Archives For Platform as a Service (PaaS)


What if you could increase the accessibility of your App? While we’re at it, what if you reached a greater audience, reduced deployment complexity and reduced training costs?

Bots are the new Apps

In 2016, companies are facing unique challenges in their efforts to transform themselves. In their quest for diversity and inclusion, companies are challenged to step away from their comfort zones and to unlock new opportunities. Imagine for a moment that you are tasked with hiring a niche candidate. The company you work for is primarily English-speaking and the best candidate for the job speaks Spanish, is blind and deaf. Would you pass up this opportunity because of accessibility? Continue Reading…


Quick Thoughts

Businesses need to be agile to compete in today’s global economy. Programmers use various tools and techniques in order to meet this business requirement. The challenge is great and quite complex. Going too fast without the right approach can lead to ephemeral success.

I believe that Microservices give us the agility and architectural patterns that empower us to scale and create value at a far greater pace for the business compared to using a traditional tiered architectures approach.

Forget about 3-tier architectures, they just doesn’t scale. Stateless services need to rebuild their internal state for every call, and they can generate tremendous pressure on data stores. Consequently, this generates back pressure that bubbles up through the layers of our solution and reaches out to the edge. Back pressure then translates into unavailable services. The key is Data Locality and Stateful Services.

statemonolithic-vs-micro

Continue Reading…


Speaking at DevTeach 2016

Years ago, I attended the DevTeach conference and was fortunate to participate in conversations that helped me overcome many challenges over the years that followed. This week I had the opportunity to speak at DevTeach in Montreal. For this event, I chose a topic that I’m really passionate about and needed to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

The talk had a progression from a public cloud, to an architectural pattern, to a hyper-scale microservice platform and finally about a programming model.

My goal with this talk is primarily to introduce Actors and Service Fabric. Then provide attendees with additional information in the downloadable slides about the patterns that I feel are important to consider when building microservices.

Caught by surprise, I had a full room and a lot of great questions. Thanks everyone for making this a success. Continue Reading…


Geo-HA Service Fabric Cluster

One of the biggest challenges that we face when we build an Internet-scale solution, is high availability across geographic locations (Geo-HA). Why is this important? Well, there can be a few different reasons. The most common reason, is to be able to survive data center outages. Another reason, is to bring services closer to end users so that we can provide good user experiences.

Geo-HA brings challenges to the table. For example, should we use an Active-Passive or Active-Active strategy for data across regions? Keeping in mind that Active-Active is difficult to get right, we need to take time to analyze and to make the correct choices. We need to consider our Disaster recovery (DR) plan, target RPO and RTO. Azure has a whole bunch of mechanisms for replication, backup and monitoring, so how do we decide what’s the right combination?

Today’s Internet-scale services are built using microservices. Service Fabric is a next-generation middleware platform used for building enterprise-class, Tier-1 services. This microservices platform allows us to build scalable, highly available, reliable, and easy to manage solutions. It addresses the significant challenges in developing and managing stateful services. The Reliable Actors API is one of two high-level frameworks provided by Service Fabric, and it is based on the Actor pattern. This API gives us an asynchronous, single-threaded programming model that simplifies our code while still providing the advantages of scalability and reliability guarantees offered by Service Fabric.

A Service Fabric cluster is HA within its geographic region by default. Thinking about our heritage of on premise data centers, we’ve poured thousands of man-hours to deploy Disaster Recovery sites in secondary physical locations, because we know that everything is possible. Over the past few years, we’ve experienced many interesting scenarios, for example, a cut cable, or a faulty DNS entry broke the Internet. So why should we do anything differently in the cloud? We must treat each region as we treat our own data centers and think about Geo-HA.

The rest of this post is about taking high availably to the next level by deploying a Geo-HA Service Fabric cluster. Continue Reading…


Why Service Fabric?

There are definitely a lot of reasons to consider Service Fabric. Surprisingly, they originate from multiple perspectives because Service Fabric is beneficial to IT Pros, Developers and above all else the business.
Continue Reading…


Getting to Know Azure Mobile App Cont.

