January, 2012 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

January, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Educated desktops – Building and maintaining your PC labs

    A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of Andrew Fryer and his colleague Simon May company as we spent most the week on the Microsoft Stand at BETT one of the largest education events in the world. Simon and Andrew, task was to field questions from the attendees which include some of the hardest working IT Professionals in the industry, those supporting the IT in schools, college and Universities.

    As Andrew states in his original blog Agility is essential to cope with the new influx of students every year as well as is the need to deploy every more applications to keep up with the latest standards for the curriculum and the way each subject is taught.

    Some of these examples below are relevant to my previous discussions in regards to System Center 2012, curricula enhancements and training so I am sure you find them of interest in preparation for this years refresh plans.

    The following blog is by Microsoft UK IT Pro Evangelists Andrew Fryer. Originally posted on the UK Technet Blog Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer IT Pro Evangelist

    Teaching the next generation of IT Professionals.

    IT_Academy mva

    There was a lot of coverage in the press last week about teaching coding and development as part of ICT, however I had two separate requests from ICT educators about teaching how to maintain and fix problems on PCs, because that’s what their students had asked for. We discussed setting up virtual machines on Hyper-V and using snapshots to allow a damaged desktop to be fixed and then being reset with the problem for the next lesson. I also think some of the information on clustering and virtual machines on the Microsoft Virtual Academy could be reused in class rooms or certified training via Microsoft IT Academy in the form of MTA.

    Remote Desktop Services & App-V.


    One way to deal with the problem of matching up students and teachers to the applications they need , irrespective of where they are working is to use App-V (application virtualisation) as this deploys a virtual copy of an application to a desktop based on the groups a user belongs to i.e. it won’t show up in programs in control panel and can run side by side alongside earlier versions of the same application which it would normally conflict with.

    Another approach is to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and it was no surprise at BETT to see all the hardware vendors sporting their latest thin client devices, and personally I like the LG and Samsung offerings where the thin client was just part of the LCD panel. However not every application likes running as a remote desktop and you can end up creating a lot remote desktops for each type of user. The trick here is to use App-V with RDS so that the applications run virtually inside the remote desktop session and a given user only gets the applications they need even though you only have one or two standard desktops in RDS (the guidance on how to do this is here).

    Another good thing about RDS is that it reduces heat in the classroom if thin client devices are used and also reduces the background noise, although the noise from pupils will still be the same! It is possible to implement RDS without also deploying Citrix or Quest technologies on top, however both of these partners’ offerings add ease of use and manageability to what the raw RDS experience delivers.

    Digital Inclusion


    RDS can be setup so that these personalised remote desktops are available to staff & students working at home or other locations and this means they can use their own devices to interact with a school. Of course laptops are expensive and can be difficult to justify on a limited budget, so to level the playing field there is Get On Line @ Home, which provides affordable reconditioned hardware with Windows 7 + Office 2010 with telephone technical support included.

    Thanks to Andrew for producing this post. For a list of upcoming events which the UK TechNet team are delivering see http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/home.aspx and for details of your education account managers to discuss this further see http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud based development for Office365


    With the launch of Office 365, which includes Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online, there is a now a huge requirement and market for graduates with the skills of how to develop for Office365.  The following blog outlines a number of great resources available for developers to help get you started developing on the platform.

    So what is Office 365

    Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.

    I have Live@edu and not Office365 what is the difference?

    office365 vs Live

    for more details on see - www.microsoft.com/liveatedu/office365

    So how do you develop for Office365

    First, for Office client-related development, there is a short white paper Guidance for Office Development in Office 365 this paper identifies a number of things which you need to have top-of-mind relating to the Office clients and Office365 SharePoint Online. The most significant callout is managing remote authentication in your Office client add-ins. Since Office365 SharePoint Online is not in your Active Directory domain, you need to be able to pop the credential prompt for Ofiice365 when you need to access data in your add-in for the end-user. This white paper points you to a code sample you can use with the SharePoint Client Object Model and talks you through the pattern for how to implement it in your add-in. Additionally, you should keep a copy of the SharePoint Online Developer Guide handy to use as a reference for all things related to basic SPO development. Or you can access it online as well.

