Category Archives: Boston Azure User Group

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Talk: Azure Security Toolbox at Boston Azure

Last night’s Boston Azure meeting featured Marija Strazdas from @AlertLogic who spoke about the Shared Security Model for security in the cloud. I also showed in more detail some of the tools that Azure provides to help customers with their side of the responsibility model including some with Azure SQL DB, Storage, KeyVault, and Azure Security Center. Here are the slides I presented (though I didn’t get through most of them).

EDIT: Here is the deck presented by Marija Strazdas from @AlertLogic who spoke about the Shared Security Model for security in the cloud:

Alert Logic Azure Security Presentation


You can find @bostonazure on twitter, and feel free to join us on slack.


Talk: Kolkata Azure – #Azure is a Toolbox

This past Friday afternoon, I spoke to a highly engaged group in an event hosted at the Finomial office in Kolkata, W. Bengal, India. There were two topics:

  1. An overview of Azure as a toolbox for dev and ops teams
  2. Cloud Architecture Anti-Patterns & Patterns

This started out being advertised as a “remote” Boston Azure event since it took place 7,000 miles/12,000 kilometers from our usual location in the Boston area. Later, a local Kolkata Azure event page was created for the event.

The event was well attended and the audience was lively and inquisitive. The slide deck used (both talks in one deck) follow:


Abstracting MapReduce with HIVE and Pig (notes from March 2012 Boston Azure Meeting)

A few notes from the March 29, 2012 Boston Azure cloud user group meeting

Jason Haley was the featured speaker and provided a fantastic overview of the Windows Azure SDK and related platform features.

My talk was the opening act. I extended on my Hadoop on Azure talk from February and climbed up the stack to talk about HIVE and Pig which generate MapReduce under the hood. I only used a few slides in the talk, but they have some useful references, and are available here: Hadoop-BostonAzure-29-Mar-2012.

These items were also mentioned at the meeting:

  • Boston Azure is on Twitter as @bostonazure
  • New England Give Camp 2012 (A handful of Boston Azure members are signed up – including (off the top of my head) me, Jason, Maura, Joan, and Gladys):
  • UX and Cloud studies were discussed and the vast majority of the attendees indicated they would prefer offers/opportunities be sent to/shared with the Boston Azure community – I will post on the distribution

Upcoming Boston Azure events include:

  • Tuesday April 24 – Michael Cummings from Magenic on building mobile games with a Windows Azure back-end (signup here)
  • Wednesday May 30 – SDK again – but this time will be hands-on – BYO laptop! (Tables and power strips will be provided.) (signup here)
  • Fri-Sat June 22-23 – TWO FULL DAYS of Bootcamp! (signup here (Fri) and here (Sat))
  • Thu June 28 – (Awesome topic TBD) – Michael Collier from Neudesic (signup here)
  • Thu July 26 – maybe CQRS? (signup here)

There was interest in incorporating some topics into future Boston Azure meetings:

  • Tools – what tools are useful in building/managing/monitoring cloud applications, especially Azure ones (PowerShell, cspack, Cerebrata, Storage Explorer from CodePlex, CloudBerry Explorer for Azure Blob Storage, monitoring tools, IntelliTrace from Visual Studio Ultimate, other Visual Studio tips/tricks, …)
  • Comparisons of Azure with other clouds, e.g., OpenStack, AWS, Eucalyptus (note: AWS and Eucalptus are now partners), Rackspace, others…
  • More big data via Hadoop on Azure (maybe a whole dedicated meeting is in order)

Quick Hadoop Overview at Feb 7 Boston Azure Meeting

Tonight’s (07-Feb-2012) Boston Azure cloud user group meeting (that we ran jointly with Microsoft DevBoston) went very well.

In the featured talk, Michael Stiefel gave an insightful, thought-provoking talk on Architecting for Failure: Why Cloud Architecture is Different. Michael will post has posted his slides. The slides are listed under Cloud Computing Presentations called Architecting For Failure, Cloud Architecture is Different! (note this is not same as Michael’s blog).

