Azure Exam Talk at User Group

The other night I had the privilege of presenting to the Brisbane Azure User Group at our last meeting of the year. My topic was about certification exams in Microsoft Azure, and aimed to address two relatively new changes in the certification program:

  • New Certification Path – Microsoft recently announced changes in their certification program designed to streamline the certification path. Although they are retiring the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD): Azure Solutions Architect as of 31st March 2017, the three exams mentioned below that made up this certification are still relevant and will now earn the title of Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure.
  • Refreshed Exams – All three exams have been refreshed as of 23 November 2016, now including new content specifically around the PaaS capabilities in Azure (App Service, Logic Apps, Azure Functions, API Management, Service Fabric, etc), Azure Resource Manager (ARM), and extended identity management capabilities (e.g. Azure Active Directory B2B and B2C). They have also removed Cloud Services from the syllabus.

The three exams that all this relates to are:

The recording of this talk (which also discussed preparation tips & techniques) can be found here, whilst the slides are available here.

User Group Presentation on Microsoft Flow

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a short session on Microsoft Flow to the Brisbane Azure User Group. The group meets every month, and at this particular event we decided to have an “Unconvention Night” where instead of one or two main presentations, we had several (four in this case) shorter sessions to introduce various topics. This has been a popular format with the group and one that we will keep repeating from time to time.

Wrapping up the evening was my session, called Easy Desktop Integration with Microsoft Flow.  Flow is a new integration tool built into Office365; it allows business users (yes, I really mean “business users” – no code required) to build automated workflows using 35+ connectors to popular SaaS systems like DropBox, Slack, SharePoint, Twitter, Yammer, MailChimp, etc.  The full list of connectors can be found here.

Even better is that Flow comes with over 100 pre-built templates out of the box, so you don’t even need to construct your own workflows unless you want to do something very customised! All you need to do is select a template, configure the connectors, publish the workflow – and off it goes!  In fact, it is so simple that I built my first Flow during Charles Lamanna’s presentation at the Integrate 2016 conference in London; I decided to capture all tweets with the #Integration2016 hashtag to a CSV file in DropBox.

Flow is built upon Azure Logic Apps, and it uses the same connectors as PowerApps – so you can leverage both of these great utilities to create simple but powerful applications:

image

Because it is built on Logic Apps, this means you can easily migrate a Flow workflow to an Azure Logic App when it becomes mission critical, requires scalability, or begins to use more sensitive data that requires greater security and auditing.

Feel free to view the recording of my session at https://youtu.be/sd1AhZpPsBw:

Microsoft Flow presentation to the Brisbane Azure User Group

 

You can also download the slides (which came mostly from Charles Lamanna’s deck– used with permission of course). But most importantly, get started using Flow! I’m sure you’ll find plenty of uses for it.

Integrate 2016 – What an Event!

Last week I had the privilege of attending the world’s largest integration event this year, Integrate 2016 in London. A big thanks to my employer Mexia for sending me. As is typical for events organised by BizTalk360, it was on an especially grand scale (27 sessions with 25+ speakers) and did not disappoint in the content presented by members of the Microsoft product team and the MVP community.

Day 1 of the three day event featured a number of announcements from Microsoft that clarified their vision and direction for integration, even more so than the Integration Roadmap delivered at the end of last year. Showing their commitment to BizTalk Server as the on-premises integration platform and Logic Apps as the cloud platform provided some much-needed reassurance and comfort to the community. “BizTalk and Logic Apps better together” is the mantra underpinned by the addition of a Logic Apps adapter in the upcoming BizTalk 2016 CTP2 release and the new BizTalk Connector soon to be introduced in Logic Apps.

Without explicitly stating it, it also became rather apparent as to what is “on the outs” in the integration space:

    • Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS) is likely to be deprecated as both the VETER pipelines and the EDI/B2B functionality moves into Logic Apps by way of the Enterprise Integration Pack;
    • Azure Stack is no longer being touted as the on-premises integration platform; rather BizTalk Server will continue to be king of that domain.

