Category Archives: Boston Azure User Group

Related to http://bostonazure.org

Using PowerShell with Windows Azure

At the May 26, 2011 Boston Azure User Group meeting, Joel Bennett – a Microsoft PowerShell MVP from the Rochester, NY area – spoke about PowerShell basics, then got into a bunch of useful ways PowerShell can be applied to Windows Azure. We had around 25 people at the event.

[Update 23-June-2011: Joel Bennett posted his slide deck from the talk.] 
[Update 05-July-2011: Added another handy link to post from Patrick Butler called Developing and Debugging Azure Management API CmdLets.]

Some of the pointers:

  • Go get the PowerShell Community Extensions (from codeplex)
  • You can use the PS command line to CD into folders/directories, look at files, etc. — but you can also look at the Registry or your Certificate Store as if they were directories!
  • There are no plural nouns in PS (e.g., get-provider, not get-providers)
  • Learn these commands first: Get-Command, Get-Help, Get-Member, Select-Object, Where-Object, Format-Table, … others you can learn later
  • Somebody needs to write a PowerShell Provider for Azure Storage
  • Joel created an open-shell WPF-ish PowerShell shell called POSH

Try some commands:

  • dir | get-objec
  • dir | fl *  —formats as lis
  • get-verb | fw -col
  • get-verb | fw -col 6 -groupby Group
  • Get-ExecutionPolicy
  • dir | where { $_.PSIsContainer } — where $_ is “the thing over there (directory)”
  • dir | select CreationTime, Name | gm
  • dir | select * —will look different than command above
  • $global:foo = “some value”
  • cd c:\windows\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0… see Help.format.ps1xml controls the default output formatting properties for object types not already known by PowerShell – can have property names, even script blocks in it – very powerful
  • # is single-line comment char; <# … #> for multi-line comments
  • You can create aliases for scripts
  • Powershell is an interpreted scripting language
  • Can access WinForms, WPF, lots of stuff.. though not Threading

Three ways to manage Azure from PowerShell

  1. Remoting
  2. WASM (Windows Azure Services Management commandlets) – superceded by http://wappowershell.codeplex.com/ – developed by Development Evangelist group (e.g., Vittorio)
  3. Cerebrata (3rd party, commercial)

Remoting:

  • Need to get some goodness in a Startup Script, along with crecentials
  • Set OS Family = 2 (so you get Windows Server 2008 R2)
  • Need a certificate – can be self-signed

WAP PowerShell:

  • 36 Cmdlets
  • “the 80% library”
  • very good example

Cerebrata Cmdlets

  • Requires .NET 4.0 (which is different than baseline support for PS, which is .NET CLR 2.0
  • $70
  • 114 Cmdlets
  • Cerebrata
  • gcm –mo cerebrata | gr0up Noun | sort

Snap-ins need to be in the GAC – so put WAP PowerShell stuff where you want to keep them, since that’s where they’ll be built — or build the file in Visual Studio

  • Add-Module is for SNAPINS
  • IPMO is for ImportModule for Modules
  • ipmo AzurePlatform
  • gcm –mo AzurePlatform

PowerShell has something called “splatting”

  • Starting with a hashtable… put in the parms you’ll need
  • variables start with $
  • retrieving (splatting) starts with @

Both cerebrata and WAP are snap-ins

WHAT FOLLOWS… are somewhat random notes I captured…

Get-Certificate $azure | Get-HostedCertificateStore

Your personal profile for PowerShell lives in c:\Users\YOURNAME\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\AzurePlatform as Startup.ps1 (?)

Two kinds of errors in PowerShell: 1. Terminating Errors (exceptions, can be “trapped” or use try/catch as of PS2) and 2. Non-Terminating Errors which are harder to deal with

$? ==> did the last command succeed

dir doesnotexist –ev er –ea “”

$er[0].categoryinfo

“Don’t Produce Snap-ins!” Here’s why: to figure out what is in there (get-command –Module

Get-Module –ListAvailable

– run the above on AZure and see “NetworkLoadBalancingCl…” – is this Azure relate

OTHER INTERESTING POWERSHELL/AZURE LINKS

 

May 2011 Azure Cloud Events in Boston Area

Are you interested in Cloud Computing generally, or specifically Cloud Computing using the Windows Azure Platform? Listed below are the upcoming Azure-related events in the Greater Boston area which you can attend in person and for FREE (or at least inexpensively).

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

Know of any more cloud events of interest to the Windows Azure community? Have any more information or corrections on the events listed? Please let us know in the comments.

