Digital Transformation using Microsoft Technologies during and post COVID-19

Posted by: Vikram Pendse , on 10/12/2020, in Category Microsoft Azure
Views: 45205
Abstract: Cloud and AI adoption is at peak because of COVID-19 and it’s time to identify the right Cloud, AI and Collaboration services to fit this new Virtual workspace. This tutorial presents some views and best practices to enable and ease your journey of Digital Transformation, to generate awareness and present an opportunity to revisit business plans and strategies.

Not too long ago, everyone was super excited to enter 2020.

Businesses were chalking out plans on adopting Cloud, AI, Machine Learning etc. – all encapsulated in a single capsule called “Digital Transformation”.

Globally, many “Digital Transformation” conferences were taking shape where people were to share their views and visions for helping their customers and other businesses achieve goals.

..and then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entire world went into a lockdown. Most businesses went on a halt with no clarity on re-opening and revival. As I write this article, many countries and businesses are barely keeping their heads above water. Some are trying to recover by going “Virtual”.

This article is a personal overview of how this situation will affect the journey, as well as some roadmaps defined earlier. We will also talk about a post Pandemic scenario and some new challenges that will emerge.

Disclaimer: Please note that this article talks about technical aspects and not economic, social or political changes foreseen as a result of COVID-19. Due to my association with Microsoft for over two decades, this article is more aligned to the Microsoft Technology domain.

What is Digital Transformation?

People have already spent thousands (and in some cases millions) of dollars on defining and building a roadmap for their “Digital Transformation”. A few have already begun the journey.

However, a large group consisting of non-CXO audiences like Developers, Testers, Back Office, IT, HR, Finance and Operations don’t know what’s in this blackbox called “Digital Transformation”, what’s in it for them, and the role they will be playing in it.

Some people have made an assumption that Digital Transformation is some kind of an “Automation” which will take away jobs, while there are a few who claim the contrary – they feel Digital Transformation will create new jobs.

Let us go through and understand the definition of “Digital Transformation”. We are using Wikipedia here which has a very generic definition which most of us will understand.

“Digital Transformation is the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems.”

digital-transformation-objective

This figure shows the core objectives and outcomes of your “Digital Transformation”. Your “Digital Transformation” should align to most of the objectives at the top level.

We will now see how CoE (Center of Excellence) can drive these objectives to achieve “Digital Transformation” within the organization and for the customer. We will also discuss how Microsoft technologies enable us to achieve these objectives.

For COVID-19, social distancing and wearing a mask is one of the recommended measures from WHO to contain the spread of transmission. This enforces many businesses to Work From Home (except the Gov. and other related agencies). Because of the remote work, there can be an impact on the operations, delivery and meeting timelines.

So, what are the roadblocks and how to tackle them?

Capturing Business Requirements virtually due to No/Limited Travel or Travel restrictions

With the current pandemic situation followed by the emerging new normal, businesses need to define unified optimal mechanisms to collaborate with end customers/stakeholders and employee within the organization.

Since the pandemic will pose challenges on doing Physical Assessments, Face to Face meetings, Industry/Plant Visits to observe operations and record notes, talking face to face with clients etc., everything will go virtual. There is a need of Tools/Software which allows to capture these requirements and fulfill the required analysis. Think of it as a Virtual Business Analyst (VBA) rather than an actual physical BA who will use these Tools/Software to capture data.

So which tools can be used for capturing the requirements virtually?

Here are some tools which are economical and commonly used (there are plenty of third-party tools which individual enterprise/company can evaluate based on their nature of business, meeting expectations and budget). I am avoiding mentioning Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which are in use for over two decades now.

Microsoft Forms

ms-forms

Microsoft Forms is part of your O365 suites of applications. It is quite easy to use and captures quick information. It can also integrate with other applications for automation, and data captured in forms, can be exported.

MS Forms can be used for taking various satisfaction surveys and product feedbacks. We can use this within the organization for various registrations for different business operations. So, for all small requirements, feedback etc. this tool is quite helpful.

Microsoft Forms provides some basic business templates and allows you to customize them as seen in Figure 1. You can share these Forms and export the output to MS Excel. Microsoft Forms also provide some analytics of the survey/feedbacks you took from users, as shown in Figure 2.

Microsoft Forms is part of your O365 suites of applications. It is quite easy to use and captures quick information. It can also integrate with other applications for automation, and data captured in forms, can be exported.

