Last week I taught the first European run of Learning Tree course 2602: Windows Azure Platform Introduction in Stockholm Sweden. There were some interesting things that came out of that course.
All the students were experienced .NET programmers, but none of them were actually working on a project that used Windows Azure. Rather, they were all evaluating how Azure could be used for either their company or their customers. This is unusual in a programming class, but not surprising given how new cloud computing is. In talking to the students, they were very excited about the advantages of cloud-computing. I think the hard part is convincing the less technical folks in charge of the business. Understandably, the business is concerned with issues like security, cost, and interoperability.
None of the students had any hands-on experience using Azure. None had even created an account to use it. Incidentally, Microsoft is offering a free trial, so go to this link if you’re interested, http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/free-trial. It’s a good way to get started and then come to class and we’ll make it easy.
The biggest technical concern the students had was migration. This is understandable, as there are many questions that need to be addressed. How much does it cost? How do you deploy an application to the cloud? What changes are needed for an application to use Azure? What unique security concerns are there with Azure? How does the application access the database? How do you move an existing database to SQL Azure? These types of questions are what we try to answer in the class.
One student was particularly interested in using cloud computing for parallel processing for a long running task their company had. We have a chapter in the course devoted to this topic, where we cover using worker roles and queues for asynchronous processing. This is one area where cloud-computing in general and Azure specifically excels.
Most importantly, I had dinner in the best Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to. The name of the restaurant is Dado. It’s fantastic! If you’re ever in Stockholm it’s a must.
Next week I’m teaching the course again in New York City. There I’ll have the best steak in New York at Ancora. Maybe I’ll see you there.