Saturday, September 29, 2012

Windows Azure for SharePoint: Combining SharePoint with Windows Azure.

Sick of constantly hassling people to clean up files on the server? Want more compute resource at peak times but don’t want the added overhead? Combine your SharePoint with Windows Azure and these problems, and more besides, are solved. Azure can handle your document storage, as well as holding huge amounts of SharePoint application data, all within the cloud.

Azure’s dynamically scalable hosting potential can bring practical service-based scenarios into SharePoint. And it’s not just added space that Azure offers; it’s also ease of use. You can create customer-facing interfaces in Azure, that can be easily integrated into SharePoint’s architecture, and your developers can continue to leverage their skills in Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft .NET, Java or other development environments.

Azure’s simple pay-as-you-go pricing model also streamlines budgeting and removes the need for capital expenditure on upfront purchases, provisioning and management of additional server infrastructure. In short, Windows Azure is about simplicity: creating an easier life for you, while improving the performance of your current SharePoint system.

An overview of Windows Azure
Azure is already improving businesses through the following key features and benefits:
  • Simplified operations and maintenance of applications – by providing on-demand scalability of both compute and storage. 
  • Reduced need for up-front purchases – with a pay-as-you-go pricing model, budgeted from Opex, not Capex.
  • Increased compatibility – providing an open environment that supports multiple internet protocols, including HTTP/HTTPS, REST, SOAP, and XML. This enables your developers to easily create cloud-based applications in their preferred scripting language without further training.
  • Responsive management – Azure handles load balancing and resource management automatically, giving users all the bandwidth and storage they need, the instant they need it.
StorSimple solved their forever increasing storage issues with Windows Azure.

Start-up software vendor StorSimple is using Windows Azure to solve the storage issues of companies with high-growth applications. StorSimple’s hybrid solution seamlessly integrates cloud storage services for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Windows Server with on-premises servers to deliver a scalable, on-demand cloud storage model.

Who’s using Windows Azure with SharePoint?

Point8020 - Learning content provider Point8020 uses Windows Azure to enhance the delivery of expert-led instructional videos that help businesses make the most of SharePoint.
Read more
“Our customers already have an investment in Microsoft technology. I’m sure they will be happy knowing our product is based on Windows Azure. It gives them confidence that the services will be reliable, available, and offer great performance.”
                                        Martin Harwar, Chief Executive Officer, Point8020

Hitachi - Global IT consulting firm Hitachi Consulting is streamlining reporting for U.S. Government contractors with their Program Management Framework combining the Microsoft SQL Azure cloud database service with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

“With SQL Azure and our solution, we anticipate that a typical client will save at least $200,000 annually in hardware and licensing costs alone. Plus, the reduced administrative burden of SQL Azure and Windows Azure will allow our clients to refocus scarce technical resources on higher value activities.”

Rob Rae, Director Microsoft Platform Practice, Hitachi Consulting

Curtsey: Microsoft Corp.

Announcing Windows Azure Mobile Services

Windows Azure Mobile Services makes it incredibly easy to connect a scalable cloud backend to your client and mobile applications.  It allows you to easily store structured data in the cloud that can span both devices and users, integrate it with user authentication, as well as send out updates to clients via push notifications.
Today’s release enables you to add these capabilities to any Windows 8 app in literally minutes, and provides a super productive way for you to quickly build out your app ideas.  We’ll also be adding support to enable these same scenarios for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices soon.
Read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple Windows 8 “Todo List” app that is cloud enabled using Windows Azure Mobile Services.  Or watch this video of showing how to do it step by step.

Getting Started

If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign up for a no-obligation Free Trial.  Once you are signed-up, click the “preview features” section under the “account” tab of the website and enable your account to support the “Mobile Services” preview.   Instructions on how to enable this can be found here.
Once you have the mobile services preview enabled, log into the Windows Azure Portal, click the “New” button and choose the new “Mobile Services” icon to create your first mobile backend.  Once created, you’ll see a quick-start page like below with instructions on how to connect your mobile service to an existing Windows 8 client app you have already started working on, or how to create and connect a brand-new Windows 8 client app with it:

Read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple Windows 8 “Todo List” app  that stores data in Windows Azure.

Storing Data in the Cloud

Storing data in the cloud with Windows Azure Mobile Services is incredibly easy.  When you create a Windows Azure Mobile Service, we automatically associate it with a SQL Database inside Windows Azure.  The Windows Azure Mobile Service backend then provides built-in support for enabling remote apps to securely store and retrieve data from it (using secure REST end-points utilizing a JSON-based ODATA format) – without you having to write or deploy any custom server code.  Built-in management support is provided within the Windows Azure portal for creating new tables, browsing data, setting indexes, and controlling access permissions.