1. New England Code Camp

  • when: Sat 07-May-2011, 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • where: Microsoft Waltham (Jones Road)
  • wifi: (unknown, but probably just for speakers)
  • food: Provided (usually pizza & salad)
  • cost: Free
  • what: Developer-focused mini-conference on a wide range of topics
  • More info & Register: http://thedevcommunity.org

2. Jeffrey Richter from Wintellect will be presenting a free, in-person Windows Azure Deep Dive

  • when: Mon 16-May-2011, all day
  • where: Waltham
  • wifi: (unknown)
  • food: (unknown)
  • cost: FREE (registration required)
  • what: Deep Dive on Windows Azure
  • More info: See Jim O’Neil’s blog post for details
  • Register: Note there are two ways to register from this page – in person, or webinar – the webinar is a link, but the in person event form is on this page directly: https://www.wintellect.com/Training/Webinar/Registration

3. NHDN – New Hampshire .NET – Concord

  • when: Wed 25-May-2011, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
  • where: New Hampshire Technical Institute 31 College Drive Concord, NH 03301, Grappone Hall, Room 106
  • wifi: not sure
  • food: I think they do dinner afterwards
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Demystifying the Cloud and an overview of Microsoft’s public cloud platform, Windows Azure
  • More info: here
  • Register: here

4. Boston Azure User Group meeting on PowerShell and how to use it with Windows Azure

  • when: Thu 26-May-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • wifi: Wireless Internet access will be available
  • food: Pizza and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE (registration appreciated)
  • what: What is PowerShell, why do you care, and how can you use its awesome power to help with Windows Azure. PowerShell MVP Joel Bennett is the featured speaker.
  • More info: See Boston Azure cloud user group site for details
  • Register: here

Coming in June:

  • 24 Hours in the Cloud
  • Cloud Camp Boston
  • The Architect Factory
  • Boston Azure
  • Beantown .NET (Architecture Patterns in the cloud)
  • Hartford Code Camp
  • New Hampshire Code Camp
  • And more? Please let me know in the comments if you know about an event relevant to those who care about the Windows Azure Platform

April 2011 Azure Cloud Events in Boston Area

Are you interested in Cloud Computing generally, or specifically Cloud Computing using the Windows Azure Platform? Listed below are the upcoming Azure-related events in the Boston/Cambridge area which you can attend in person and for FREE (or at least inexpensive).

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

Know of any more cloud events of interest to the Windows Azure community? Have any more information or corrections on the events listed? Please let us know in the comments.

1. SQL Saturday #71

  • when: Sat 02-Apr-2011, 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • where: Babson College
  • wifi: (unknown)
  • food: Provided
  • cost: Cheap (registration required)
  • what: All about SQL and related topics
  • More info & Register: http://www.sqlsaturday.com/71/eventhome.aspx

2. Cloud Platform Bake-Off led by Kyle C. Quest

  • when: Fri 15-Apr-2011, 10:00 AM – ??? PM
  • where: Hosted at Cafe On the Common, 677 Main Street Waltham, MA (but please DOUBLE CHECK the location at Meetup.com listing)
  • wifi: (unknown)
  • food: (unknown)
  • cost: FREE, but pre-registration appears to be required
  • what: “Putting different cloud platforms head to head is one of the original ideas for Cloud Hackathon. I’m sure lots of people are curious how each platform can measure up to its competition.” This is a coding/hacking event on Windows Azure plus Amazon EC3, Google App Engine, and maybe others.
  • More info: See Meetup.com for details
  • Register: See Meetup.com

3. Boston Azure User Group meeting with David Makogon as featured speaker

  • when: Thu 28-Apr-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • wifi: Wireless Internet access will be available
  • food: Pizza and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Exact topics to-be-announced, but they will be awesome 🙂 David Makogon from Microsoft will be featured speaker
  • More info: See Boston Azure cloud user group site for details (soon)
  • Register: (soon)

Boston Azure Marketing Write-up

Recently the nice folks at Boston User Groups offered to feature the Boston Azure User Group as a “user group of the month” on their home page. Since we put some real thought into how to describe what we do, I decided it was worth posting here as well. Comments on this post are welcome.

 

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What is the Windows Azure “cloud” platform?

You’ve no doubt been hearing a lot about “the cloud” these days. The cloud is a big topic, with many vendors vying for attention. Not only does Microsoft have many of its own applications running in the cloud – Microsoft also offers a modern, robust platform on which developers and IT Pros can build and deploy cloud applications. This is known as the Windows Azure Platform.

What is the Boston Azure User Group?

The Boston Azure User Group is a community with a common interest: learning about cloud computing, especially focused on the Windows Azure Platform. This community has been holding regular, in-person meetings with talks, discussions, and hands-on sessions since October 2009.

