Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Impressions Moving from an iPhone to Windows Phone 7

Along with the other attendees of Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference last week I received a Windows Phone, an LG E900 to be precise. It’s now been several days since I switched over from the iPhone I’d been using for the last couple of years to a Windows Phone and I thought I would share my first impressions. I’ll tell you up-front, I really like it.

iPhone Experience

First off, why was I on an iPhone to begin with? When I was ready for a new phone a few of years back there really wasn’t anything else in the iPhone’s class of user experience and innovation so it was a simple decision. Moreover, coverage where I live is poor for many of the main carriers but AT&T comes in strong which was another point in the iPhone’s favor.

I’ve enjoyed using my iPhone, but I kind of got disenchanted with Apple earlier this year when their version 4 Phone OS came out. The iTunes sync tool offered to upgrade my iPhone 3 to the version 4 OS so I accepted—and boy was I sorry! The phone became a near-useless piece of junk, with sporadic fits of slowness or outright unresponsiveness. It took a lot of research to find the right painstaking process to get back to the original OS. Apple was no help whatsoever, all but denying there was a problem. They also made some less than encouraging admissions, such as this one confessing the algorithm for showing how many bars of signal strength has been misleading. Moreover, owners of the iPhone 4 seemed to be having a lot of pain. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay with Apple, which put me in the mood for looking around at other options. I knew Windows Phone was coming, and of course Android has been making quite a splash. I was waiting for something to push me in a particular direction.

The LG E900

That push came at PDC when attendees were given Windows Phones. The evening after receiving it I unwrapped the phone from its packaging box with anticipation—noting with some surprise the packaging claim that this phone was intended for use in Europe. I presume that’s just an artifact of this being a give-away. The “European” claim was reinforced by a Frankenstein’s monster of an adaptor, and that I wasn’t able to find an online user guide except on LG’s UK site. Things I can overlook in a free phone.

I immediately noticed the form factor difference—the LG E900 is longer and thinner than an iPhone and also noticeably heavier which gave me some concern at first; however I’ve since found the weight doesn’t bother me. I have to say, there wasn’t much in the way of instructions. The online user manual was of some help, once I tracked it down, but apparently you’re supposed to just figure out most things by exploring. For the most part this worked but it was a little frustrating not knowing how to do some basic things at first.

Making the Switch

I’m not a phone expert, and wondered to myself what I would have to do to get service on the phone. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I could just move the SIM card from my iPhone over to the Windows Phone. Would that work? I decided to find out.

An hour later, I still hadn’t gotten the SIM card out of my iPhone. That’s because it sits behind a door that isn’t easy to open unless you have a special tool or a paper clip. While this sounds simple, good luck doing it if you don’t have a paper clip handy: I tried a ballpoint pen, a plastic toothpick, a twist tie I scraped the insulation off of, and anything else I could find in my hotel room. After many tries but no success, I did what I should have done originally and went down to the hotel front desk and asked for a paper clip. 5 minutes later I had my SIM card out. It wasn’t obvious to me which way this oriented in the LG phone but I eventually figured it out through trial and error. A phone call and a text to my wife confirmed my phone service was working.

As I started to play with the phone I realized that my voice and text service was functional but not my data service. I could not browse the web or get email working. Fortunately I stumbled on this post which explains the set up steps to get your data working if you move from an iPhone to an LG E900 Windows Phone. After I’d followed these instructions to define an “APN”, data worked like a charm.

The User Interface

I hadn’t expected to like the UI of the Windows Phone all that much, for several reasons. First, it’s hard not to admire the iPhone’s user interface—the layout, size, and appearance of application icons as well as the design of many of the screens just feels right. Secondly, I’d seen the Windows Phone UI in conferences, online videos and television ads. I knew Microsoft had to strike out in a unique direction but it didn’t look all that appealing to me.

However, actually using one is a different story. The interface really works well. Three buttons on the bottom of the phone left you navigate back, go to the Start page, or search contextually within whatever app you’re in. There’s a cool feeling you get sliding and flipping around that you can’t appreciate when watching someone else do it. Those television ads that say we need “a phone to save us from our phones” are right on the money: you can get in and do your work really quickly on a Windows Phone. I like it.

