My manager would really like for you to use this free Azure Account. Seriously. No credit card required, just an email.
There are other managers looking for you to use this offer: The one that is going to hire you.
Microsoft is offering free 30-day (extendable to 45 days) Windows Azure accounts to faculty and students. To create your account go to http://windowsazurepass.com/ and enter the promotion code WRAC11.
Microsoft has two basic kinds of cloud offerings. Windows Azure is an application hosting framework (think web apps) similar to web hosting. SQL Azure is a cloud-based relational database framework. These free accounts include both. The cloud applications and databases can be created using the Visual Studio after the Azure SDK has been installed.
Learning cloud computing is easy with Microsoft’s free account, tools and learning resources. Here is how to get started:
Instead of opting for this free account, I chose the free extra small azure option. The only problem with what I chose is that you have to select and extra small deployment as a setting IN YOUR VISUAL STUDIO PROJECT. I went to an azure training and deployed an instance, but didn't know about the deployment size. I only accrued $3.50 in charges before I found out (kudos to the azure team for the automated email telling me I was over my quota). This is just an FYI to people. The billing model is per CPU hour (not compute hours, but clock hours that the deployment is live). This is probably great for production deployments, but for test/student it doesn't work too well if your deployment size is not extra small.
Thank you for this feedback. I will move your comment to a blog post today to make sure that it seen by the readers.
Again, thank you so much Doug!