So what’s an App Service Plan anyway?

As we’ve discussed before, Azure App Service is the primary PaaS offering from Microsoft. You simply deploy your application code and voila — your website/API is live.

That means no more setting up your own VM or installing your own OS or even web server.

Well, that’s the general idea, but remember:

There is no Cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer

The goal of PaaS is to alleviate the need for you to worry about lower-level details by moving you one abstraction level higher. At the end of the day, though, your application code must be running on a VM somewhere.

That’s where an App Service Plan comes in.

Read more…

Introducing Azure App Service

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I’ll be introducing you to the Mary-go-round of the Azure Theme Park, namely, Azure App Service.

So, what the heck is Azure App Service anyway?

Well, at first brush, the name of this service is not very forthcoming. Most people won’t immediately guess what an “app service” is, however, it’s actually a lot more familiar than you think.

From web apps to mobile apps, we all know what an “app” is. Well, this is the area of Azure that helps bring your apps to life while keeping you focused on your application instead of worrying about underlying low-level details like the infrastructure, operation system, or even the app hosting platform itself.

Read more…

Azure Portals: Classic, New, and Preview

A lot of Azure newcomers get confused by the fact that there is more than one Azure portal.

This was especially a problem last year as Microsoft was transitioning from the “classic” portal to a new “preview” portal.

Back then, all of the Azure services were on the classic portal, however, Microsoft was launching a brand-new “preview” portal, which was re-imagined from scratch, and it promised to be more modern and slick than its predecessor.

The problem was that a lot of the documentation and online videos were based on the classic portal, and a lot of the services were yet to make their way through to the new “preview” portal.

These days, however, this is not much of a problem.

Read more…

Passive Learning For The Win

Are you a lifelong learner?

Do you constantly look for ways to surround yourself with opportunities to learn and level-up?

Do the off-white walls near your desk need a bit more pizazz?

Well, you’re in luck!

Check out all of these awesome Azure and Cloud infographics, from Microsoft, which can be printed as large posters and plastered all over your home and work offices!

Poster of 'What is Microsoft Azure'
What is Microsoft Azure?
Poster of 'Building Real World Applications'
Building Real World Applications on Azure
Poster of 'Cloud Design Patterns'
Cloud Design Patterns

Now even “staring at the wall” will be productive… you’re welcome 🙂

Stay curious,
MJ

Lighting the Way – Azure Edition

One of the biggest problems people have with moving to the cloud is the feeling of being in the dark.

You don’t know what’s coming, you don’t know what’s changed, and you have no way to shape the way things are heading.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Microsoft has been doing a great job over the past few years of being more transparent with developers, and their recent push to open-source everything has helped them adopt this collaborative mentality even further.

So, here are a few resources that I use to stay informed of all things Azure.

Read more…

The Azure wonderland!

There are a lot of people out there who have taken a plunge into the awesomeness that is Azure, but, there are also a lot of people who haven’t even dipped their toes in yet.

The biggest deterrent for the latter group might be their perception of the vastness of the “Cloud“. It’s this nebulous thing that seems to span everything from web apps to networking, to infrastructure, to security, to analytics, databases, IoT and even BitCoin!!

These are all amazing concepts and buzzwords that you and I surely plan to learn deeply just as soon as we find the time, right??

Right.

While that might all be true, there’s another way to look at all this.

If you think of Azure as Mount Everest and fixate on all the skills you’d have to master and all the monumental preparation that you’d have to do, then yes, you’re going to psych yourself out before you even take a single step.

I’d like you to think of Azure as a Theme Park instead.

Sure, it’s a giant theme park with dozens if not hundred of fun rides, but you don’t have to try more than one at a time. You don’t even have to spend the whole day there. You can just go in, try the Mary Go Round a couple of times, get a feel for the place in the process, and leave right after!

You might remember this fun little trip later and you might as a result be encouraged to find the time to visit again!

That’s the way you gotta think about Azure and the Cloud, and I will gladly be your friendly park guide 🙂

So, what’s the Mary Go Round of Azure? I would say it’s this thing called Azure App Service.

To keep it simple, you can think of Azure App Service as the way Azure allows you to deploy your standard ASP.NET MVC web application or Web API so that it’s accessible online immediately.

