Azure Storage Time

While working with azure for a while now I encountered a new issue. I previously used the Table storage on Azure Service Manager (ASM), now this article is based on some new issues I had when changing to the Azure Resource Manager (ASR). Also see my other post about Azure Portals.

Using the Azure Storage Tables I always create an entity, some who have a DateTime object. With a new project I wanted to check the DateTime and compare it with the current. Everything is based on my local machine which is running on UTC+01:00. When comparing the current DateTime with the one that was placed with the entity it never seems to get the right results.

entity.datetime = DateTime.Now.AddMinutes(30)

Check: entity.datetime < DateTime.Now

Result: entity.datetime was always less than the current DateTime.Now.

During investigating with the Windows Azure Storage Explorer I found the following. First view of the records show:

FirstResult2

When looking at the detail of the record:

DetailResult

DetailResult2

As you see the first view the time shows 11:42 while in the detail view it is 13:42.

Why this is?

Azure uses Universal Time.

Why the Overview shows UT and the detail shows your local time zone I don’t know. What I do know is when you retrieve the information from the table storage the DateTime will be 11:42.

Using DateTime inside your code always consider using Universal Time. For when you want to present the time you can convert is to any time zone that is needed.

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Imagine a transformation in identification

Identification on a new level

It is now possible with Azure to identify a people, objects, voice, video and a lot more.

With Azure Cognitive Services there is a whole range of new API’s available to interact with people and the surroundings.

Cognitive Services

Big data, machine learning, Internet of Things.

These are all terms we see popping up more often. They all belong to a growing concept.

As I like to adress it: “To know, To connect, To improve”.

Big data is all information we gather of a certain Topic, system or what we want to collect. The main issue with big data is how to analyse it without spending a lot of time, preferrably on-the-fly as you feel like it and want to know things about that data.

Internet of Things, actually it is about things all sorts of things. Things that can connect with each other. Think about starting up the heater on your way home from work. Changing your environment lights with an application on your phone. It’s all connected, more and more we connect.

Machine Learing, how it evolves to the desire we choose. It can be the way of how you interpret the Big Data. For example what parts of all that data you really want to use. You might give a suggestion for an answer on a question someone is asking. Knowing from previous input you can guide that person to the right point.

Cognitive Services from Azure provide an easy to use set of API’s to accomplish fast anylitics of data. Someone once told me “Knowing somthing is better to know notthing”. It might be easy to say but it’s true. If you have an website would no not like it give at least some information that can be shown instead of nothing at all when a process seems to fail. At least the contact email so that people still can contact you.

Azure Face API

With the Azure Face API you can get a set of information about an image. For example potition of a detected face. Let me show you. (yes it’s me)

 

Face_api_demo

First of al you will notice the red square around my face. That is the potition the Face API gave on detecting my face in this image. If you look close at the second line it says “I do recognize you Danny”, again yes it’s me. This information I got when I added people to groups. This way the Face API has learned to identify an image with my face.

To show you some more information what the Face API can tell you.

Face_api_detail.jpg

As you see the red dots on my face, those are 27 landmarks the Face API can give you at this moment. (just start counting).

It can give you an estimation on age, though this is not really my age but it is nice and probably something you can use with some customer services.

Further more it can give you information like gender, facial hair (beard, mustache and sideburns), if you have glasses  (reading, sun or none), headpose and smile.

All and all a lot of information you can play around with. This is just a demonstration of the possiblities for furter information I advice to look at the Cognitive Services of Azure on https://www.microsoft.com/cognitive-services/.

Imagination

The only thing left is to let your imagination have its way. There are a lot of possibilities to interact with the services and endless possibilities to create something. The tools are here now they need to get connected and shared with the world.

Portals of Azure

What portals do you have in Azure

Currently there are two portals to use with azure.

  1. “Classic” –  Azure Service Manager (ASM)
  2. “Current” – Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

Appearances

The Classic portal as shown below
URL: https://manage.windowsazure.com
Classic_portal

The Current portal as shown below
URL: https://portal.azure.com
Current_portal.jpg

 

No longer available in Classic

More and more Microsoft is moving to there Current Portal. New features are mostly only available through the Current Portal. Also features are being disabled in the Classic portal and will in the future only be available through the Current portal.

A list of features there now are not available in the Classic portal:

* Web Apps
* Batch Services
* HDInsight
* Media Services
* Mobile Engagement
* CDN
* Automation
* Schedular
* Stream Analytics
* Operational Insights

A way to keep track on what is changing within Azure are the following sites:

https://buildazure.com/
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/updates/
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/

 

Developing with Azure SDK

For the Developers who use the Azure SDK need to keep in mind that some changes would require to update the SDK. So they can keep using the new features.

For example:
The website application you create with Visual Studio can not be created in older versions of the SDK. You need to update the SDK so that you can make connection with the Current Portal ARM. Since the Web Apps are now Resources and no longer Services.

 

Current Portal Azure AD

At this moment Azure AD is a preview version inside the Current portal. Some features are already integrated inside the ARM. For some specific features it is better to keep using the Classic portal. In time this preview will be updated and the Azure AD will also be only available through the Current Portal.

Windows Azure – The summary

Try telling what Windows Azure is

Before you read the rest of this post just imagine: A friend of yours (who has no experiance with computers other then to use it), and you need to explain to him wat Windows Azure is.
First he will get overwhelmed by all the things you can do with Windows Azure.
You can say the simple phrase : “In short, it’s Microsoft’s cloud platform: a growing collection of integrated services—compute, storage, data, networking, and app—that help you move faster, do more, and save money.” (well that is what Microsoft says on there site).

Scratching the surface
If you have to explain more about what Azure can do it is difficult to stay on the surface without getting to technical.
You’ll miss out a lot of good stuff that Azure can provide. Or if you get to technical your audience will lose interest.
We all have probably seen the basic statements about Windows Azure.

  • Scale to what you need
  • Everywhere in the world
  • It is flexible
  • Hybrid (on-premises and cloud)

That is all nice to know, but still what is Azure?
These are all just general hypes, it sounds nice but doesn’t tell you much.

The overview
Long story short here is a short overview of what Windows Azure holds.
It is difficult to put every in one overview. In later blogs I will tell the different parts in more detail.

Most important everyone loves to hear:
The most people love to hear the fact that Azure can reduce costs on equipment and maintenance.
If you don’t use on-premises machines you also don’t have to maintain it. It is pretty straight forward, but it’s true.
Also Microsoft only lets you pay for the amount that you use.
For example: You have 2 virtual machines in Azure and only one is currently running. You only pay for the usage of 1 virtual machine.
One thing to keep in mind: You don’t pay for the usage of a virtual machine that is not running, but you still pay for the storage it takes up!

Cloud platform:
The Cloud as a platform can:

  • Hold data
    • Azure SQL database
    • Oracle
    • MySql
  • Store
    • Blob storage
    • Table storage
    • Queue storage
  • Compute programs
    • With jobs running on the background:
      • Worker roles
      • Web roles
      • WebJobs
    • Web application
    • Applications running on a Virtual Machine
    • Cloud services
  • Network
    • Azure Active Directory
  • Growing collection of integrated services
    • Business-to-business messaging
    • BizTalk
    • Integrate with SaaS applications (Software as a Service)
    • Hybrid combine on-premises and cloud applications

Azure is a combination of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) + PaaS (Platform as a Service). This will make it possible to have managed and unmanged services that can be used to build, deploy and manage applications in any way.