I will say I wasn’t thrilled with the default red theme on my Start screen which I promptly changed to an appealing blue. Also, whatever theme color you do choose (there are ten to choose from, shown below), that color does dominate the user interface. Most of your Start screen tiles will be that color. The UI could benefit from a 2-color theme over a single color theme in my opinion. Speaking of the Start screen, those tiles are “live tiles” that contain data and some of them animate. This allows you at a glance to know if you have voice mail, text message, email, new apps in the marketplace, and so on.


Setting up Outlook for my corporate mail could not have gone easier. Hotmail, on the other hand, was a different story. It wouldn’t sync, giving a mysterious error code and message that it was having trouble connecting to the Hotmail service after a few seconds. The fix turned out to be changing the mail account definition’s sync time from All Messages to Last 3 Days. This was discovered after a lot of trial and error: the error message certainly didn’t give a hint about that, nor is it clear to this day why All Messages doesn’t work (for me, anyway).

A few things took me some time to figure out. I couldn’t find a battery indicator at first; this turns out to be on the cover screen that you normally slide away right off the bat when you go to use the phone. Vibrate/ring also eluded me until I realized hitting the volume controls pops up an area for setting that.

Video and Audio

The video and audio quality are quite good. Streaming a movie from Netflix was excellent over a wifi connection—but rather blocky and dissatisfying without wifi. I watched Iron Man over the phone via Netflix and the picture was truly outstanding.

There's a 5 megapixel camera on the LG E900. It's terrific: it takes amazingly good photos and video.


You get Office on the Windows Phone which is pretty cool. On my flight from Seattle back to Southern California I used Word on the phone to write a document and it was usable. It’s a little slow for me because I’m still getting used to this phone’s keyboard but that’s temporary.

App Store and Zune

The App Store experience is good and similar to the iPhone’s App Store. The number one phone app I use is email and that’s already there. Other apps I use that are already available for Windows Phone include NetFlix and Twitter. Another app I like to use on the iPhone is Kindle: fortunately at PDC it was announced Kindle is coming soon for Windows Phone and it was demonstrated in the keynote talk. Another favorite iPhone app of mine is Scrabble; we’ll have to see if that becomes available on Windows Phone. The app store experience is good but of course there aren’t as many apps yet for Windows Phone as for longer-established phones. We developers need to get busy creating great Windows Phone apps.

Just as iTunes is both the music/video store and sync tool for iPhone, Zune servers that purpose for Windows Phone. Once I installed Zune on my PC and connected the phone to it, I was able to download music (on a 14-day trial) and move music and pictures over to the phone.


Another reason to get excited about Windows Phone is that you can program for it in Silverlight, which is a technology I use quite often. Moreover, Windows Phone and Windows Azure cloud computing go very well together. At PDC, Steve Marx gave a really great session on joint phone-and-cloud development which I highly recommend. There’s definitely some phone+cloud development in my future.


It’s not fair to compare a phone you’ve been using for a couple of days against one you’ve been using for a couple of years, but these are my first impressions. So far, I haven’t looked back!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Azure Storage Explorer 4 Beta Refresh

Last week we released Azure Storage Explorer 4. We have released several refreshes since then, in order to respond to feedback from the first several hundred downloaders. Some of these refreshes are important because they fix a bug or add a valuable feature. If you get the latest refresh (Beta 1 Refresh 4 or later), Azure Storage Explorer 4 will now notify you when there is a new version so you won't have to remember to check back on the CodePlex site for updates. If you're on Azure Storage Explorer 4, please update to the refresh so that you'll have the best experience.

Here are some of the features added in the refreshes:

• Blob uploads now automatically set ContentType based on file type
• CSV download/upload now preserves column types
• New download/upload formats supported: Plain XMl and AtomPub XML
• UI improvements
• Private/public folder icons indicate whether blob containers are public or not
• Automatically checks for a new software version
• Checks for and corrects blob containers with old (outdated) permissions attributes and updates to current Azure standard
• Preserves window position and size between sessions
• Allows culture to be set

Friday, October 22, 2010

Azure Storage Explorer 4 Beta Now Available

I'm pleased to announce the public beta of Azure Storage Explorer version 4 is now available. Beta 1 can be downloaded from CodePlex.

Azure Storage Explorer allows you to view and edit all 3 types of cloud storage: blobs, queues, and tables. If you're not already familiar with it, Azure Storage Explorer was one of the first (if not the first) GUI tools for viewing and working with Windows Azure storage. This utility was written in the very early days of Windows Azure, and even after 3 major versions all of that pre-dated the commercial release of Windows Azure in early 2010. Altogether there have been over 13,000 downloads.

