This article is republished from my original 'Day 3 of Microsoft Ignite NZ' post in LinkedIn.
I have been writing up my time at Microsoft Ignite at the end of each day, and I'm really glad now because the sessions I went to on Tuesday are a bit of a blur now. Today's sessions will stick for a while though, as they are much more my bread and butter as a solutions architect. I've found the 12 Factor App patterns really influential and designed my last project around Microservices running in Docker containers.
My first session today covered the ways you could deploy Microservices on Azure, concentrating on the PaaS options such as Logic apps, Functions, Web Apps and Service Fabric. Nick Ward explained the ins and outs of each option and where they should and shouldn't be used. I'm a PaaS convert now, as the platform services provided to you, such as scalability and fail over, take a lot of custom development work to replicate yourself. The API Gateway offering is great too, allowing you to expose APIs to developers, route and translate formats and apply a consistent security policy across calls.
Next up was a session on the Azure Container Service, which helps you configure a Docker Swarm or Mesosphere DC/OS cluster that you can deploy Docker containers to. Containers are the latest hotness, and are sort of a light weight virtual machine packaging up your code and the smallest possible set of dependencies. These containers are then run on a host that provides an operating system, but walls the container off so that it can't see anything else running. As far as the container is aware, it's the only programme on the server.
The cool thing about this is that you get the same libraries, dependencies and environment on your development machine as in production, so there's no more "works for me" bugs. Containers also start running blazingly fast so can scale up quickly, and as they run protected from other apps' libraries and versions you can pack more onto a machine. This lets you make better use of resources, as without this isolation you're often reluctant to run multiple apps on a machine in case they clash or use different versions of libraries or frameworks.
Anyway, Azure Container Services greatly assists with building and configuring clusters to which you can deploy containers. It helps with orchestration, making sure all your apps are spread across different nodes for redundancy, and other tasks that can burn a lot of development time.
IoT was the topic of the next talk, as Jonny Lin showed off Windows IoT Core, a cut down version of Windows 10 that can run Universal Windows apps. He used Visual Studio to compile and upload Arduino C and .Net Core apps to a Raspberry Pi running Windows Core. I really enjoy playing with my Pi running Linux, and I'll have to try out Windows Core.
Over lunch time I took a look at the Channel 9 studios. If you haven't seen Channel 9 before, check it out - it has many tutorials and information videos and they're publishing parts of Ignite online as well. For example you can watch Ashley Stewart, from Equinox IT, and his Microsoft Ignite presentation on DevOps and Visual Studio. Channel 9 is one of the main resources I'm using while I study for my MCSD exams.
The next session was on .Net Core for .Net developers. Core is an open source .Net runtime that works on Mac, Linux and Windows allowing Core apps to run everywhere. It's pretty appealing to use a single language for everything (I used to be a Java developer!) as you get reuse of code across different clients. I've written a few C# REST Services to experiment, and it's great to be able to use these on Windows and on my Mac. As I saw earlier, that same code would run on a Raspberry Pi too - not to mention on phones (via Xamarin) or Xbox. That sort of portability is what I really love about Java, not to mention the large number of open source libraries that are available. .Net is catching up there too!
Mel Langlotz and Amie Wolken from Geo A.R. Games presented a very different session on what it's like to create a startup, from working with incubators to managing the other founders. Their idea is to have Augmented Reality games, like Pokemon Go, but in a safe place such as a park so that kids could play a game that got them running around, while making them feel that they were playing games on a device. A very interesting talk and they covered a lot of the questions I have about forming a start up.
The final talk was again on Containers which reinforced the earlier session. Ken Thompson came to Microsoft from RedHat and really knows his Linux and Open Source. Ken showed how a Jenkins build pipeline could compile, package and deploy code onto Azure Container Services automatically. I'd actually be really keen to try this but in Visual Studio Team Services rather than Jenkins, which I'm sure you could do. Great to see CI/CD, Containers and Azure being used together though.
Adam Knight is a Senior Solution Architect based in Equinox IT's Auckland, New Zealand office.