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Just How Expensive is Azure

February 9, 2015

Wondering how expensive it would be to implement Microsoft’s cloud storage solution Azure in your business? The company offers a free download that can help (but only if you’re in the U.S.): the Microsoft Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool. Here’s the description:

The Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator has been designed keeping in mind the need to provide the IT manager of next generation organizations the ability to quickly assess running cost of the existing on-premises workload on Azure.

About the tool

1. The tool provides real world machine hardware usage

2. It recommends appropriate Azure instance to match the scanned workload

3. It also generates 31-day cost estimates of running such an Azure instance


1. The tool supports

*Microsoft technologies (Hyper-V, SCVMM)

*VMware technologies (vCenter, ESXi)

*Physical environments (Windows, Linux)

2. Support to A series and D-series Virtual Machines

3. Support to all regions apart from US

4. Price conversion in 24 currencies with the latest prices.

5. It is able to export to Excel/.csv that can be used for discussions with Systems Integration partner or a Microsoft representative

6. No data is sent to Microsoft at any time. All report and profile information resides on the machine where the tool is installed

Value Proposition

1. Can be Installed and a profile scan completed within 15 minutes (can be deployed on a Windows client)

2. Enables a comparison with on-premises running costs (e.g. hardware, power, cooling, building, security, and systems management among others)

Then again, if you just want to know whether Azure will be expensive (but don’t need to know by how much) we can save you some time: the answer is yes, when compared to open-source Elasticsearch.

Cynthia Murrell, February 09, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Microsoft Acquires Revolution Analytics

February 5, 2015

The article titled Revolution Analytics Joins Microsoft on the Revolution blog makes a case for an open-source company partnering up with Microsoft. Revolution Analytics is the software provider for R, the leading programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. Between Microsoft supporting Hadoop and working with Linux as well as making REEF open-source and .NET Core, they are no strangers to open-source. The article goes on with more examples,

“Microsoft has been an active participant in many other open source projects, too. There are over 1,600 OSS projects from Microsoft on CodePlex and GitHub. Microsoft engineers have actively contributed to the Linux kernel for years, and the company has contributed to open source community projects including Chef, Puppet, Docker, MongoDB, Redis and OpenJDK. Microsoft blogs regularly provide information and resources for open-source tools, including Chef, Puppet and Docker.”

Before the acquisition, Microsoft was already working with Revolution Analytics, for example in the creation of Xbox online gaming service’s match-making capabilities. The article promises the Revolution Analytic users that there will be no interruption or changes in services. It also assumes that with the acquisition the number of users will be increased and Revolution Analytics will be able to invest more time and energy into ongoing work such as the R Project and Revolution R products.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 05, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

The Smartest AI? Microsoft Cortana

January 20, 2015

You may want to read “The Smartest AI in the Universe Is More Human Than You Think.” You will learn that Microsoft developed this remarkable “more human” technology.

Here’s a passage I highlighted in pale blue:

“Cortana very literally thinks like a person, but she does it at a tremendously faster speed,” said Frank O’Connor, Franchise Development Director at 343 Industries. “Her morality, her sense of humor and emotions are human. They’re real, and they’re ostensibly organic.”

What’s 343 Industries? It is an American video game developer located not too far from Redmond, home of Microsoft.

I don’t play games. I have a Microsoft Phone. I find the voice search sort of useless. Sorry, Microsoft.

Cortana may be smart. She is not in my universe and when she intrudes, I navigate away from her as quickly as I can.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2015

Bing Books: Chasing a Market

January 9, 2015

Books. Interesting idea. Are books a growth market in the Amazon world?Bing is looking at books. Err, doesn’t Amazon/Goodreads do this? I read “Finding Great Books Just got Easier with Bing Best Sellers Search.” The article provides some suggested searches; for example, best business books. I am not sure how many of the thumb typing crowd are into books. Perhaps Bing can pull new readers with its new service? My hunch is that Bing is likely to generate more sales for Amazon. Publishers will find the Bing thing a step in the right direction.

Stephen E Arnold, January 9, 2015

Microsoft Confirms Drop of Public Website SharePoint Feature

December 30, 2014

Microsoft has confirmed the rumors that everyone has feared – the Public Website feature of SharePoint is being discontinued. Customers are being encouraged to move to third party options that integrate with SharePoint. ZDNet breaks the news and covers the details in their article, “Microsoft Confirms it is Dropping Public Website Feature from SharePoint Online.”

The article discusses how the transition will occur:

“New customers signing up for Office 365 as of January next year won’t have access to Public Websites in SharePoint Online, Microsoft officials acknowledged in a new Knowledge Base support article published on December 19. Existing customers using SharePoint Online Public Website will continue to have access to this feature for a minimum of two years following the changeover date, Microsoft execs said.”

