Earlier this year I had the awesome opportunity to share my SQL Database From A Dev’s Perspective session to the overwhelming audience of Transylvanian software developers in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) during one of the very best IT conferences in Eastern Europe, namely ITCamp.

I do realize you might have had the chance of downloading the slides before (either from my post-event blog-posts ) or you might have attended the session at WinDays in Croatia, NT Konferenca in Slovenia or CloudBurst in Sweden. However, if that is not the case or if you just needed a quick reminder on DDM, RLS, AlwaysEncrypted, InMemory OLTP etc. (what are all these?!), here’s your chance to watch the session from the comfort of your own couch.

All the best and happy entertainment/learning ūüôā

 

Azure SQL for Developers – Alex Mang from ITCamp on Vimeo.

The entire DevOps story with the Microsoft Stack is expanding its reach to more and more services and with an ever-growing set of advanced features. During this article, I will cover the benefits and ways to configure Service Endpoints within either Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Service, in order to create a highly coupled ALM story for your apps.

What are Service Endpoints?

Back in the days of Team Foundation Services (2013 and prior to that), everyone was asking for a way to make Release Management expand to other project types rather than .NET and VB/C++. Taken this feedback (along with many other requests) Microsoft rewrote Team Build. Personally, I believe the entire DevOps story using the Microsoft Stack has become more mature than ever and ready to solve the most complex requirements your application has. In order to achieve this type of extensibility, Team Build allows one to add features in two ways: (1) by installing extensions which can either be wrote and uploaded by yourself or by installed from the Visual Studio Marketplace or by (2) taking advantage of the TFX Command Line Interface which allows you to add custom designed tasks. The latter is especially useful when it comes to creating a single-task functionality as an atomic process part of the build or release definition, rather than leverage several tasks individually. This ensures that in the situation of build and release processes which have to do the same tasks over and over again a few times are easily configurable and thus reduces the error-prone nature of a highly-configurable workflow system, such as Team Build.

The beauty of these tasks are that they are not exclusively designed to Microsoft-specific products and services – in fact, most of the tasks which have to deal with external services will specify the external service’s endpoint in the form of a connection setting which is team-project wide. Again, this helps prevent errors related to connection strings and such.

These connection settings are known as Service Endpoints and can be configured from the Settings pane of any team project, both in Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Services, under the Services tab.

Visual Studio Service Endpoints

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CloudBurst 2016

This year I was busy enough to ignore to keep the blog up to date with post- public engagements posts. Therefore, I’ve decided to start doing these DURING the events. So here I am at CloudBurst 2016, watching a great presentation on DevOps operations using Visual Studio Team Services, just a nice 30 minutes *after* my session: SQL Database From A Dev’s Perspective. For those of you in Sweden who joined my session, THANK YOU! You were a great audience – all the many and spot-on questions help make the presentation an interactive one a lot. You were such an awesome crowd!

Both for you and for those of you who missed the session, I’m hereby making the slides publicly available:

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 Croatia, thanks for having me!

This year I got the chance to engage the Croatian developer communities in Porec, a beautiful Croatian city at the Mediterranean sea side, during WinDays – the largest Microsoft driven event in Croatia.

As I said in my interview with the WinDays media crew, this was my second time in Croatia. Whilst my first experience in Croatia as a tourist (when I got to visit Dubrovnik) blew me away by the historical culture Croatia has to over, my second time in Croatia blew my away by the quality and software developers, their deep knowledge and familiarity with the latest technologies and trends. Good job, Croatia!

WinDays

WinDays is by far the largest Microsoft driven event in Croatia, which brings together developers, IT professionals and IT business managers and decision makers, making is thus the best opportunity to learn stuff and meet interesting people. Right before I got to the WinDays island (yep, you’ve read that right – the event was hosted in a private resort, on a car-free island! How cool is that?!), I was mindblown by the logistics behind this many-thousands-attendees large event. For example, a few kilometers before arriving in Porec, I started following road signs with the conference’s logo. Second, I had my car parked in one of the largest parking lots completely reserved for the conference, where a minibus got to pick us up. Once we got to the sea-side, a shuttle boat reserved for the conference cross us over to the island, and they had such a boat trip every roughly 15 mins. Once I got to my room, the TV automatically turned on and started playing the conference’s teaser video; in addition, all the WiFi SSID, both in the hotel (room, restaurant, lobby etc.) and in the other conference venues were named WinDays. That’s as much branding as you can get, honestly! Great job, WinDays team!!!

