The Nashville edition of the 2019 Global Azure Bootcamp was a great success!

We had a great 2019 Global Azure Bootcamp event in Nashville on Saturday April 27th

Approximately 80 Azure enthusiasts attended the event. Next year we will probably have to move to bigger space since we could not accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.

I could write volumes about the event but, since a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are some pictures. Open-mouthed smile


The Agenda


Lee Cox from Microsoft Delivered the Keynote on the Azure Roadmap


I presented a Session on Disaster Recovery with Microsoft Azure Site Recovery


We had a vigorous Ask the Experts Q&A Panel


These were the Global Event Sponsors who donated raffle prizes


We also had several local event sponsors


In addition to Global Sponsor raffle prizes we had three local sponsors donating big raffle prizes


Here is the happy Drone winner


And the winner of the cool Xbox/PC Gaming Keyboard


And of course the Apple Watch Winner


We had lunch from Subway courtesy of Microsoft and the morning break courtesy of Provisions Group.  Vaco provided ice cream for our afternoon break.


This montage would not be complete without thanking our great volunteers who made this event happen.


Remember that our monthly Azure group meetings are every 3rd Thursday of the Month at Microsoft in Nashville.

See you there.


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The Nashville edition of the 2019 Global Azure Bootcamp

As many of you may recall we have been holding our edition of this annual day-long worldwide event here in Nashville for the past few years. (See and

This year it will be held on Saturday April 27th.

Many of the details are still being finalized, however, we are currently soliciting presenters and local sponsors. There will be a number of global sponsors, including Microsoft that will be providing food and other giveaways for the event.

If you have a topic that you would like to present, please let me know at

If your company would like to sponsor the event, then let us know that as well. For that please contact Roger Dahlman:

And if you would like to volunteer to help with the event in other ways let us know that as well.

This will be a free event. You can register for it now at



Bill Zack, President, The Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group

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An Azure Migration Assessment Methodology



As many of you may know I have been involved with Azure from its very beginning. As a Microsoft Architect Evangelist, and later as a Consultant, I have helped many Microsoft customers and partners adopt Azure successfully.

Some of these engagements have involved creating brand-new greenfield applications to run in Azure. However, many of them have involved either the migration of existing on-premises applications and infrastructure to Azure or the implementation of a Hybrid approach that spans both Azure and on-premises infrastructure and applications.

When faced with the desire to take advantage of Azure in some effective way most companies are in a quandary as to what to do first and how to go about it. For many of them we have recommended and executed a Migration Assessment Project. That is the subject of this article.  It covers what is in and out of scope for each phase, the deliverables of each phase and the actors involved.

In this article we assume that the project will be delivered by a Consultant (or a consulting firm) to a Client company. Note that this methodology is also suitable for internal use within a company.

It covers everything from the time that an initial Statement of Work (SOW) is signed until the final Assessment Report is delivered. It does not include the procedure for developing an SOW, as that will differ by company.

It also does not include detailed procedures for installing any automated analysis tool like Cloudamize, Movere or the Azure Migration Assistant, although such tools are highly recommended.

It also covers only Migration Assessment. Procedures for detailed Migration Planning and Execution are out of Scope for this document. However, at the end of the Migration Assessment Project a rough preliminary plan may be developed. How far to go with that should be agreed upon prior to the assessment.  Note that Planning involves developing a detailed plan for migrating specific applications/systems/workload to Azure. Migration Assessment stops with the identification and prioritization of the applications/systems/workloads that are likely migration candidates.

We have taken the approach here of just listing bullet points in most cases because explaining every one in depth could result in a book-sized document instead of a blog post. Smile Nevertheless, this should give you a good starting point.

The Procedure


Every Migration Assessment project has the following work phases:

  1. SOW Completion
  2. Internal Project Preparation
  3. Pre-Kickoff
  4. Kickoff
  5. Functional Meetings
  6. Analysis
  7. Engagement Completion

SOW Completion

SOW Development occurs some time before the Migration Assessment project itself. We are including it here for completeness even though it is not strictly speaking a part of Migration Assessment. It covers from the time that an SOW is deemed necessary until the SOW is actually approved by the Client.

Internal Project Preparation

This phase is internal to the consulting organization executing the project. 

  • Review the signed SOW.
  • Identify and commit the Consulting Resources to work on the project.
  • Create a Project file in a plan repository such as SharePoint.
  • Determine if an automated discovery tool like Cloudamize, Movere or Azure Migrate will be used.