MS Forms can be used for taking various satisfaction surveys and product feedbacks. We can use this within the organization for various registrations for different business operations. So, for all small requirements, feedback etc. this tool is quite helpful.

Microsoft Forms provides some basic business templates and allows you to customize them as seen in Figure 1. You can share these Forms and export the output to MS Excel. Microsoft Forms also provide some analytics of the survey/feedbacks you took from users, as shown in Figure 2.

customized-ms-forms

Figure 1 – Build customized Forms using Microsoft Forms Template

ms-forms-responses

Figure 2 – Microsoft Forms gives you analytics over the response

Azure DevOps Product Backlog

Previously known as VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) and now called as “Azure DevOps” (On-premise TFS (Team Foundation Server) is now “Azure DevOps Server”), Azure DevOps is license based and comes with different pricing models. It is FREE for up to 5 Developers. Then onwards, it is a paid tool. More details here – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/devops/azure-devops-services/

Azure DevOps allows you to capture “Product Backlog” and write “Features” and “User Stories” as part of requirements (it can be requirements for building a new product or services project).

It also allows you to put down “Acceptance Criteria” for each User Story to bring transparency and mutual agreement between you and your client – since both can access Azure DevOps in different Roles and Access controls.

This becomes a one stop tool/service for your organization and the end customer, and gives a complete visibility to the progress. Therefore, Azure DevOps is very popular since it not only allows you to manage code repositories, but also allows you to build end to end Integration and Deployment pipeline by building Project Dashboards, Charts, Sprints if you are following Agile-Scrum method.

So you don’t have to purchase different tools and spend time to integrate and exhaust resources on each. Azure DevOps tool/service is a one-stop shop for all your DevOps and Product Management needs.

 

Collaboration

One key challenge people realized during pandemic is the way we physically interact (face to face) in an office workspace vis-à-vis interacting over Virtual Meeting Tools.

But are Virtual Meeting Tools a new thing? Not at all!

We have been using Virtual Meeting Tools for almost over two decades, but it was limited for several hours or number of people per day. We never saw a weeklong or monthlong full time usage of these Virtual Meeting Tools (except for certain business domains).

Most of the companies use multiple collaboration tools like Skype, Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams now, Zoom, WebEx (since 1999), GoTo Meeting, etc.

However, many companies have still not standardized the collaboration platform for communication. Each department has their own choice of tools!

Now with an increased usage, it is time to enforce certain platforms for enabling Digital transformation.

So what features should your collaboration tool have?

1. Allow members to Chat (One to one, In a Group, In a Closed/Secret Group)

2. Allow members to Video Call (One to One, One to Many)

3. Allow members to conduct a Webinar/Seminar publicly

4. Allow members to share Content (Files, Pictures etc.)

5. Show Usage Analytics

6. Integrate with other applications

7. Allow Plugins

8. Safe Authentication/Authorization

9. Allowing Login or switching to multiple Organizations (e.g. Your Own Organization, Customer/Partner Organization)

10. Minimum to no outage with better Audio/Video quality

11. Availability on different OS Platform and Devices

12. Whiteboards

“Microsoft Teams” has all the above listed capabilities. It is a revolutionary collaboration tool with a vast number of features compared to instant messaging platforms like Skype and Skype for Business (Lync).

ms-teams-logo

More insights on Teams capability can be found here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software

Also if you are using Skype for Business as your existing Group Chat software, then you can see a migration path to Teams here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/upgrade-and-coexistence-of-skypeforbusiness-and-teams

As per Microsoft, by 31st March 2020, overall Teams adoption went to 72M users.

Source Control Repository and CI/CD

It may surprise you what Source Control Repository and CI/CD has to do with “Digital Transformation”.

Traditionally, many businesses have been building and keeping their source code within their corporate network because of compliance, security and intellectual property reasons. People used to get nightly builds and would deploy them to production environments manually or with some deployment tools/scripts, mostly in some data center.

With the embracement of Cloud (Azure) and the current remote working scenario because of COVID-19, people are pushed to think of a strategy to bring automation to this process, improve GTM (Go To Market) time and align with the organizational strategy.

Note: Read more about Agile Development and activities here https://www.dotnetcurry.com/devops/1529/devops-timeline

Azure DevOps makes this job easy!