This makes it incredibly easy to connect client applications to the cloud, and enables client developers who don’t have a server-code background to be productive from the very beginning.  They can instead focus on building the client app experience, and leverage Windows Azure Mobile Services to provide the cloud backend services they require.  
Below is an example of client-side Windows 8 C#/XAML code that could be used to query data from a Windows Azure Mobile Service.  Client-side C# developers can write queries like this using LINQ and strongly typed POCO objects, which are then translated into HTTP REST queries that run against a Windows Azure Mobile Service.   Developers don’t have to write or deploy any custom server-side code in order to enable client-side code below to execute and asynchronously populate their client UI:
Because Mobile Services is part of Windows Azure, developers can later choose to augment or extend their initial solution and add custom server functionality and more advanced logic if they want.  This provides maximum flexibility, and enables developers to grow and extend their solutions to meet any needs.

User Authentication and Push Notifications

Windows Azure Mobile Services also make it incredibly easy to integrate user authentication/authorization and push notifications within your applications.  You can use these capabilities to enable authentication and fine grain access control permissions to the data you store in the cloud, as well as to trigger push notifications to users/devices when the data changes.  Windows Azure Mobile Services supports the concept of “server scripts” (small chunks of server-side script that executes in response to actions) that make it really easy to enable these scenarios.
Below are some tutorials that walkthrough common authentication/authorization/push scenarios you can do with Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows 8 apps:

Manage and Monitor your Mobile Service

Just like with every other service in Windows Azure, you can monitor usage and metrics of your mobile service backend using the “Dashboard” tab within the Windows Azure Portal.

The dashboard tab provides a built-in monitoring view of the API calls, Bandwidth, and server CPU cycles of your Windows Azure Mobile Service.   You can also use the “Logs” tab within the portal to review error messages.  This makes it easy to monitor and track how your application is doing.

Scale Up as Your Business Grows

Windows Azure Mobile Services now allows every Windows Azure customer to create and run up to 10 Mobile Services in a free, shared/multi-tenant hosting environment (where your mobile backend will be one of multiple apps running on a shared set of server resources).  This provides an easy way to get started on projects at no cost beyond the database you connect your Windows Azure Mobile Service to (note: each Windows Azure free trial account also includes a 1GB SQL Database that you can use with any number of apps or Windows Azure Mobile Services).
If your client application becomes popular, you can click the “Scale” tab of your Mobile Service and switch from “Shared” to “Reserved” mode.  Doing so allows you to isolate your apps so that you are the only customer within a virtual machine.  This allows you to elastically scale the amount of resources your apps use – allowing you to scale-up (or scale-down) your capacity as your traffic grows:

With Windows Azure you pay for compute capacity on a per-hour basis – which allows you to scale up and down your resources to match only what you need.  This enables a super flexible model that is ideal for new mobile app scenarios, as well as startups who are just getting going. 


I’ve only scratched the surface of what you can do with Windows Azure Mobile Services – there are a lot more features to explore.  

With Windows Azure Mobile Services you’ll be able to build mobile app experiences faster than ever, and enable even better user experiences – by connecting your client apps to the cloud.

Visit the Windows Azure Mobile Services development center to learn more, and build your first Windows 8 app connected with Windows Azure today.  And read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple Windows 8 “Todo List” app that is cloud enabled using Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Hope this helps.


The SharePoint Web Developer Experience

Applies to:
  • WSS 2.0 (yes, really)
  • SharePoint 2007
  • SharePoint 2010
  • SharePoint 2013 (again, yes, really)
This is a SharePoint class for the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers who insist on saying, “Enough with .NET! Enough with all those third party web parts! I am a SharePoint Hacker and I can do it myself using nothing but a web browser and a text editor!”

Instructor Dustin Miller announces a new course based on his ten plus years of experience poking, prodding, hacking and manipulating SharePoint. This course is designed for client-side web developers; SharePoint hackers and tweakers; and .NET developers who’ve had enough of the labor and overhead of writing and deploying custom web parts.

