Sunday, 1 July 2012

Azure Web Sites

Overview:  I love Azure.  There is just so much we can now do and a new feature released in June 1012.  The "web sites" function in Windows Azure (WA) are extremely flexible and this post shows how you can create a website using various templates in my case a Joomla CMS web site complete with a My SQL database.

There are a lot of options for using Azure web sites such as creating your own web sites in Visual Studio and uploading them to the Web Site role (all for free).  In this post I'm looking at leveraging a CMS to create a web site.  Windows Azure offers up to 10 free web site roles.  There are a lot of templates in the gallery so I feel this is a great place for design agencies and small business that need commercial web sites such as CMS, blogs ect.  They even have the WordPress template.

Steps to get Joomla working:
You will need a Windows Azure (WA) account, you get a free 90 day trial and if you hook your MSDN to it you get a decent amount of extra cloud computing hours thrown in. But for the 10 free "web sites" you don't use your cloud hours - it's free!

Once you are logged into the portal click the Add (+ button on the bottom left of the screen to add new services.  In this case select "Web Site" > "From Gallery" as show below.
Select the "CMS" tab and in my case I chose the "Joomla" template.
 Add the site name and login credentials as prompted (you can add a CName record later).
 The web site is created that backs onto my MySQL database.
Check the url and build your site.
Summary:  Web sites in Azure are easy, they are backed up by MS, there are tons of templates or build your own options, it free.  Microsoft is adding functionality and new services to Azure quickly and is easy to use.    

Scrum for SharePoint - Part 1 Introduction

Overview: Scrum is an Agile methodology that is useful for SharePoint projects as it allows for discovery/refinements of requirements as opposed to formally knowing all the functional requirements of a system upfront.  Each project lends itself to specific methodologies however, an Agile approach is often more suitable for SharePoint projects.  For larger, more formal projects I like MSF but traditional SDLC methodology run projects also work well.  Scrum is one Agile methodology and probably the most commonly used.  As with all projects I recommend following a methodology but lend from other and take out what isn't working to get the optimal process.

Scrum for Dummies:  Scrum consists of 3 types of team roles: the product owner/s, scrum master and the rest are team members.  Tam sizes should be less than 7-8 people (if bigger use scrum of scrums).
1.) The Product Owner is responsible for creating user stories.  These are specified in the form: As the <role> , I want to <feature> so that <benefit>.
2.) From the User stories I create Product Backlog Items (PBI's), Scrum is broken up into sprints (usually 2-4 weeks).  The sprint kicks off with a Sprint planning meeting that involves the entire team.  PBI's are broken down into tasks, tests and bugs.  During the sprint planning, the team members commit (renamed to forecasting in 2016) to the PBI's in the sprint and creates a "Sprint Goal".  I usually set apart 3-4 hrs to complete the Sprint Planning session at the start of each sprint.
3.) Daily scrum meeting takes 15 minutes facilitated by the scrum master.  Each team member states what they accomplished in the last day, what they will be working on in the next day and any blockers.  When the team members start a discussion, shelve it and they can have a separate meeting outside the scrum to avoid over running on the scrum meeting.  Do scrum meetings standing it helps make the sprint/team finish on time.
4.) At the end of each sprint, there must be a potential deployment.  Hold a scrum retrospective, this is to work out the team velocity (are the PBI's and features being achieved) and work out how productivity can be improved.
5.) Documentation:  Scrum is not document intensive but aims to get features right not finish at a specific point.  The documents generated by scrum are:
5.1) User Stories and corresponding Acceptance Criteria
5.2) Meetings (Daily scrum minutes/decisions, sprint planning agreements/outcomes & retrospective minutes)
5.3) Whiteboards (architecture diagrams and user story refinement)
5.4) TFS recorded data 
5.5) Communications (emails about decisions, supporting information, this could also include pptx from presentations, user reviews).

  • SharePoint has a lot out of the box and using Scrum allows for better technical decisions whereby team members often identify OOTB solutions which hopefully eradicates the common developer mentality of using .NET to do existing SP functionality.
  • There are Templates for Scrum download and base your project off them.
  • Microsoft offer a great free services called TFSPreview ( which is a SaaS offering TFS 2010, doesn't have all the features but it is amazing and best of all it has a built in Scrum template so I'd always start with this and if you feel you are being to restricted you can always go for a on premises option. VSTS (cloud service) is the current name for TFS preview Oct 2017.

Agile for SharePoint
Scrum for SharePoint - Part 1 (This post)
Scrum for SharePoint - Part 2
Scrum - Part 3 - Scaling Scrum
Scrum - Part 4 - Kanban and Scrum
Scrum - Part 5 - Certification PSM 1