Visual-Studio-Dev-Essentials

Microsoft today announced the availability of Visual Studio Dev Essentials, a new, free program designed to provide any developer with everything they need to create applications on any device or operating system. The program provides easy access to popular Microsoft services, tools and resources as well as several new benefits to help developers get started building apps.
Liuson says, “Dev Essentials has a great set of benefits and tools – for free. This is Microsoft’s statement to the developer community about our learnings and about resources. And all of these things are accessible for all developers.”
Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a new, free program that brings together everything developers need to create applications on any device or operating system including Visual Studio Community and Visual Studio Code, and the free tier of Visual Studio Team Services. Dev Essentials adds priority forum support, training services from Pluralsight, Wintellect, and Xamarin, and—something that many have asked for—monthly credits to use in Azure, which will be coming in early 2016.

Source: http://microsoft-news.com/microsoft-announces-new-visual-studio-dev-essentials-program/

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Jet.com - E-commerce challenger eyes the top spot, runs on the Microsoft cloud

Marc Lore is perhaps best known as the creator of the popular e-commerce site Diapers.com, which was eventually sold to Amazon. Now, the entrepreneur and his team are ready to compete head-on with the e-retailing giant through an innovative online marketplace called Jet.com. To get up and running quickly, Jet built its entire e-commerce platform, including development and delivery infrastructure, on Microsoft Azure, using both .NET and open-source technologies.

Business Challenge

In 2010, Marc Lore sold his company Quidsi (which ran e-retailing sites like Diapers.com and Soap.com) to Amazon for $550 million. Four years later, Marc is competing against Amazon directly—with the creation of a new online marketplace called Jet.com.
There are many reasons to think that Lore might just pull it off. For one, he plans to eliminate any margins from product sales. The company’s only source of revenue will come from membership dues, eliminating the kind of mark-ups that Amazon charges and passing the savings on to the customer. In addition, an innovative pricing engine will work to reduce or eliminate costs in the e-commerce value chain, especially fulfillment costs and marketplace commissions.
“Our pricing engine will continually work out the most cost-effective way to fulfill an order from merchant locations closest to the consumer,’ explains Lore, Co-Founder and CEO of Jet. “The engine will also figure out which merchants can fulfill most cheaply by putting multiple requested items into one shipment. And so we can cut probably 10 percent of a cost of a typical e-commerce transaction just by being smarter about fulfillment.”
With a value proposition like that, the company is confidently looking forward to explosive growth. “We want to be one of the leading e-commerce destinations in a very short period of time—18 to 36 months,” says Mike Hanrahan, CTO at Jet.
To fuel that growth, Jet was able to quickly secure more than $220 million in financing. Meanwhile, aggressive marketing has already created a user base of more than 400,000 customers—even before the site launched.
Next step: find the right cloud partner to support the company’s ambitious growth plan. “We realized that we simply did not have the resources to build and manage the kind of datacenters and development infrastructure to meet our growth strategy,” says Hanrahan. “So we quickly decided on a cloud model.”

Solution

The decision to work with Microsoft Azure was driven, in part, by the .NET development platform—and Visual F# in particular—which was a good fit with the microservices architecture used to build Jet. As Hanrahan explains, “The event-driven, microservices paradigm eliminated a lot of the overhead that comes with a service-oriented architecture such as Amazon uses, meaning that everyone can build all their systems in parallel and then publish and subscribe to an event bus. We found that F# works very well with this paradigm, especially the immutable data streams that are a key part of our microservices architecture.”
The Microsoft Visual Studio development system is the primary IDE for back-end infrastructure, with Node being used on the front end. To get its code through development and into production as fast as possible, Jet uses a mix of Azure App Service, Azure Web Roles and custom servers, with deployment happening from Jenkins.
Jet also has many open-source middleware components, which it runs on Azure Virtual Machines, including Elasticsearch, RedisLabs, Hadoop, and Event Store—an open-source event-sourcing data store.
Jet is taking advantage of several other Azure services to streamline its development processes. For example, to make it easier for merchant partners to integrate with the platform, it has created a developer portal for its APIs using Azure API Management.
Jet is also using Azure Key Vault to store encryption keys as well as Azure Application Insights, which will provide real-time alerts to its developers to help them identify and triage problems as they occur. Application Insights also enables Jet to learn, in real time, how customers are using their application, so they can implement an agile build-measure-learn cycle.
“Being able to leverage so many off-the-shelf services and tools from Azure enabled us to go from zero to a full- fledged e-commerce marketplace in just about 12 months. That same system would have taken us at least two years to build on our own, plus capex costs,” says Hanrahan.
The company also relies on other Microsoft cloud services to run its day-to-day business, including Office 365 and Azure Active Directory. In fact, Jet’s entire operation is now run in the cloud using Azure. “We have no servers at all onsite right now, not a single one,” says Hanrahan.