It’s really pretty simple to get started with it, and I plan to walk you through your first deployment in an upcoming post, so check back soon!

Stay curious,
MJ

P.S In the meantime, sign up for Azure (if you haven’t already) and get some free credits ($200!) for the journey ahead!

 

The promise of Agile!

I wrote an article last week on Waterfall vs. Agile, and while I didn’t get into too much detail then, I did commit to writing again and expounding on some of the thoughts I have on the topic.

Before I start, I have to mention that I’ve read a lot about Agile (and have experienced many close-approximations) over my career, however, it’s not until I started working at my current employer that I finally experienced what I consider the agile promise-land.

So, credit to the solution leaders and Scrum masters that have honed my perspective on the topic!

What is Agile and why does it matter?

The term Agile is actually an umbrella term as it doesn’t refer to a single methodology. Agile principles were first popularized in the field of software development following the creation of a “Manifesto of Agile Software Development” by Kent Beck and a few others in 2001.

Some of the common Agile methodologies that you might have heard of are Extreme Programming (for software development), Scrum and Kanban (for software-project-management practices).

While Extreme Programming is dreamy, you’ll be hard pressed to find faithful implementations of it at most companies. However, over time, a lot of its teachings (and their benefits) have been accepted into the programming world’s set of best-practices (e.g. Test-Driven-Development, Pair-Programming…etc).

On the other hand, a few different Agile project-management methodologies emerged as well, each with their own unique strengths and areas of focus. The most common of which are Scrum and Kanban.

In this post, I plan to focus on Scrum specifically as it’s the more popular of the two, but, please note that a lot of companies use Kanban and are quite happy with it as well.

Read more…

Software Delivery: Waterfall vs. Agile

Over my career, I’ve seen and participated in a lot of Waterfall projects, and a lot of “agile” projects.

I have personally really soured on the Waterfall methodology after a really large project where we spent months designing a solution and documenting a specification.

During those months of “solutioning”, the business would regularly change some requirements/business processes in response to changes in the market and each change meant a new change-request, a new scope, and a ton of fixes and updates to this ever-expanding specification along with the associated library of UML diagrams (think thousands of them).

Suffice it to say, this is a rigor that is completely inappropriate for 99% of software projects out there. Sure, there’s that 1% of projects that require absolute details for a specification upfront, but, what most projects these days actually need is a continuous collaboration between the business and development teams and a much more responsive and agile approach.

Having said that though, I’ve also been on a variety of Agile projects that could be best classified as “barely” Agile.

I think a lot of companies and teams want to speak the same language as the cool kids, and so they start talking about 2-week sprints and they add a daily standup meeting (where everyone is actually sitting down) and call themselves Agile.

Sure, that’s a step in the right direction, however, I firmly believe that the maximum value of doing projects in Agile comes from implementing every last aspect of the Agile methodology.

In my mind, the best argument for adopting every last agile commandment and performing every last ceremony to the letter is that the “whole” is definitely more than just the sum of the parts.

I have a lot of thoughts on what this “whole” comprises, so check back soon for a full description of what I think is the agile promise land!

Update: done! Read part 2 here: The promise of Agile!

Till next time,
MJ

Interactive Catalog of Azure Services

Just a quick note to share with you this pretty awesome resource that I discovered recently.

This is a very handy interactive catalog of all the main Azure services, grouped logically into areas like Compute, Networking, Web & Mobile, Data & Storage, and so on.

Interactive Azure Platform Overview
You can search by keyword or just browse through, but each service gets its own little snippet along with a collection of useful links to the service overview, pricing information and any technical limits to be aware of!

Azure Mobile Apps snippet expanded

So, what are you waiting for? Check out the Interactive Azure Platform Overview!

Enjoy,
MJ

Azure Technical References

When it comes to learning, not all resources are created equal.

If you’re like me and you’re on a permanent journey of leveling-up on technologies and skills, then you know that finding the right resources along the way is paramount.

Now, when it comes to learning a vast technology like Microsoft Azure, I find that there’s plenty of material out there at levels 100-300, but finding level 400 resources isn’t as simple.

Read more…