Interested parties will not be surprised by the news, as rumors have swirled for some time. However, it is a difficult transition for those who relied on the feature. It seems that SharePoint went through a season of trying to be all things to all people, but that did not seem to pan out the way they anticipated, and now they are scaling back. Stephen E. Arnold keeps a close eye on SharePoint on his Web service, Keep an eye on his SharePoint feed to see what feature may be next on the Microsoft chopping block.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 30, 2014

New Azure Search Compared to Veteran Solr

December 19, 2014

Wondering how the new search function in Microsoft’s Azure stacks up against open-source search solution Solr? Sys-Con Media gives us a side-by-side comparison in, “Solr vs Azure Search.” It is worth noting that Azure Search is still in beta, so such a comparison might look different down the line. Writer Srinivasan Sundara Rajan sets the stage for his observations:

“The following are the some of the aspects in the usage of Solr in enterprises against that of Azure Search. As the open source vs commercial software is a religious debate, the intent is not aimed at the argument, as the most enterprises define their own IT Policies between the choice of Open Source vs commercial products and same sense will prevail here also, the below notes are meant for understanding the new Azure service in the light of an existing proven search platform.”

Rajan’s chart describes usage of each platform in four areas: installation and setup, schema, loading, and searching. Naturally, each platform has its advantages and disadvantages; see the article for specifics. The write-up summarizes:

“Azure Search tries to match the features of Solr in most aspects, however Solr is a seasoned search engine and Azure Search is in its preview stage, so some small deficiencies may occur in the understanding and proper application of Azure Search. However there is one area where the Azure Search may be a real winner for enterprises, which is ‘Scalability & Availability’…. Azure Search, really makes scalability a much simpler thing.”

As Microsoft continues to develop Azure Search, will it surpass Solr in areas besides scalability? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, December 19, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Choosing Office 365 or Azure

November 25, 2014

There is not just a single cloud, or Cloud with a capital C. Rather, there are multiple cloud-based services for SharePoint deployments. CMS Wire helps break down some of the choices that users face when determining which cloud to choose. They even have a handy survey at the end to make selection even simpler. Read more in their article, “SharePoint in the Clouds: Choosing Between Office 365 or Azure.”

The author begins:

“There are dozens of cloud hosting options for SharePoint, beyond Office 365. Amazon, Rackspace and Fpweb offer compelling alternatives to Microsoft’s public cloud for SharePoint online with a mix of capabilities. These capabilities fall on the spectrum between two options: 1) IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) — cloud hosted VMs on which YOU install Windows, SQL, SharePoint … 2) SaaS (Software as a service) — fully managed solution delivering SharePoint services with full subscribed provider managed availability, backup, performance, installation, etc.”

There are definitely pros and cons on both sides. If you need any help sorting through the various angles, turn to Stephen E. Arnold of He has spent his career following enterprise search, and has collected quite an impressive collection of tips, tricks, and news articles on his SharePoint feed.

Emily Rae Aldridge, November 25, 2014

Microsoft and Open Source: Exciting Marketing

November 15, 2014

I wonder who the wizards were who crafted the “news” that Microsoft was making Dot Net open source. I read what struck me as a reasonable view of Microsoft’s new open sourciness. Navigate to “.NET is NOT “Open Source”, But Microsoft’s Minions Shamelessly Openwash It Right Now.” Dig in. I noted this passage:

Microsoft is just so desperate to lock in developers, who are rapidly moving away to FOSS and saying goodbye to Windows because Android/Linux is on the rise.

This strikes me as a viewpoint that matches my own perception of the Metro-ized Microsoft. When will Fast Search become open source?

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

Remember Bing Translator?

November 13, 2014

Short honk: Microsoft offers an online translation service. It was called Bing once. That name has gone the way of the dodo. Details are here: “Bing Translator Picks Up an Update, Drops Bing Name and Adds Offline Translation for Vietnamese.” Just Bing it, but make sure you know the current name. Is this what MBAs learn today?

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Microsoft Turns SharePoint Points Users to Yammer

November 11, 2014

SharePoint is a longstanding leader in enterprise search, but it continues to morph and shift in response to the latest technology and emerging needs. As the move toward social becomes more important, Microsoft is dropping outdated features and shifting its focus toward social components. Read more in the GCN article, “Microsoft Pushes Yammer as it Trims SharePoint Features.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft quietly retired some features from SharePoint Online while it enhanced mobile apps, email integration and collaboration tools of Yammer, the company’s cloud-based enterprise social networking platform. Microsoft MVP and SharePoint expert Vlad Catrinescu posted that the company was removing the Tasks menu option, and the Sync to Outlook button will also be removed. Additionally, SharePoint Online Notes and Tags were deprecated last month.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search. He keeps a close eye on SharePoint, reporting his findings on The article hints that Microsoft is leaning toward moving to Yammer all the way, meaning that additional features are likely to be retired and collapsed into the new infrastructure. To keep up with all the changes, including the latest tips and tricks, stay tuned to Arnold’s specific SharePoint feed.

Emily Rae Aldridge, November 11, 2014

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