Leveraging the Cloud as your application development platform


Imagine that you are an electronics retailer and on Cyber Monday every year and around Christmas your website needs to handle 15M+ transactions in a day.  You would need to make sure that your environment can scale to handle the load while minimizing your CAPEX and OPEX. Microsoft’s Windows Azure is a Platform as a Service solution that provides businesses the flexibility to scale their platforms up/down based on demand.

Here is a quick primer on Windows Azure

We recently delivered a webinar on the benefits of Windows Azure and how it could fit with your long term application development strategy.

Click here for the webinar on Windows Azure

Driving IT efficiency by moving to the Cloud


The cloud is now on every IT Strategist’s mind.  There are many flavors of the cloud, Public, Private, Hybrid, Outsourced etc.  Microsoft’s newest offering, Office 365 allows organizations to move their critical services like Exchange, IM & SharePoint to the cloud.  There are multiple versions available and each organization must assess their internal readiness and develop an usage profile to identify the right flavor of cloud for them,

At the recently concluded SharePoint conference Jesus Salazar & I  presented on “Driving Efficiency & Innovation by moving to Office 365”.  In this session we focused on the differences between the various flavors of Office 365 and how to choose the version that is right for your organization

You can view the slideshare presentation here

Whitepaper: Consumerization of IT & Windows Phone 7


Every enterprise trying to develop a mobile standardization strategy runs into one major stumbling block “End User Preference”.  End users don’t care if the smartphone that they like/use is enterprise ready.  They prefer to use a single device that provides features that are suitable for personal and business use.  They would like to bring their devices to work and be as efficient and productive as possible on a platform that they are familiar with.   This phenomenon where end users buy devices for personal use and leverage it within the workplace is called the  “Consumerization of IT” and it has significantly impacted the mobile device landscape in most enterprises.

Here is a whitepaper that explores the consumerization of IT and dives into the strengths and weaknesses of the WP7 platform.

WhitePaper

Bing Updates bring Airfares to the Search box


Bing has been consistently delivering innovations over the past year like Social Media search, songs and video previews from the Zune Marketplace etc.  Today they have released a great feature that integrates the FareCast airfare price predictions directly into the Search box.

When you are searching for airfares, Bing automatically determines your location and shows whether the prices are going up or down

image

Kudos to the Bing team and hope they continue to deliver these innovations to capture Google’s marketshare!

Windows Phone 7 – 5 Reasons to Consider it for your Enterprise


The release of the iPhone in 2007 opened the floodgates for smartphone adoption within enterprises.  Though Windows Mobile and Blackberry were significant players before the arrival of the iPhone, Apple’s entry into the market led to the development of an ecosystem around application development and delivery.  Forrester estimates that about 25% of businesses leverage mobile phones for Sales Force Automation, emergency response and field services by building native applications targeted towards platforms like iOS and Android.  The arrival and adoption of the iPhone has significantly dented Microsoft’s dominance in the mobile market.  After three years of development and missteps, Microsoft has decided to completely revamp it’s mobile strategy by releasing a new smartphone platform, Windows Phone 7.   Unlike previous editions of Windows Mobile which unsuccessfully aimed to bring the Windows experience to the mobile device, Windows Phone 7 takes a consumer first approach.  The goal for the platform is to deliver compelling user experiences while providing developers the capability to leverage their existing toolset to build enterprise applications.    Microsoft has publicly stated its commitment to regularly update its mobile offering and the platform is expected to evolve as a top notch competitor to iOS and Android in the near future.

