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SWAG Cloud Burst 2012!

Posted 2012-10-03 By Roger Wilson

This September, we had the fortune of partaking in Sweden Windows Azure user Group's Cloud Burst 2012 event. The event, hosted at Microsoft's facilities in Stockholm, brought attendees from all over Sweden as well as people from abroad, including our neighbour country Finland and even from Indonesia! And thanks to Streamshed, the event was not limited to the available seats in Microsoft's conference facilities, but was also live-streamed ... and recorded.
Day 1
The first day of the event, started with the session Architectural patterns for the cloud, where Maarten Balliauw walked us through re-architecting an existing (albeit fictional) online newspaper magazine to utilize the cloud, focusing heavy on the fact that Azure is designed for failure, and what that means to your applications. During the talk, Maarten hinted at many libraries which could ease our pain when we are designing cloud solutions, including the Azure Plugin Library, Chocolatey, the Windows Azure Autoscaling Application Block and the Transient Fault Handling Application Block.

Following Maarten, Nuno Godinho talked us through Architecting Windows Azure SQL Databases. Nuno emphasized that the Windows Azure SQL Database is a Platform as a Service - not a physical machine. As such, there are things you cannot do - such as adding another disk! Just moving your SQL Server to the cloud, is a bad idea, says Nuno, pointing out that there are significant differences between the on-premise installation you have, and the one in the cloud. After outlining the various limitations of the cloud database service, Nuno gave various tips on performance optimizations, including how to split our data into federations.

In Alan Smith's talk - Architectual Patterns for Grid-based computing - we were introduced to the wonders of ray tracing, or, at least, got an idea of how complex the required calculations are! Using Azure Queues and Worker Roles, Alan spun up 256 "DOS-executables from the 90s", raytracing a Kinnect-captured video right before our eyes. Good fun!

After a decent lunch break, Peter Bryntesson took the stage and demonstrated the preview of Windows Azure Mobile Services, after which Nuno stepped back up, continuing his theme from his previous session, telling us how to Analyze and Optimize Performance in SQL Azure (like, when to normalize data and when not to). To get in the mood for the after-session event, Maarten ended day one with his session Brewing Beer with Windows Azure.
Day 2
The second day of CloudBurst 2012 was even greater than the first, featuring prominent speakers such as Charles Young, Christian Weyer, Dominick Baier and Brady Gaster.

Several interesting topics were presented, including how to integrate on-premise solutions via Azure, working with the Windows Azure Service Bus and the Access Control Service, working with continuos delivery and even some SignalR magic, connected to Azure services.

Charles Young started off the day with a fast-paced talk about Using Azure to Integrate Applications, where he introduced us to many of different technologies we have at our disposal when faced with an integration challenge.

Next up, was Christian Weyer with his talk Riding the Windows Azure Service Bus: Cross-'Anything' Messaging. It was fascinating to see how useful the service bus can be in message-based architectures and how easy it can connect to different systems - even if they are isolated behind firewalls!

After that refreshing talk, Charles entered the stage again with Warts and all - The Truth about Windows Azure development. This time, he taught us a lot of what actually is involved in developing for the cloud, and why we should - or should not - do it.

When lunch was over, Brady Gaster tried to Build and Open-source a Windows Azure Real-time Monitoring Dashboard in an Hour, which he probably would have done if the demo ghosts had not attacked him. It was a really interesting talk, using real code and not just the standard Blog/BlogPost stuff you have grown accustomed to.

As all technical glitches fixed had been taken care of, Dominick Baier entered the stage with his talk Windows Azure, Identity & Access - and you. He gave us detailed information about authentication in the cloud. The possibilities that opens up when you deep-dive into the Access Control Service and Federation are very impressive. It's absolutely worth a look!

Last up, was Magnus Mårtensson, talking about Windows Azure Web Sites and the Power of Continuos Delivery. This talk demonstrated the usefulness of being able to quickly deploy things continuously, and he also made some "fixes" in real time to the public conference web site. All it took, was a git push ...
Summary and aftermath
In summary, this conference was very professionally executed, and it is hard to grasp that Magnus and Alan was able to put all of this together for us free of charge!

During the following Saturday, AddSkills kindly let us borrow their conference facilities for some hands-on labs using the Windows Azure Training Kit, which is available online.

We would like to thank everyone involved in making this event a hit!

// Roger & Sami

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