It's been a year since version 3 was published, and in that time the Windows Azure platform has moved forward at a rapid pace. Many users have been hungry for an update that supports newer features such as blob root containers and better handles nuances such as blob prefix paths and property editing.

Highlights of version 4

Better Code. Versions 1-3 of Azure Storage Explorer didn't have the .NET Storage Client library to use and were based on an SDK sample that had a voluminous number of classes, leading to code that was vast and complex. In version 4 we are using the .NET StorageClient library and the code is compact and well-organized. The source code is open and is part of the CodePlex project.
Newer storage feature support. Support has been added for newer features such as blob root containers, blob path prefixes, and page blobs.
Copy and rename containers, queues, and tables.
Direct data entry and editing of blobs, messages, and entities.
Improved UI. The new WPF-based UI is cleaner, and supports opening multiple storage acounts at the same in tab views. The Mode-View-ViewModel pattern is used.

Containers & Blobs

• Create, View, Copy, Rename, Delete Containers
• Create, View, Copy, Rename, Delete, Upload, Download Blobs

Blobs can be viewed as images, video, or text. Blob properties can be viewed/editied.

Queues & Messages

• Create, View, Copy, Rename, Delete Queues
• Create, View, Pop, Clear, Upload, Download Messages

Message content and properties can be viewed.

Tables & Entities

• Create, View, Copy, Rename, Delete Tables
• Create, Edit, Copy, Rename, Delete, Upload, Download Entities

Entities can be viewed and edited.

Remember, it's a beta

With any beta software, you should exercise caution. Keep in mind that both people and programs can make mistakes, and it's always a good idea to keep safe backups of your data.

Azure Storage Explorer is a community donation of Neudesic. As with previous versions, Azure Storage Explorer remains free. Full source code is on CodePlex and we invite the community to help us keep it up to date and make improvements.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Upcoming Webcast: Cloud Computing Assessments, Part 1

Tomorrow (10/21) at 10 AM Pacific time I'll be giving the first in a series of webcasts on Microsoft Cloud Computing Assessments. Register here. These webcasts go hand in hand with my cloud computing assessment article series.

Microsoft Cloud Computing Assessments: The Right Way to Evaluate and Adopt Cloud Computing

Event Code: 151050
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Welcome Time: 09:55 AM
Time Zone: Pacific
Event Language: Not Specified
Connection information for this Webcast will be sent in your event confirmation.


Featured Product/Topic: Windows Azure platform

Recommended Audiences: Technology Executives, IT Managers, IT Professionals, Business Executives, CIO, CTO, IT Directors, Business Decision Maker, Technical Decision Makers, Developers

Cloud computing offers so much promise, but it is new and confusing to many. You may be wondering whether cloud computing is right for your business, what the financial return might be, and how to go about getting started with it without making a mistake. In this webcast you'll be introduced to an assessment process for Microsoft cloud computing that puts the value proposition of the cloud into sharp focus for your business. You'll see how an assessment sheds light on risk vs. reward, identifies promising opportunities, analyzes applications financially and technically, and helps you figure out your cloud computing strategy. With the clarity and plan that comes out of an assessment you will be able to evaluate and adopt cloud computing responsibly, maximizing the benefits while managing risk.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cloud Computing Assessments, Part 2: Envisioning Benefits & Risks

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the ideal rhythm for exploring cloud computing responsibly and the critical role a cloud computing assessment plays. An assessment allows you to get specific about what the cloud can mean to your company. Here in Part 2 we will consider assessment activities for envisioning, in which you take a look at where the cloud could take you.

Envisioning: Finding the Cloud’s Synergies with your Business

Cloud computing has so many value propositions that it’s almost problematic! When you hear general cloud messaging you’re exposed to many potential benefits that include cost reduction, faster time to market, and simplified IT among others. Different organizations care about different parts of the value proposition. In an assessment, we want to find out which benefits have strong synergy with your company—and focus on them.

A good exercise to evaluate where the value proposition resonates is to gather business and technical decision makers, provide some education on benefits, and have a discussion to see where there is interest. Your people may be enthusiastic about some of these benefits but neutral or even negative about others. Here are some of the benefits to consider:


In the cloud you can change your footprint anytime, quickly and easily. Think of the cloud as a big rubber band.