I got to deliver two sessions at WinDays, one on Application Insights (my already traditional ‘Know Your Customers, Know Your Apps!’), where it is my turn to blow people’s mind with the power of usage and performance analytics Application Insights offers almost completely¬†out of the box.

My other session covered features specifically designed for SQL users, named ‘SQL Database from a Developer’s Perspective’ – during this session, I’ve covered my top favorite security and performance features which have either been around for a year or so or were recently added to Azure SQL Database.

Queens

One of the biggest surprises I had at WinDays was the party they’ve put together for attendees and speakers alike. This was also the moment when they offered a prize of 40,000 kuna for the winning Software Startup Academy competition which ran for a few months. Anyway, during this party, they got a Queens cover band to entertain us. At first, especially because of the ‘cover band’ part, I have to admit I didn’t really have high expectations. However, this turned out to be one of the BEST concerts I ever attended -really! I mean the songs they chose, the impersonation they did on Freddy Mercury, the way they got the entire crowd cheered up and in the right mood… WOW!

I’ve also added some photos taken at WinDays, below.






Three months ago I got the chance to visit the beautiful city of Iasi and speak about my favorite topic, cloud computing!

Looking back at DevExperience

DevExperience was a really nice experience and the logistics around it were incredibly, especially considering that this was the first DevExperience ever. My session at DevExperience covered cloud patterns and best practices and was entitled ‘Achieving High Scalability and Security for Your Web, Mobile and API Apps’.

One of the very great things about DevExperience was the emphasis organizers put in networking – they had beers and pizza after the event so attendees were able to come over and ask questions.¬†And if beer doesn’t always sound right, it turned out to be a great chance for some to break the ice – afterwards, I just got more and more questions poring in, regarding Azure, cloud computing, micro-services, Docker and so on and so forth – the pleasure was all mine though, as they’re questions not only showed me passion for technology and Microsoft products (even though the conference focus was hardly on Microsoft-related products), but also that my message was well received and clear.

The session ended with a cloud panel I was part of where I talked with some fellow industry experts on topics such as Micro-services, Docker and Containers in the context of cloud computing.

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Alex Speaking User Group - Community Event

During a Community Engagement in Oradea

Given my less-frequent posts this year, you probably realized by now that it has been quite a busy ride for me and the team. We’re just about to launch two new products (stay tuned!), signed a few sweet deals and kept the great flow going – I’ll keep you updated as I can disclose more stuff; right now, everything is very hush-hush. And yet, I’ve quite the busiest agenda for the upcoming months, community-wise, ever!

Here are some of the public conferences, meetings and user groups which I will attend as a speaker. If you happen to attend any of these, make sure you drop by and say ‘Hi!’. I’d love to chat with you over anything related to Azure, Microsoft, Xamarin, SQL or whatever your favorite topic might be.

