My employer sent me to Tech Ed Africa in Durban, and I had a whale of a time. I thought it would be fun for me to chronicle the whole experience, with a few spin-off blog posts about topics I found particularly exciting, or rewarding (more on that later!)

Let’s go through day by day, starting with Tuesday.

Cloud Strategy Day

We got invited to the Microsoft Cloud Strategy day, hosted by Beat Schwengler. He is a director in the cloud strategy group of Microsoft, and other than having the coolest twitter handle ever (@cloudbeatsch), he had some very interesting content to share with regards to how Microsoft is viewing cloud in its Azure product, and what they are doing to drive adoption.

Some key takeaways from his session(for me) were:
MS is embracing Open Source technologies in the cloud.
Ubuntu and CentOS are both first class citizens of Azure (in terms of the IaaS offering), and Azure has a ver interesting Hadoop offering – more on that later.

Computing costs are coming way down.
A user can now host 10 web sites and 10 app APIs for free on Azure, provided that you are happy working without an uptime SLA until you start paying so you can have redundancy. For hackers putting apps together, that is a major benefit. You can try ides for apps and services, and if they don’t work, you just move on without having expended anything other than your time.

Business models and monetisation are critically important.
Beat stressed the importance of being clever about how you monetise your application. He had some interesting stats on the income generated through advertising vs the income generated through subscription services. I found the discussion very interesting. He had us do an exercise where every table in the conference room put together a business plan, which I found to be an interesting exercise.

Opening KeyNote

After dashing through and checking into our hotel, our little group of colleagues went to register for the conference at the convention centre in Durban, and attended the opening keynote.

They had two dancers performing a very gymnastic routine, which was interesting to watch if a bit out of tune with the rest of the proceedings.

The keynote consisted mainly of the MS guys working through a modern computing scenario (a business owner requesting an app feature, some developer adding that feature, and it being deployed by an IT pro, followed by the Business user reporting on the expenditure in Dynamics AX)

At the time I thought that the scenarios were a bit stilted, but on reflection afterwards it wasn’t so bad, they covered a lot of ground and opened a few avenues of interest for me when deciding which sessions to attend.

We opted to skip the opening party, and went to have a pizza at a nice Italian pizza joint we found at a previous TechEd.

Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post…

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