We briefly discussed some of the features of Azure DevOps, including the capability of storing and managing Product Backlogs. CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) is another feature of Azure DevOps as a product. CT (Continuous Testing/Test Automation) can also be done using Azure DevOps. Although it is a Microsoft product, it supports integration with Non-Microsoft/Open Source tools as well. Azure DevOps supports integration with GitHub and GitHub Enterprise, Bitbucket Cloud, TFVC and Subversion. Read more about Git and DevOps integration here https://www.dotnetcurry.com/devops/1542/github-integration-azure-devops

Beside Azure VMs and Azure Services, Azure DevOps can target container registries and on-premises. Azure DevOps Server is the on-premise offering by Microsoft.

Are you worried about the learning curve for your teams for Azure DevOps?

It is very much possible that CXOs and decision makers may think that along with the learning curve that comes with Azure, Azure DevOps will be another overhead.

Well, as we discussed above, with Azure DevOps, you can continue using your existing source control and pipelines, and only target your efforts for integration with Azure DevOps. If you are implementing it from scratch, Azure DevOps Labs is one-stop shop solution for your teams to gear up with systematic learning documentation and sample Proof-Of-Concept (PoC) to reduce the learning curve, boost confidence and get expertise over Azure DevOps. Refer to figure 3 for additional information.

These Free labs are so well designed that a new joinee or a trainee at your company can also build Azure DevOps CI/CD. Check more over here https://www.azuredevopslabs.com/

azure-devops-dashboard

Figure 3 – Azure DevOps Labs dashboard showcasing different DevOps Labs

Development Editor for Cross-platform Developers

Visual Studio is and has been the primary IDE in enterprises for all Microsoft technologies-based application development from the past many years, and it has seen unparalleled growth over the years.

However, for medium sized to startup organizations, the entire Visual Studio suite might get heavy in terms of budget and licensing. Also, Visual Studio is bound to run on Windows environments only and hence there has been a barrier in adoption of Visual Studio for many organizations

Visual Studio Code solves this hurdle!

Visual Studio Code does not have all the features of Visual Studio (Community, Professional or Enterprise Edition), but it is a lightweight version of Visual Studio. It is a powerful Source Code Editor which works on Windows, Linux and macOS. It supports a diverse collection of programming languages like C++, C#, Java, Python, TypeScript etc. and supports different versions of .NET frameworks and Unity frameworks too.

A step ahead in the offerings of Visual Studio Code is “Visual Studio Codespaces” (formerly known as Visual Studio Online) which launched during Microsoft //Build 2020 virtual event. Visual Studio Codespaces is a Cloud based IDE and people can access it from anywhere using their browser, ensuring they have created a Visual Studio Codespaces for them.

It supports Git repos and its built-in command-line interface allows you to edit, run and deploy your application from anywhere and from any device without installing Visual Studio Code editor on it, as it is purely cloud based and accessible over the browser as shown in figure 4.

vscodespaces-dashboard

Figure 4 – Visual Studio Codespaces interface – Accessible from anywhere in a Browser

Given the situation, a large majority of developers and technical experts are working from home, and thus the collaboration between them becomes a challenge.

But Visual Studio Codespaces overcomes this challenge as well because of its built-in Live Code sharing and IntelliCode features. Visual Studio Codespaces is in Public Preview. For pricing information please visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/visual-studio-online/

Development and Testing Environment (Dev/Test)

Organizations initially adopting cloud usually try to push their Dev and Test environments as a part of cloud roadmap, before the actual production environment.

On-premise Dev and Test environment usually takes time to set up even though it’s not so complex.

Installing softwares, configuring Dev environments, adding tools, setting up Test environments, check readiness are the common activities for Dev/Test environments on on-premise.

When using the Cloud (Microsoft Azure in this case), building new Azure VMs (IaaS components) is the most preferred way to build Dev and Test environment. This can be done manually if the environments are small. Azure DevOps CD using IaaS as Code approach can help to spin large environments using Scripts and many organizations prefer to use ARM (Azure Resource Manager) or Terraform Templates from Hashi Corp. to automate the overall process.

Azure CLI and PowerShell are commonly used mechanisms for building quick Dev/Test environments. Azure also provides an SDK if you wish to build IaaS components via REST APIs. Most Azure related products use the API approach.

Another most proven way for building rapid Dev/Test environment on Azure is Azure Dev Test Labs. Here are some key features of Dev/Test Labs – (Please note that Dev Test Labs required Visual Studio Subscription)

  • Rapid rollout of Environment
  • Support for Windows, Linux and related tooling ecosystem
  • Flexible and simple cost model
  • Higher degree of Automation built-in
  • Reusability

You can find more features here https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/devtest-lab/#features

On our DotNetCurry platform, we have published a whitepaper on Dev/Test labs in the past which can be used as a reference https://www.dotnetcurry.com/windows-azure/1296/devtest-labs-windows-azure.

