Cloud Services With Azure

Cloud Computing has been among the biggest buzzwords of the last 5 years and while over this time, I have managed to get a decent fundamental and conceptual understanding, practical implementation has always been an issue (usually due to the cost factor). That is until now!

I’ve been really messing around with the Windows Azure platform and my employers have also helped out by providing me with a free subscription as well as a group of peers who are as passionate about the technology as me and who are more than willing to share their knowledge. This has been the biggest driver to motivate me and help me learn about the core concepts of Cloud Computing in a practical way, so that no matter what the Cloud platform is in the future, Azure, Google Compute, Amazon EC2, etc., I can be agile enough to adapt to any of them.

From a high level, Azure provides us with a lot of pre-built templates. Things such as Cloud powered Websites, Cloud Mobile Services, Cloud Media services, Virtual Machines, SQL Storage and a lot many more, just makes the lives of developers really easy. Over that, the Azure SDK integrated so well with my Visual Studio that I didn’t have to waste any time configuring and could get to producing code in no time.

As for the techniques, the fundamentals of Service Bus with Queues, Topics, and Relays for message passing, running remote Virtual Machines, storing large files as Blob storage in SQL Databases, opened opportunities to me to really implement some of the ideas in my head, which had seemed infeasible to me before.

Add to that a cloud powered IDE, a sleek web interface to monitor all my resources and multiple programming language support (yes, I did all my cloud coding in Python!!) complimented with amazing and easy to understand documentation on MSDN really made the whole learning experience that much more enthralling.

The point of this post is not to show off the capabilities of Azure. Rather I want you to go out and pick a cloud computing platform of your choice, and really learn of the amazing capabilities provided to you and realize the brilliant ways in which you and others can leverage these capabilities to make the whole world a much better place!

Hope to hear some success stories in the comments. Eviva!

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2 Month Notice

Well, technically it’s been more than 2 months since I joined my new workplace, but I guess it is high time I gave an update as to what I am up to.

As expected from working at one of the top tech companies in the world, there is a lot of work (and fun), but there is a great potential for learning as well. And man have I learned a lot!! In my first month here, I worked on a Windows 8 Modern UI app and understood the architecture of building a Modern app hands-on. Not only that, but I also had to integrate the app with a web service using Javascript (which, by the way, is my weakest programming language), and after a lot of fumbling in the dark, I can now bend JS to my absolute will (Evil laughter)!!

In my free time, I got together with a senior of mine, Prakhar Gupta, who works at the same company albeit in the Bangalore office, and quickly coded up a Windows Phone 8 app. The app basically acts as a birthday reminder for all those like me who are poor at remembering dates. Expect to see the app in the Windows Marketplace soon! Along the way, I have also been drawn to Cloud Computing, thanks to the amazing Windows Azure (they have tutorials on creating Android apps with an Azure back-end), and hope to soon gain certifications in Cloud Computing. This along with some other projects that I really can’t talk about (Non Disclosure Agreement, you see) have made my life coding bliss!!

Oh, and did I mention that I have also started development on the Leap Motion? Expect to see more on that and Kinect development in my next few posts. This is from a practical standpoint. From a knowledge standpoint, I am learning everyday. I have learned about good design and best practices while coding in C# and am also re-exploring functional programming with F#. SQL and database querying now seem to come more naturally than ever, and I have also started looking into query execution plans to further optimize my SQL code. I have also been trying to read up on the Common Language Runtime (CLR) which so far looks great with the way the CLR handles managed modules and the variety of support provided for different languages, but with all the work and coding going on, I am having a hard time actually removing time for myself to read more. Will have to stretch more on the reading front!

In the pipeline are some more apps (maybe on Android?) and reading papers and texts on NLP (for WishWasher) and Computer Vision (which is still my favoured field). I do seem to be loaded with work, but hopefully, I will keep inventing things and inspiring you to try new things. Keep an eye out for more on this domain.

Eviva!

Soothsayer

I and a bunch of guys at my college decided to take part in the Atos IT Challenge and try to win ourselves a trip to the UK for the 2012 London Olympics, the theme being Smart Mobility.

Our college was one of the lucky ones to have been selected to participate in this contest and I can see the competition from my institute itself, if not the entire world, is pretty nerve-wracking.

My team consists of Arth “Vyarth” Patel, Nimit “Lame-it” Shah, Sunny “Not Funny” Shah, Jigar “The Dafda” Dafda and Yours truly.