Top 5 Reasons to Consider Windows Phone 7

Hardware Standardization: Microsoft has taken a page or two from Apple’s handbook and has standardized the hardware configuration for Windows Phone devices.  Every Windows Phone device has to conform to specifications around the core hardware, positioning of buttons and camera capabilities.  Gone are the days, where OEMs controlled the device specifications and the user interface.   With Windows Phone 7 you can rest assured that the application experience is going to be similar across multiple phones

Simplified Developer Experience:  Developers proficient in .NET can leverage Visual Studio and SilverLight to build compelling applications for the platform.  Graphic Designers can leverage Expression Blend to develop visual interfaces and seamlessly share their work with developers to build the functionality of your application.  Increased synergies(attained through better development tools) between the creative and functional tasks involved in developing an application can ensure that your end users get a compelling user experience through the mobile application.  The results of this are stunning.  There have been 6000+ applications released in the Windows Phone marketplace in the last three months.  While this is less than the apps available on iPhone and Android, these numbers do speak for the ease of development on the platform

Integration with Enterprise software: Windows Phone 7 integrates out of the box with Exchange for email, SharePoint for document management and collaboration and provides the traditional Office suite for viewing and editing documents.  Of all the mobile devices in the market today,  Windows Phone 7 provides one of the best integrations for Office and SharePoint

One Device for Work & Fun: If you are used to seeing your users carry a BlackBerry and an iPhone those days may be coming to an end.  Windows Phone 7 is a great phone for enterprise needs (email, document management etc.) as well as for personal use.  A contact centric UI integrates with your Social network accounts and provides an unified interface to access your contacts on the device, in your corporate network and the cloud.   With the integration with Xbox Live and the Zune Marketplace(for audio/video entertainment) and Windows Phone marketplace(for apps) you can rest assured that your employees never need to carry a second device just for entertainment

Microsoft is the underdog: The mobile market is projected to explode over the next couple of years and Microsoft is the underdog here.  Android and iOS have been eating Microsoft’s lunch in this space for the last couple of years.  This has led Microsoft to regroup and innovate again and this can only mean regular updates and enhancements to the platform.  This may change if Microsoft becomes the leader in this space because they have been known to go into an innovation lull once they dominate the market(e.g. Internet Explorer, Windows etc.).  But Microsoft has a long way to go to catch up with iOS and Android so you can expect to see a lot of innovation on the platform

Here are a couple of links to catch up on the latest Windows Phone 7 News

Official Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Site

WMPowerUser – a great blog to catch up on the latest Windows Phone 7 News

WPCentral – a great blog that has links to the newest applications released on the Windows Phone 7 platform

In the next post, I will detail five reasons to wait before you decide to take the Windows Phone 7 plunge.

Run 32 bit .NET applications on 64 bit machines


If you have a 64 bit machine and want to run a .NET application that only works with the 32 bit CLR you would have to make changes to the .NET framework on your machine

Set the .NET framework to load the CLR in WOW mode through this command

Open up command prompt and type this command

C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\Ldr64.exe SetWow

Now you should be able to run apps that use only the .NET 32 bit CLR.

To revert back to the default 64 bit framework run

C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\Ldr64.exe Set64

PowerPoint Broadcast Slideshow feature Rocks


Check out this cool new feature in PowerPoint 2010 where you can broadcast a slideshow over the web without the need for Webex/SharedView

Very Neat!!

http://blogs.msdn.com/powerpoint/archive/2009/10/09/introducing-broadcast-slide-show.aspx

Office 2010 Beta Download available


It is PDC time this week and Office 2010 Beta is now available on TechNet. Get your download from here

Link

Edit: Download Links arent live yet.

All Microsoft Blogs in place


This is an excellent blog post aggregating all Microsoft Blogs and broken down by technology

http://blogs.technet.com/blogms/pages/directory-of-microsoft-team-blogs.aspx

HTTP 404 Not Found Error in SSRS SharePoint Integrated Mode


 

When you are working with a pre-built VPC, there are some things that you just dont end up noticing.  I kept seeing a HTTP 404 error when configuring SQL Reporting Services in Integrated Mode.  It turns out that the pre-built image had ASP.NET v1.1 installed and the default ASP.NET version was set to 1.1 when creating the Report Server directory.  Once I changed this to ASP.NET 2.0 , the SSRS integration started working!

I need to get my 4 hours back!!

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