    Some videos available on Channel9 you might want to watch for Office365 information are:

    Dedicated Office365 training resource - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/Office365TrainingCourse

    • Developing in the Cloud with Office 365 Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.
    • Developing for SharePoint Online with Sandbox Solutions Sandboxed Solutions are the development paradigm for SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn about sandboxed solutions including how to develop, debug and deploy solutions. You’ll also learn the breadth of solutions that can be developed in the sandbox and strategies for developing common scenarios that are not enabled in the sandbox.
    • Building Workflow Solutions for SharePoint Online Building Workflow solutions for SharePoint Online allows you to automate collaboration-centric business processes and surface them to your users via SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn the differences between declarative and code-based workflows, design a workflow using Visio 2010, implement that workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010 and customize the workflow using Visual Studio 2010 and custom actions.
    • Developing SharePoint Online Solutions with the Client Object Model The SharePoint Client Object Model provides libraries for programmatically accessing SharePoint Online via Silverlight and JavaScript. In this session, we’ll go deep into the Client Object Model and show you how to develop solutions using both Silverlight and JavaScript.
    • Leveraging Excel and Access Services in SharePoint Online Excel and Access Services provide powerful features for building SharePoint Online solutions. In this session, you’ll get an inside look at both Excel and Access services and how each can be accessed programmatically when building SharePoint Online solutions.
    • SharePoint Online Branding Customizing an intranet site with your company’s identity and branding can help create a more effective collaboration experience. SharePoint Online allows users, designers and developers to customize the look and feel of a site. This can range from simple changes like setting a site logo and Theme to completely changing the user experience with custom styles and Master Pages. In this session, you’ll learn how to make these customizations to brand your SharePoint Online site.
    • Developing Communication Solutions for Lync Online In this session, you learn how to integrate Lync features into your WPF and Silverlight clients much in the same way that Office and SharePoint do, including presence, contact lists and click-to-communicate features. You will also learn how to extend Lync communications to include data and features from your client applications much in the same way that Outlook 2010 does with the "IM" and "Call" features within an email.
    • Developing Messaging Solutions for Exchange Online In this session, you'll learn how to integrate Exchange Online mailbox data such as mail, calendar and task items as well as Exchange Online services such as the free-busy service into your applications using an easy to discover and easy to use managed API.

      Additional Resources

    • SharePoint Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about the customization and solution development opportunities for SharePoint Online.
    • Exchange Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Exchange Online as a service and how you can build messaging solution in the cloud using the Exchange SDKs.
    • Lync Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Lync Online and a service and how you can build communication solutions using Lync 2010 and the Lync 2010 SDK.
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    System Center 2012 - Importance of Private Clouds within the Education



    Last week I had a  number of interesting discussions with Universities in relation to the importance of Private Clouds within the Education and the opportunity which public and private cloud offers institutions IT Services and academics. The opportunities presented are specifically in relation to agility and capability not only from a IT Services perspective but from a curricula adoption perspective, therefore enabling academics and researchers to use modern and appropriate technologies within teaching, learning and research.

    You all have Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution, who need to complete project which require dedicated resources, to generally enable these projects resources are required. these resources are usually the following as a minimum:-

    • A Domain Controller (user accounts, authorization, security, rights and roles)
    • A Database Server (data storage for the apps be developed, reporting data, inventory, sales, etc)
    • A Mail Server (notifications, collaboration)
    • 1-3 Windows 7 Client machines for testing  20 – 100 Windows 7 in a lab situation

    To implement these generally requires a significant amount of time and resource, additionally there are a number of key milestones, which add delay and additional cost to each of the projects: 

    • Identifying hardware requirements
    • Ordering the hardware
    • Provisioning the hardware
    • Then delivering to the developers.
    • Installing the hardware with necessary software
    • Securing the software and network connectivity
    • Testing the software and hardware

    Therefore the amount of time between the request for resources and delivery of the resources could be weeks or even months. Not to mention that the resources available to undertake this work are limited and that developers are limited on what they can do until the resources arrive. Not very efficient or productive.

    Present Day Private/Public Cloud Opportunity 

    So the same scenario, Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution have a project that needs dedicated resources

    Same Resources requested for same purpose. Now the IT staff can deliver these resources “on-demand” by selecting capable resources, much of which is virtualized, from a pool or library, and provisioned to those of the needs of the developers. Thus reducing the time between request and delivery to a matter of days or even hours.