As a warmup, I gave a short talk describing the challenges in making sense of Big Data, what (in the computer science sense) Map and Reduce are, and how the Hadoop infrastructure makes building MapReduce processes so easy. Ended with a bit of a peak at the CTP of “Hadoop as a Service” – the Microsoft Windows Azure service that is in CTP – at The talk focused on Hadoop – and a simple Hadoop example at that – only mentioning that was a broader Hadoop ecosystem: the official Apache Hadoop project, some subprojects (HIVE, Pig (which has a Pig Latin language, not to be confused with this one), Mahout, ZooKeeper, HBASE, and others), some other related efforts (, and some commercial companies dedicated to Hadoop (Cloudera, Hortonworks, and others – they are roughly the Hadoop equivalents of Red Hat in the Linux world; Microsoft is working with Hortonworks on their Hadoop on Azure and Hadoop on Windows Server effort).

My Hadoop slides are attached here: Hadoop-BostonAzure-07-Feb-2012.

I also discussed some upcoming Azurey events of interest to the Boston Azure community. That deck is here: Upcoming Events of Interest to Boston Azure Community.

O’Reilly Radar has a concise roundup of some of these technologies here (which I noticed on a tweet here). And this excerpt from the official Apache Hadoop project lists some related technologies:

The project includes these subprojects:

Other Hadoop-related projects at Apache include:

  • Avro™: A data serialization system.
  • Cassandra™: A scalable multi-master database with no single points of failure.
  • Chukwa™: A data collection system for managing large distributed systems.
  • HBase™: A scalable, distributed database that supports structured data storage for large tables.
  • Hive™: A data warehouse infrastructure that provides data summarization and ad hoc querying.
  • Mahout™: A Scalable machine learning and data mining library.
  • Pig™: A high-level data-flow language and execution framework for parallel computation.
  • ZooKeeper™: A high-performance coordination service for distributed applications.

November and December Azure Cloud Events in Boston Area

Are you interested in Cloud Computing generally, or specifically Cloud Computing using the Windows Azure Cloud Platform? Listed below are the upcoming Azure-related events in the Greater Boston area which you can attend in person and are offered usually FREE, but most that cost money are inexpensive.

Since this summary page is – by necessity – a point-in-time SNAPSHOT of what I see is going on, it will not necessarily be updated when event details change. So please always double-check with official event information!

I’ve attempted to list events of interest to the local Azure community – not just topics specific to the Windows Azure Cloud Platform. Know of any more cloud events of interest? Have any more information or corrections on the events listed? Please let everyone know about them by adding a comment.

Events are listed in the order in which they will occur.

November 2011 Events

1. Cloudy Mondays

  • when: Mon 14-Nov-2011, 5:00 – ?:?? PM
  • where: Small Business Development Center (note: NOT Venture Development Center!), 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA
    wifi: (not sure)
  • food: (not sure, though food and spirits were provided last time)
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Discuss Amazon’s cloud: launching projects on AWS, comparing AWS to other public clouds, etc. One speaker is Jason Haruska, Chief Architect at Backupify. Vikram Kumar, CTO and Founder of, will also be discussing how launched using AWS.
  • more info:
  • register:
  • twitter: (not sure)

2. Cloud Roundtable – Business in the Cloud –

  • when: Tue 15-Nov-2011, 3:00 – 5:30 PM (updated: start time is officially 3:00 PM)
  • where: Boston College Club, 100 Federal St., Boston, MA
  • wifi: (not sure)
  • food: (looks like cocktails and hors d’oeuvres towards the end)
  • cost: FREE
  • what: From the description on the web site: “The cloud is a fundamental paradigm shift from our current or past thinking about scalable architecture and there are security tradeoffs:  less control of data, new vulnerability classes, and compliance challenges.  However, if managed properly, these risks can be mitigated. This interactive seminar will discuss the challenges of cloud computing, demonstrate how to build a secure and redundant system, and touch upon real-world examples of cloud computing gone bad.”
  • more info:
  • register:
  • twitter: (not sure)