Benefits

Working with Microsoft Azure cloud services has provided Jet with a level of flexibility and scalability that has been critical to its aggressive development schedule.
Moving from code to production in minutes.
By using App Service for its consumer front end, Jet has been able to dramatically streamline its development process, so that it can build, deploy, and scale consumer-grade web apps more rapidly. As Hanrahan says, “We’ve been able to get our critical code through our CI/CD process in a couple of minutes using App Service.”

Scaling automatically to meet customer demand

As with any popular e-retailing site, Jet requires extremely rapid and flexible scaling based on ever-changing customer traffic. To streamline this process, Jet was able to set up auto-scaling on both PaaS servers and App Service to scale its servers based on load or schedule. “Because both PaaS and App Service scale automatically for us, we are able to throw as many machines as we need at the front end, when we need them,” says Hanrahan.

Accommodating rapidly growing storage requirements

As the company grows, Azure provides a wide range of storage options to handle virtually any amount of data. “Right now our data warehouse sits in a SQL Server instance, but we will be augmenting that using HD Insight,” says Hanrahan. Azure HDInsight is designed to handle any amount of data, scaling from terabytes to petabytes on demand.
With Azure, Jet has created a cloud infrastructure that’s ready to meet the company’s most ambitious growth plans. “To be one of the best e-commerce destinations in the US, we will have to handle millions of customers, placing tens of thousands of orders a day. That requires a top-class e-commerce system built on a flexible, open cloud platform. That is exactly what we got with Azure,” says Hanrahan.

Source: https://customers.microsoft.com

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Dev-Test Starts with IT: Create simple, cloud-only dev-test configurations using Resource Manager templates

Sixty-five percent of developers say it’s too complicated and time-consuming to get dev-test resources.* It doesn’t have to be. This blog series will provide guidance on setting up dev-test environments with the help of the Microsoft cloud so that you can get the most out of dev-test in minutes—not hours or days.
Azure makes it easy to set up a dev-test environment for your applications and all of their components: web app, database, database server, storage, and any third-party services. Azure Resource Manager can help you simplify deployment and management of all of the app resources and services.
Resource Manager gives you the ability to deploy, manage, and monitor the components of your apps in a resource group, rather than handling services and resources individually. You can create resource groups and then move resources to different groups and add new resources to existing groups.
You can also use Resource Manager templates to quickly deploy apps within a new or existing resource group, including the following cloud-only dev-test configurations:
Active Directory domain controllers, a highly available, two-server Active Directory Domain Services domain configuration
•SharePoint Server 2013, a three-server or nine-server SharePoint farm
•SQL Server AlwaysOn, a five-server SQL Server AlwaysOn with Availability Groups configuration
•WordPress Server, a WordPress Server running on Ubuntu
These are great starting points to explore Resource Manager templates before authoring your own.
Source: Business Case for Test Environment Management Whitepaper, Cognizant: https://azure.microsoft.com

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Talis Clinical

Healthcare Technology Firm Launches New Perioperative Solution on Microsoft Azure
Talis Clinical wanted to make an innovative anesthesia information management system more widely available, so it redesigned the application to run in the cloud on Microsoft Azure. Called ACG-Anesthesia, the patient-centric solution provides centralized, automated visibility into patient risk factors and changing physiologic conditions from the decision to perform surgery through recovery.
In addition, built-in advanced clinical guidance and evidence-based care protocols empower physicians to more effectively manage all phases of perioperative care.