    Furthermore, resources can be generalised and stored in a library along with scripts to customise the resources. The library can be securely exposed to requestors through a self-service portal. The requesters can be assigned roles that allow a requestor to search through resources or select a pre built VM environment along with customisation scripts to create the environment they need without direct interaction of the IT staff.

    The key factor being, you can have as much or as little automation as required for your own needs. Deployment and refresh times can be now reduced from months to hours with minimal staff intervention or support.

    The Private/Public Clouds now offer an opportunity to streamline and create agility in IT operations. IT as a Service is now truly available using resources on premise or cloud based hosted resources.. 

    With the current shipping versions of System Center products (and previous), we have always had individual products such as System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 or System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. Last week there were some big announcements regarding System Center 2012. Microsoft held a great event called Microsoft Private Cloud Day where changes to System Center 2012 were announced. If you missed the live stream, you can watch it on demand.

    As part of the announcements last week we are simplifying this and now and now offering System Center 2012 as a single product suite.

    There are two editions, System Center 2012 Datacenter and System Center 2012 Standard.


    As you can see from the figure above, both Editions include the same components. Both editions are also licensed per two physical processors. The only difference is the number of Virtual Machines supported per license

    • 2 for Standard
    • Unlimited for Datacenter

    If you have a minimal virtualization footprint, the Standard Edition may be just fine (school, department or a smaller faculty for example); if you have a large virtualization footprint (campus) and are looking for high density of VMs, then definitely go with Datacenter edition.

    Private/Public Hybrid Cloud

    Microsoft is leading the pack in building a global scale public cloud platform (Windows Azure, SQL Azure and Office 365) while also enabling customers to build their own private clouds (using Windows Server and System Center). As customers really start taking advantage of cloud computing methodologies, they have the flexibility of choosing the model that best fits their needs or a combination (Hybrid) and know that the two environments can be managed holistically from one management tool System Center 2012.

    Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of our Management and Security Division wrote a blog post that really does a good job of stating Microsoft’s strategy for cloud computing and how we see public and private clouds coming together.

    Additionally the on-demand webcast from last weeks event solidifies the Microsoft Private Cloud story using Windows Servers, Hyper-V virtualization, and the System Center 2012 Suite this was presented by Microsoft’s Server & Tools “Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud” 

    You can start working with Microsoft Private Cloud solutions now.


    Download the Release Candidate of the System Center 2012 Suite

    Additional resources for more information on Private Clouds and System Center 2012

    The Official Microsoft Blog - System Center 2012: Where Public and Private Clouds Meet

    System Center 2012 – Product Site 

    System Center 2012 – Licensing Datasheet (PDF)

    System Center 2012 – Licensing FAQ (PDF)

    Enabling & skilling up your IT Support teams – Microsoft Virtual Academy and Microsoft IT Academy

    Providing appropriate software to students and educators -  EES + DreamSpark

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Beta release of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Windows Phone


    Win7PhoneNew AWS_LOGO_CMYK

    Microsoft is pleased to announce the beta release of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Windows Phone. Built by Microsoft as an open source project, this SDK provides developers quickly connect and integrate Windows Phone applications with AWS (S3, SimpleDB, and SQS Cloud Services)

    For more details please see “Beta of Amazon Web Services SDK for Windows Phone Released

    Getting started with the AWS SDK for Windows Phone:

    Getting started guide http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/articles/getting-started-with-the-beta-of-amazon-web-services-sdk-for-windows-phone

    Getting Started video http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Interoperability/Getting-Started-with-the-AWS-SDK-for-Windows-Phone

    Samples walkthrough videos

    Video walkthrough of the samples provided in the SDK:

    1. http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Interoperability/AWS-SDK-for-Windows-Phone-S3-sample-walkthrough
    2. http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Interoperability/AWS-SDK-for-Windows-Phone-SQS-sample-walkthrough
    3. http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Interoperability/AWS-SDK-for-Windows-Phone-SimpleDB-sample-walkthrough

    WP7 Porting resources and API mapping:


