Mini retrospective on Six Weeks of Windows Azure


I have previously posted some of the “raw data” on Six Weeks of Windows Azure but I wanted to also share some thoughts about “how it went” and “how we might do things differently” in the form of a mini retrospective.

What went well?

Achieved a lot for very little money

Our budget was £0. Given that, we achieved a heck of a lot :-)

Variety and depth

30 sessions and 2 streams (technical and commercial) delivered by a combination of Microsoft, Partners and Early Adopters allowed us to get through a lot of material. With that comes:

  • complexity  – managing so many different people/organisations
  • inconsistency – its easy to end up with overlap or indeed gaps

But overall we are very happy with how it worked out. Feedback has been universally positive – 95% would recommend to a colleague or another company.

Surgeries

The weekly one hour surgery allowed companies to ask questions and get answers. We felt these went extremely well given we had not tried this format before.

Labs

The week 4 labs were an untried format for us. 12 companies came in over the 5 days (max of 3 companies on each day). The use of the day varied enormously from reviewing architecture through to migrating code and databases to the cloud. All the companies found the lab time extremely useful.

Registrations

We easily got to over 500 individuals registered, primarily through publicising through blogs, twitter, email.

UK Partner/ISV/SaaS participation

Our primary audience was UK partners although we didn’t turn away any organisation. We had over 90% partner sign up and vast majority were UK based.

 

What could be improved?

Reaching none .NET companies

90% of the companies were doing .NET. Which is fantastic … but Windows Azure is great for OSS as well. We would have loved to have seen more none .NET companies joining us.

Reaching commercial decision makers

Vast majority of the attendees were technical – yet we had a great set of commercial sessions. Our advertising just didn’t reach the commercial folks.

Live Meeting Audio

Was at times very frustrating – mainly around audio dropping/failing to connect for speakers. We would consider Lync or even 3rd party solutions for a future delivery.

Product team involvement

We tried but didn’t get product team involvement. However I think it would be much easier to do so in the future.

More Week one content

Some technologies (e.g. SQL Azure Federations, Windows Azure Connect or HPC on Windows Azure) were not covered until very late in the 6 weeks. I think we could do a better job of demonstrating the rich breadth of Windows Azure in Week one whilst we also have the most attendees.

 

What still puzzles us?

No shows in Week One

We had 190 people join us in Week One out of over 500 registrations.  Many of these “missing 300” never went on to join us live but presumably some did watch the recordings. However it puzzles us why they never showed.

The right length for this activity and the right level of commitment to ask of companies

We wanted to take companies on a journey with detail and depth, hopefully leading to clear plans for when and how they would adopt Windows Azure. But… by week 4 we had significant drop off in numbers despite extremely good feedback on the first three weeks of sessions.

 

Potential Tweaked Version

Based on the above we would likely tweak a future delivery as follows:

Maximise the Week One experience – target hundreds of individuals and organisations

  • We would make sure that in week one we covered the entire breadth of Windows Azure at some level, whilst as many folks as possible are “still with us”.
    • This could be done as a one day online conference or potentially a large in-person event.
  • This would be delivered as a “stand alone” activity which in itself was extremely useful. However it would also signpost a journey for the most interested/committed organisations to follow over coming months.
  • All commercial content would be in Week one.

Shorten the journey with a “Month of Windows Azure”  – target tens of organisations

The kick start event would signpost to a “month of Windows Azure” no closer than 2 weeks away. 4 weeks vs 6 is a good compromise

Simplify the commitment from two days to one day

We spread our 5 sessions per week over two days. Instead we would concentrate everything into one afternoon with signposting to further detail on each topic. We would retain surgeries.

Labs – targeting handfuls of organisation

The most committed could then subsequently join us in labs to unblock/validate. Rather than embedding these into the six weeks we would scheduled them for much later

A potential timeline would therefore be:

  • Month 1: One day conference -  left to right of Windows Azure covering technical and commercial
  • Month 2: Four weeks of one afternoon webinars and surgeries
  • Month 4: Labs

We did run some of these tweaks by our companies who made it to week 6.

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Looking back at Six Week of Windows Azure – raw data


I wanted to share some of the “raw data” from Six Weeks of Windows Azure which started way back in January and completed today (29th Feb 2012)

I will shortly do a mini-retrospective.

Top Level:

  • Web site visits: 23,140 (as of 29th Feb) with 1857 visits on the busiest day
  • Partners involved: 11 (partners)
  • Sessions: 30 sessions and over 30 hours of content (agenda)
  • Live and On-Demand: All live sessions were recorded and made available for streaming/download along with session notes (slides and notes)
  • Registrations: Over 500 individuals registered with 150 unique companies joining us in Week 1
  • Active: 80 unique companies made it through to end of Week 3 (by which we had covered “all” the important bits)
  • Labs: 12 companies looking at SaaS using Windows Azure joined us in Week 4 labs in our Microsoft Technology Center

Who:

  • Majority of companies attending were partners vs customers (over 90%)
  • 75% of engagement came from UK companies
  • 71% Technical
  • 86% very little/no exposure to Cloud/Windows Azure

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What:

91% of companies were building solutions to be used external to their own org

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59% building a mix of applications

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90% .NET

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55% brownfield and greenfield

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Active:

  • Of the 500 individuals who registered, 190 individuals from 150 unique companies attended week 1.
  • By week 3 around 90 individuals from 80 unique companies
  • Week 6 attendees – 83% more likely to adopt and 50% now expect to do it sooner than originally planned

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Feedback:

Week 6 Polls

95% would recommend

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88% would like us to use this approach again

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Verbatim:

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Visual Studio 11 Beta and .NET 4.5 Beta due February 29th


Which is a great use of an extra day in February :-)

I have Thursday 1st set aside to get this all sweetly installed – perfect timing as Six Weeks of Windows Azure will have ended and I can safely think about rebuilding my pc.

Some more details:

And I will be most definitely install Team Foundation Server Express – FREE for individuals and teams of up to 5 users! Oh and yes… Visual Studio Express gets TFS integration. Sweet.

Deploying PHP and ASP.NET Sites in a Single Azure Web Role


One of the companies on www.sixweeksofazure.co.uk asked us about the specifics of deploying into a single web role two solutions – one built in PHP and one built in ASP.NET.

I reached out to Brian Swan for help. Brian is one of the Microsoft team focused on making PHP developers very happy on the Microsoft technology stack.

Brian created a great post in response to the customers question. Thanks Brian.

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Slides, Notes and Recordings for Week 1 and 2 of #6weeksazure are all now available


Head over to www.sixweeksofazure.co.uk and click on Week 1 and Week 2 to get details.

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It is not too late to join us – there is after all still 4 more weeks to go and we have recordings of the first two weeks.

Sign up today!

Note: This is primarily targeting UK companies – but we do not turn anyone away :-)

What others have said (none are my relatives…):

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