Windowz Azure

Azure in China

May 17, 2017 .NET, AppFabric, Azure, Azure In China, Azure IoT Suite, Cloud Computing, Cloud Services, IaaS, Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge, IoT Hub, Media Services, Microsoft, Mobile Services, PaaS, SQL Azure, SQL Server, VisualStudio, Windowz Azure 1 comment

Microsoft Azure presence in China is always a question when there is a need for any customer to deploy azure applications specifically for Chinese Regional customers.

Recently I had an interaction with a Microsoft Certified Trainer, who carelessly said Azure only uses Chinese partner based environment is only for serving CDN (Content Delivery Network) needs, partial knowledge is difficult to convince. Being a Certified Trainer, he should have known these. As I recollect my earlier experience with azure, I was aware that Microsoft has partnered with 21Vianet , to setup a Chinese instance of Azure with most possible IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings are available to Chinese customers. At the same time data would reside within Chinese governments data privacy and storage regulations.

Similarly other competitor cloud providers such as IBM also partnered with 21Vianet to setup their BlueMix instances in China.

Microsoft Azure in China

General availability of Azure in China through 21vianet partnership has been announced in March 26th 2014. These Azure Services in Chinese region will be operated and sold by 21vianet.

Quoting to Doug Hauger GM- National Cloud Programs, Microsoft

Windows Azure, operated by 21Vianet, is based on the same technology as Microsoft’s global Windows Azure service and offers a reliable, flexible and value-based service to bring Microsoft’s latest cloud technologies and benefits to Chinese customers and propel forward technological development in China as a whole.

Why Partnership?

As per Chinese Government(PRC) Cyber Security Law and Governance policies there is a clear restriction for a foreign entrant to obtain license and provide services to Chinese customers.  All the data relating to Chinese customers should reside within Chinese Data Centres, and foreign companies would have to pass on the operational ownership to a Chinese company in order to operate within PRC(Peoples Republic of China).

In Additional to that on November’2016 new amendments attached to new PRC Cyber Security Law (effective 1st June 2017).

As per DLA PIPER

The new law will come into force on 1 June 2017 and has significant implications for the data privacy and cybersecurity practices of both Chinese companies and international organisations doing business in China.

The new PRC Cybersecurity Law intends to combat online fraud and protect China against Internet security risks. In short, it imposes new security and data protection obligations on “network operators”; puts restrictions on transfers of data outside China by “key information infrastructure operators”; and introduces new restrictions on critical network and cybersecurity products.  [Read more from Source]

Where is Azure in China?

You can access Azure in China instance through a separate portal https://www.azure.cn. Azure Portal is available at https://portal.azure.cn/. Pricing information is available on http://www.azure.cn/pricing/pia/  (click on English to get an English version).

Below are two data centre regions Azure is available in China.

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Services Offered in Azure China Instances:

Not all all services of Azure including Mobile Services, Analytics and IoT Suite are available for Chinese regions. I will try to cover a specific list of services that are available for China region.Azure China is a few versions behind regular Azure and not all services are supported. Some of the services supported are:

  • Compute – Virtual Machines (For IaaS Services)
  • Compute – Cloud Service (For PaaS Services)
  • Compute – Web Site
  • Data Services – Storage (For Blobs, tables and Queues)
  • Data Services – SQL Database
  • Data Service – HDInsight
  • SQL Database – SQL Import/ExportNetworks – Virtual Network (To communicate between cloud services via Local networks)
  • Service Bus
  • Active Directory
  • Access Control Service – which has its own UI and namespace
  • Caching – only dedicated cache is supported
  • Mobile Service
  • Media Service
  • CDN
  • Traffic Manager
  • Azure IoT Suite
  • Notification Center
  • Event Center
  • Service Fabric
  • Batch Service
  • Flow Analytics, Power BI
  • Document DB, SQL Database, SQL Data Warehouse, MySQL
  • and many more

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A list of supported and not supported services can be found at (This is in Chinese, and it is a working document, use google translate to take you through all steps necessary for you to understand services offered in Azure China) http://www.windowsazure.cn/documentation/articles/developerdifferences/#readyonwacn

This also includes all the endpoints that are required for developers to integrate/develop applications targeting China region.

Hope this information was helpful to you. I would assume it would be helpful for some who are specifically looking forward for providing technology solutions for Chinese customers through Azure Cloud.

Sources:

Introducing Azure IoT Edge

May 13, 2017 .NET, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence(AI), Augmented Reality, Azure, Azure IoT Suite, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Edge Analytics, Embedded, Emerging Technologies, Event Hubs, Industrial Automation, Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge, IoT, IoT Edge, IoT Hub, Linux, Mac OSX, Machine Learning(ML), Microsoft, Robotics, Self Driven Cars, Stream Analytics, Windows, Windowz Azure No comments

During Build! 2017 Microsoft has announced the availability of Azure IoT Edge, which would bring in some of the cloud capabilities to edge devices/networks within your Enterprise. This would enable industrial devices to utilize the capabilities of IoT in Azure within their constrained resources . 

