Our team - the Microsoft Developer and Platform Group - are offering a limited number free half day Fasttrack Architectural / developer Reviews focused on the Windows Azure platform for partners. These will take place at the Microsoft offices in Reading, and will run from Monday 30th November to Friday 4th December, 2009.

Windows Azure Platform

IMG_6642

What does a Windows Azure Fasttrack Architecture Review consist of?

A fasttrack review is an opportunity for a partner to lay out their technical, business and architectural problems in front of some Microsoft experts, and gain advice and guidance on choosing the best path for their future development. These are interactive, conversational engagements which typically last for around 3 to 4 hours, and have proved very successful and useful for participants in the past. For these specific sessions, the focus is on Cloud computing, and in particular Windows Azure, SQL Azure and the Azure platform.

The format is that of an informal meeting - some chairs, a table, a couple of whiteboards and a lot of imagination and honest speaking. The conversations are all about problems and solutions, and if you come with an open mind then you should leave with a lot to digest and think about, and a good idea of your next steps.

If you think it would help to give us demonstrations of your products, then come along with it (but not PowerPoint, please), then that's what we can do. If you'd rather draw diagrams, or talk, or listen, or sit in silence for the entire length of the session, then that's what we can do. The experience is totally driven yourselves - though obviously we have some suggested structures developed out of experience that can help things flow best, if you'd rather fall back on those.

What makes a good Fasttrack Architecture Review?

The best Fasttrack Architecture Reviews tend to happen at the stage when a partner is looking at a specific upcoming new project or software release, and is starting to think about what features or capabilities around Cloud Computing and Azure might influence their own plans (e.g. "Can we offer both on-premise and off-premise solutions?", “How do make sure we can scale up?”). An open mind and a willingness to discuss ideas are essential.

image Conversely, a few things can prevent a good Fasttrack Architecture Review session. If you have already made your mind up and are simply looking for more detailed discussions, then this is possibly not the right forum - let us know and we can suggest the best routes forward. Similarly, if management are not behind the changes, or you are unable to bring a senior decision maker to the meeting, or there are no specific time scales for a new version, then these sessions can be less then optimum, and we urge you only to apply when the time is right for you.

How to apply for a Windows Azure Fasttrack Architecture Review

If you have been looking thinking about Windows Azure and cloud computing, and you think your company has a great idea, or interesting problem that would benefit from one of these sessions, then please get in touch with us, and we'll let you know if we think a fasttrack review session would be suitable. Please note that we mainly deal with architectural discussions, rather than deep technical support.

We typically get more applications than we have space for, so to make sure we get the right companies at these session, please take a little time to tell us about yourselves, and what you want from the session. You *must* provide us with a 'draft agenda' for the fasttrack review by emailing details about the following topics for discussion:

Azure Fasttrack review

1 - What are the top one or two key things you want to get out of the meeting?

2 - Are there any specific problems, issues or opportunities are you currently facing?

3 – In addition to Azure, are there any other key technologies will you want to cover in the review – e.g. SQL Server, Silverlight/WPF, SharePoint, etc?

4 - Who do you plan to bring along to the reviews (2 to 4 people is typically ideal, at least one technical person)

Technology background

5 - What technologies are you currently using?

6 - What are your timescales for considering Azure? What are your experiences with Azure to date? Are there any specific aspects of Azure you anticipate using?

Company background

7 - The size of your company and the development team

8 - Company/Product URLs

To get in touch, just email this information to ukdev@microsoft.com and state any dates that week that you would be unable to attend. If we're unable to help with a review, we'll try to point you towards some useful resources that should help to some degree.