Why Are So Many Microsoft Developers In the Dark about Azure ?

I recently taught the Learning Tree ASP.NET MVC course. This framework is really elegant and was enthusiastically received by a group of 15 .NET developers. When we came to discuss deploying MVC applications I mentioned that Cloud Computing could provide a cost effective environment for testing and deployment of not just MVC applications but all .NET Web applications. As the discussion progressed and I mentioned Microsoft Azure I was really surprised to discover that not one of the 15 attendees had heard of or knew anything about Microsoft Azure. This got me thinking – was it the experience level of attendee that contributed to this lack of awareness(i.e. new to .NET development) or is it that Microsoft are failing to get the message across to their development community about Azure ?

On closer analysis only 2 of the 15 attendees were relatively new to .NET development, the rest had a least 2 years .NET programming experience. So why had they not heard of Azure ? Whilst Microsoft have made a strong marketing push on Azure it is clear it is not reaching a large section of their development community. There could be many reasons for this – and I am purely speculating here, because of things such as

  • Is their hardware infrastructure currently large enough to support a large number of deployments ?
  • Is their Azure software and toolset currently robust enough to support a large number of deployments ?
  • Does the cloud computing revenue model leave Microsoft disadvantaged compared to selling software server licenses ?

Or it may be none of these and that I have such a small sample size that it is has no meaning although I believe it does have meaning. It may also be that Microsoft is building its Azure user base in a controlled manner whilst it verifies its infrastructure.

From my experience of Azure I can state with certainty that

  • It works
  • A lot of the features are really neat and incredibly useful e.g. provisioning a SQL server instance in less than 60 seconds
  • There is room for improvement – e.g. application deployment time, deploying plain ASP.NET and MVC applications

The recent announcements by Microsoft of the deal to work with eBay and also the private cloud offering show Microsoft have a strong commitment to Azure. It will be interesting to see how their marketing strategy gains momentum over the coming months to reach a wider audience in parallel with the increase in functionality of their cloud computing offering. If you are interested in learning about Azure and how it compares to other cloud computing offerings such as Amazon EC2 it is worth considering the Learning Tree Cloud Computing course. Alternatively, for an in depth knowledge of what Azure has to offer and how to exploit this for your organisation take a look at the excellent Azure course.


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