Let’s set something straight – I love technology. I love what it can do for my life. I’ve been a first-adopter since the Apple II+. You name it, I was one of the first people to use it, as evidence by the Palm Pilot, laserdiscs, mini-disc’s, that Casio wrist calculator, IoMega drives, and the Newton sitting in a box in my garage. I was also one of the first to use GroupWise, I chose to install an early release of Windows 95, and I couldn’t resist installing the first version of Windows NT 3.1. In fact, sitting on a shelf in my office are several 80’s computers games, a Commodore 64 and a 1200 baud modem. It seems silly, but I love technology and every one of these devices and applications tells a story about a specific point in time in my life. I’m a sentimental technophile.
A couple of years ago my love of new technologies was eclipsed by fears that must come with age (and experience). We were tasked with evaluating Azure as a solution for replacing our internal demo infrastructure, which was hosted on Hyper-V. Our existing infrastructure had a few issues, the biggest one being that, if one of us on the team was using it for a demo, others had to stay off of it. We’re great communicators so we rarely had issues, but the cost of maintaining the infrastructure and our inability to uniquely customize the experience for each consultant’s needs (for fear of breaking another’s demo) led us to look to Azure for the solution.
I have an MSDN subscription so accessing Azure should have been easy. And it was. I activated by Azure subscription from the MSDN management console, navigated to the Azure log on page, entered my credentials, and was brought to the main Azure portal.
The simple blue and white screen with the many icons on the left and the various descriptors in the body, the header text at the top and the drop downs at the upper right freaked me out. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to start. Web Apps, Virtual Machines, Mobile Services, Cloud Services, Storage, Media Services, the list went on and on. And so I looked around and I logged off. I was worried I’d do something wrong if I clicked on something I shouldn’t, spinning up some errant Azure service that would end up costing me hundreds of dollars because I didn’t know what I was doing.
I spoke to a coworker about my ‘issues’ and he suggested I focus on just one task – create a virtual machine. There is a lot to Azure but don’t let it dissuade you. Focus on the task at hand and keep it simple. The longest journey starts with the first step.
Creating a virtual machine was a simple task. Just select Virtual Machines, create a new Virtual Machine, assign it a name, a network, and some log on credentials, and that’s about it. “Wow,” I thought, “what was I afraid of?” Apparently not much.
Now Microsoft has made it even easier. There’s a New button at the bottom left corner of the portal that simplifies the process. And if you are interested in a more colorful, tiles-based interface, there’s the new Azure portal. The new portal gives you quick access to all the Azure Marketplace apps and machines and makes it easy to create a machine based off of them.
Contrary to my fears, it was really easy to jump into Azure. And I must admit that discovering all the other technologies not directly related to virtualization has got this technophile really excited. Azure offers so much opportunity to improve upon what I’m already doing. I love new technology. But more important, I love what new technology can do for me life.