Note: About seven months ago, I left public higher education and took a role at Microsoft. In my new role as Cloud Solution Architect, I work with educational institutions and related entities to ensure successful Azure deployments. In this context, successful doesn’t just mean from a technical perspective, but also from a value perspective.
My peers and I work with customers one-on-one, but we also provide “shared” resources. I thought it’d be helpful to share what these resources are. If you’re an education IT pro and work with Azure, I am sure you’ll find something on this list that will help you do your job more effectively.
Probably our largest effort is to offer weekly webinars, all of which are recorded, covering Azure services with an eye towards educational applications. Recent topics include IoT, Azure Synapse, and FSLogix (the recommended profile management solution for Windows Virtual Desktop).
You can find information on how the join the Azure Hour webinars at https://aka.ms/edu/azurehour. The live webinars are offered on Fridays at 1 PM US Central.
Azure Hour Team
Related to the Azure Hour is the Azure Hour Team. The Azure Hour Team is open to educational institutions and is a place for Q&A, discussions, and sharing with fellow IT pros. The Azure Hour Team is also where you’ll find the recordings of the past Azure Hour webinars.
Azure Focus Hours
Azure Focus Hours is a spin-off from Azure Hour, allowing for more in-depth exploration of a specific Azure service. Azure Focus Hours are also recorded, and you can access those from the Azure Hour Team.
Unlike Azure Hour, Azure Focus Hours are scheduled as needed. The schedule of upcoming Focus Hours is posted in the Azure Hour Team. (Do you see a common thread here? Join the Azure Hour Team!)
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Office Hours
Where Azure Hour and Azure Focus Hours are “formal” presentations, during office hours, customers are welcome to join in any time during the office hour period to share, ask questions, and learn from peers.
Windows Virtual Desktop has seen tremendous growth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational institutions leverage WVD not only for remote work, but also for remote learning. There are plenty of education-specific use cases that we’re happy to discuss during these office hours. These office hours are open from 1 PM – 3 PM US Central every Thursday.
You can access the Teams meeting link and download a calendar file from https://aka.ms/edu/remotework.
The commitment to offer WVD office hours is re-evaluated regularly. We’re currently committed through November 19, 2020. WVD office hours might continue after that date; stay tuned for updates.
K-12 WVD Office Hours
Since September, I have also offered K-12-specific WVD office hours, which are on Mondays at 3 PM – 4:30 PM US Central. This commitment is through November 2 (tomorrow…). If they are extended, I will add a link to the Teams meeting here.
AppDev Office Hours
This is a brand new set of office hours, offered for the first time on November 4, 2020. These office hours will take place every Wednesday at 1 PM Central.
Put these weekly events on your calendar at https://aka.ms/edu/appdevofficehours.
My team sometimes develops custom scripts or script modifications to make Azure deployments a little easier. If these scripts are deemed valuable for more than just one customer, they are added to our GitHub repo at Microsoft US Education Azure Solutions (github.com).
A recent noteworthy addition is a daily scaling tool for WVD host pools. The standard scaling tool enables administrators to specify peak and off-peak times and those are applied every day of the week. We’ve seen many requests around more granularity. My colleague Charles Rice modified a portion of the script (the Logic App, specifically) to allow specifying different peak and off-peak times for each day of the week. In addition, using the modification you can also specify a different number of minimum session hosts during peak and off-peak times.
I hope this roundup proves valuable to you. Feel free to share in the comments below how you’ve benefitted from these resources. My team is always looking for suggestions on how to make our offerings more valuable, so I look forward to hearing from you.