Last week I went up to DC for the annual Microsoft World Partner Conference. It was my first time attending WPC and I really enjoyed it. I typically speak at or attend developer-centric conferences so this was a different type of conference for me. It focused heavily on strategy, from a sales perspective but also from a “looking ahead” point of view.
I’m sure that most of you have hear Microsoft’s new “Mobile First, Cloud First” theme. This was on full display during the conference. From the keynotes to sessions and conversations that people had in the hallways.
Of course, there are a lot of different “clouds” that you can take advantage of such as AWS, Google, Azure, and others. But what makes Microsoft Azure different and compelling for you and your development team? And I’m not talking about just your ability to use the cloud as a a web host. As you think about your cloud strategy, it is important to understand how you can leverage the cloud to plan, manage your software development process (including testing), deploy, and analyze your applications in production. You should also be able to leverage the platform to use components optimized to run on the cloud and help you not have to re-invent the wheel and let you spend your time developing the right solutions for your company and your customers. I enjoy implementing an “always on”, scalable, asynchronous windows service as much as the next guy, but I’d much rather spend my time implementing the business rules needed to solve the problem at hand than to develop a harness and framework to do all the service-related tasks.
With Azure and it’s tight integration with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Online, you get all of that. How cool is it that I can spin up a Visual Studio Online team project in just a few minutes and have a fully working agile management tool, version control, build system, deployment, testing, analytics system at my disposal. I can collaborate with my team, create stories and sprints, assign tasks, have conversations in a Team Room, connect MTM to it or use the web-based test case management functionality. You can deploy your Web application (MVC, ASP.NET, classic ASP, HTML, WordPress, PHP, Java, Python, and more) right from Visual Studio, FTP, Git, PowerShell. You can create a Web Role or Worker Role from Visual Studio and publish it directly from there, or you can commit & push your code to Visual Studio Online (check-in if you are not using Git) and setup a continuous delivery build that will automatically deploy your changes to Azure. And once you are in production, you can use Application Insights to keep an eye on performance, metrics, availability, usage, and much more.
I would say that Microsoft has made it very compelling to use and leverage Azure to solve a lot of the challenges that we run into as software developers. You can literally run all your software development operation right on the cloud without a need for a data center or any servers under your desk. Easily and quickly expand or shrink your cloud footprint to fit your team’s needs.
You will see a lot of ALM/Azure content coming from me to help you get there. I’ve move all of my personal web assets to the cloud. I have a VS Online account for my projects, this blog runs on WordPress hosted on Azure and I have Application Insights keeping an eye on my performance, availability, and usage. Keep an eye out for an upcoming Pluralsight course that will cover these topics.
How are you preparing yourself for the cloud?
If you want to learn more about what you can do with Azure, check out my course titled “Plan, Create, and Deploy to Azure With Visual Studio Online”.