Azure Dev Test Subscription

Many organizations get started by first putting up their Dev and Test environments on the Cloud (in our case Azure). This way they get a first-hand experience and then move forward by putting up production workload.

Microsoft being a leader in the Cloud Platform understands this trend, and have launched Azure Dev Test Subscriptions by giving discounted rates compared to other subscription types and specifically targeted for customers who wish to put their Dev and Test environments only. This is not recommended for Production purpose workload.

So, this not only nudges customers to try out Azure, but eases adoption as well since the cost impact is low as it is designed only for non-production workloads. You can find more details here https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/dev-test/

How to Ensure a safe environment for remote working in this Pandemic COVID-19 situation?

Although Microsoft provides a swift approach to spin Dev/Test environments in no time, following are some concerns of organizations while working remotely:

1.       Secure connection from remote location to office network

2.       Protecting the overall environment

3.       Protecting the source code, IPs (Intellectual Property), Customer’s code and software assets etc. to ensure no source code breach happens

Well, for this you can use Azure AD (Premium), Azure IaaS and Azure DevOps together to address this. Also make sure to check out an article titled “Prevent Code Access for Developers Working Remotely using Azure DevOps (Protecting Code and IP during Lockdown)” for the same which we encourage you to read.

https://www.dotnetcurry.com/devops/1533/prevent-code-access-azure-devops

Azure Bastion – Modern and secure way to do RDP and SSH to your Azure Virtual Machines

Using the RDP/SSH method to connect to your environments was continued on Azure for a few years. Over a period of time and with the growing concerns and incidences of compromised RDP/SSH connections, there was a need of secure and seamless alternative to connect to an Azure environment as shown in Figure 5.

Microsoft has been improving their Azure services and security continuously and have launched a service called Azure Bastion.

Azure Bastion is a fully managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering which enables you to do RDP and SSH securely without exposure of public IP address. This service is also worth adding in your Azure Architecture especially for Azure IaaS workloads.

azure-bastion

Figure 5 – Azure Bastion based Architecture for accessing Azure IaaS resources using Azure Bastion

Reference Architecture diagram – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/services/azure-bastion/#features

Some key features of Azure Bastion:

1. Fully managed service which works per VNET level

2. Easy deployment of Bastion host in VNET

3. Secure RDP/SSH via Azure Portal (You don’t need any separate RDP or Tool to connect)

4. You don’t need to expose Public IPs of your Azure VMs and thus it protects from Port scanning since there is no direct exposure of your Azure VMs, hence making it more secure

5. Azure ensures hardening of Bastion as it is a fully managed platform, hence no additional security measures are required

AI and Automation for Citizen Developers

Microsoft is innovating as well as investing in AI services.

From Automation, to Cognitive Services, to Machine Learning, Microsoft is ensuring to have a fusion of their AI services in enterprise apps and consumer centric apps.

With Microsoft Cognitive Services, Microsoft has already offered APIs for Speech Recognition, Face Detection, Language, Text Analytics, Anomaly Detection, Sentiment Analytics, Azure Cognitive Search, Personalizer etc.

Azure also offers rich Data (both Relational and Non-Relational data stores) services and Big Data Services for Machine Learning along with Machine Learning studio supporting R and Python, so that data scientists can easily build predictive analytical solutions.

In Conversational AI, Microsoft enables organizations to build their own chatbots using Bot Framework and Power Virtual Agents. You can check more on Azure Cognitive Services and relate them with your business scenarios over here https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/services/cognitive-services/

DSVM for Data Scientists

With Dev Test Labs, Microsoft is enabling organizations to rapidly spin up their Dev Test environments.

Similarly, Microsoft has been enabling AI Developers and Data Scientists who are working on different AI solutions like Building Models, Training Models, Building Predictive Analysis, Churning Data with Microsoft and Open Source tools with DSVM (Data Science Virtual Machine).

What is DSVM?

DSVM – Data Science Virtual Machine is a pre-configured environment installed with frequently needed common AI, ML tools for Data Scientists available in both Windows and Linux OS flavors. This environment is optimized and designed for Data Science and AI, ML work. It supports GPU based hardware allowing you to build, run and test your Deep Learning scenarios as well.