  • Ask the Client to fill out a Pre-Migration Assessment Questionnaire. This should include questions on business objectives, facility locations, technologies in use, licensing considerations, etc..
  • Schedule the Kickoff meeting.
  • If a discovery tool will be used:
    • Install the discovery tool one to two weeks before the Project Kickoff. Let the tool run for at least one week. 
    • Run the tool reports at the end. Format the results in Recommendations Format. Be clear that these are only preliminary results.
  • Ask the Client to identify and commit resources from the Functional Areas for each meeting. These areas may include:
    • Business stakeholders. (For information on deadlines, mergers, etc.)
    • Application Development. (if required)
    • Network architecture & operations.
    • Server architecture & operations.
    • Support. (Help Desk, Tier1/Tier2 support)
    • Application Development support. (Quality Assurance, Production migration, etc.)
    • Identity. (Active Directory)
    • Security. (Chief Security Officer, Security analysts, etc.)
    • Storage and/or Database management.
    • Enterprise Architecture.
    • And if relevant:
      • Sales.
      • Marketing.
      • Line of Business Managers.

Prepare an hour-by-hour Kickoff meeting agenda. Also prepare a presentation deck for the meeting.


Conduct the Kickoff meeting.

  • Review the SOW and explain the Migration Assessment process.
  • Determine if the Client has any preference for which applications or workloads they would like us to focus on first. Often a Client will have determined preferences in advance.
  • Prepare for the Functional Meetings  by reviewing the tool reports (if used) and any  other initial documentation provided in advance.
  • Collect existing documentation (Server/Workload/Application inventory) where available. This can be used to determine interview order.
  • Identify the stakeholders who must sign off on the results.

Functional Meetings

Meet with the relevant audience, review the Pre-Assessment Questionnaire and confirm responses. Fill in any gaps.

  • Review the relevant questions for that audience as well as any additional questions that we need answered to find out what else we need to know.
  • Discuss the preliminary tool recommendations (if used). Explain that this is a first look and not final. Form conclusions and/or determine the need for additional information.


There are two methods to be defined for discovery and analysis: an optional automated tool, like Cloudamize, Movere or Azure Migrate, and Manual Discovery. Even in the case of tool based discovery manual analysis will still be required to complete the process and draw conclusions from the data. Tool reports will just be used as input to the process.

In the case of Manual Discovery, perform the discovery process manually by collecting architecture and workload data on potential applications and workloads that are appropriate to move to Azure.

  • Analyze application/system/workload documentation provided by the Client.
  • Develop Current state and Desired State. (What does the tool , if used, suggest?)
  • Review candidate applications for Cloud appropriateness (Fit). Evaluate whether the application is appropriate for running in the Cloud.
  • Determine Business Criticality of the application.
  • Evaluate potential Risks & mitigations.
  • Develop a high-level cost/benefit analysis. Identify low-hanging fruit, minimum Time to Value (TTV) opportunities and the Return on Investment (ROI) of moving selected workloads/systems/applications to Azure.
  • Determine migration approach such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a  Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) or a Hybrid approach. 
  • Determine the specific techniques to be used:
    • Rehost (Lift and Shift as-is to the cloud. Host in a VM or PaaS Compute platform such as Web Apps).
    • Refactor (Move to Azure with some modification to take advantage of Azure PaaS Services such as Azure SQL Database).
    • Reengineer (Restructure the complete application to take advantage of things like Microservices, Containers, Serverless computing, etc.).
  • Identify the physical servers or VMs that support each application/system/workload.
  • Develop a preliminary priority list for Migration to IaaS, PaaS, SaaS or Hybrid.
  • Review tool data. Look for exceptions that might preclude tool use (disk size, IO, performance, configuration, etc.).
  • Determine servers and/or VMs that are related and group into potential migration sets.
  • Consider ease of migration and tools/approach to be used.  Consider suggested migration tools to be used such as Azure Site Recovery, Azure Database Migration Service, etc..
  • Define supporting infrastructure changes required, if any.
  • Identify Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) requirements.
  • Determine Multi-Region strategy if required.
  • Rank applications/systems/workloads on a grid. Answer the question: Why this one vs. that one?