Making healthcare smarter

Sharing data quickly and accurately across multiple processes is important for all businesses, but nowhere is it more critical than in a hospital setting where the right information at the right time can mean the difference between life and death. Among the most critical events in patient care is the intraoperative episode, where the anesthesia care team must simultaneously monitor and react to multiple physiological parameters.
To address those challenges, an application was developed and implemented at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic that integrates data from patient monitors, medical devices, and electronic health records (EHR) to provide centralized insight and multiparameter decision support. The anesthesia system was already being used in more than 270 operating rooms when the development team and an experienced medical entrepreneur decided to establish a new firm called Talis Clinical and offer the solution to other healthcare organizations.
Talis immediately began expanding the scope of the anesthesia system to include preoperative and postoperative events. In addition to improving patient care and safety, the extended solution would help healthcare providers get more value from the electronic health records (EHR) systems that many organizations had installed and augmented to satisfy recent regulations. Gary Colister, Chief Executive Officer of Talis, explains, “EHR technology alone does not provide the level of vigilance needed in perioperative care; it mostly enables the clinical team to record what happens.”

Moving to the cloud

Talis spent a year looking at an array of cloud platforms from specialized medical platforms to large commercial vendors. The new company decided that Microsoft Azure was the best choice for commercializing its application. “We went through all of these evaluations, and then we actually realized that we’re a Microsoft shop, with all of our technology built on a Microsoft platform,” says Colister. “We’re also moving very fast, and we needed to make sure that not only the individual pieces of software we deployed had the necessary robustness, but that our cloud partner had a deep awareness of our technology stack. It really came down to that support.”
Using the Microsoft Visual Studio development system, including Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Talis redesigned its anesthesiology solution to run in the cloud on Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines. The highly scalable, flexible environment provides a range of benefits, including easy integration with virtually any endpoint including diverse EHRs and medical devices. On the back end, Talis gained similar advantages, including support for its databases, which ran on Linux operating systems.
The solution, called ACG-Anesthesia, continuously collects patient data such as heart rate and blood pressure, and provides real-time, clinical views of specific patient conditions in multiple rooms. It also includes electronic case summaries and hand-off checklists so that comprehensive information can be shared efficiently with all members of a medical team. ACG-Anesthesia automatically pulls data from Talis clinical products, medical devices, EHRs, lab systems, pharmacies, and more.
In the operating room, the anesthesia care team uses an intuitive touchscreen to access and record information. Elsewhere, the supervising physician can use a mobile device to remotely monitor multiple rooms staffed by nurses or other members of the care team. In addition to providing a way to monitor patient health through a central interface, the solution pushes real-time alerts to devices including tablets and smartphones. It can be customized for a wide range of scenarios, including general, cardiac, and pediatric care.
Built-in clinical guidance supports complex decisions by calculating multiple parameters and events. As a result, the solution can alert caregivers to potential adverse conditions and reactions. And besides providing operational and clinical guidance at the point of care, ACG-Anesthesia helps hospitals collect and report data required by healthcare reform acts and other regulations.
Talis is also migrating other clinical products to the cloud, including a portal that establishes and measures protocols for preoperative testing and image-based, documentation technology that is used for assessment before anesthesia is administered. Both products are already integrated with ACG-Anesthesia. Brought to market in just two years, the suite is available across North America.

Improving healthcare

By taking advantage of Microsoft Azure, Talis Clinical can help medical organizations throughout North America improve patient care and safety at all stages of treatment and recovery.

Provides better support for innovation

With the Microsoft cloud, Talis was able to launch an innovative product that can help hospitals improve performance. “We have determined that Microsoft Azure can help us serve clients better than other traditional platforms,” says Colister. “We want our clients to feel like we can deliver the highest level of service that they expect. To be able to provide insights that help clinicians be more vigilant and at the same time produce legal documentation for compliance—that’s a big achievement in our space.”

