How I ensure consistency when creating pipelines in VSTS using Task Groups and Variable Groups…

I was showing someone my blog the other day and they asked when my last post was. I confidently said, “About a month or so ago..” and then I saw it…


Where did all those months go? Maybe I blacked out out or something…

In order to ease into my “blogging resurgence”, I thought I would start with a quick one regarding how I use VSTS and an interesting issue I encountered last night. Since this problem owes me a few hours, I hope it shortcuts somebody else’s pain.

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Partying on the Azure stack. Cortana, ML, Power BI and Azure Functions…

At Fred we pride ourselves on innovation and one of the key tenants of this is our annual Geekend. This is a 36 hour intensive hack fest in which we smash out a retail workflow using as much cool tech as possible in the interest of leveraging it in the coming year. This year I was playing with machine learning and attempting to use it to provide a demand forecasting solution for Dynamics AX.

The idea was to utilize an Azure ML model to predict and generate a list of items to order based on past sales. This was provided thanks to my co-worker and all round machine learning wizard, Praveen.

With the prediction engine in place we attempted to use as many other features provided by the Azure platform and came up with a pretty sweet story to tell. The components involved were:

  • Azure Scheduler
  • Azure Functions
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Azure SQL
  • Power BI
  • Cortana Intelligence Suite

Although the final product set to be ordered would ultimately be consumed by AX master planning, for the sake of the demo we were just surfacing these results in a Power BI visualization.

Buckle up…

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