The really nice thing about the venue, One Drummond Gate, is the breakfast. Not a huge traditional English fry-up; just fruit, yoghurt, pastries, croissant and my favourite, porridge (with no sugar or honey!).

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…and that’s how the day started for pretty much everybody who wasn’t delayed by the inevitable problems of the Underground network…

As a general rule, free events enjoy higher registrations than paid-for events. However, they also suffer from much higher drop-out rates. Typically between 30 and 50%. Well, nobody told us that right now is the time for Windows Azure. There is a point in time with all technologies when interest becomes real, tangible and exciting. That time, for Windows Azure is right now.

We’d catered for the usual no-shows and organised 50 desks. As the delegates started turning up and more and more badges were disappearing off the registration desk, we realised we’d better get some more desks in to the room. 8 new places were set.

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I started the first session and noticed about 5 minutes after I’d started, even more delegates were arriving and additional desks and seats were being brought in at the back.

Coffee break came and Jackie, the hard-working lady who looks after all the logistical aspects of these camps told me there were a further bunch of people sat on desks behind the room partition. They’d patched the screen and mic in to the room so they could attend the first session. During the break, the room partition was slid back to reveal an even wider room with even more delegates!

 

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In the end we had 4 no-shows. I’ve been doing events in Microsoft for 18 years, and that is unprecedented for a free event. I guess that gave Jackie a challenge: she had to not only arrange extra desk/seating but also extra printed materials and somehow order extra lunches to arrive by 12:30! But she managed admirably.

The thing that really struck me was the enthusiasm of the delegates for the technology. In the first break there are inevitably problems where folks had suffered a bad SDK install, SQL permission problems and a few other well-known set-up problems. But once that settled down and they started to get in to the meat of the labs, the questions were more about the scenarios they were thinking of themselves.

It’s always gratifying as a presenter/instructor when something you’ve said makes an impact on somebody. Now, the guys were reinforcing all that by doing the labs. They were getting to grips with the service model, scaling their app out and back again, creating queues, adding worker roles, pushing messages on to and pulling them off queues, using SQL Azure and so on. And largely the questions weren’t of the “I get this exception when I call this method” variety. They were more to do with “…when I build my service, what’s the best way to….?”. These guys were already thinking of the future and how the technology could be applied.

I asked if anybody was doing anything interesting with Windows Azure to please let me know. It’s the sort of thing I like to tell other people about – either in a blog post, in person, at an event, in a video, on Channel 9, in the MSDN newsletter, on one of the Microsoft web properties – those kinds of channels. And the good news is that a few people came up to me during the camp and gave me business cards, contact details etc. Hopefully these will be something you’ll read about or watch in the future.

Like for example, take this video about Cube Social’s use of Windows Azure. I’d love to do something like this with somebody who came to last Friday’s Camp. Or indeed anybody who is already a Windows Azure expert and has already deployed an app or is in the middle of creating it….

We’ll be running some more camps in February. One in London and one somewhere else in the UK. If you want to get a feel for what a camp is like, watch this video.

UK Windows Azure Bootcamp

See you in Feb…

Planky GBR-257