Microsoft Embrace Linux With Azure Certification

Microsoft is a company best known for a range of options, both hardware and software, in the modern world. From their Surface tablets to Microsoft Office, a widely known thing about Microsoft is that you pay for what you get. While they offer some free tools, Office and even Microsoft Windows, cost a small amount if you want to use them. This makes it all the more surprising when they announced that you can now get a certification for managing an operating system on Azure, their cloud based system. The operating system in question will cost you nothing, it’s Linux.

The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Linux on Azure Certification will be used to show that you as a professional can run and manage Linux based servers on Microsoft’s cloud system (Azure). While this is a surprise, only a few years ago Azure didn’t support anything like Linux, however, it is not a giant surprise given the recent push by companies and governments to embrace open source software.

In order to get the new certification, you need to have passed not only the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator but also the Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure solutions exam.

While it’s nice for Microsoft to continue supporting open source software, and even with competing operating systems, I see it being a rare case where people (and companies) will be paying out hundreds for certification of free software.

Microsoft Builds Its Own Linux Distro

In a move unheard of under its previous regime, Microsoft has revealed that it has built its own Linux distribution and is utilising it in its Azure data centres. Since CEO Satya Nadella took the reins at Microsoft, the company has opened itself up to new ideas and solutions, but its implementation of Linux, with the operating system being its biggest rival to Windows on PCs, is still a surprise.

Microsoft has used Linux to build what it dubs Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), which the company calls “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.”

In a post on the Microsoft Azure website, Principal Architect for Azure Networking Kamala Subramaniam wrote, “At Microsoft, we believe there are many excellent switch hardware platforms available on the market, with healthy competition between many vendors driving innovation, speed increases, and cost reductions.”

“However,” she adds, “what the cloud and enterprise networks find challenging is integrating the radically different software running on each different type of switch into a cloud-wide network management platform. Ideally, we would like all the benefits of the features we have implemented and the bugs we have fixed to stay with us, even as we ride the tide of newer switch hardware innovation.”

For using the best software for the job, rather than fudging it with Windows out of brand stubbornness, Microsoft should be applauded. It certainly is a very different outfit from the one run by former CEO Steve Ballmer.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Play Twins or Not With Images and Face API

If you’re being told that you look like someone famous all the time, or just want to check up how familiar you look yourself, then there is a new website for you. The TwinsOrNot.net site allows you to upload and match two images and get a percentual answer on how much the two match.

The site is created by Mat Velloso, the same guy that was behind the how-old.net site. The new site uses the Face API in Project Oxford, a platform of intelligent services, one of the many available in the Machine Learning APIs. The most impressive of all, it was built in just four hours from idea to the finished site function.

People have been using it not just to match with famous people, but also their own family. What side of the family does the new baby resemble the most. Did you grandfather look like you or not? There are many possibilities. People are also having fun by uploading new and old photos of themselves to check how accurate the algorithms are and how much you have changed over the years.

This comes after the initial, and somewhat pointless, method demonstrated to guess the age based on a photo that you provided. If you’d like to check this out yourself, then head on right over to twinsornot.net and start the fun. Upload any two images.

Bing Can Now Tell The Age and Gender of A Person

Microsoft’s Bing can now tell the age of the person by processing the image. It recognizes the face and analyzes them to determine their age. It was initially revealed last month at Microsoft’s BUILD 2015 where they showed off one of their Azure APIs by hosting a website that does exactly what it is supposed to. Microsoft has finally implemented their face-recognition technology in its Bing search engine. It enables the end user to see the gender and age of the person predicted by the search engine.

To get it working for you, just open up Bing and click the “images” tab on the top and search someone. Click on one of the images and then hit the little gray button floating on the right and middle of the picture which says, “#HowOldRobot.” On clicking the button, it will undergo an animation and will finally show the gender and age estimation with a short note which says “Sorry if we didn’t get it quite right, we’re still improving this feature,” which is linked to one of Microsoft’s “Machine Learning FACE APIs” which has parts varying from Verification, Grouping and Identification. This development has been rolled out worldwide.

Thank you Venture Beat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Blacklemag.

Microsoft Azure and Xbox Live Suffer Major Outage

Yesterday Microsoft encountered quite a significant outage across many of its online and cloud-based products. Even its own website partially went down.

The outage mainly affected the company’s Azure cloud platform, meaning people couldn’t access files, virtual machines or in some cases their own websites. The issue seemed to occur to users across the globe, with Microsoft reporting that many regions were involved.

The problems didn’t stop there, as well as taking down the company’s own press centre and online store, some users had difficulty accessing various Xbox Live functions, with Microsoft reporting that “social and gaming are limited”.

The outages have now been mostly fixed, with Microsoft reporting that all systems are up and running, besides a few issues with latency in Europe.

Source: Forbes

Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Machine, Cloud Services down for Many

On August 18, starting just before 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, users across the globe began reporting problems with Microsoft’s Azure virtual machines, web sites and other cloud services.

“Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC we are experiencing an interruption to Cloud Services and Virtual Machines in multiple regions,” noted Microsoft officials on the Azure status page. As shown in the status-page screen capture below, Virtual Machines is the service most affected by the outage, with web sites down in several US regions and cloud services down in other parts of the US. “Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Websites — Multiple Regions — Full Service Interruption,” read the Microsoft-provided description of the issue.

Roughly an hour and a half later more services were reported down, including Backup, Service Bus and Site Recovery. An updated notice on the Azure page reads, “Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC we are experiencing an interruption to Azure Services, may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions. We are currently evaluating options to restore service.”

Only 10 minutes later Azure Mobile services and HD Insight also experienced full service interruptions in multiple geographies.

“Per our message to customers on the Azure Status page, we are aware of an interruption with Azure services, including Virtual Machines, Cloud Services and Web sites, and are working with our engineering teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The Azure outages come just a few days after a major worldwide outage for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online service and even though MS VS Online runs on Azure, Microsoft assured it was due to bugs rather the hosting problems. That follows the full service interruption Azure had in the Japan East region last week. The same day Microsoft also had trouble with their CRM Online.

It’s safe to say, the cloud is about as stable as a rainy cloud on fall day.

Update (August 18 10 pm ET/7 pm PT): Looks like almost all is well now. Not sure exactly when the Azure  issues mentioned above were resolved but it seems back to normal for now. But rest assures, the next outage is just around the corner.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ZDNet.