New Environments Added to Azure PowerShell

In the 1.1.0 version of the Azure PowerShell tools new environments have been added to make it easier for using Azure US Government, Azure China, or Azure Commercial environments.   Previously in order to use either Azure US Government or Azure China you had to manually set Azure environment variables in order for the standard Azure PowerShell cmdlets to work.  An example of this is shown in a prior blog post I wrote on how to connect PowerShell to Azure US Government.

Now the following Azure Environment definitions are available by default with Azure PowerShell:

  • AzureCloud:  Azure Commercial
  • AzureChinaCloud:   Azure China
  • AzureUSGovernment: Azure US Government

With the new Azure PowerShell tools you can easily switch between environments using the following cmdlet:  Set-AzureEnvironment

Now if we wish to connect to the Azure US Government cloud we would utilize the following cmdlet:

  1. Add-AzureAccount –Environment “AzureUSGovernment”

You can then select your Azure Subscription using Select-AzureSubscription and then begin exectuing other Azure PowerShell cmdlets.

With this new addition to the Azure PowerShell tools, connecting to and using Azure US Government or Azure China is a lot easier.

StorSimple On-Premises Virtual Array Preview

Getting started with hybrid storage is now a lot easier with the recent preview release of the StorSimple on-premises virtual array.  Now small or medium businesses have a very affordable option for meeting their on-premises storage needs. This new virtual appliance is also great for larger organizations that want to explore hybrid storage.

This virtual appliance can be run in any on-premises datacenter that has either Hyper-V or VMWare hosts available. A single on-premises StorSimple virtual array can manage up to 20TB of hybrid storage. There is a requirement that at least 10% of the overall storage is on-premises. The host must also provide 4 cores and 8GB of RAM to the virtual appliance.

Today I have posted a quick introduction video that shows how you could quickly get started with an on-premises StorSimple virtual array.


For more information on Azure preview services, including the StorSimple virtual array, visit the Microsft Azure services preview site.

Speaker & Video APIs from Microsoft Project Oxford

In a previous post I provided source code on how to utilize Microsoft Azure Media Services.  The code, although basic, provided a great introduction on how to build out a solution utilizing Azure Media Services in either the Microsoft Azure Commercial regions or the Microsoft Azure US Government regions.

Today, Microsoft has announced the availability of the Speaker & Video APIs from Microsoft Project Oxford.  The Video APIs makes it easy to analyze and automatically edit video using Microsoft video processing algorithms to detect and track faces in video, detect when motion has occurred in videos with stationary backgrounds, and smooths and stabilize videos.  With the new Speaker APIs you can use voice for another form of authention or for speaker identification.   By utilizing these new APIs you could extend your Azure Media Services solution to provide even more value with your existing  or new video assets.

Check out the announcement over on the Machine Learning Blog, or jump right over to Project Oxford and sign up to test out these features.

Taser Switches from AWS to Microsoft Azure

Today at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Chicago, IL, TASER International (NASDAQ: TASR) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced a partnership agreement that will bring together the global scale, technology breadth, and security commitment of both companies through the combined capabilities of the Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform, and Windows 10 devices with TASER’s Axon Platform and solution.

Read the full press release here.

CIO Magazine also has a great article here.


Azure VidMan Demo

Several months ago I was speaking with some of my co-workers at Microsoft about how to demonstrate specific capabilities within Microsoft Azure.  One feature that we all agreed was not simple to demonstrate to our customers was Azure Media Services.  Out of that conversation came an idea to build a simple web application to demonstrate the encoding and delivery of on-demand video using Azure Media Services… this is when Azure VidMan was born.

Azure VidMan is a MVC web application I built using C# and hosted on virtual machines inside of a Microsoft Azure Government datacenter.   This is a demo application and was not built to showcase best coding practices and has not been reviewed for security issues.  This application was built on my own time and is not endorsed or supported by Microsoft.

Today I am making the source code for this demo application available.  My hope is that it will provide a starting point for learning how to interact with Microsoft Azure Media Services.

Terms of use:  By downloading the source code you agree to the following.  The source code may be compiled and used for non-production, educational use only.  The source code is offered as-is with no warranty or support.    The developer of this source code will not be liable for any damages, physical or monetary, as a result of the use or misuse of the source code.   In other words, you are on your own.

There are some open source jQuery components used in the application.  Ensure that you do not violate the terms of those components.  The README.TXT document included in the zip file provides a link to the jQuery components used.

Microsoft Azure Backup for Government

Recently Microsoft updated the Azure Government environment to include Azure Backup.   If you are not familiar with Azure Backup, below is a synopsis from the official Azure documentation.

Azure Backup is a multi-tenanted Azure service that enables you to back up your data present anywhere: on-premises or in Azure. It replaces your existing on-premises or offsite backup solution with a reliable, secure and cost competitive cloud based offering. It also provides the flexibility of protecting assets running in the cloud. Azure Backup is built on top of a world class infrastructure that is scalable, durable and highly available. Using this solution, you can back up data and applications from their System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) servers, Windows servers, Windows client machines or Azure IaaS virtual machines. Azure Backup and SCDPM are the fundamental technologies which make up Microsoft’s cloud-integrated backup solution.

Today I recorded a short webcast that shows how to get started with Microsoft Azure Backup for Government.  In the video I demonstrate:

  • How to create a backup vault
  • How to register a server (or desktop) with the backup vault
  • How to schedule and perform a backup
  • How to recover data from an existing backup

Check out the video here.

Free Windows 10 Webcast Series for State and Local Government

From Security and Managements to ‘Windows as a Service,’ Windows 10 is a modern platform that meets the needs of organizations transforming in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. Windows 10 brings multiple innovations for state and local government organizations.

Please join us in October for three free Windows 10 webcasts recommended for CIO’s, IT Directors and IT Managers.

Watch to learn about:

  • New security features of Windows 10 such as Credential Guard, Device Guard, Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello
  • Windows 10 Mobile Device Management capabilities.
  • New ways to provide corporate identity in Windows 10 by leveraging Azure Active Directory.
  • How Windows 10 can help provide great protection for corporate data by having in box support for Enterprise Data Protection.
  • What is Current Branch vs. Current Branch for Business?
  • When is the Long Term Servicing Branch appropriate to use?
  • Windows Update for Business
  • Windows Insider program

We look forward to your attendance! Register now.

Hybrid Azure RemoteApp Demo

Tonight I recorded a short (24 minute) video that demonstrates a hybrid scenario with Azure RemoteApp.   Check out the video here.

Scenario summary
I have an Access database that is being used as a front end to data in a SQL Server database.  Currently this solution is hosted on-premises.   A new requirement has been raised that requires access to this Access database from multiple device types (iOS, Android, Windows) and multiple locations.  The SQL Server cannot be moved to Microsoft Azure at this time.

The solution
A hybrid Azure RemoteApp solution enables the organization to publish the Microsoft Access software to users on almost any device and give them access from any location with an Internet connection.   The hybrid configuration enables the Access database running in an Azure RemoteApp collection in a Microsoft datacenter to securely access on-premises resources;  in this case the SQL Server database.  Azure Active Directory is used to authenticate users as they log into the RemoteApp client.  The RemoteApp client will only show application collections that have been published to the user.

Technologies used in this demonstration
Azure Active Directory
Azure Storage and Files
Azure RemoteApp
Azure Virtual Network with Site to Site VPN
Microsoft Access
Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft Routing and Remote Access Service
Windows Active Directory
Windows Active Directory Logon Script

If you have any questions about this demonstration or the configuration of the environment, leave them in the comments section.


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