Monthly Archives: February 2014

Not Your Father’s Cloud: Microsoft Azure HDInsights Explained

If you need to understand the format of this post, take a look at my introduction to the series.

Like A Boss

HDInsights is designed to help tame the Big Data beast by providing an on-demand Apache Hadoop solution hosted on Azure.  You can create a Cluster of between 1 and 32 Nodes and use standard Hadoop tools like Pig and Hive as well extensions in your favourite tool Excel.  Note, however, that HDInsights isn’t a service you can just rock up and use – you’ll either need to be planning to (or already) be doing some serious number crunching and have people who are familiar working with Hadoop to gain any value out of it.

Goes Well With

  • Transformation and Analysis of large unstructured datasets which can be transported to or accessed by Azure.
  • SQL Server BI tooling – connect your SQL Server BI, Analytics and Reporting to Hive.

Open Other End

  • Not a replacement for High Performance Computing (HPC) solutions.
  • Structured data analysis may be better suited to SQL Server depending on dataset size.

Contents May Be Hot

  • Azure Blob Storage works out cheaper in the longer term than using HDFS for data storage.
  • Not all the Hadoop tooling will work exactly as you expect.

Don’t Take My Word For It

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Not Your Father’s Cloud: Microsoft Azure Web Sites Explained

If you need to understand the format of this post, take a look at my introduction to the series.

Like A Boss

Microsoft Azure Web Sites (MAWS) provides an experience that is familiar to many developers or businesses as it resembles traditional shared web hosting. MAWS provides a simpler deployment and management experience than either PaaS Web Roles or IaaS Virtual Machines. Deployments are “black box” and developers have no remote desktop access to the infrastructue hosting Web Sites.  As well as allowing custom-developed web applications written in ASP (yes you read that right), .Net, Node.js, PHP and Python, WAWS also has access to a gallery of existing applications such as WordPress or Umbraco which can be deployed on demand.

Offered in three tiers:

  • Free (up to 10 sites, 165MB data a day);
  • Shared (up to 100 sites, no data limit);
  • Standard (up to 500 sites, no data limit).

Goes Well With

  • Quick deploy and tear-down web applications (temporary Facebook Apps for example) with an optional small back-end database (up to 20MB free)
  • Multi-site web hosting in a single scalable instance (100 sites on Shared, 500 sites on Standard) – if you host a bunch of stuff for others this is going to help you (including with SSL on Standard)
  • Websites with a relatively low level of external code or custom dependencies (if it can be defined in the web.config and deployed in the package you should be good to go)
  • Web APIs.

Open Other End

  • Complex web applications (new or legacy) where a range of third party or external software is required on the web host at runtime
  • Large scale application with high load where the scale size may exceed the maximum limit of Web Sites (10 instances)
  • Any web application that is required to be on a Windows machine that is joined to a Windows Domain
  • Web applications that require either Linux or Java.

Contents May Be Hot

  • Free is great, but extremely limited (no custom domain, no scale, no SSL and limited daily data).  If you need a site up 100% of the time don’t use this tier
  • More expensive that the equivalent sized PaaS Web Role
  • Monthly SLA of 99.9% only applies to Standard Tier (Shared in Preview as of Feb 2014).

Don’t Take My Word For It

Let Mark Brown from the Azure team give you the guided tour and show you how to deploy code from Visual Studio.

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Not Your Father’s Cloud: Windows Azure Services Explained (Intro)

There’s a lot to Microsoft Azure. Your Dad would be amazed. Most likely your Dad struggles to turn on the TV but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s at least go the fundamentals right (like *not* thinking RAM refers to something best left in a field with the other sheep).

In the upcoming series of posts I’m going to do a high level introduction to each Microsoft Azure Service in the format:

  • “Like A Boss” – a summary statement that describes what the Service is.
  • “Goes Well With” – the scenarios the Service is best suited to.
  • “Open Other End” – the Service is not best suited to these uses.
  • “Contents May Be Hot” – things to watch out for when using the Service.
  • “Don’t Take My Word For It” – a range of useful on-line resources that provide further in-depth information.

I’m  inspired to do this by the bite-size information I’m seeing right now in the form of Windows Azure Friday with Scott Hanselman and the Five Minute Friday videos for Office 365.

I hope you’ll find these posts useful when talking about Microsoft Azure with your Dad or your boss (maybe he’s both?!)

While I’m at it, I’m going to tip my hat to Troy Hunt for planting the phrase “not your father” into my brain from his excellent recent post on Azure Web Sites monitoring.  I only realised this when I went to re-read his blog on the topic!

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