I have been on a journey over the last year that some of you may already be embarked on and that is to transition my skills to use cloud services and specifically Azure. For me it’s like going to America, the language is similar, the culture less so and everything over seems to be much bigger such as the cars and buildings.
In Azure we can still use the skills we have (PowerShell is amazing!) to run up virtual machines and we understand what they are. Our knowledge of gateways and VPNs is also useful but then there are new things like Web Roles and SQL Azure databases which actually are similar to the web and database services we provide to the business in our own data centres.
So how do we get your head around this stuff? it all depends on how you learn, some of us like to read the manual , some like to be shown and the curious amongst just jump in. Actually we all use all three of these approaches but in any situation the amount of risk and uncertainty will influence which we use.
When it comes to Azure you could sit back and watch the excellent content on MVA, but it’s all in American and isn’t interactive unless you catch a jumpstart like the one in November on Azure. There are also various lab guides lying around but there’s no immediate help if you get stuck.
So your best bet might be to start your journey to Azure by coming along to an IT Camp which is a mix of theory and instructor led practical work.
Specifically we’ll get you started by showing you how to create a group of Azure VMs and stand up a load balanced public facing web site. This is easy to do but just as hard to maintain as it would be if the VMs were in your basement so in the next stage we move the web sites to Azure web roles and the backend database to SQL Azure. These Azure services mean that all you worry about is the code /database not the OS or application layer.
Having done this we can then explore other parts of the Azure fabric such as how storage and networking works so you can connect and integrate your on premises applications and extend those to Azure. We also look at operations like monitoring your data centre form Azure and how to leverage Azure automation to hand off routine tasks.
We have lots of optional content which we cover to a greater degree depending on demand such as running Linux VMs on Azure and how to deploy web sites based on non Microsoft languages. Azure can also be used for disaster recovery so we can cover that if it’s of interest as well.
Finally we can discuss questions like how much will it cost, how do I move stuff and the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) of the cloud as answers on this are very dependant on what business you are in and your existing investments in infrastructure.
So if you are interested in Azure and want to get your hands dirty you need to do three things
1. sign up for an IT camp
2. Turn up on the day
3. Bring along an open mind and a laptop/tablet to do the labs on