Engagement Completion

  • Hold Internal Consulting review.
  • Hold Post analysis review with the Client.
  • Make recommendations on what needs to be done next.  That could include Migration of the top 5 targets.  It may also include a preliminary Migration Plan, although that plan will need to be refined following the Migration Assessment.
  • Deliver preliminary cost for the proposed migrations.
  • Evaluate the Client’s fitness to adopt Azure. (See  What is your Azure Maturity Level? ) This should include considering Technical and Business considerations, staff skills, etc.
  • Determine the required training for the Client to make them ready for Azure and to be self-sufficient afterwards.
  • Determine if the migration(s) should include a change in culture to DevOps.
  • Hold the project close out meeting.
  • Submit final consulting invoice to the Client. Smile


An effective Azure Migration Assessment is critically important to the success of a company’s transition to Azure. No-one should attempt migration without a solid assessment and a plan.

Although the methodology set forth herein may not be applicable in every case or usable as-is for every Migration project we feel that it will be useful in developing your own assessment and guiding you to a successful migration to Azure.

As always we are interested in what you think. Let us know if you agree, disagree or have suggestions for improvement.


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Azure Active Directory Deep Dive


We had another outstanding meeting Thursday night. with a good turnout.  Although over 70 registered for the meeting only about 20 actually made it to the meeting in person. Please be diligent in changing your status from “Your Going” to “Not Going” by the morning of the meeting if your plans change, so that we can adjust the refreshments order accordingly.

We also streamed the meeting using Skype for those who could not attend in person. That worked out well; and we will probably do it again in the future. However, there is really no substitute for attending in person and networking with your peers. Smile

If you are interested in our upcoming meeting schedule, and/or to find out more about the group, we invite you to visit the group’s Meetup site.

What follows is a summary of our August meeting:

As usual we started our meeting with ½ hour of networking and refreshments. After that we delivered a brief presentation about the group for new members.  In addition to covering the Mission and Structure of the group, the Board of Directors, and our Sponsors we also covered recent Azure announcements that we felt were most important.

The important announcements this month were:

  • Start/Stop VMs during off-hours in Azure Automation GA
  • Azure Virtual Machines Azure reserved instance size flexibility
  • Azure SQL Database, Save up to 80 percent with reserved capacity and Azure hybrid benefit
  • Linux on App Service Environment now GA
  • Azure Data Box Disk Preview
  • Azure SQL Database Managed instance business critical Preview
  • Azure Event Hubs and Service Bus VNET Service Endpoints in Public Preview

Following that, we launched into the main presentation topic, with Microsoft Cloud Solutions Architect Brett Hacker presenting an extremely comprehensive and thorough presentation on Azure Active Directory.

In this presentation Brett covered all the ins and outs of Azure Active Directory including The relationship of Azure Active Directory (AAD) to on-premises Active Directory (AD), the use of AAD by Office 365, Intune and other Microsoft cloud services as well as the Integration of AAD with thousands of other Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.

He discussed the Graph API which forms the underlying single security API that proxies multiple services and supports single sign-on to them. Next, he went into a deep discussion of exactly how hybrid authentication works where AAD is integrates with on-premises AD as well as how Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and AD Connect are used to support single sign-on and same sign-on using common credentials for Cloud  and Federated authentication, as well as how password hashes are used to safely integrate both authentication methods.

Following that Brett covered how AAD Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) authentication works to allow authenticated access by external businesses and consumers.

Bret finished up with a very comprehensive demo of an application that illustrated all of the above features of AAD. All-in-all it was the best AAD presentation that I have ever seen. Smile The slide deck can be downloaded from here. Note that Brett is using the AAD demo application that he presented in the meeting to share the slides at that link.

If you are located in the Nashville Area, or any of the surrounding areas, we invite to you become a member of the group and to attend future meetings. All are welcome, and meetings are always free.

See you next month.

Bill Zack, President, The Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group

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New to Azure?

Azure Center

As some of you may know I am a Cloud Solutions Architect specializing in Microsoft Azure here in Nashville.

That is my “day-job”. What some of you may not know is that I am also the Founder and current President of the Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group. This group has grown from 4 members to over 900 in the space of five years. Although I would like to claim credit for that the meteoric rise of Azure has had a lot to do with it. Smile

In the group we try to mix up the technical level of our presentations, having introductory talks for those new to Azure and deep-dives for the more experienced members of the group.

In May we did an introductory Azure Platform Technical Overview.

In June we had Microsoft MVP and Pluralsight author Tim Warner presenting an Azure Networking Deep-Dive.

At the July meeting we did an updated version of the May talk titled New to Azure for those new to the platform.

In August we will have Microsoft Cloud Solution Architect Brett Hacker presenting an Azure Active Directory Deep Dive.

If you are interested in our meeting schedule, and/or to find out more about the group, we invite you to visit the group’s MeetUp site.

What follows is a summary of our July meeting: New to Azure.