Community Engamgement Cvasi-calendar

  • March 25th, DevExperience Iasi – I’ll talk about ‘High Scalability and Security for Web, Mobile and API Apps‘ running in Azure and was also invited to be part of a discussion panel about Microservices – guess which Fabric I’ll get to talk about (hint: it start with Service…)
  • April 16th, Global Azure Bootcamp Oradea – yet again, Oradea is part of this fabulous global community event and this time it’s going to be bigger and better than ever before. I’m hosting the event in a new location with fellow MVPs who’ll attend as speakers and given this year’s topic, it will be a blast! Stay tuned, if you happen to be in Oradea on April 16th! (link coming up…)
  • April 23rd, CodeCamp Iasi – the gang in Iasi is doing it again: 1200+ developers will most likely show up to one of the largest community-driven events for software developers in Romania. My session at CodeCamp Iasi will be about Cloud Patterns and Best-Practices. And if you think I could talk the entire day about this, think again: I could keep on going for months, honestly. Instead, I only have 50 minutes available to cover the best of cloud architecture and thus this session promises to be a lot of fun!
  • April 26th-29th, WinDays – hosted by Microsoft Croatia in the beautiful country of… you guessed it: Croatia! I will deliver not one but two sessions at WinDays this year, both related to cloud topics: ‘SQL Database from a Developer’s Perspective‘ and my favourite ‘Know Your Customers, Know Yours Apps!
  • May 7th, CodeCamp Cluj-Napoca – basically more or less CodeCamp Iasi, but on the other side of the country, for an entirely different group of talented software developers
  • May 16th-18th, Microsoft NT Konferenca, in the¬†wonderful country of Slovenia. Again, this is a conference I’m very excited about, especially since my last trip to Slovenia which left me utterly surprised – Slovenia is a great country and exceeded my expectations in absolutely every aspect you could imagine. Here are some (huge) numbers about Microsoft NT Konferenca: 3 days long, 1700+ participants, 10+ one day, trainings, 150+ speaker and a tradition of 21 (yes, 21!) years. You could almost think of this as a mini-Build, European-style. Consider that the event is hosted at the sea-side¬†in a luxurious hotel which also offers a with pool warmed salty water – did you start to search for a plane ticket already? At Microsoft NT Konferenca, I’ll talk about ‘Using Azure for Dev-Test Environments’ and¬†about ‘Knowing Your Customers, Knowing Your Apps’
  • I’ve saved the best for last: May 26th-27th, ITCamp Cluj-Napoca. This is the kind of conference which doesn’t need an introduction any more. This year however, given the list of speakers and their background, you’ll get the chance to learn a lot (and I mean A LOT) about security. The agenda is still being put together, so I don’t want to spoil any surprises the organizers are preparing…

So, there’s a lot of community-stuff going on across Europe. And as I happen to be part of some of these events, either as an organizers or as a speaker, it’s my pleasure to declare the conferencing-season OPEN!

See you there ūüėČ

This post describes the latest Team Build updates with features available both in Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 Update 2 RC1 and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and has been posted in the Azure Development Community blog on https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/azuredev/.

build

‘Team Build is Dead! Long Live Team Build!’

This was one of the main titles of last year’s Ignite conference when the latest version of Team Build was introduced and there a simple reason behind it – more specifically, the new Team Build system is a complete re-write of the former Team Build. One of the first results in this re-write is that there no longer is any reason to raise the shoulders when questions such as “I love TFS, but why can’t I use it to build my Android projects?” are asked. As it turns out, the latest build of Team Build allows for more extensibility than ever, easier management over the web portal and much easier build agent deployment – throughout this post I will try to cover as much as possible in terms of the new available features.

What’s new?

Ever opened a XAML Build Definition Before? Yikes!

Even though the entire workflow-based schema of a build definition prior to TFS 2015 was cool as it allowed a lot of complexity in the entire logic of an automated build, it turned out that due to the lack of extensibility and difficulty of understanding the underlying XML schema, build definitions needed another approach. This is probably one of the main reasons behind the decision of ditching XAML altogether from the new Team Build system. Don’t get me wrong – XAML-based build definitions didn’t go anywhere: you can still create XAML-based build definitions both in TFS and VSTS, but as the team has put it, they will become obsolete at some point in time and therefore, it’s best to put up a strategy of migrating from the XAML-build definitions to the new Team Build task-based system. And to be fair, the new system also comes along with tons of benefits, extensibility being one of the greatest one (at least in my opinion).

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 HTTPS

HTTPS FTW

Just wanted to give you the heads up that the alexmang.com is now backed by a publicly signed CA certificate. This should make your experience on the website safer and should no longer raise any worries whenever you leave a comment, feedback and so on. Try it out now: https://alexmang.com. Oh, btw: if you’re wondering, it works both on alexmang.com and www.alexmang.com.

Besides that, Ed Price from Microsoft also published my TechWiki Ninja Interview today on blogs.msdn.com (more specifically, here).

Best wishes for 2016!

Taking a look back at 2015, so many things happened. Thinking about the scientifically advancements, I cannot NOT think of¬†finding water on Mars, the power grid solution proposed by Elon Musk for solar-powered houses, the over-the-air software update which makes Teslas drive themselves on the highway, the Surface Book, the HoloLens and so many others. Wow! It’s a great time to be an Engineer!

Considering some had as New Year’s resolution last year to read a book every week, others one every day, it’s my opinion that the best thing to wish you is¬†enough strength to read all the great books in the world, wisdom and knowledge to share by writing a book every day and passion to keep your interest growing.

Happy New Year!

MVP AnnoucementSuch a great start: MVP!