    Leveraging your iPhone development expertise to build Windows Phone applications


    Leveraging your Android development expertise to build Windows Phone applications


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Hosting your Moodle on Windows Azure



    Moodle hosting in the Cloud via Windows Azure

    There are two projects currently available for hosting Moodle on Windows Azure, both on CodePlex (Microsoft's open source project hosting site, which hosts over 200,000 projects currently):

    http://moodle2azure.codeplex.com/ This is a port of Moodle 2.x Course Management System to Azure platform.

    http://moodleazure.codeplex.com/  Enable Moodle 1.9.9 to run on Windows Azure and SQL Azure

    Both of these projects are on CodePlex, there's a community of support on the site for advice as you start to implement and use them there are a number of other moodle associated codeplex projects and a whole forum on the Moodle community website for Windows users

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Welcome to DreamSpark


    DreamSpark-2_bL_t IT_Academy MSDNAA_Overview_Logo

    We are excited with the launch of DreamSpark site and the opportunity for schools, colleges and universities to utilise the benefits of this amazing software offer.

    As we mentioned earlier this month, this will not impact any of the existing MSDN Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) services or IT Academy subscriptions. What is new is that all existing EES licensed schools, college and universities will receive a complementary copy of DreamSpark $99 campus wide license.

    So What has changed?

    •    MSDNAA and DreamSpark have been consolidated into a single program that provides Microsoft products to students and educators across primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

    •    We’ve added a new institution-wide subscription that licenses you to distribute our development and design products across your institution’s labs and to all of your students and faculty this is complementary if you have have a valid EES subscription.

    How does this affect your existing subscription?

    •    Developer AA has simply been renamed DreamSpark Premium. You’ll continue to access all the same software titles as you did before.

    •    Designer AA and High School AA have been discontinued and replaced with a new institution-wide offering named DreamSpark. There will be no change for the duration of your subscription.

    •    Upon renewal, you’ll be provided guidance on how to enroll in the new offerings.

    What’s next?

    •    We have prepared Q&A and Usage Guidelines to help take full advantage of the new DreamSpark program, available at www.dreamspark.com/support/default.aspx

    •    Visit www.dreamspark.com to learn even more.

    •    In the meantime, continue to use the benefits you’ve enjoyed with your MSDNAA subscription.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Announcing Visual Studio Achievements


    Bring Some Game To Your Coding lessons

    I thought you all may be interested in the following.

    Visual Studio is a ideal tools for schools, colleges and Universities for inspiring future developers, to enhance the experience Microsoft has released Visual Studio Achievements, with the achievements students talents and learning are recognized as they perform various coding feats, which unlock achievements and earn badges which can be shared and displayed on social network profiles and web sites.

    Some examples of individual achievements include Regional Manager (have more than 10 regions in a single class), Close To The Metal (use 5 preprocessor directives), Stubby (generate method stubs 10 times) or Interrupting Cow (have 10 breakpoints in a file). All in all, there are 32 achievements awaiting to be unlocked, all of which are listed here. Here's what the 6 different badges look like:

    The Six Categories of Achievements


    Learn More About Visual Studio

    Visual Studio is a powerful tool with tons of features, many of which you may not know about. Earning some of the badges may result in learning about features you didn’t even know existed!

    Download It Download Now

    How It Works

    With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analysed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up displaying the award. Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. Students can then automatically tweet about achievements they earn and/or share them on Facebook.

    Get Visual Studio for FREE via DreamSpark 


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The technology revolution consumerisation of IT and research opportunities


    Last week the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in New York took place last, showcasing some of emerging trends and innovation. The feedback from the event really made me start thinking about how are we positioning the consumerisation of IT within your teaching and research? 

    At the NFT Conference Razorfish demonstrated a beta version of it's Retail Experience platform (codename "5D") and were drawing crowds with an amazing multi-channel retail experience that utilised Microsoft Surface, Tag, Windows Phone, Kinect and Windows 8 on Samsung slate. 

    Whats interesting is the The 5D platform connects both enterprise devices such as kiosks, large-screen displays to personal and consumer focused devices such as tablets and personal smart phones, the goal is to better attract consumers into the stores, drive product engagement and arm store assistants and retailers with more contextualized digital tools.

