Archive · · 2 min read

Getting Up to Speed on Azure

Microsoft Build 2014 kicks off a new era for Microsoft. One that will (hopefully) transform the company and focus on building out their cloud; Azure.

Getting Up to Speed on Azure

An icon representing a document where the bottom half of it has been drawn with a dotted outline, implying a copy This post was originally written for Trend Micro .

Microsoft recently held their annual Build conference. The premier developer event for Microsoft is usually quite predictable. You could safely expect a few incremental improvements in various technologies and fantastic developer sessions on current tech.

See for yourself; the sessions are online from 2012 and 2013.

Things were different this year. I’ll be addressing the new Microsoft ecosystem more in the next few weeks, but I wanted to write a primer to help everyone (including myself) catch up.


The ball started rolling a few weeks before Build with the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO. With the endorsement of Bill Gates, this announcement seemed to wake the sleeping giant.

Bill Gates welcomes Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO - YouTube \\awesome that Bill is back!!!— Jeremy (@jthake) February 4, 2014

Nowhere was the renewed energy apparent from the list of announcements at Build. Day one was all about mobile with a slew of Windows Phone 8.1 and Surface announcements. Melissa Riofrio at PC World has a great recap of the mobile outlook.

For this post, I want to focus on what’s new in Azure.


There were 44 announcements for Azure on day two. No matter which way you slice it, that’s a lot. I’ll be posting more about Microsoft’s efforts around Azure over the next few weeks, but today I want to focus on two of the announcements from Build.

Visual Studio

Despite moving to support new tool chains, Visual Studio is still king of the Microsoft development world.

The biggest push from Build was stronger integration between Visual Studio and Azure services. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the new integration in Visual Studio Online. Brian Harry from Microsoft has a good explanation of what this entails.

What really impressed me was the support for other platforms. Microsoft won’t de-throne Visual Studio any time soon, but they are broadening support in significant new ways.

Traditionally, Microsoft has been focused on its own platforms and tool chain to the near exclusion of everything else. The new partnership with Xamarin is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Azure SDK as of 23-Apr-2014

This screen shot of the Azure SDK download page makes the point for me. Non-Microsoft platforms and tools are no longer second-class citizens. Developers are a key target for Microsoft with Azure. We’re going to see more tools and support focusing on developers moving forward. Channel9 is already ramping things up.


Not to leave out operations and other IT teams, Microsoft announced a big push to automate a lot of activities in Azure. That starts with a new automation service which will help teams automate their Azure deployments.

Keith Mayer from Microsoft has a great tutorial that will help you get up and running.

In addition to the new service, Microsoft has announced strong integration with both Chef and Puppet . This will make it a lot easier to leverage your existing investment in infrastructure automation when deploying on Azure. That’s a big win.

More to come

These are just a few of the changes happening in Azure and with Microsoft in general. In my next post, I’ll tackle what these changes mean to security in Azure and how it will impact the planning and design of your deployments.

Read next