As usual we started our meeting with ½ hour of networking and refreshments. After that we presented a brief presentation about the group for new members. In addition to covering the Mission and Structure of the group, the Board of Directors, and our Sponsors we next covered recent Azure announcements that we felt were extremely important. (Obviously we could not cover all of the Azure announcements since last month; since that would take the whole meeting, or more. Smile)

Those announcements were:

  • Microsoft acquiring GitHub
  • Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall (Preview)
  • Soft Delete for Azure Storage Blobs (Preview)
  • Blob Storage Lifecycle (Preview)
  • Tamper-proof Azure Immutable Blob Storage services (Preview)
  • Azure Backup for SQL Server (Preview)
  • Disaster Recovery for IaaS VMs without requiring additional infrastructure (Preview)
  • Security Center protection of Azure, On-Premises and Hybrid resources
  • Azure File Sync (Preview)
  • SQL Server 2008/2008R2 Free Extended Security Updates in Azure

Following that, we launched into the main topic, presenting a fairly complete overview of Azure for new members. That presentation outline is listed in detail here and the presentation slides can be downloaded from here.

If you are located in the Nashville Area, or any of the surrounding areas, we invite to you become a member of the group and to attend future meetings. All are welcome, and meetings are always free.

Bill Zack, President

The Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group

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Building a Rational Microsoft Azure Network Architecture

In a previous blog post Is Azure Adoption “Too Easy? I discussed how it is very easy (perhaps too easy) to get into Azure without a well-thought-out network architecture and a good plan. We cannot fault Microsoft for making it as simple as possible, however it is very easy to do it without adequate planning. The result can be that you can paint yourself into a corner if you are not careful.

Over time, and working with many clients, we have developed a network design model that includes a single subscription with Virtual Networks (VNets) defined by environment (Development, Quality Assurance, Production, Disaster Recovery, etc.). Then each VNet is broken down, in turn, into SubNets for architectural tiers and specific purposes such as virtual network gateways.

We have developed this architectural design based upon, and extending, the Microsoft Hub and Spoke architecture recommendation.


This modular rational approach to the Microsoft Hub and Spoke network architecture that we have developed is called “Parthenon”.  We have also built a network generator application that we use to build these rational networks.

Recently we recorded a presentation on this to be delivered to Microsoft MVPs and former MVPs around the world. Microsoft has been kind enough to allow us to share this presentation with you.  During the recorded presentation we discuss, and demonstrate, the real-time creation of a Parthenon network in an Azure subscription.

Bill Zack

Stratum Technology Management

Posted in Architecture, Cloud, Cloud Computing, IaaS, PaaS, Windows Azure | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Azure Platform Technical Overview in Nashville


We had an excellent turnout for the May 17th meeting of the Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group, a group that I have been leading for nearly five years.

We started this group with four members in 2013 and it now has over 840. In fact, it has doubled in size in the past year alone. (As much as I would like to claim all the credit for that the phenomenal increase in Azure adoption probably has had a lot to do with it. )

I present to the group occasionally myself, but in most cases I try to find other good Azure presenters from the local community and elsewhere. (If you are interested in presenting an Azure related topic please let us know. You can contact me at or through the Nashville Microsoft Azure User Group MeetUp site

The Presentation

At this meeting I presented an Azure Platform Technical Overview that covered all of Azure at an architectural level and discussed “What to use When”. This is a presentation that I have been evolving since before Azure was even called Azure (circa 2017). In fact, one of my standard jokes is that “it still isn’t finished!” (Of course, as Azure changes every few weeks, it most likely never will be finished.) For more about my history with Microsoft and Azure see the About Page of this Blog.

For those of you who attended the meeting (and anyone else who is interested) you can download the presentation slides from here.

Areas of Azure that we covered during the talk were:

• Why adopt Azure
• Azure Resource Management
• Compute Options
• Azure Storage
• Databases
• Business Continuity (Backup and Disaster Recovery)
• Networking
• Security
• Virtual Desktop
• IoT & Analytics
• The Future of Azure

At the meeting we also distributed 20 free Azure Pass subscriptions donated by Microsoft to our group for when we held the Nashville edition of the 2018 Global Azure Bootcamp.

Our Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on April 21st when Tim Warner, Microsoft Azure MVP and Pluralsight author, will present a Microsoft Azure Networking Deep-Dive. If you plan to attend you can  find out more details and register at that site.  Everyone with an interest in Azure is welcome to attend. And all meetings are always free.

See you there

Bill Zack, President, The Nashville Microsoft Azure Users Group

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