I’ve already posted an article on Mexia’s blog giving my rundown on all the sessions presented by Microsoft and the  significant announcements. Soon after I followed up with a summary of the many MVP sessions that rounded out the conference.  In addition, there are plenty of other blog posts from the community giving their thoughts and recaps of the event; here are just a few:

Besides Microsoft’s clear roadmap message and the excellent presentations, perhaps the best thing about this conference was the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the world – and meet new ones as well!

Kickoff Dinner
(photo by Thomas Canter)

 

Saravana&Dan
(photo courtesy of BizTalk360)

 

GreenwichKitchen
(photo by Tara Motevalli)

Dinner_with_MVPs
(photo by Steef-Jan Wiggers)

Kudos again to Saravana Kumar, BizTalk360, Microsoft and all the sponsors for making this such an outstanding event! Looking forward to Integrate 2017!

User Group Presentation on Integration Roadmap

Dan PresentingLast night at our Brisbane Azure User Group meetup, I had the privilege of delivering a short presentation on the Microsoft Integration Roadmap that was revealed on Christmas Eve last year, and which I previously blogged about. I couldn’t find any “official” slide deck from Microsoft yet, so I put together a rough deck of my own incorporating some screenshots from the roadmap PDF, a few slides from previous Microsoft decks, and a couple of handmade ones of my own. Feel free to download this from SlideShare and use it if you like.

My presentation was preceded by an excellent session on Azure Application Insights given by Microsoft Solution Architect Todd Whitehead. Amazing to see how easy it is to get so much telemetry from Azure! Looking forward to using this feature more & more.

More photos and details of the Meetup can be found here.

Busy Days!

If you’re wondering why my blogging frequency has dropped off over the last couple of months, it’s because I’ve been busy with some other projects. Here are just a few of them:

Brisbane Azure Bootcamp

BAB2015_Dan_OrientationAlthough originally intended to be the Brisbane chapter of the Global Azure Bootcamp, we had to change the date to a week later since the global event coincided with ANZAC Day in Australia. This year marking the 100th anniversary of the event at Gallipoli, it seemed irreverent (and also impractical) to hold the event on that day. So we joined Perth in organising our own version of the all-day event. Alessandro Cardoso from Readify and myself were the main organisers, while Damien Berry set up the event website.

 

BAB2015_Dan_HCWhat a success! With over 50 registrations, we had a full house at Microsoft headquarters, with the event stretching from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Presenters included Readify’s Alessandro Cardoso and Andrew Harcourt, myself on Hybrid Connections, and Microsoft’s Steve van Bodegraven with a session on Azure ML and lean start-ups.

Lots of prizes were given out thanks to sponsors Mexia, Pluralsight, and the Global Azure Bootcamp. Also a big thanks to Readify for funding the catering.

Brisbane Azure User Group

For the next Brisbane Azure User Group event, I’ll be presenting with Mexia’s Lee Simpson on Logic Apps – so preparation for that is keeping me occupied as well.

Pluralsight

And if that was not enough, I’m also authoring my second Pluralsight course. While I’m not allowed to say too much about the content until it’s published, I can reveal that it is based on an exciting Azure technology directly related to hybrid integration. Only one more module to go! Expect an announcement in a few weeks. 🙂

Of course there are other things stealing my time (and sleep) away as well, including heavier than usual workloads at our current client and preparation for a looming deadline for lodging my income tax return. But I hope to be back to more regular blogging next month! There are plenty of exciting things to write about…

Integrate 2014 Summit: “Microservices” is the Word

Thanks to the generous investment of my employer Mexia, I had the enormous privilege of attending the Global BizTalk Summit in Redmond last week, organised by BizTalk360 and Microsoft and entitled “Integrate 2014”. As with all these events, I treasure thePass opportunity to meet face to face with the top minds and achievers in the Microsoft integration industry, catching up with old acquaintances and making many new ones.

In case you haven’t already heard, there was a jaw-dropping revelation to most of us in the room during the second presentation by Bill Staples. Most of us were anxious to hear about the anticipated new release of Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS). Version 2.0 was expected to include a greatly enhanced Visual Studio design surface, workflow (orchestration), a business rules engine, a framework for building custom adapters, and much more.