3. Boston Azure User Group meeting: Introduction to Cloud, Windows Azure, Azure Dev Tools

  • when: Thu 17-Nov-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA (directions)
  • wifi: Wireless Internet access will be available
  • food: Pizza and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Get ramped up on Cloud and Windows Azure – what is this cloud thing all about? How does the Windows Azure Cloud Platform fit in? And how can you get started using Visual Studio and the Windows Azure tools? Get all these questions answered in one night!
  • more info: See the Boston Azure cloud user group site for more info
  • register:
  • twitter: #bostonazure

December – 2011 Events

4. Azure is on the Road! December Road Trip…

At a variety of locations (far from Boston, but at least regional):

Registration Link Date Time
NCSU, Raleigh NC Mon, Dec. 5th, 2011 2 – 9 p.m.
Microsoft, Farmington CT Wed., Dec. 7th, 2011 2 – 9 p.m.
Microsoft, New York City Thur., Dec. 8th, 2011 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Microsoft, Malvern PA Mon., Dec. 12th, 2011 2 – 9 p.m.
Microsoft, Chevy Chase MD Wed., Dec. 14th, 2011 2 – 9 p.m.

5. Testing in the Cloud with Boston Web Performance Group

  • when: Tue 06-Dec-2011: 6:30-7:15 Eat pizza and meet other members, 7:15-8:15 Presentation, 8:15-9:00 Q&A, general socializing and more pizza eating
  • where: Wayfair Offices – 177 Huntington Ave, 177 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA (map) Come up to the 24th floor, call 802-522-6294 with issues
  • wifi: Wireless Internet access will be available
  • food: Pizza and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Speaker: Dan Bartow on Testing in the Cloud – description from event site: “Achieving real performance on the web begins with realistic testing and an understanding of the application and it’s infrastructure.  Testing realistically and for real results across web & mobile applications means leveraging the
    cloud.  Agile development processes, complex multi-tier architectures, and the potential for massive (and sudden) load all require a different approach than
    historical apps.  Come hear from Soasta, the makers of the CloudTest platform and CloudTest Lite, about their experiences and why companies need to change their expectations about what “testing” means. Dan Bartow is Vice President and CloudTest Evangelist at SOASTA, the leader
    in performance testing from the cloud. Prior to joining SOASTA he was Senior Manager of Engineering at Intuit, where his team was responsible for the speed and stability of TurboTax Online, the #1 rated, best-selling online tax software. Over the past decade he has been responsible for the speed and
    scalability of websites for such well-known brands as American Eagle Outfitters, AT&T, Best Buy, Finish Line, J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and Sony Online
    Entertainment, among others. Dan has set multiple industry precedents including launching the worlds largest stateful JBoss cluster and using over 2000 cloud computing cores to generate load against a live web site.  Dan is a frequent industry presenter and has spoken at leading testing and cloud computing
    conferences such as Software Test & Performance (STP), O’Reilly’s Web2.0 Expo, Amazon Web Services Road Show, and SYS-CON’s Cloud Computing Expo.” Visit the event web site to view the Cloud Testing Bill of Rights.
  • more info: See for more info
  • register:
  • twitter: @JonathanKlein

6. Boston Azure User Group December

7. Cloud Architecture Patterns at North Shore .NET User Group

8. Using Windows Azure to Build Cloud Enabled Windows Phone Apps at Microsoft DevBoston

  • when: Wed 14-Dec-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 (?) PM
  • where: Microsoft Corporation 201 Jones Road, Waltham, MA Hosted at NERD Center, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA (directions)
  • wifi: I don’t think so (given the location)
    food: (I am guessing there will be pizza, but not 100% sure, please check with the group organizers)
  • cost: FREE
  • what: “Speaker: John Garland This presentation will discuss how Windows Phone applications can be enriched by leveraging the power of the Cloud that is made available by Windows Azure. The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone will be explored to show how to quickly tap into resources in the cloud for computation, storage, identity, and communication from within a Windows Phone application.”
  • more info:
  • register:
  • twitter: (not sure about the event, but John Garland can be found at!/search/dotnetgator)


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October Boston Azure Cloud User Group Meeting

First, let’s note that the October Boston Azure meeting marked our two-year anniversary!