Since DSVM is hosted in Azure, it also allows you to connect to different Services and Data resources in Azure as shown in Figure 6.

dsvm-offer-azure

Figure 6 – Azure DSVM offering at Macro Level

This reference Diagram has been taken from Microsoft Documentation for visual representation of DSVM capabilities here https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/virtual-machines/data-science-virtual-machines/

In this existing COVID-19 situation, the need of the hour is to do rapid data processing, analysis and build apps with minimum efforts and minimum resources.

Past few months, there has been a huge adoption of Low Code/No Code platform which is Microsoft Power Platform to do rapid app development.

Power Apps is a no code approach to building apps, and it does not require any prior programming language, and hence it is suitable for Citizen Developers.

With Power Apps you can quickly design, build and deploy apps which is adoptable, secure and scalable.

Let us quickly understand the Power Platform offerings.

Note that Power Platform offerings are specific to certain O365 Subscription. Hence some features might not be available to you. Also, some features like AI Builder are region specific and might not be available in your region.

Power BI

Power BI is mostly used for building self-service analytics and visualizations securely.

Traditionally enterprises have been using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) as a primary Reporting Tool. Power BI in my opinion is a far better and easy reporting platform compared to SSRS and gives a lot of freedom to connect to No-SQL Data sources. Power BI also has Power BI embedded services on Azure.

Power BI can be accessed on Windows Desktop and Mobile Devices with Power BI Apps. Developers can also leverage the embedding feature of Power BI to show dashboards and data widgets in their applications. You can start building your first data driven visualization as shown in Figure 7. More information can be sought over here https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/.

power-bi-dashboard

Figure 7 – Typical Power BI Dashboard showing dynamic data driven visualizations on Desktop

Reference Dashboard from Microsoft’s COVID-19 US Tracking Sample

Common Use Cases for Power BI

  • Dashboards from multiple data sources
  • Data Visualization in different format (Styles and Layouts of Charts)
  • Easy and Secure access on Desktop, Web and Mobile
  • Easy integration with Apps

Power Apps

Power Apps is mostly used for building Data driven No Code apps.

Power Apps is a No Code offering from Microsoft. It allows you to build apps with no prior knowledge of any programming language or framework. It is purely a web-based studio in which you can choose any template or build one from scratch.

Power Apps allows you to connect to different data sources and even allows you to access peripherals like a Camera. It is the quickest way to build apps for your internal processes or even for your customers outside your organization. See an example shown in figure 8. You can start building your apps here https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/

power-app-dashboard

Figure 8 – Power App dashboard allowing Citizen developers to build apps without code

To enrich the no code app experience in Power Apps and Power Automate (Flow) for organizations and citizen developers, Microsoft also allows to consume AI services within Power Apps to make apps more intelligent. The “AI Builder” within Power Apps and Flow (Power Automate) enables you to integrate some common AI modules like Entity extraction, Object Detection, Form Processing etc. along with your custom models.

powerapps-ai-builder

entity-extraction

Common Use Cases for Power Apps

  • No-Code way of building Apps. Apps can be built without complex frameworks and programming skills.
  • Rapid Data driven Application building.
  • Ideal for organizations having frequent changing processes and complex sub processes.
  • Less complex and can be easily build and deployed by Citizen Developers.

Flow (Power Automation)

Flow helps to create automation by using some pre-defined automation templates which are generic for all businesses. You can also create customized flow for your business with the additional services and connectors available. You can start building your flows/automation scenarios here https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/

powerapps-flow-home

 

request-manager-approval

Common Use Cases for Flow

  • Automation of common business processes using predefined workflow templates
  • Highly customized workflow connecting different applications
  • Increase efficiency of business processes
  • Add Artificial Intelligence capabilities to your Workflows

Power Virtual Agents

Although Microsoft already has a robust Bot Framework, Power Virtual Agents allows you to create actionable, performance centric no-code chatbots very easily.

You can start building your agents in no time. Here’s how one looks like as shown in Figure 9. More information on Power Virtual Agents can be found here https://powervirtualagents.microsoft.com/en-us/.

 

power-automate_agent

Figure 9 – Power Virtual Agent allows citizen developers to build Bots with No Code approach

Common Use Cases for Power Virtual Agents

  • Rapid Bot Development and Deployment
  • Customizable templates and Subjects
  • Supports interactive cards and workflow
  • No deep knowledge of Bot Framework or any programming language required

Role of Bots and Power Apps in COVID-19 situation

As seen in the past few months, Power Apps have enabled many hospitals, organizations, government agencies to quickly build apps based on the incoming data, as well as data in persistence.