Most meetings include an invited expert speaker or two and usually span multiple Azure-related topics. We also get together sometimes to develop software – what better way to learn about Windows Azure than to write code for a real solution?

What topics do we cover? Anything related to the Windows Azure Platform is fair game – from how it works (Blobs, Queues, Roles, SQL Azure, Service Bus, AppFabric, .NET, Java, PHP, … on and on) – to how real applications use it (which were some of our best talks: from a university research project needing massive scale out to run a simulation, to real businesses running on the platform today) – to announcements, demos, tools, related technologies, and business scenarios.

How do I learn more about the Boston Azure User Group?

We welcome new members – whether you are new to the cloud or new to Windows Azure, want to hear some advanced talks on specific topics, or want to join us for some coding or hackathons – anyone interested in welcome. We also try to reserve a little time at meetings for mingling and everyone is invited to meet up afterwards for a cold beverage at a nearby (walking distance) location.

If you’d like to check us out, visit the user group’s web site – which is itself a Windows Azure application (the source code is on CodePlex).

Please feel free to join our (low volume) mailing list (http://bit.ly/bostonazuremail), follow us on twitter (@bostonazure), or join us for the next meeting (details at www.bostonazure.org).

Meetings are held at the Microsoft NERD Center, in Kendall Square, Cambridge. There is a parking garage in the building, free parking nearby, and is only a short walk from the Red Line train stop.

Meetings are free. Pizza is provided. An RSVP is appreciated.

What if I can’t make it to a Boston Azure meeting?

Want to bring a Windows Azure talk to your user group members? Feel free to contact Boston Azure user group leader Bill Wilder (@codingoutloud or codingoutloud2011@gmail.com) to set up a talk for the user group you run, or a user group you think would be interested. Topics are flexible – what is different about your software architecture in the cloud, what’s new in data storage in Azure, introduction to the Cloud and Azure, or others – let’s talk.

March 2011 Azure Cloud Events in Boston Area

Are you interested in Cloud Computing generally, or specifically Cloud Computing using the Windows Azure Platform? Listed below are the upcoming Azure-related events in the Boston/Cambridge area which you can attend in person and for FREE.

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

Know of any more cloud events of interest to the Windows Azure community? Have any more information or corrections on the events listed? Please let us know in the comments.

1. TechNet Events Presents: Transforming IT with Cloud Computing Firestarter

  • when: Tues 22-Mar-2011, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
  • where: Hilton Garden Inn Boston/Waltham, Presidential Ballroom, 420 Totten Pond Rd, Waltham MA 02451
  • wifi: (unknown)
  • food: Provided
  • cost: FREE (registration required)
  • what: The day includes the following sessions:
    • Session 1: Cloud Computing Essentials for IT Pros
    • Session 2: Windows Azure for IT Pros
    • Session 3: Public Cloud: What, Why, and How
    • Session 4: Private Cloud: What, Why, and How
  • More info & Register: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032473675&Culture=en-US

2. Boston Azure User Group meeting with Casual Gaming Theme

  • when: Thu 31-M ar-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • wifi: Wireless Internet access will be available
  • food: Pizza and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE
  • what: One of the fastest-growing cloud segments, casual gaming spans all age groups and regions of the world. Examine the architecture of one example of a casual gaming cloud app, review the common event logic used, learn how to add in-app purchasing and ways businesses can capitalize on these break-time diversions. Examples are draw from real-world development projects and use Windows Azure as the cloud platform. Jason Milgram is a Windows Azure MVP and the founder and CEO of Linxter, Inc., provider of message-oriented cloud middleware.
  • More info: See Boston Azure cloud user group site for details
  • Register: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e3h83p6o5f9da75a&oseq=

Boston Azure Hackathon

Do you know about the Boston Azure Hackathon to be held at NERD on Wed Feb 16, 2011?

A Hackathon You Say?

Yes, a Hackathon. This is in-person event where folks show up and hack (write code). In our case, we will meet at Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, MA, and our hacking will be on Windows Azure-related code.

  1. Rule #1: A Hackathon is fun! (Coding is fun when there is a lot of energy in the room… Plus, we’ll have give-aways – which always makes it even more fun, right?)
  2. Rule #2: We learn something! (We all learn better by doing. Plus, we’ll have many book give-aways – another great way to learn!)
  3. Rule #3: Aim to ship! (So don’t be overly ambitious with your idea – try to choose something that you can complete in the allotted time – then enhance it if you have extra time.)
  4. Rule #4: Goto Rule #1! (Yes, recursion abuse. Extra credit at the Hackathon if you employ recursion appropriately.)