Also as a pleasant and extremely fulfilling surprise came my MVP award announcement today! So it’s official, starting today I am an Azure MVP.

For those of you not familiar with the acronym, MVP stands for Most Valuable Professional and is an annual award¬†offered by Microsoft, ‘that recognizes exceptional technology community leaders worldwide who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with users and Microsoft‘ (recognition letter signed by Steven Guggenheimer).

There are roughly 4,000 awardees worldwide which makes me extremely honored to be part of such a select group of people. Romania-wise, there are roughly 20 MVPs with varying specialties, such as Visual C++, Virtual Machine, ASP.NET, SQL Server, System Center,¬†Windows Embedded, Windows Consumer and others, all part of the Microsoft ecosystem. Local community-wise, I happen to be the first MVP ever¬†located in¬†Oradea – cool!¬†Along with three other Romanian MVPs, my title contains the biggest word right now at Microsoft, namely “Azure“: Ioan-Alexandru Mang, Most Valuable Professional, Microsoft Azure

MVPs also receive early access to technology through a variety of programs offered by Microsoft, which keeps them on the cutting edge of the software and hardware industry.

There are lots I have to thank for such a great recognition and I especially have to praise my family and friends for their ongoing support and contribution. Additionally, the title couldn’t have happened without all the great audiences I got to all my sessions throughout Romania and Europe altogether, whether at ITCamp, Microsoft Summit, CloudBrew,¬†CodeCamp, DevSum, Coding Serbia and all the cool user groups I got to be invited at over time.

My engagements also got me many opportunities to meet great fellow technical experts, such as Mihai Tataran, Tudor Damian, Adrian Stoian, Radu Vunvulea, Gabriel Enea,¬†Tiberiu Covaci, Andrei Ignat, Cosmin Tataru, Ionut Balan – to name a few -, all Romanian MVPs themselves, but also so very talented¬†American, Belgian¬†and Swedish experts, such as¬†David Giard, Maarten Balliauw, Mike Martin, Kris van der Mast, Yves Goeleven, Tom Kerkhove, Kristof Rennen, Magnus M√•rtensson, Chris Klug and Peter √Ėrneholm – again, to name a few!

So, here’s to another great year of technical content, advancements and community engagements!

Cheers!

Speaking at Microsoft Summit & CodeCamp Iasi

Last week was one full of traveling experiences and speaking engagements at the two largest IT conferences in Romania: Microsoft Summit and CodeCamp Iasi. I got a chance to talk on the same subject at these conferences, namely Microsoft Azure Visual Studio Online Application Insights (this name is so Microsoft :-)) and according to Andrei Ignat‘s (Microsoft Visual Studio and Development Technologies MVP)¬†review here, I made a good job delivering this session.

Whilst this year’s Microsoft Summit focused a lot on networking, with lots of great opportunities to meet and chat with brave entrepreneurs, successful business all-stars, experienced technical fellows and gizmo master minds, CodeCamp was a developer hardcore event, with not two, not three, but ten (10!) simultaneous developer tracks. Why such a big number, you might ask? Well, considering that there were at least 1.800 attendees at the event, you can imagine why :-). Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Summit wasn’t any smaller either, especially in terms of attendees. Rumor has it that over 2.100 attendees registered, but the exact number wasn’t made public yet.

However, the absolutely amazing thing about my Application Insights sessions this year at these two conferences was the fact that some developers who attended my session in Bucharest (at Microsoft Summit), decided to show up again (two days later) at the exact same session in Iasi (at CodeCamp), in order to get additional questions answered and take extra notes on the Application Insights usage scenarios.

This is not only overwhelming, but also extremely flattering! For those of you who attended any of my sessions: you were a great audience: THANK YOU!

For those of you who didn’t make it to either of these sessions, I’ve posted the slides further down this blog post. Be aware though that more than half of the session time¬†was spent on demos and How-Tos rather than just slides – the recordings are yet to be announced by the Microsoft Summit organizers; as soon as they’re public, I’ll make them available on alexmang.com as well.

Also Speaking At CloudBrew Later This Month

CloudBrew AZUG

In addition, if you happen to be in Belgium by the end of the month (November 28th), make sure you register for Cloud Brew¬†– at CloudBrew I’ll focus my Application Insights session of IoT monitoring techniques and some other goodies.

Happy coding!