The Great Kiwi Windows Azure Competition

The Great Kiwi Windows Azure Competition

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The Problem: Lots of kiwi developers are signing up to try Windows Azure but are not actually deploying anything.

To understand why this is we have talked with a bunch of local developers to get a feel for what the barriers are to getting started.

The two most common responses we received are:

  1. Windows Azure is too expensive
  2. After I signed up and logged into the portal I didn’t know what to do next

OK, I’ll start with Problem #1. When Windows Azure first came out the cheapest offering for the smallest supported instance was quite a bit more than other cloud offerings. Also it wasn’t just about it being expensive it was also the point that pay as you go scared people as they didn’t have a fixed cost that they new they would be charged each month. We have changed this recently by introducing and Extra Small instance and increasing the “Free” threshold in our introduction and MSDN offerings and introducing fixed price subscription offers.

What options do you have today?

  1. Try Windows Azure Free without a credit card at http://windowsazurepass.com (if you are in New Zealand contact us for a Promo Code)  - expect a two day turn around and this is a great way to enter the comp below.
  2. Sign Up to the Free Trial Introductory Special to build and deploy a small solution. Until the 30th September you get the following for free (full details):
    1. 750 hours of an Extra Small compute instance (you can remote desktop into your instance!) – enough for a single instance to be deployed full time.
    2. SQL Azure 1GB Web Edition database (free for first 3 months only)
    3. 20GB in & out per month
  3. Activate your MSDN Subscriber Benefits (full details) to get up to $3,100 in annual benefits.
  4. If you have a company that is
    1. Developing software (including software as a service and phone apps)
    2. Privately Held
    3. Less than 3 years old
    4. Making less than $1 Million USD annually
    5. Sign Up to Biz Spark for no money up front – to unlock up to Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN + Azure for each developer in your start-up for up to three years.

I myself have signed up for a Free Trial Introductory Special and I have my MVC3 website that I built for MIX11 running on a single extra small instance.

Moving on to Problem #2

First we looked at what Microsoft in the US has built to address this problem - The Rock Paper Azure Challenge – this concept and competition are great and we have had more than 20 kiwi devs that have entered which is a very good response. The challenge with this solution is you need to spend quite a bit of time to understand the “Rock Paper Azure” bot code and enhance it to compete. Because of this we didn’t feel the broad pool of NZ developers would have the time to invest to get the result required.

This is where the creative thinking comes in. With this I’m really excited to introduce a little project I have been working on.

Meet http://be.1tri.be – The Great Kiwi Windows Azure Competition

image

It took me about 11 hours to take this project from idea to completed execution. The idea behind it is simple.

  1. I built a ASP.NET MVC 3 Web Project that runs on Windows Azure (the back-end services are .NET 4 WCF/REST w/ SQL Server)
  2. I give you the compiled package ready to deploy and the source code.
  3. You deploy the site to your Windows Azure account to enter the competition.

If you are not using a Free TriaL Azure Account you can delete the package after you've entered the competition. Having the package deployed in production or staging will eat into your Azure hours as it is two extra small instances.

By visiting http://be.1tri.be you can see how many entries there are in the competition draw in real time and where everyone's favourite places in New Zealand are. I also added a extra feature that shows the best photos from Flickr around the point of interest when you click on the pins in the map.

After a developer enters I then hope that they will:

  1. Install the dev tools
  2. Install the Azure tools
  3. Look at the source code
  4. Learn how to develop for Windows Azure!

Let me know what you think and get your pin/entry in before the first draw next week for your best chance of winning prizes. At the time of writing there are 8 entries in the comp.

Also check out the Windows Azure Sessions from MIX below: