ericEric joined the UK DPE team in July 2008 but spent the previous 12 years working with Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) at Microsoft.

What’s your area of focus - and why?

In January 2010 I started to focus full time on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, which we call Azure. I spend lots of my time finding out what’s relevant and communicating that back to developers. I’m focused on Azure because it’s an incredibly important area. In five years time a large number of applications will be built on cloud platforms whether it’s by .NET/Java/Ruby/PHP developers.

What are the key pain points you see in this field?

The first is regulation and compliance around data. Many companies, particularly financial organisations, are concerned about this and struggle with the fact their data is being held offsite and not even in the UK. The second is the sheer volume of data in and out of the cloud as well as connecting cloud based applications with on premise applications. It’s the practicalities of doing it, lots of companies are interested in and focused on developing applications, not the practicalities of hosting those applications.

Tell me about the most exciting/fun project you’ve worked on and why it was so cool.

I was technical lead for SQL Server 2005 in the UK, so I worked with the product group during the beta and we were trusted subject matter experts talking with customers. I enjoy building long term relationships with companies and there were lots of major new features and ways developers could work with the software, so that was great fun.

Who’s your hero and why?

Scott Hanselman – he’s an alpha geek who invests lots of his personal time to understanding as much technology as he can get his hands on and telling everyone what benefit it has for developers. He has the magic mix of being deeply technical and a people person, plus has the stamina to work 18 hour days.

What do you do for fun (outside work)?

I’m a keen online gamer – I spend most evenings on the Xbox 360 and was a PC gamer before that. For me it’s all about the banter with other people online, I like the fact there’s good teamwork but we’re always ribbing each other. At weekends I play Airsoft – basically taking over an old MoD building running around shooting each other in realistic looking outfits. The guns we use fire ball bearings so I can come aware with a few bruises! In the UK we’re limited to firing at 350 feet per second but in the US they don’t have limits, so Airsoft guns are treated like a weapon. I used to play tennis and badminton before I snapped my Achilles heel.