Getting Started with Microsoft Azure

Posted by Graham Smith on November 30, 2014No Comments (click here to comment)

Back in the olden days when I wanted to use my MSDN subscription to learn a new technology such as SQL Server I pressed an old PC in to service to act as the host. Several years on and virtualisation had become commonplace and this allowed me to run several hosts using Hyper-V on an always-on beefier box located in my home datacentre under the stairs. With the arrival of Microsoft Azure all that tin is now a thing of the past and anyone using Azure has an extraordinary wealth of computing power and flexibility at their disposal. (There are other cloud providers of course but I find it’s enough of a job keeping up with the latest offerings from Azure, never mind what Google or Amazon might be churning out.)

For anyone new to Azure, where to start? If you already have an MSDN subscription then the great news is that you already have free monthly credits, and this page has more details. If you don’t have MSDN then other options include taking advantage of the Azure one-month free trial or maybe even paying for Azure yourself. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds since you only pay for what you use and services such as virtual machines can be shut down when they are not being used so you won’t get charged.

So you have your subscription set up, now what about learning Azure? There are numerous free resources you can take advantage of (including lots of videos if that’s your thing) and below I’ve listed what I consider to be the most useful at the time of writing this post. In particular, this video from Scott Guthrie is a great way to get a broad overview of what Azure offers.

Microsoft Azure is evolving so rapidly that once you have learned the basics you need a strategy for keeping abreast of what’s new. For me this is a combination of The Azure Podcast as listed above and a variety of blogs. Scott Guthrie’s blog is particularly noteworthy, but if you are a .NET developer you are hopefully already following it.

Cheers – Graham