With this Microsoft now makes it easier for developers to move some of their computing needs to these devices.  Edge devices are mostly having small foot print based to high end machines within your company network.

The essential capabilities to be supported by Azure IoT edge  include:

  • Perform Edge Analytics (a cut down version of Azure Stream Analytics)- Instead of doing analytics in cloud developer/implementer can move the basic cloud data processing and analytical capabilities to Edge Device. Run your machine learning algorithms in Edge device and take predictive analytics steps.
  • Perform Artificial Intelligence processing at edge device itself. Availability of Microsoft Cognitive Service on edge device would bring in whole lot of automation capabilities. Imagine Alexa/Siri working without internet connection, it should be able to provide you reminders etc.
  • Perform RealTime Decision making locally based on predefined rules.
  • Reduce bandwidth costs
  • Connect to other Edge devices and legacy devices within the constrained/corporate network.
  • Deploy IoT solutions to Edge Device from Cloud and provide updates as needed.
  • Operate offline without the need of real-time internet connectivity or intermittent connectivity. Doesn’t have to rely on Cloud to provide commands for processing, can do offline data capture and processing of information from other devices connected and take decisions without the need to rely on a connected cloud service.

Azure IoT Edge enables seamless deployment of cloud services such as:

Along with sharing the image represents Azure’s Enterprise Digital Vision, we will discuss about the same in later sessions:

Digital-Enterprise-Vision_png

Getting Started & More information:

Azure SDK for .NET 3.0 available for Visual Studio 2015/2017

April 2, 2017 .NET, .NET Framework, Add-In's, App Service, Azure, Azure SDK, Azure SDK Tools, Cloud Services, General, Microsoft, Microsoft SDKs, Visual Studio 2013, Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio 2017, VS2013, VS2015, VS2017, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Azure, Windows Azure Development, Windowz Azure No comments

Windows Azure SDK for .NET, which include SDKs, basic tools, and extended tools for Visual Studio development for Azure Cloud enabled applications.  Microsoft has released latest Azure SDK for .NET along with Visual Studio 2017 (RTW). The new version v3.0 will support only Visual Studio 2015/2017, if you are using Visual Studio 2013 you can use Azure SDK for .NET v2.9.6.

You can have both the version side by side, by uninstalling earlier version first for Visual Studio 2013 and installing latest version to support newer visual studio.

There is not much major changes included in this release:

  • All the tools you need to do Azure development will be part of Visual Studio 2017 going forward.
  • For Visual Studio 2015 the SDK will still be available through WebPI.
  • Microsoft have discontinued Azure SDK for .NET releases for Visual Studio 2013 now that Visual Studio 2017 has been released.

Download: Azure SDK for .NET 3.0  – VS 2015   |  VS 2013 (v2.9.6 )   |  All Versions (including Java/Node.JS)

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite–Provisioned solutions for Faster Time to Market IoT enabled solutions

January 7, 2017 Analytics, Azure, Azure SDK, Cloud Computing, Communication Protocols, Contrained Networks/Devices, Data Collection, Data Integration, Emerging Technologies, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet of Things, Interoperability, IoT, PaaS, Performance, Predictive Analytics, Predictive Maintenance, Realtime Analytics, Reliability, Scalability, Self Driven Cars, Solutions, Stream Analytics, Tech-Trends, Windowz Azure No comments

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Provisioned solutions will help you create your own fully integrated solutions tailored for your specific needs in the following 3 sections. Using these ready to consume solutions will accelerate your time to market IoT(Internet of Things) requirements.

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  1. Remote Monitoring  – Connect and monitor your devices to analyze untapped data and improve business outcomes by automating processes.  For ex: As a car  manufacturing company, provide an option to customer to remotely monitor their car condition, and suggest if they need a re-fuel or oil change.
  2. Connected Factory – Anticipate maintenance needs and avoid unscheduled downtime by connecting and monitoring your devices. For ex: As a car manufacturing  factory and spare parts are essential for car manufacturing. Automated solutions can ensure timely availability of necessary spare parts inventory to meet daily, weekly or monthly manufacturing needs.
  3. Predictive Maintenance – Connect and monitor your factory industrial devices for insights using OPC UA to drive operational productivity.  For ex: As a car service support, you can get near real-time performance data from the cars manufactured by your company, predict the health of each components in a car and offer timely maintenance to their cars.  Send real-time reminders and notifications to customers. Their by ensuring higher satisfaction levels for customers and more business value to the organization as it attracts more sales and good customer feedback.

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These solutions will help you to:

  1. Connect and scale quickly – Use preconfigured solutions, and accelerate the development of your Internet of Things (IoT) solution.