With humongous amount of data handled by Power Apps and Power BI with ease, people were able to get real time and seamless visualization of data – when it mattered the most. Power Apps due to its nature of no code and rapid app building features helped many hospitals and NGOs to collect patient data of positive Covid-19 cases, mapping them, identifying hospital staff and services availability and so on.

Since the response time during COVID-19 is low and resources are scant, in many areas, applications having a long development cycle were opted out for solutions providing a no-code approach. With many IT companies partially shut down with remote working enabled, Power Apps came to the rescue due to its simplicity of building apps with no code and backed by a solid Microsoft AI and Azure service. It has in no time become the first choice of all Citizen Developers.

Microsoft with Power Virtual Agent and Microsoft Health Bot is serving as a boon during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and has helped many large hospitals and government agencies to build a rapid virtual agent experience.

With Microsoft Health Bot, enrolling COVID-19 patients, collecting their data, Answering FAQ for COVID-19 related topics on health websites to a wider audience, made it easier to manage expectations during the pandemic.

More information on Microsoft Health Bot and for building similar solutions can be obtained here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/garage/wall-of-fame/microsoft-health-bot-service/

Learning Curve of Cloud and AI

Microsoft has already announced a “Role based Certification” for Azure. It also covers Certification on AI.

During COVID-19, since business growth in certain sectors is limited and overall velocity of growth is slow, organizations have planned to re-skill their workforce for cloud to ensure they ride the wave of Cloud adoption and Migration, followed by Artificial Intelligence and Automation. There is a plethora of training content available online including prime quality communities like DotNetCurry and the DNC Magazine.

Similarly, for Ethics in AI and some fundamental training of AI services, Microsoft is offering an online self-learn facility titled “AI School” for Devs and “AI School for Business” for business leaders and decision makers. Here are some useful resources for your teams during and post COVID-19.

Some additional useful Non-Microsoft tools for Azure

CloudSkew

Many Architects and Tech Leads usually spend a lot of time in Visio and PowerPoint to draw Azure architectural diagrams. Sometimes it is becomes complex to draw these diagrams in PPT, especially for pre-sales templates. For smaller organizations, Visio is also an overhead.

CloudSkew is a free tool and can draw and export diagrams for Azure and other public clouds.

cloud_skew_one

cloud_skew_two

More info here https://www.cloudskew.com/.

Azure Heat Map (aka Azure Charts)

Although designed and developed by a Microsoft FTE Alexey Polkovnikov, it is still not an official tool from Microsoft. Azure Charts is a single dashboard for Azure and widely popular because of the simplicity of accessing many critical Azure sites like Azure Status, SLAs, Timelines etc.

It is a very handy website for all developers, tech leads and architects working on Azure.

Here is a glimpse of Azure Heat Map.

azure_heat_map

https://azurecharts.com/

Both CloudSkew and Azure Heat Maps (Azure Charts) are currently FREE for Individual use. You can visit their websites for additional information and other privacy security related statements. As per CloudSkew website, they may add license/plans/slabs in the near future.

Conclusion:

Many industries, including the IT industry, are trying to cope with the abnormalities introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unforeseen circumstances created due to the pandemic has forced companies and individuals to work remotely to maintain social distancing and adhere to WHO guidelines.

Remote working is the new normal and Virtual Business is the new strategy.

This is the right time to understand, accept, adopt and implement Digital Transformation within the organization, and at your customer end.

Cloud and AI adoption is at peak because of COVID-19 and it’s time to identify the right Cloud, AI and Collaboration services to fit this new Virtual workspace.

This article presented some views and best practices to enable and ease your journey of Digital Transformation, to generate awareness and present an opportunity to revisit business plans and strategies.

With the vision stated by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella “Empower every person on earth to achieve more”, Microsoft is doing their best to enable businesses to run smoothly and adapt to these new working situations forced upon due to COVID-19.

This article was technically reviewed by Subodh Sohoni.

This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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Author
Vikram Pendse is currently working as a Cloud Solution Architect from India. He has 13+ years of IT experience spanning a diverse mix of clients and geographies in the Microsoft Technologies Domain. He is an active Microsoft MVP since year 2008. Vikram enables Customers & Communities globally to design, build and deploy Microsoft Azure Cloud and Microsoft AI Solutions. He is a member of many Microsoft Communities and participates as a Speaker in many key Microsoft events like Microsoft Ignite, TechEd, etc. You can follow him on Twitter @VikramPendse and connect at LinkedIn.


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