But all of that changed when Bill showed a slide that revealed the new cloud App Platform with “BizTalk Microservices” at the core. So what exactly are “BizTalk Microservices”? Answer: a set of discrete reusable components with a HTTP/REST endpoint that can be assembled as needed into composite services. It is essentially, “build your own integration app” by choosing from a wide selection of microservices from the gallery and/or building your own. The services are hosted in the same app containers used by Azure Websites today, which promises all the mature scalability features afforded by that platform. Read more of this post

RECAP: BizTalk Summit 2014 – Australia

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending the final session of the inaugural BizTalk Summit in Australia, sponsored by BizTalk360 and Mexia Consulting. This was an experimental event, bringing together no fewer than six Microsoft Integration MVPs (three from Australia + three others from Europe) to deliver a whirlwind tour of consecutive one-day events across three cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). What a great event!!

BizTalk Summit MVPs

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User Group Presentation on Hybrid Connections

Last week I had the privilege to present on Hybrid Connections at the Brisbane Azure User Group meeting. It was well attended and the community responded very enthusiastically to the ease at which this technology enables you to connect Azure Web Sites and Mobile Services to on-premises resources behind your corporate firewall. One attendee was so excited by the feature that he stayed back after the meeting with his laptop and proceeded to deploy his web site application to Azure right there on the spot, hooking it up in minutes to his on-premises database!

highres_399395482 I’d like to express my gratitude to Santosh Chandwani, a Microsoft Azure Sr. Program Manager who shared his slide deck with me and gave some very helpful tips in preparing my demo. The slides are available on SlideShare if you wish to view the presentation as I presented it, or you can download the original version that Santosh presented at Tech Ed USA.

Santosh also promptly answered some questions raised by the community which I posted on the Azure Advisors Yammer group:

Q: Seems expensive to get more than 5 HC connections?
A: “If there are specific Dev-Test scenarios where the 5 Free HC don’t suffice, please let us know.”

Q: What are the performance/load specifications? Any guidance on where potential bottlenecks may be, and/or best practice guidelines?
A: “In general, the throughput you can achieve with HC is constrained by the internet connectivity between the on-prem network and Azure. Since this is part of the user’s network infrastructure, it is hard for us to provide a specific throughput baseline.
We recommend users assess the throughput that each instance of the on-prem Hybrid Connection Manager provides on their network. Adding more instances may provide higher throughput (again depending on the network infrastructure). Also, for production scenarios, at least 2 instances are recommended for resiliency. ”

Stay tuned for an upcoming webcast about this on the BrizTalk YouTube Channel!

UPDATE: Webcast published!! View it here.

BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 (USA) – BizTalk is Alive & Well!

Just enjoyed an awesome experience at the BizTalk Integration Summit in Seattle with my esteemed colleagues Bill Chesnut and Dean Robertson! Not only did I have the opportunity to meet most of the top BizTalk experts in the world for the first time (including Sandro Pereira, Tord Glad Nordalh, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Saravana Kumar, Richard SeroterKent Weare, Michael Stephenson, Stephen Thomas, Jon Fancey and others), but we were there to hear Scott Guthrie personally announce the General Availability of Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) just minutes before the news went public:

IMG_1663

Read more of this post

BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 (USA)

Super excited to be attending (for the first time) the BizTalk Integration Summit in Seattle, WA next month! Not only will it be awesome to participate in the 2-day deep dive, hear what Microsoft has to say about the future of BizTalk, and participate in conversations with Microsoft leadership in BizTalk and other integration technologies, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet up with the top Integration MVPs in the world as well!

I’m especially looking forward to meeting a few of my online mentors including Sandro Pereira, Tord Glad Nordalh, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Saravana Kumar, Kent Weare and others. And of course I’ll be joined by my teammates Bill Chesnut and Dean Robertson.

Registration only opened up yesterday after a long anticipation, but places are limited and likely to disappear soon. The event takes place on 21-22 November 2013 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle.

A big thanks to my employer Mexia Consulting for sending me there! Smile

If you’re going, please send me a tweet and say hello so we can catch up!

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