(Did you say Windows Azure? Yes, Windows Azure is Microsoft’s platform for writing applications that will run in the cloud.)

A code base that we expect will get a lot of attention is www.bostonazure.org, which is the community’s web site, but is also a real honest-to-goodness-in-production Azure application using features like Web Role, Blob Storage, Table Storage, SQL Azure (with OData), and Azure Diagnostics. (And also an open source project on CodePlex.)

We will break up into small teams based on which subprojects people want to work on and… get coding.

Here’s the approx schedule:

  • 4:00-4:30 PM – Gather, get organized into teams, begin hacking! (We want this to be as efficient as possible so we maximize our time hacking. So please read the rest of this post to see how you can be prepared, such as by joining in the conversation on CodePlex in advance.)
  • 4:30-8:15 PM – Hack! We will break for pizza, but otherwise will crank away.
  • 8:15-9:00 PM – Show and Tell. What did you do? We will have fun seeing what everyone did, and some cool PRIZES and GIVEAWAYS. + +

Where and when?

Location: Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, MA. Parking available in the building (costs money), or take the T, or find on-street parking.

When: Wednesday February 16, 2011 from 4:00-9:00 PM. If you are late, that’s life, but something we can live with.

Food: Pizza will be provided.

What happens if I come late? Join a team when you get here. You will be “just in time” for something.

What do I need to do?

A few things:

  1. Sign up so we know you are coming
  2. Prepare your development laptop (www.bostonazure.org is running SDK 1.3)
  3. Join the conversation in this thread on the CodePlex space for the Boston Azure Project (where we can discuss ideas in advance of the event so we can “hit the ground running”)
  4. If you want to have access to a live, honest-to-goodness Azure-in-the-cloud instance of your own, please be sure to sign up A FEW DAYS IN ADVANCE for a Windows Azure Pass (use code: DPEA01). For very clear instructions, please check out Jim O’Neil’s screencast on signing up for Windows Azure Pass. Jim will be at the Hackathon helping out, and in case you don’t know him, Jim is definitely a friend of ours. [Note that an Azure development environment should be fine as well for most of us.]

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE YOUR OWN AZURE-CAPABLE DEV LAPTOP, then plan to pair up with someone who does…

What will we work on?

Here’s the rule: You can hack on anything you want that is either related to Windows Azure or related to the Boston Azure Community. The discussion thread mentioned above has some ideas. Add your ideas too.

This will break into three broad areas:

  1. Ehancing or adding Azure capabilities to www.bostonazure.org (generally speaking, this is what the group calls the Boston Azure Project). This does not need to be limited to .NET or ASP.NET MVC. Post your ideas to CodePlex.
  2. Writing Azure code unrelated to www.bostonazure.org (maybe a file upload utility, for example)
  3. Enhancing the Boston Azure community in ways unrelated to using Azure itself. For example, if you want to build a WP7 app for the Boston Azure community, go for it (though that could have an Azure-enabled back end). If you want to add features to www.bostonazure.org in jQuery or make it HTML5-capable, go for it. If you want to create a favicon or a privacy policy for the site, go for it.

Use your imagination.

Wait – I am not an Azure expert – is that okay?

Yes, that’s okay. We will have some folks in the room who do understand Azure, so we will help you. However, of course, it is better if you get warmed up in advance. Install the Azure dev environment. Learn a bit about Azure in advance. Download the code from bostonazure.codeplex.com to see the code for the site.

Do you have a hashtag for Twitter?

Yes: #bostonazurehack.

The Boston Azure User Group has a twitter handle: @bostonazure. My personal twitter handle is @codingoutloud.

Who do we have to thank for all this awesomeness?

Microsoft NERD Center provides the space and the food (thanks Leah!).

Microsoft people help make it happen (thanks Jim O’Neil and Mark Eisenberg – each is a friend of ours!).

And the following sponsors are providing software and books for prizes:

+ +

The event is organized by folks from the Boston Azure User Group.

February 2011 Azure Cloud Events in Boston Area

For those interested in Cloud Computing, especially those interested in Cloud Computing using Microsoft Windows Azure, there are some events in the Boston/Cambridge area which you can attend in person and for FREE.

Here are the ones I know about, in the order in which they will occur.

Know of any more cloud events of interest to the Windows Azure community? Please let me know in the comments.