Having vetoed the original idea for a mobile disaster management system, I suggested a smart app that can mine and learn from the User’s history, match that with the current trends in the world and filter it with his/her geo-location to give the User some truly meaningful information that is highly relevant to their current situation, with all the data-crunching taking place on the Cloud.

This competition gives us a great opportunity to learn about a new field, Mobile Computing, a new platform, and also a chance to practice some of the AI techniques we’ve picked up in the past few months. But the biggest plan is to possibly Patent our idea. That would be TOTALLY COOL :-D.

Our idea page is here. If you liked our idea, please don’t hesitate to click on the FaceBook Like Button.

Now let’s hope the judges deem our idea worthy of selection so we can make it into the next round and begin the development stage.

Eviva!

Cloud Conclave 2011

The weekend of 18-20th November was awesome!!! I had taken part in this contest called “What’s Your Cloud Idea” conducted by Amazon (Yes, the Amazon.com Amazon) and YourStory.in. The contest was for students from all over India and it involved coming up with an innovative idea to use Cloud Computing. Now being a Computer Science Major, I took part and even though the idea was pretty lame in my eyes, apparently, the guys at Amazon loved it and I was thus invited to Cloud Conclave 2011 at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore where I was to be felicitated by the CTO of Amazon, Dr. Werner Vogels himself! 😀

Now for why the weekend was awesome. For starters, this was going to be my first technical conference ever since I started College . Secondly, I was travelling to a place which was more than 1000 kms away from my current location, all alone. And finally, I was going to meet my cousin brother Shobhit (who’s studying in IIM-B) and some of my friends from college who were working in Bangalore.

The journey was brilliant! I had to skip a day of college in order to make it there. I caught a train on the eve of the 17th and was at home in Mumbai by nightfall. Next day, frantic packing and prep for the flight to Bangalore. By 1:00, I was at the domestic terminal, making my way to security check, and enjoying every moment of it! The flight was full of people who looked like they were returning from some form of business meeting. Heck, even the guy on the seat next to mine was working on his laptop before take-off (I am suspicious he worked for Renault).

I made it to Bangalore by around 5. Thanks to my father, a vehicle and accommodation had been arranged for. And thank God for that! Bangalore is a complete and utter mess when it comes to traffic. It took me a good 2 hours just to cover 20-25 kms!!

The climate was great however. It was pleasantly cool and seeing the tech capital of India was an adventure in itself.

Now about Cloud Conclave: The morning before it started, I met up with an old friend, Sanchit Suman and we had lunch together at KFC and relived the old times we had when we were both in college. After that, I picked up a great senior and friend, Prakhar Gupta (who is an engineer at Microsoft!), and we made our way to the Conference.

We made it to IIM-B with plenty of time to spare and I was awestruck at its beautiful campus. I rang up my brother and met up with him. He was kind of busy due to an Alumni meet, and thus asked to call him after I was done. We made our way to the Auditorium, where tonnes of others in suits were registering themselves. After a little chat with one of them, turns out most of the people there were professionals and I was seemingly the youngest there.

The conference started late (Dr. Werner was stuck at traffic :–P), but once it did, it was really brilliant! The keynotes by Dr. Werner and Dr. Vaidya Nathan really showed us how leveraging Cloud Computing could really carry forward our projects and businesses, how we could minimize error costs and how Cloud provided a level of ease in scaling and security that was tough to achieve anywhere else. The Q&A was the best part as the crowd asked some really interesting questions which were answered adeptly by Dr. Werner, Dr. Nathan and Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capitals. Really informative and mind-expanding stuff here!! Here‘s a great piece that summarizes the keynote in a very crisp manner.

Finally, once it was over, I met Rutayan Patro and Tapan Deka, more friends from college and with brother Shobhit, we went for a guided tour of the campus where one of my favourite movies, “3 Idiots” was shot. We took some great snaps at the landmarks of the institute and had a great little evening walk.

Finally, the day had come to an end. We bid our goodbyes, promised to do something like this again, and made our way to our respective destinations.

The next morning was again frantic, in the sense that I had an 8:00 flight, so I had to leave the guest house by 6:30. Left in time, made it on time, boarded my flight, reached home, caught the evening train to Surat, and was greeted with cheers from my friends!

The weekend really was one of the best! 😀

P.s. For more about my idea, please go here.