I attended the Azure Virtual Day Camp put on by the Power Platform Users Group earlier this week. I registered for sessions from two different tracks (Developer and Architect); but in the end, they only registered me for 3 sessions in the Architect track (some of which were sessions for which I had not even registered). I was a bit disappointed, because I really wanted to attend the Developer sessions. The saving grace is that they sent me the recordings from the Developer sessions. Hopefully, I can find some time to watch them.
Developing with PowerApps, Flow and Azure Cognitive Services
My first session by Mariano Gomez was the most interesting. Mariano walked us through developing a Conference Badge Scanner App. The app scans a badge, converts the data to text, and sends an email to the badge owner. This same technology could easily be used to scan business cards and send them to a contacts list/data base. The App uses PowerApps, Flow and the Computer Vision API. Mariano demontrated building the app during the 45-minute session. That is how easy it is to leverage the power of the power platform.
The basic architecture of the app is as follows:
The PowerApp provides the interface for the user to scan the badge using the camera on their phone. A Flow sends the image to the Computer Vision API to convert it to text. The Flow sends the text of the converted image back to the PowerApp, where the user has the ability to assign pieces of the text to different fields (First Name, Last Name, Email, etc.), and then send a pre-defined email to the badge owner with the click of a button.
The Azure Cognitive Services can do some pretty cool stuff, and Flow has built in connectors for all of the options. I highly recommend checking them out.
5 Tips to Improve the Way You Manage Your Azure Networks
I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the second session by Dave Rendon. Dave spent more time showing how to implement the tips than explaining why they were important. In fact, there wasn’t much time spent on the why at all. I’m a firm believer in explaining the why before showing how. That way you can make an informed decision whether or not you actually want to do it. I also would have liked for Dave to explain the pricing of these services, if applicable. There is nothing worse than turning on a bunch of services only to find an unexpected enormous bill in your mailbox the next month. Regardless of my opinion, here are Dave’s 5 tips:
- Enable Network Watcher on Azure Monitor
- Set up Adaptive Network Hardening
- Enable NSG Flow Logs
- Enable Traffic Analytics
- Enable Network Performance Monitor
- Enable Network Watcher
- Packet Capture
Azure Stack 101
The last session by Steve Buchanan was a very comprehensive overview of Azure Stack. This session was filled with tons of information, much of which was a little over my head, if I’m being completely honest. However, it was a nice introduction to this complex and slick extension of Azure. You might be asking what is Azure Stack? It is an extension of Azure, the first true Hybrid Cloud Platform. Basically, you purchase Azure Stack, and host in on your local server. You get all the benefits of Azure, with the added security of a local server. If I understand correctly, the intention is for Service Providers to create these Azure Stacks in areas where Azure is not yet available, making it available to a wider audience.
The services that are currently available in Azure stack are listed below and the plan is to continue to add services.
- Key Vault
- App Service
- Service Fabric
- AKS Engine on Azure Stack
There are 2 deployment options: Azure Stack Development Kit – intended for POCs and Developers to learn the platform, and Azure Stack Integrated Systems – intended for production. There are several companies offering Azure Stack Hardware Platforms. They include: Dell, HP, Lenovo, Cisco, avanade and terra. There are also a few different pricing options, including a Pay-As-You-Use option.
Overall, it was an informative day. I would like it in the future if they allow participants to take sessions from different tracks; but I think if you asked me, I would say yes to attending again.