1. Maximizing Your Monthly Recurring Revenue

2. Azure Hackathon hosted by Boston Azure User Group

3. Azure Hackathon hosted by Cloud Hackathon Meetup Group

  • when: Thu 17-Feb-2011, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • food: (not sure)
  • cost: FREE
  • what: This is an Azure-focused Hackathon – writing code for Windows Azure
  • More info: (tbd)
  • Register: http://www.meetup.com/Hack-The-Cloud

4. Boston Azure User Group meeting with Cloud Security Theme

  • when: Thu 24-Feb-2011, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • food: Food (pizza + maybe salad) and drinks will be provided
  • cost: FREE
  • what: This is an Azure-focused event which will focus this month on Cloud Security with an emphasis on two areas: Data Security and Identity Management.In the main talk, Walt Lapinsky, VP Cloud Security at Purposeful Clouds, will dig into Data Security concerns for the cloud – generally, and as applied to Windows Azure. Walt has diverse background in this area, with over 40 years of proven expertise in supporting bet-your-business IT environments, including in the military and intelligence communities.In the opening talk, Bill Wilder will introduce how to create a Single Sign On (SSO) experience in the cloud using capabilities such as Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) and Azure’s Access Control Service (ACS), including how to easily outsource your authentication to Facebook, Gmail, LiveId, or other existing providers – with Azure’s ACS and .NET’s WIF doing the heavy lifting.
  • NOTE: If you are brand new to the Cloud and need to get oriented before jumping in deeper, check out the Boston WebsiteSpark item below which will happen on the same night and at the same location as the Boston Azure event.
  • More info: See Boston Azure cloud user group site for details
  • Register: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=v6qmy8dab&oeidk=a07e3cxgt9k20c9c5bf

5. Introduction to Cloud Computing and Windows Azure

  • when: Thu 24-Feb-2011, 6:00 PM
  • where: Hosted at NERD Center
  • food: (not sure)
  • cost: FREE
  • what: Mark Eisenberg  will tell us why cloud computing came to be and how it is defined and used.  As well as an overview of the development and deployment workflow. This is a great cloud computing 101 and how you can take advantage of cloud computing.
  • More info: See Boston WebsiteSpark Group page for details
  • Register: http://www.meetup.com/Boston-WebsiteSpark-Group/events/16409922/

Know of any more cloud events of interest to the Windows Azure cloud crowd? Please let me know in the comments.

Recognized as Windows Azure MVP

On a personal note, I got an email on January 1st from Microsoft informing me that I have been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for Windows Azure. This is for my community work around Windows Azure: founding the Boston Azure User Group, bloggingspeaking, and some customer advisor work with Patterns & Practices.

Thanks Microsoft!

Boston Azure User Group – Notes from November 2010 Meeting

Around 25-30 of us gathered together on November 18 to talk about Azure. What else would you expect us to do at a Boston Azure User Group meeting?

1. The featured talk led by Chander Khanna and Nazik Huq asked the provocative question Why choose the Azure cloud?  and (not surprisingly!) spirited discussion ensued. The slides are available (see link at the bottom of the page), and there is a blog post titled “Microsoft in the Clouds with Windows Azure Platform?” from Chander which considers some of the same material.

2. An Azure 101 talk was led by Mark Eisenberg. This is a challenging topic to cover, since the cloud has so many interesting concepts, and the audience at any given Boston Azure meeting always includes new faces. More Azure 101 to come at next meeting, Dec 13, 2010.

3. Several members discussed the Boston Azure Project. The most recent build includes some instrumentation changes made by Arra Derderian (part of which reused some code from Jason Haley).

4. After the meeting around 10 of us went down to the Muddy Charles Pub for a beer!

Follow me on twitter (@codingoutloud), follow the Boston Azure User Group on twitter (@bostonazure), join the low volume Boston Azure User Group email list, and come join us at an upcoming Boston Azure meeting such as our SPECIAL NIGHT FOR DECEMBER as we meet on Monday December 13, 2010 for a night of Azure-packed goodness!

As always, to see what’s COMING UP in Boston Azure meetings, check out our Azure-hosted web site at www.bostonazure.org – meetings beyond what is on the home page (if known) are listed on the Upcoming Events page.

Azure 101 Talk Presented at Boston Azure User Group’s September Meeting

Last week on Thursday I gave a talk to the Boston Azure User Group[†]: a high level introduction to Windows Azure titled Azure 101 (you can download the Azure 101 slide deck).

I shared the stage with Mark Eisenberg of Microsoft who walked us through some of the features coming in the November update of Windows Azure. One of the sites Mark showed was the Open Source Windows Azure Companion.

Hope to see you next month when Ben Day will talk about how Windows Azure and Silverlight can play nice together.

For up to date information on Boston Azure, follow Boston Azure on twitter (@bostonazure),  keep an eye on the group’s web site (bostonazure.org), or add yourself to the low-volume email announcement list.

[] Yes, I also founded and run the Boston Azure User Group, but it is my first time having the honors as the main speaker.