Microsoft Azure Mobile App has recently gone GA (General Availability) and has definitely captured my attention. Mobile App is a tremendous accelerator that enables us to go from an idea to a functional prototype quickly. Then, we can continue to build on that initial investment to create a robust production ready app. Finally, this post is all about using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) to build and publish apps to HockeyApp, so that we can test and assess quality before our apps make it to our favorite app Stores.

So far, we’re using Template10 to build a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Mobile App and we’re using Microsoft Account as an Identity Provider (IDP). This all got built using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and distributed to testers using HockeyApp.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s build something.

Working with Data

As previously mentioned, Azure Mobile App is an accelerator and the goal of this post is to walk through the pieces that allow us to Create, Read, Update and soft Delete (a.k.a. CRUD) data from an Azure SQL Database. Continue Reading…


Never would have imagined that the laws of physics would be so important in a world where virtualization is the new normal.

Data Locality is Important

Data Locality, refers to the ability to move the computation close to the data. This is important because when performance is key, IO quickly becomes our number one bottleneck. Data access times vary from milliseconds to seconds because of many factors like hardware specifications and network capabilities.

Let’s explore Data Locality through the following Scenario. I have eight files containing data about multiple trucks, and I need to Identify trips. A trip consists of many segments, including short stops. So if the driver stops for coffee and starts again, this is still considered the same trip. The strategy depicted below is to read each file and to group data points by truck. This can be referred to as mapping the data. Then we can compute the trips for each group in parallel over multiple threads. This can be referred to as reducing the data. And finally, we merge the results in a single CSV file so that we can easily import it to other systems like SQL Server and Power BI.

Single Machine

The single machine configuration results were promising. So I decided to break it apart and distribute the process across many task Virtual Machines (TVM). Azure Batch is the perfect service to schedule jobs. Continue Reading…


Big Compute or Big Data?

This question comes up on a fairly regular basis. So I thought it would be interesting to share my understanding in hopes to help you make the right decision.

Both are enablers, and they create opportunities through various approaches. When the problem is understood, and the algorithms vary by parameter, then Big Compute is definitely an approach to consider. When we know our input data, and are experimenting with various algorithms, Big Data is a clear winner.

This being said, let’s try to materialize this into something more concrete.

Big Compute shines at large scales. Easily parallelizable workloads are the best use cases, because they allow us to break the workload into independent tasks. This is where we can gain the most from large numbers of compute cores. Big Compute is all about executing any software package, written in any language by passing in variables. This creates an amazing opportunity for developers to optimize their code to be extremely efficient. Optimizations range from concurrency management, memory management, limiting IOPS and other aspects like network communication optimization. Possible scenarios are well known algorithms like Monte Carlo simulations, rendering and work flows.

Big Data is all about empowering us to experiment with our data by providing us with tools, query languages and scripting capabilities that are geared at giving us a lot of agility. Tinkering with algorithms, is the perfect use case. We know our data, and want to extract insights from it. This means that we’re going to clean it, shape it and question it. Big Data is built for this; it makes it possible to iterate through multiple versions of our algorithms in a way that’s difficult with Big Compute.

So now that we’ve nailed this down, which is right for your workload?

Share your thoughts in the comments below


Getting to Know Azure Mobile App Cont.

Microsoft Azure Mobile App has recently gone GA (General Availability) and has definitely captured my attention. Mobile App is a tremendous accelerator that enables us to go from an idea to a functional prototype quickly. Then, we can continue to build on that initial investment to create a robust production ready app. Finally, this post is all about using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) to build and publish apps to HockeyApp, so that we can test and assess quality before our apps make it to our favorite app Stores.

Refreshing Authentication Tokens

Authentication Tokens are short-lived and having users login to the App frequently can cause friction. This is definitely undesirable and can be dealt with by identifying when a Token is no longer valid. When this condition is met, we can attempt to refresh the Authentication Token by calling the Azure App Service Token Store APIs. Continue Reading…