Finally, I have managed to get around to this blog as its long overdue because of the Christmas and New Years, but as they say better late then never!

If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you may recall me mentioning this a couple of times in my previous blogs, but thanks to Elastacloud, I had the opportunity to attend a special Azure Technical Briefing at the Microsoft Paddington Central Office in London. This is an exclusive inside event for Azure/Cloud developers (like myself) where Microsoft reveal all the latest developments in Azure and the world of Cloud Computing, but from a very technical perspective.

It is a very high demand event from which only a handful of candidates are selected to attend. I was lucky because not only did my boss have close ties with Microsoft but the man organising the event is his good friend. Thanks to this I skipped the reservation queue and got direct entry – wicked! In fact, it was my boss himself who had informed me about this Technical briefing encouraging me to sign up and then leave the rest to him, which was super beneficial for me and that’s what counts.

I should have just taken the train but me being me decided to travel by car. Yes. Travelling by car to London, that too on a Weekday and in the morning – not the cleverest of idea’s. I realised this when it took me 4 hours to get to the Microsoft Office from my house (Loughborough to Paddington is 112 miles – 2 hours 19 mins) so you can clearly see how bad traffic must have been. I did have a bit of a panic frenzy thinking I was late (registration started at 9:30am with the day beginning at 10am) as I got there at 10:10am. However, I came to realise that over half of the attendees hadn’t yet shown up, which was a great sigh of relief. Before you say I’m a pretty punctual guy most of the time, I usually arrive at places 10 mins before the start time but sometimes I am also a victim of “Indian Timing”, which I try to avoid if I can.

I was like a kid at a comic con (ok maybe not quite exactly like that but that’s the closest description I can find to explain how I felt). I was buzzing (I don’t think I had used Snapchat throughout the year as much as I did on that day lol). I was snapping my time at the office as much I could, the classy glass building and super cool elevators were quite something. I knew this was the sort of place I had always wanted to visit, and now this wish had become a reality. To add to this ecstatic feeling, I was also dressed in smart clothing (which I enjoy surprisingly) which further boosted my enthusiasm and excitement. I was at MICROSOFT!

At the classy reception desk, I had to check in, take my badge and then got directed to floor 5 where the Briefing was taking place. I thought only developers would be attending the day, but I was joined by project managers, business analysts etc. Not everyone was a coder or from a programming background, which did take me by surprise, but the briefing was organised into multiple sections each targeting different role levels within the business architecture. So, some sections were delivered from a project manager perspective, other from a business analyst point of view, whilst others were very developer based, heavy in code and technical language. It’s obvious where I fit in, so I don’t think I need to mention much on this.

Without going into the technical aspects (as I am sure you don’t want to know or care about this) I will summarise an overview of what was covered in the day:

The briefing was split twofold – Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS).

CI/CD covered the following:

  • Automated Testing
  • Release Management
  • Usage Monitoring
  • Code Reviews
  • Continuous Measurement
  • Feature flags
  • Infrastructure as Code/Infrastructure As A Service
  • Configuration Management

 

VSTS focused on:

  • Agile Project Management for Visual Studio Team Services
  • Using Pull Requests with VSTS
  • Moving from Subversion to Git
  • Creating CI/CD Pipeline with VSTS into Azure
  • .NET Development in Azure with VSTS
  • Build in Azure and deploy on-premises with VSTS
  • Container based deployments with Docker, Kubernetes, Azure and VSTS

I was fortunate to have already covered some of the topics from subjects from my previous projects at work, so it was good to have prior knowledge and hands on experience to allow me to relate to the information. It was an insightful day and I found it helpful. My favourite topics were Release Management and Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) – these were really cool!

The icing on the cake was being able to speak and take a selfie with the legendary Edward Thomson, the man behind Visual Studio Team Services. He is the man who wrote the code that merges pull requests for developers – Git Project Manager for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services. This was truly EPIC (as seen below)!

I also had the opportunity to speak to David Gristwood (Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, the man who had organised this briefing and my boss’ friend) over lunch, which was also a pleasant experience.

The day closed off at 4:30pm (it over ran as it was supposed to finish at 4pm) – I made a few good friends at the event through networking and I hope to be meeting them again at similar events in the future (we have exchanged numbers so regularly discuss upcoming events and attendance). Last but not the least, what is signing out of Microsoft without striking a pose? That’s exactly what I did before leaving – Microsoft, thank you for having me, it was a pleasure!

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