Tag: infrastructure


Nested VMs in Azure with one click? You must be crazy…

When I first heard that you could run nested VMs with Azure, I ran over to my laptop to deploy one of those shiny new Version 3 VMs!

Once my Host was provisioned, I got right to work.  Quickly adding the Hyper-V role and after a quick reboot, I started downloading ISOs!  And before you know it I was disappointed.  Yeah, I had a VM running, but after searching the internet for hours, I gave up.  I never could get the thing talking to the Internet.

Well, fast forward a few months and a client of mine asked if we could build a self-provisioning Nested Hyper-V Host in Azure that would pull down pre-configured VMs and start them with only one click?  I was excited. There is nothing cooler than getting to figure something out while you are getting paid.  Well, it wasn’t easy to figure out, but what I have for you here is the fruit of that labor! Read More


Book: Exam Ref 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, Second Edition

Studying for all certifications can be difficult, as all you have to go on is a short list of the exam objectives and the services/technologies covered. It’s nice to get some kind of targeted resources or training that is targeted towards the specific certification exam you’re studying for. The new Second Edition of the Exam Reference book from Microsoft Press for the 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification exam is now available. This book will guide you through all the different topic areas you need to know in order to take and pass the 70-533 exam, then become a Microsoft Azure certified IT Professional. Read More


How big is the Microsoft Azure Cloud?

The Microsoft Azure Cloud is huge. Or should I say H-y-uuuuu-ge! It’s the largest cloud provider in the world with 38 Regions currently (30 online) spread across the globe, and Microsoft keeps adding more regions every few months. Microsoft has been betting the future of their Enterprise business on Azure since the initial General Availability in 2010, and they’ve increased their efforts over the last couple of years as the “Cloud Wars” have been speeding up.

Microsoft has been a little vague over the years. They publish how many Azure Regions there are, and what cities they’re located in. I’ve put together a map that plots the city location of each of the Azure Regions to help visualize things on the Region side of the equation. However, they don’t disclose the street addresses of the data centers, and until recently they haven’t exactly stated how many data centers make up the 38 Azure Regions. That is until recently, where Microsoft released a short video showcasing a few details and images of their data centers around the globe.

Here are some facts about Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure that powers Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Xbox Live, and many other services:

  • The Microsoft Cloud is made up of more than 100 datacenters worldwide.
  • The Microsoft Cloud serves over 140 countries.
  • The Microsoft Cloud is comprised of MILLIONS of servers, and growing!
  • The Microsoft Cloud is built with the latest hardware innovations to maximize efficiency.
  • The Microsoft Cloud is connected by enough fiber to stretch to the Moon and back 3 times!
  • Microsoft processes Millions of network requests per second backed by high availability infrastructure.
  • Everything is monitored 24x7x365
  • The Microsoft global infrastructure is 100% carbon neutral.
  • Microsoft has built one of the most connected networks in the world so you don’t have to.
  • Microsoft Azure is used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies.

Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure. The birds eye views of the data centers are really interesting to see, along with a few peeks inside some of them.

On the note of being 100% carbon neutral, Microsoft states that about 44 percent of their datacenter energy comes from Wind, Solar, and Hydropower. Microsoft is also aiming to increase that figure to 50 by 2018. If you’re interested in a little more detail on Microsoft power usage, and the deal to power the new Cheyenne, Wyoming datacenter on Wind power, I encourage you to read the “Microsoft Azure: Cloud datacenter goes fully wind powered in landmark energy deal” article over on ZDNet.


The New MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Certification

mcse_cloud_platform_and_infrastructure_certThere are a total of 5 Azure specific certification exams available from Microsoft currently. If you pass each of these individually you will earn a Microsoft Specialist certification for the topic/skills area the exam covers. Also, until this week if you took the 3 Azure Solutions exams you would earn the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect. Well, the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification is being retired, and instead replaced with an entirely new redesigned and restructured set of 5 MCSD and MCSE certifications. There are many changes afoot in the Microsoft Certification realm, so if you were targeting to obtain the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification you might be wondering, “What do I do now?” What ever you decide, don’t stop studying! See it through because the exams are still here, along with a clear path to proving those hard earned skills!

On the path to earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification an MCSA certification will first be earned.

The MCSA Foundation

On the path to earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification an MCSA certification will first be earned. It’s really good to have a milestone along the way, instead of having to pass a ton of exams before claiming any single certification title / credential. Additionally, instead of just a single MCSA to earn first before the MCSE, there are 4 tracks to choose from based on your unique combination of expertise and interests.

Here’s the list of the 4 MCSA certifications and the exams you need to pass to achieve them:

As you can see the MCSA Foundations for the new MCSE, while they require you to pass either 2 or 3 exams depending on the track, offer a pretty wide range of expertise paths to follow! Anywhere from Azure/Cloud only, to Windows Server 2016 or 2012, to the MCSA: Linux on Azure that is a mixture of Azure and Linux!