Improves patient outcome

By providing timely, relevant data through remote apps and devices, Talis can help clinicians improve patient care. “The perioperative surgical care model is being studied at a lot of prominent medical centers around the country, and it emphasizes continuity and measuring patient information from the preop to surgery, subsequent physical therapy, and beyond discharge” says Karen Alexander, Vice President of Business Intelligence at Talis Clinical. “With Microsoft Azure, we can build the technology to implement this new care model and improve patient outcomes.”

Increases clinical efficiency

Talis is also improving workflow for hospital staff, which frees up valuable time where it matters most. “We’re talking to clinicians who tell us that our product saves them an hour each day in documentation, and it also reduces downtime because it’s more accurate,” Colister says. “With Microsoft technology, we’re creating solutions that make physicians more productive so that they can take better care of patients.”
Source: https://customers.microsoft.com
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The Walking Dead: No Man's Land game soars to #1 supported by Azure DocumentDB

By Aravind Ramachandran as written on Azure.com
Next Games, is a fast growing gaming company based in Helsinki, Finland. On October 7, 2015, AMC and Next Games released The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, the official mobile game based on AMC’s record-breaking TV series, for iOS. Within a week, the game quickly skyrocketed to the #1 spot on Apple’s Top Free App chart.
To handle the massive scale and performance requirements for their highly anticipated game (over 1,000,000 downloads and 31M minutes played on opening weekend alone), the Next Games development team chose to implement their backend services on Azure. For their persistence layer, which needed to ingest massive volumes of game profile and state metadata while serving low latency queries (under 10 ms), they selected Azure DocumentDB, the fully managed NoSQL JSON database.
The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land is a turn-based mobile strategy game that supports single player and multiplayer campaigns. In the game, you build bases, find more survivors, upgrade your skills and weapons and carry out successful missions, much like in the popular TV show. You play with an online connection; player and guild metadata must be persisted and retrieved frequently during gameplay.
Why Azure DocumentDB?
A key requirement for the Next Games development team was a database that could respond seamlessly to the massive scale and performance demands of this hotly anticipated game.
With millions of users expected to be online on day one, the database had to handle numerous real time player metadata updates as players logged in and logged out, AND elastically scale performance up or down as required.
Responsiveness was critical to user experience. Saving player profiles and score information had to complete within milliseconds to avoid any lags during game play.
In addition to simple key-value lookups, the data tier needed to filter against different properties in real-time, e.g. locate players by their internal player IDs, or their GameCenter, Facebook, Google IDs, or query based on player membership in a guild.
The game includes social features including in-game chat messages, player guild memberships, challenges completed, and a social graph, which required a flexible schema. Next Games also need to perform ordering against various groupings of players (ex. by country, or social network) to build real-time “high score” leaderboards.
Time to market was critical for Next Games, and the team made a conscious decision to develop only with platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings. It was important that the database required minimal setup and management work to allow for rapid iteration.
After evaluating various solutions, Next Games chose Azure DocumentDB as a core component of the game since it met and exceeded all these requirements.
How they used DocumentDB
Next Games created DocumentDB accounts for their development, load testing and production environments to store player metadata and social grouping data. For partitioning data within these accounts, the Next Games team used the DocumentDB .NET SDK and the hash partition resolver to distribute data among DocumentDB collections using consistent hashing. DocumentDB collections were configured with the S3 performance level for the highest throughput and best performance, setup with string range indexing policy for efficient and flexible sorting.
The Next Games team implemented a repository class that performed writes using atomic upserts, and reads using one of the following three query patterns:
  • Single partition queries based on a single player ID
  • Multi-partition queries with a fixed page size/maximum item count that scanned DocumentDB partitions in series (to list the top N groups or friends for a player)
  • Multi-partition queries that scanned partitions in parallel for lowest latency using ResolveForRead, e.g. locating players through a “secondary index” e.g., their Facebook ID, Google ID, or GameCenter ID
Another key feature in the game was displaying the highest scores in real-time. This included global high scores, high scores by a gamer’s country, and among their group of friends. This was implemented as a service which performed intra-collection sorting using DocumentDB query, and subsequently aggregated results as separate “high score” documents also stored as JSON documents within separate collections.

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