This course is for: JavaScript Gurus, SharePoint Rock Stars, Web Developers

Day 1

Reintroducing the Data View Web Part (DVWP)

What is this wondrous thing called the Data View Web Part, and why should you care? It’s only the best tool in your SharePoint toolbox. The Swiss Army Knife of web parts. It has been around since WSS 2.0, and since SharePoint 2010 has been the basis for every list view on your pages. Learn what it does, how it works and how to use it with any version of SharePoint.

XSL: More important than .NET

XSL, or Extensible Stylesheet Language, remains a mysterious concept for many web developers. There’s no need to fear it, and there’s no good reason to ignore it in favor of .NET for client-side presentation. Plan to spend a full day on this topic – and plan to be an expert on XSL by the end of it.

Day 2

Any markup, any time

Have you ever wanted to create your own HTML markup from a SharePoint list? Maybe because that cool jQuery plugin you found for an animated content slider requires specific elements in your markup?

On the second day, you’ll learn how to truly bend SharePoint list views to your will. Through a series of “bet you can’t do this” challenges, you’ll see how any client-side markup can be created from your SharePoint list data. This is need-to-know information — that is: you need to know it. You’ll learn and write the XSL necessary to create the following types of markup from your SharePoint list data:
  • HTML5
  • VML (Vector Markup Language)
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
  • JavaScript
  • Plain text

Data View hacks

There are a lot of handy-dandy tricks to using Data View Web Parts on your SharePoint sites: rolling up list content; embedding custom views in your master page; creating a Data View Web Part ONLY page; re-using and packaging. You will do all this. And more.

Day 3

External data sources

Most of what you’ll learn here applies to SharePoint versions from WSS 2.0 onwards. Learn how to connect to external sources such as SQL Server, SOAP Web Services, RSS feeds, REST services (SharePoint 2010 and up), and OData endpoints (SharePoint 2013 only).

SharePoint & JavaScript for hackers

Get a crash course in the SharePoint ECMAScript (JavaScript) Client Object Model introduced in SharePoint 2010. From there, a dive into jQuery-free JavaScript hacking. By the end of the day, you will feel like a SharePoint Client Script Ninja, and there’s a good chance you will stop using third party JavaScript libraries on your SharePoint sites. But if you do want to embrace the goodness of jQuery, the next day will appeal to you.

Day 4

Custom forms

Take everything you’ve learned in the first three days. Bask in it. Then see how to apply all of it — all of it — to SharePoint list forms. Think of the possibilities! Too many fields on your list form? Turn it into a tabbed list form. Want to add your own autocomplete or external lookup? Let your geek flag fly – I’ll show you how to do pretty much anything you want with your list forms.


But wait: There’s more! You will write the code to enhance your SharePoint views and forms with jQuery and jQuery UI. Basically everything covered in our jQuery workshop, without the introduction to scripting fundamentals, and compressed into a few hours. Not for the faint of heart!

Ongoing: Post-graduation community

When you finish this class, you will need to order new business cards. Your new title? Pick one:
  • SharePoint Hacker
  • SharePoint Lion Tamer
  • SharePoint SuperGeek
  • SharePoint Nerd Extraordinaire
Once you order those amended business cards, come back to the exclusive SharePoint SuperGeek Forum and continue to learn. Once a month, you’ll receive a new SharePoint SuperGeek Challenge. Solve it, and earn a virtual badge — like an achievement in those games you’re embarrassed to admit you play — that you can show off to your other, less geeky friends.

Taunt those .NET developers who keep writing custom user controls just to make a custom navigation web part with your SharePoint hacking prowess. You’ll be proud to share these achievements with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

And then, come back for more. Because it won’t stop. Instructor Dustin Miller will personally help you sharpen your SharePoint hacking skills every month. No charge.

What you need to attend this class

For you:

  • A solid foundation in HTML and CSS is highly recommended; JavaScript and XSL experience is a plus
  • A basic understanding of the SharePoint framework
  • This course is designed for experienced web developers

For your computer:

  • SharePoint Designer (required)

What you will receive from this class

  • Full color student reference guides and diagrams with post-class revisions and updates
  • Access to recordings of all classroom sessions!
  • Sample code and components. And we mean A LOT of code.
Experience it: Oct. 29 – Nov. 1, 2012 Online 

Cost & Registration Info:

  • Registration is $1,295/seat
  • 50% discount for groups of five or more
  • Registration closes at 12:00PM Central October 26th
Daily schedule:

Each day is broken up into two sessions. The first session is three hours, followed by a two-hour break, and then class commences for another three hours.
If you’re unable to join on time, or must leave early, remember that all sessions are recorded live, and are made available shortly after the session concludes.

Registration Link:



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