The New MCSE

mcse_cloudplatform_certificateOnce an qualifying MCSA certification (as listed above) is earned, the next path is to pass only 1 more exam to earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification! And, the best part, is you get to choose from a fairly long list of exams to make that happen.

Here’s the current list of Elective exam options to grow that MCSA certification into a brand new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification:

Even if you chose to focus on Windows Server 2012 or 2016 with the MCSA you earned, it’s very likely you will be mixing in some Azure / Cloud expertise and learning with the elective exam you choose to take for upgrading to the MCSE. Unless of course you go with the “Securing Windows Server 2016”, but that exam isn’t available yet so we don’t fully know what Azure / Cloud stuff might be on it; I’m guessing there’ll at least be a bunch of Private Cloud stuff given the direction that Microsoft is taking even on-premises Windows Server.

Once an qualifying MCSA certification (as listed above) is earned, the next path is to pass only 1 more exam to earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification!


If you followed along the paths above for MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, you may have notices the 5 Azure specific exams, in particular the Developer 70-532, Infrastructure 70-533, and Architect 70-534 exams, and how if you pass all three you will now earn the new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification instead of the old MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification that will soon be retired.

The new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure path replacement for the old MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect with the exact same exams looks as follows:

mcsa_cloud_platform_certStart by earning the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification by taking and passing any 2 of the following exams:

Then round out the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification by taking and passing the 1 remaining exam of the 3.

mcse_cloud_platform_and_infrastructure_certBasically, take all three of these exams and you’ll now earn the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification, instead of the (soon retired) MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect. The new certification title for the same exams is a little more ambiguous as it doesn’t specifically have “Azure” in the name. Also, there are many Developers who won’t be as interested in the new certification since it’s now an MCSE and not an MCSD anymore.

Lastly, for those disappointed in retiring the “Architect” certification, it is important to remember the “E” in “MCSE” stands for “Expert”. The gives the new certification the full title of:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

Happy studying!


35 Azure and Cloud eBooks for Amazon Kindle

Blog articles and Technical documentation are nice for learning technologies, but there are times when a good book just can’t be replaced. This is especially true when getting information from blogs that may have a snippet of “found code” that might or might not work as expected. At least properly technically reviewed book will have working code snippets and other directions / information.

So, here’s a bunch of eBooks on Azure topics that are available for the Amazon Kindle. After all, what better to read about the Cloud than with a “Virtual” book! Read More

Azure Weekly

Azure Weekly: June 20, 2016

Build Azure Weekly is a regular series that brings you the latest news, blogs, videos, and other content around the Microsoft Azure ecosystem from the week. The links shared include those from the community as well as from Microsoft as well. The goal of Build Azure Weekly is to help you keep up to date in the latest news and general happenings surrounding Microsoft Azure for the week.

Service Updates

Here’s the list of Azure Service Updates that have been announced by Microsoft over the week:

Read More


What is Infrastructure as Code?

As DevOps has been taking hold within the software industry there’s been a strong push towards automating everything. This include automating build, testing, deployments, as well as server and infrastructure configurations. Server and Infrastructure configuration automation was not a trivial task in the old days of on-premises datacenter where each server was on its own dedicated hardware. However, with the adoption of the cloud and Microsoft Azure along with the use of Virtualization, the automation of server and infrastructure configuration is now fairly easily done. In fact the automation of deploying servers and infrastructure is now possible through the scriptability of modern virtualization technology; such as what makes up the Microsoft Azure platform.

Automation scripts have been run for decades, this is not a new concept. However, the term Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is fairly new in the industry. As with any new term there’s starting to get a buzz around it, and with buzz comes misconceptions and misinterpretations. The purpose of this article is to describe some context surrounding the Why, What, and How surrounding Infrastructure as Code. Read More


Cloud vs On-Premises: Security, Reliability and Uptime

There’s a lot of buzz about the “Cloud” as a result of the rapid growth and adoption of cloud-based services like Microsoft Azure of the last 5 years or so. However, the “Cloud” is still a bit mysterious to some, and many others aren’t clear on the best way to design systems to run best in the cloud. While migrating on-premises solutions to run in the Cloud can be simple, there are many differences between Cloud and On-Premises data center and hosting environments. This article explores many of those differences, what they mean, and how to better design systems to run better in the cloud. Read More


Microsoft Azure Cost Estimator Tool

The Microsoft Azure Cost Estimator Tool allows for the necessary hosting resources of an enterprise environment to be mocked up as the appropriate Azure instances that match, then it will estimate out the total cost of hosting those resources in Microsoft Azure. The Azure Pricing Calculator available online can be helpful if you know what Azure Services you need, but the Azure Cost Estimator tool can be more helpful for more complex scenarios. This is a free tool available directly from Microsoft. Read More