    A Short video of a fashion retail scenario is shown in the video below  I hope this helps generation of some interesting potential research projects. The quality of graphical detail and transitions caught the attention of many so I thought I'd share here for all to see the power of a connected retail experience of the future.

    Razorfish Connected Retail Experience Platform (codename "5D") from Razorfish - Emerging Experiences on Vimeo.

    Overview of the video - A user is seen browsing a large-format catalogue using the Kinect, transferring the catalogue to a phone with a Microsoft Tag, shortlisting the catalogue on the Surface and even virtually trying on products with the Kinect. At the same time, a store assistant is able to assist the customer with a tablet application. 

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Focus your curriculum on 21st century skills with Microsoft IT Academy



    The Microsoft IT Academy Program curriculum builds knowledge and experience in productivity tools and other technology applications that students will encounter on the job. It also provides an excellent foundation for future work and career advancement in technology and other fields. Students can develop skills that qualify them for certification as Microsoft Office Specialists, Microsoft Technology Associates, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists, or Microsoft Certified IT Professionals.

    Optimize your curriculum with Microsoft Certification

    It is recommended that educators integrate certification in their curriculum because it promotes workforce readiness and helps prepare students for their careers.

    • Office Skills: Microsoft Office Specialist certification demonstrates that an individual is proficient in the Microsoft Office suite and has the most up-to-date skills. Becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist helps increase everyday productivity while providing the tools to succeed in a technology-driven world.
    • Entry-Level Technology: Microsoft Technology Associate certification is an entry-level credential from Microsoft that validates students' knowledge of technology concepts. This is a critical first step toward building a successful career in technology or in a variety of other career paths.
    • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification demonstrates a high level of technology commitment to successfully implement, build on, troubleshoot, and debug a particular Microsoft technology, such as a Windows operating system, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft Visual Studio. This proficiency demonstrates a comprehensive set of skills focused on advancing IT knowledge and taking on greater job challenges.
    • Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification helps distinguish individuals as a professional with a comprehensive set of IT skills that effectively work with Microsoft technologies. The skills are necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator.


    Also check out our Microsoft IT Academy Program career path resources.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Enabling your IT Support teams to deploy the right technology to ensure your curricula is appropriate and suitable


    Over the past few weeks we have had a number of interesting meetings with IT Services teams and academic faculties within UK Universities. These discussions have been particular interesting as we have discussed the opportunity of enhancements academics can make to curriculum if they had access to the latest desktop OS and web browsers.

    These discussions were particularly interesting as a number of the IT Services teams highlighted a need for applicants/employees with very specific Microsoft skills sets. For example. experience in virtualisation and cloud computing, as well as product specific skills such as System Centre, Windows 7 and MDOP. 

    Microsoft has a number resources available including IT Pro resources such as TechNet and IT Developer resources such as MSDN. To the specific training and certifications resources Microsoft IT Academy programme as one route for institutions to help their staff and students get recognised certifications and knowledge.

    Another service we discussed was, The Microsoft Virtual Academy, MVA is a online training centre which uses some of the characteristics of game-based learning to motivate learners. It’s free and open to anybody, not just those staff and students in formal education institutions, and it focuses on a range of Microsoft cloud-based technologies. 




    Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a fully cloud-based learning experience focusing on Microsoft Cloud Technologies. You can access a variety of training content online and become one of the renowned experts in the IT Pro community around the world. MVA provides its users with a virtual university experience: the student can select a track and study the material and then do the self-assessment. By doing so, they will collect points that will promote them to a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Level. Students on MVA can get access to all the information, statistics and advancements of their training career, allowing them to maintain a long-term relationship with Microsoft. Learning through MVA is FREE of charge, and you can study the contents at any time and at your own pace.

    In the UK there are currently

    students registered
    self-assessments passed
    hours of training delivered


    Topics covered include:

    Office 365
    Private Cloud
    Public Cloud
    SQL Azure
    System Center
    Virtual Machine Manager
    Windows Azure
    Windows Phone

    The whole system runs in the Cloud, as it’s built on Windows Azure so is extremely scalable and reliable. So let me know how you get on with these resources.

Page 1 of 3 (27 items) 123