For folks looking for Industry-focused high-performance computing solutions, including media & entertainment, life sciences, education, oil and gas, financial services, manufacturing, you might want to check this out from Jason Zander, Microsoft’s CVP of Azure:

imageToday, I am pleased to share that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Avere Systems, a leading provider of high-performance NFS and SMB file-based storage for Linux and Windows clients running in cloud, hybrid and on-premises environments.

Avere uses an innovative combination of file system and caching technologies to support the performance requirements for customers who run large-scale compute workloads. In the media and entertainment industry, Avere has worked with global brands including Sony Pictures Imageworks, animation studio Illumination Mac Guff and Moving Picture Company (MPC) to decrease production time and lower costs in a world where innovation and time to market is more critical than ever.

High performance computing needs however do not stop there. Customers in life sciences, education, oil and gas, financial services, manufacturing and more are increasingly looking for these types of solutions to help transform their businesses. The Library of Congress, Johns Hopkins University and Teradyne, a developer and supplier of automatic test equipment for the semiconductor industry, are great examples where Avere has helped scale datacenter performance and capacity, and optimize infrastructure placement.

Read more here:

imageDive in and learn how to start building intelligence into your solutions with the Microsoft AI platform, including pre-trained AI services like Cognitive Services and Bot Framework, as well as deep learning tools like Azure Machine Learning, Visual Studio Code Tools for AI, and Cognitive Toolkit.

Our platform enables any developer to code in any language and infuse AI into your apps. Whether your solutions are existing or new, this is the intelligence platform to build on.

There are over 30 multi-module courses that you can take to learn how to use Microsoft’s AI platform including:

  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Introduction to Machine Learning with Azure ML
  • AI Developer Bootcamp
  • Building an Intelligent Bot
  • Build a Predictive Maintenance Solution using Deep Learning
  • Text Analytics
  • Video Indexer
  • Optical Character Recognition
  • Object recognition using a custom Deep Neural Network model
  • Image classification
  • Azure Machine Learning Real-world Examples
  • Learn Analytics
  • Deep Learning Explained
  • Building Your Azure Skills Toolkit
  • Python Data Science Notebook
  • Getting Started with Bot Framework
  • Facial Recognition

Start learning by visiting:

imageCreate your first intelligent bot with Microsoft AI.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating the digital transformation for every industry, with examples spanning manufacturing, retail, finance, healthcare and many others. At this rate, every industry will be able to use AI to amplify human ingenuity. In this eBook, Anand Raman and Wee Hyong Tok from Microsoft provide a comprehensive roadmap for developers to build their first AI-infused application.

Using a Conference Buddy as an example, you’ll learn the key ingredients needed to develop an intelligent chatbot that helps conference participants interact with speakers. This eBook provides a gentle introduction to the tools, infrastructure and services on the Microsoft AI Platform, and teaches you how to create powerful, intelligent applications.

  • Understand how the intersection of cloud, data and AI is enabling organisations to build intelligent systems.
  • Learn the tools, infrastructure and services available as part of the Microsoft AI Platform for developing AI applications.
  • Teach the Conference Buddy application new AI skills, using pre-built AI capabilities such as vision, translation and speech.
  • Learn about the Open Neural Network Exchange.

Download the eBook through this site.

imageForrester Consulting came out with a Total Economic Impact™ study on the cost savings and business benefits enabled by Project Online in March 2018. After interviewing four existing customers and pairing subsequent financial analysis, Forrester found that an organization based on these interviewed organizations experienced:

  • A 387 percent return on investment.
  • A net present value of $3.4 million.
  • A reduction in overtime costs by 83 percent.

Download this commissioned study conducted by Forrester on behalf of Microsoft to uncover other quantifiable benefits that your business could experience by adopting Project Online.

Today, we’re excited to announce the general availability of Microsoft 365 usage analytics in Power BI, with new data and reports for Microsoft Teams. You can get started with usage analytics in Power BI right away, or read on for more details.

clip_image002New data and reports for Teams and Groups
Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork that integrates all the people, content, and tools your organization needs to be more engaged and effective. Usage analytics for Microsoft 365 includes information about how your organization is using Teams to help your users create, collaborate, and communicate more effectively.

The Teams Usage report provides an overview of how your organization is using Teams, including a view on how they use the various functions like chat, channels, and meetings.

(Read more about Teams Overall Usage, Teams User Activity, Teams inclusion in Product Usage, and more.)

imageDid you know that you can leverage Azure Cognitive Services without writing a single line of code?