I believe we are the oldest Windows Azure user group in the world, still going strong. Our first meeting was held in October 2009, less than a year after Windows Azure was announced at PDC 2008, and a few months before it went RTW for real (which was, I believe, January 2010).

Now, back to our Oct meeting. Here are links to a few topics mentioned:

Also, here is the slide deck from the main presentation – given by yours truly (that’s me, Bill Wilder) – called Big Ideas in Software Architecture (Cloud and Otherwise):

At the meeting we also discussed some topics for future meetings. Here is that list (okay, I actually can’t find the list – may have forgotten to save it – sorry – so going from memory here) — note this list is in no particular order:

  1. Introduction to Cloud, Azure, and developing for Windows Azure
  2. More hands-on with the platform
  3. Using languages, libraries, and software other than .NET/Microsoft – e.g., Java, Python, Node.js, NoSQL (MongoDB), …
  4. Idempotency – look at a more challenging case than a simple thumbnailer
  5. Security in the Cloud
  6. Comparing Cloud platforms
  7. Azure AppFabric topics: Service Bus, Caching, Access Control Service (can Curt come back?), …
  8. More architecture patterns

WHAT ARE OTHER TOPICS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE? Please leave a comment, email me, or suggest via twitter (me: @codingoutloud or to the community: @bostonazure).

Boston Azure Bootcamp was a Success!

On Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1 the Boston Azure cloud user group hosted the Boston Azure Bootcamp – with a few of our friends – and it was a big success.

Here are a few links that folks attending might have been told about, plus a couple of answers I offered to gather offline.

Where can I get the materials used in the Bootcamp?

  • The materials live here:
  • However, as I explained at the bootcamp, the actual materials used at our sessions were a mix of what is posted on the web and some slide decks that had been updated (mostly for the Azure SDK 1.5, but also other changes in some cases). So you can pull the materials as linked to above and you’ll be pretty close, but the updated ones are not yet publicly posted.

How can I see what’s in Windows Azure Storage?

How can I track changes/upgrades to Windows Azure Guest OS?

Does Azure use Hyper-threading?

Where can I learn more about the Windows Azure Platform?

Where can I read more?

Who should I thank for this event?

  • You can thank our TWO MAJOR SPONSORS: This event was provided free to you because our Gold Sponsor SNI TECHNOLOGY generously sponsored the food, and Microsoft NERD donated the space. Many thanks to these major sponsors!
  • SNI TECHNOLOGY logoWithout these sponsors this event would simply not have happened.
  • You can thank our swag sponsors: O’Reilly (books), Pluralsight (training), Cerebrata (licenses), Packt Publishing (books), and Microsoft (books and licenses).
  • And you can thank the Boston Azure Bootcamp team which included (in alphabetical order): Andy Novick (who led the SQL Azure segment), Arra Derderian (helped during labs), George Babey (“swag guy” – and helped during labs), Jim O’Neil (lab-time tech support, lecture-time answer-man), Joan Wortman (ran the registration), Maura Wilder (who led the Azure Table Storage segment – and helped during labs), Nazik Huq (“twitter guy” – plus made sure there was food – and helped during labs), and William Wilder (yes, that’s me; you can call me “Bill” but wanted to be listed last…). Also, many thanks to Martha O’Neil for baking us a cloudy cake. 🙂

We are planning another Boston Azure Bootcamp in 2012. Stay tuned!

Update 22-Oct-2011: Here is contact info for our Gold sponsors at SNI TECHNOLOGY: