imageBy now you may have been told, through advertisements, videos, presentations, etc, that developing for the Cloud, specifically, Windows Azure, is simple if you are already doing any kind of .NET development – your team would be able to leverage the skills they already have and the tools they already know. While this is true (in relative context), you would be doing yourself and your team a disservice if you jump right in. When I speak to managers, such as yourself, about Cloud development, I always urge to take a step back and look at two things that, if done correctly, can virtually ensure the success of your organization’s journey to the Cloud – your cloud strategy and your architects’ and developers’ training plan.

Cloud Strategy

Strategizing your move to the Cloud will allow you to understand:

  • Which of your applications are good candidates for moving to the Windows Azure
  • Which of public cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premise solutions would be better suited for each application’s needs
  • The impact of security and privacy on your applications

Next week we���ll go deeper into Cloud strategies and show you how to get started with your own strategy.

Architect/Developer Training Plan

While those aspects cover off your applications, the next consideration is your team – your architects and your developers. They need to get up to speed on the intricacies of the platform’s services. Key word - intricacies. There are many ways to use the various services of the Windows Azure platform, but only a few (specific to each application’s functional and non-functional requirements) will allow your organization to truly capitalize on the benefits of the Cloud and Windows Azure. That is why training has to start long before you start looking at migrating or writing your first application. Developers need to learn how to use the services as well as the tools and toolkits that are available. Architects need to understand how application requirements map onto Windows Azure services and how each non-functional requirement ultimately affect which service to use when.

There are plenty of resources to get your team started (Windows Azure Platform Training Kit, Canadian Developer Connection to name a couple); however, resources (books, training kits, classes) can only teach the technical aspects of the platform. Knowledge gained from experience working with the platform – designing and building solutions that use it – will ensure that your organization’s Cloud implementation will be successful. Emphasizing once more – training is required, but experience will make the difference.

Bottom Line

Have your architects and developers start early, trying out learned concepts on smaller, less critical applications, to gain that experience. They will be able to see what works and what does not work in your environment, tweaking as necessary until an optimal solution is reached. While that is happening, you and other stakeholders in your organization can develop your Cloud strategy.

Straight Talk About Windows Azure

On the next episode of the AlignIT Manager Tech Talk (September 8, 2011, 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EST), Joel Varty, Director of Research and Development at Agility CMS, joins Ruth and I for a straight talk discussion about Windows Azure – the problems that it can solve, the opportunities that it can surface, and the challenges and lessons of transitioning design and development teams from traditional development to the Cloud. Joel will share how he worked with his team of architects and developers to get up to speed on Cloud development and their strategy for moving their applications to the Cloud.

Watch >>