Microsoft Flow has dozens of GUI-based templates for common tasks. Just add your subscription keys, connect your accounts, and go!

Microsoft Flow is a codeless automation environment that enables end users to orchestrate multi-step workflows that allow them to execute repetitive tasks or trigger automated processes.

And anyone is licensed to use Microsoft Flow via the “Free” version – especially if they have Office 365 subscriptions for its employees, in which case they have “Flow for Office 365”. (

Cognitive Services includes things like text analytics that can scan text content for “whether a Tweet is positive or negative” or “whether a person is happy or sad”.  These can act as triggers for other actions that Flow can automate.

Here’s some Microsoft Flows using:

…and there are Connectors to use the Bot Service, QnA Maker Service, Custom Vision API, and more!

For a brief tutorial on how to use Microsoft Flow & how to incorporate Cognitive Services:

Posted by: kurtsh | July 23, 2018

INFO: Azure Pricing Calculator & Azure TCO Calculator

There are two calculators that everyone using Azure should know:

imageAzure Pricing Calculator
Estimate your expected monthly bill using our Pricing Calculator, and track your actual account usage and bill at any time using the billing portal. Set up automatic email billing alerts to be notified if your spend goes above an amount you configure.

imageAzure TCO Calculator
Quickly compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your on-premises infrastructure with a comparable Azure deployment using our TCO Calculator and estimate savings you can realize by moving to Azure.

For a quick tutorial on how to use the Azure Pricing Calculator, check out this video:

  • VIDEO: Using the Azure Pricing Calculator to price out a simple VM based solution

Posted by: kurtsh | July 23, 2018

TRAINING: Getting started with Azure

Getting started with Azure?  Explore free online learning resources from videos to hands-on-labs to develop skills you need for your job and career.

Free online courses with Pluralsight

Gain the know-how and confidence your job demands through these free online courses, delivered in partnership with Pluralsight.

Follow a guided learning path

Build practical job skills you can start using right away. Azure learning paths are provided for free in partnerships with Pluralsight.

Hands-On labs

Practice what you learned with free interactive hands-on labs. Apply and validate your learning in live Azure environment.

Azure certification

Build expertise and advance your career with Azure certification. Whether you’re new to Azure or already a cloud professional, level up your skills and gain opportunities for career advancement.

For this and more information, on:

  • Free Azure accounts: $200 in Azure  credit and 12 months of popular services free
  • Microsoft Azure Essentiasl
  • Visual Studio Dev Essentials
  • Microsoft Tech Community
  • Azure Technical Documentation


imageWe just recently published a table that goes over the differences between ‘Microsoft Teams’ and ‘Microsoft Teams Free’ that Teams administrators should review.

tl;dr: Microsoft Teams has the following capabilities above & beyond Microsoft Teams Free:

  1. Scheduled meetings
  2. Meeting recordings
  3. Phone calls and audio conferencing
  4. Administrative tools for managing users and apps
  5. Usage reporting for Office 365 services
  6. 99.9% financially backed SLA uptime
  7. Configurable user settings and policies

Read more about all the features shared between the services SKU’s:


Forward-thinking CMOs are driving marketing transformation initiatives and many organizations are benefiting from their efforts. They are using emerging technologies to find new customers and to build deeper relationships and loyalty with existing customers. Many are leveraging Artificial Intelligence and automation to achieve their transformation initiatives. 

So what does a modern marketing team look like and what are the keys to success in marketing transformation? Argyle Executive Forum, in partnership with Microsoft is bringing together leading marketing executives to discuss these topics and more at our 2018 CMO Virtual Event: Defining Modern Marketing. Through an interactive panel discussion, we’ll explore the following topic areas: 

  • Understanding Artificial Intelligence, the growing application of AI and next generation technologies for Marketing
  • The implications of new technologies on your organization
  • How to optimize media through AI
  • Using AI for customer journeys
  • How to drive 2-way conversations with your customers using AI
  • The key success factors in modern Marketing transformation
  • How to get started on your journey

Microsoft is sponsoring the event:

For modern marketing, our tools across Intelligent Analytics, Streamlined Operations, and Incredible Experiences help accelerate creativity and productivity, providing a strong operational foundation for your marketing team to thrive and focus on your customers. Companies like Pier One, MediaCom and Real Madrid are working with Microsoft technology to engage their customers across the world.

Read more at:

Register for “2018 CMO Virtual Event: Defining Modern Marketing” here:

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