Materials Programmes of EPSRC and the major vendors of workstations, software and peripherals.

    I will be attending the Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop (MEW22) in Liverpool next week with Techila and the Microsoft Azure team. We will be presenting a radical proposal to the high-performance computing users in the workshop. Do you know if you or some of your colleagues are planning to attend the workshop? If you will be in Liverpool, we would like to show how you can do MATLAB in the Cloud without any limitations to the performance.

    So what is Techila?

    So if your are looking for ways to increase the performance of your existing applications. The Techila middleware is the missing link between applications and the computing capacity. It enables applications to scale and to utilize all available computing capacity efficiently.

    A research presentation, which might be of interest to you is by Dr.Lindroos in Northeastern/ TUT. Dr Lindroos uses FORTRAN code wrapped in MATLAB to model superconducting materials. Before Techila, he was able to use low-accuracy models which took 3,5 hours to compute. The inaccuracy of the results lead him also to some incorrect results. With Techila and Windows Azure, he is now able to get 256 times better results in shorter time.  Another nice example of cases, where Techila has enabled unforeseen research is the cancer research case, Techila with the power of Windows Azure enabled scaling an existing MATLAB application to utilize the combined power of 1200 Windows Azure instances. With this speed, the researcher was able to complete his 15-year data analysis project in 4,5 days. A case study about this project available on the Techila site at:

    We would love to hear more about your projects and the applications, which you would like to speed up. We are working with a number of Universities and researchers, and are always interested in learning new and to hear about innovative new research projects.

    The following article explains how Techila is helping ISVs to utilize cloud capacity easily and securely in their applications. Fennia Life is the first Life Insurance company in the world doing their business-critical simulations on Windows Azure.

    So if your attending the Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop in Liverpool on November 29-30 it would be great to start and demonstrate Live in the workshop sessions how the Windows Azure with Techila solution can assist.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Interested in running a Tomcat/Java Worker Role in Windows Azure? Step by Step guide here:



    The Windows Azure Tomcat Solution is designed in a way that you can update your Tomcat project outside VS2010 project.

    The VS2010 application will be deployed once however whenever you would need to update, Tomcat, Java Run time or your own Tomcat based solution, you can update without updating your Windows Azure application.

    This project is based on Startup task in which Tomcat, Java and your project is downloaded from Azure Storage and then installed in Azure VM.

    Full source code is available for startup task and solution via :

    For a more details and complete setup guides look here

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone Free eBook & Demos



    Resource for Teaching and Learning Windows Phone Development

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

    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 has a corresponding folder containing the demonstrations for that chapter. The demonstration slides contain step by step instructions in the slide notes. 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:

    Windows Phone

    The Windows Phone Platform
    The Windows Phone Ecosystem
    Windows Phone Program Execution
    Windows Phone Application Development

    Introduction to Silverlight

    Program Design with Silverlight
    Understanding XAML
    Creating a Silverlight Application

    Visual Studio Solution Management

    Getting Started with Projects and Solutions
    Debugging Programs
    Performance Tuning

    Constructing a Program with Silverlight

    Improving the User Experience
    Data Manipulation and Display
    Managing Application Page Layout
    Displaying Lists of Data
    Pages and Navigation
    Using ViewModel Classes

    Isolated Storage on Windows Phone

    Storing Data on Windows Phone

    Using Databases on Windows Phone

    An Overview of Database Storage
    Creating Data Relationships with LINQ

    Networking with Windows Phone

    Networking Overview
    Creating a User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Connection
    Creating a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Connection
    Connecting to a Data Source
    Using LINQ to Read from an XML Stream
    Using Network Services

    XNA on Windows Phone

    XNA in Context
    Making an XNA Program
    Player Interaction in Games
    Adding Sound to a Game
    Playing Sound in a Silverlight Program
    Managing Screen Dimensions and Orientation
    Combining XNA and Silverlight

    Creating Windows Phone Applications

    The Windows Phone Icons and Splash Screens
    Fast Application Switching
    Launchers and Choosers
    Background Processing

    Windows Phone Marketplace

    Preparing an Application for Sale
    Distributing Windows Phone Applications and Games
    Making your Application Stand Out
    What to do Next

    Download this resource here

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