  2. Analyze and process dataCollect previously untapped data from devices and sensors, and use built-in capabilities to visualize—and act on—that data.

  3. Integration and Digital TransformationEasily integrate with your systems and applications, including Salesforce, SAP, Oracle Database, and Microsoft Dynamics, making it simple to access your data and keep your disparate systems up to date.

  4. Enhanced security Set up individual identities and credentials for each of your connected devices—and help retain the confidentiality of both cloud-to-device and device-to-cloud messages.

Useful Links:

Introduction to IoT Hub

December 9, 2016 .NET, AMQP, Analytics, Azure, C#.NET, Cloud to Device, Communication Protocols, Connected, Connectivity, Contrained Networks/Devices, Device to Cloud, Device Twin, Emerging Technologies, Geolocation, HTTP 1.1, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet Appliance, IoT, IoT Hub, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, KnowledgeBase, machine-to-machine (M2M), Machines, Microsoft, MQTT, Stream Analytics, Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio 2017, Visual Studio Code, VisualStudio, VS2015, VS2017, Windows, Windows 10, Windowz Azure No comments

IoT Hub is a fully managed service from Microsoft Azure  as part of Azure IoT Suite that enables reliable and secure bi-directional communications between millions of IoT devices and your solution back end.

Azure IoT Hub are designed to provide following capabilities:

  • Multiple device-to-cloud and cloud-to-device communication options, including one-way messaging, file transfer, and request-reply methods.
  • Built-in declarative message routing to other Azure services.
  • A queryable store for device metadata and synchronized state information.
  • Secure communications and access control using per-device security keys or X.509 certificates.
  • Extensive monitoring for device connectivity and device identity management events.
  • Provides device libraries for the most popular languages and platforms.

hubarchitecture

Why IoTHub?

IoT Hub and the device libraries help you to meet the challenges of how to reliably and securely connect devices to the solution back end.

Real-world  IoT devices mostly have the following constaints:

  • Embedded systems.with minimal or no user interaction.
  • Remotely available, with less physical access. .
  • Reachable through the solution back end.
  • Limited power and processing capabilities
  • Intermittent, slow, or expensive network connectivity.
  • Use proprietary, custom, or industry-specific application protocols.
  • Created using a large set of popular hardware and software platforms.

IoT Hub provide solutions to meet all the above constraints of a connected device. In addition it also provides scale,  scalability and reliability. It also addresses most of the connectivity challenges through following capabilities.

  1. Device Twin:  With Device twins, you can store, synchronize, and query device metadata and state information, and these are stored in JSON format.  IoT Hub persists a device twin for each device that you connect to IoT Hub. This feature was introduced in Novemeber’16 with General availability of Iot Hub.
  2. Per-device authentication and secure connectivity. You can provision each device with its own security key to enable it to connect to IoT Hub.There by enabling you to manage or block devices as desired.
  3. Route device-to-cloud messages to Azure services based on declarative rules. IoT Hub enables you to define message routes based on routing rules to control where your hub sends device-to-cloud messages.
  4. Monitoring of device connectivity operations. You can receive detailed operation logs about device identity management operations and device connectivity events.
  5. Device libraries for most of the platforms with support for Programming languages like C#, Java, Python and JavaScript.
  6. Support for latest and widely used IoT protocols and provides extensibility: Protocols such as AMQP 1.1 or HTTP 1.1 and MQTT 3.1 are supported. We could also provide additional protocol translation using Azure IoT Gateway SDK at Device/Field/Protocol  Gateway layer.

Azure IoT Hub can bring more value to organizations to bring in their field devices to cloud with real-time data capture and bi-directional communication. It solves the problem of lack of proper communication infrastructure for devices to communicate or operate on real-time basis.  Pay per use, less investment infrastructure that would let you scale as you grow.

Do you feel some similarities between IoT Hub and Event Hubs service already exists as part of Azure Platform?  In my later articles I would be covering some of the major differences.

Useful References:

Azure: What are Event Hubs?

October 22, 2016 .NET, Azure, Event Hubs, Messaging, Microsoft, Windowz Azure No comments

Event Hubs is a feature within the Azure and is intended to help with the challenge of handling an event based messaging at huge scale.  To be specific it is a Highly scalable data streaming platform.

The idea is that if you have apps or devices publishing telemetry events then Event Hubs can be the ingestion point and your can send/push messages to Event Hub. Under the hood Event Hub will create a stream of all of these events which can be read at any time through different ways. This processing of events can happen through Stream processing or direct, and push them for Real-time Analytics or processed message can be stored in to Cold storage for doing historical analytics on your data.

  • Event Hubs can ingest and process messages at larger scale, such as millions of messages per second.
  • Provides Publish/Subscribe communication capabilities
  • Support for AMQP and HTTP protocols
  • SAS token based authentication to identify and authenticate event publisher.
  • Scalable Through-put units, purchased as needed.

To read more about Event Hubs visit here