No Commitment

In the cloud you have easy entry and easy exit. You can stay in the cloud as long as you wish, but you can walk away any time, with no financial or legal commitments beyond your current month’s bill.

Reduced Cost

In the cloud you are likely to see reduced costs, in some cases extremely reduced costs. These reduced costs derive from the use of shared resources, the economy of scale in the cloud, and your ability to only use and pay for resources as long as you need them.

Consumption-based Pricing

In the cloud you only pay for what you use, and you only use what you need.

Extra Capacity

In the cloud you can expand capacity whenever you need to, even if a surge in demand is sudden and unexpected. You have the comfort of knowing extra capacity is there for you, but you only pay for it when you actually need it.

Faster Time to Market

In the cloud you can deploy new and updated applications very quickly. On Windows Azure for example you can deploy an application in 20 minutes or less.

Self-Service IT

In the cloud some IT tasks become so simple anyone can do them. Company IT cultures differ on this, but for some companies the ability to let more individuals and departments directly control their own deployments and level of scale is attractive.



In the cloud you have a Service Level Agreement that boils down to 3 9’s (99.9%), or up to 8 hours of unavailability in a year. For some companies and applications that’s an improvement over their current SLA; for others it may be a downgrade.

Simplify IT

In the cloud certain IT tasks become very simple, just a click or two in a web portal. This includes provisioning, software deployment, and upgrades.


In the cloud you have automated management working on your behalf. In the case of Windows Azure, patches are applied to your servers automatically; server health is monitored; and your availability and data integrity are protected through managed redundancy.

Convert CapEx to OpEx

In the cloud you do away with a lot of capital expenditures such as buying server hardware. This is replaced with operating expenditures, your pay-as-you-go monthly bill. For many companies this means a healthier balance sheet, but not all companies and managers see this as positive. Some people have easier access to capital budget than operating budget.

New Capabilities

In the cloud you have new capabilities. For example, Windows Azure provides new capabilities for business-to-business communication and federated security. These new capabilities can allow you to innovate and realize a competitive edge. The cloud also enables some new business models such as Software-as-a-Service that you may have interest in.

It can be useful to have separate envisioning meetings with business and technical people; you’ll likely find different audiences have different interests and concerns. For example, a CIO could be gung-ho about the cloud while the IT department below them is apprehensive about the cloud.

Risks & Concerns

A benefits discussion must be complemented with a risk discussion. Anything new like cloud computing will naturally lead to concerns, real or imaged. Each concern needs to be mitigated to the stakeholders’ satisfaction. Examples of concerns frequently raised are security, performance, availability, disaster recovery, vendor lock-in, in-house capability, and runaway billing concerns.


Security comes up in nearly all cloud discussions. Sometimes there will be a specific risk in mind but often the concern is just a general expression of “I’m concerned about security in the cloud”. The best way to feel good about security in the cloud is first to understand how good security in the cloud is: cloud providers invest a massive amount in security. Next, start getting specific about areas of concern: only then can remedies be designed.

For specific security concerns, the consulting firm performing your assessment should have a knowledge base of commonly-raised concerns—such as data falling into the wrong hands—and standard mitigations for them. In addition, there should be a defined approach for threat modeling risks and planning defenses.

Security in the cloud is best viewed as a partnership between you and the cloud provider. There are certain things the cloud environment will do to protect you, and there are complementary things you can do yourself. An example of something you can do is encrypting all of the data you transmit and store. An assessment should capture your concerns and record the plan for dealing with them.

Performance & Availability

Since the cloud is a different environment from your enterprise, you can’t assume the dynamics are the same. You may find performance to be stellar, about the same, or disappointing depending on what you’re used to. An assessment should consider the performance requirements of applications and plan to validate them in a proof-of-concept.

Availability is more straightforward to predict because there is a published SLA, but the Internet path between the cloud computing data center and your users is outside the cloud provider’s control. If your users are in an area with poor or unreliable Internet service, availability expectations should be revised accordingly.

Vendor Lock-in

Some organizations have a fear of vendor lock-in: if you move something to the cloud, are you stuck there? There’s an interesting discussion to be had here. On the one hand, it’s perfectly possible to write applications that can run on-premise or in the cloud, preserving your ability to move back and forth. On the other hand, if you take advantage of new, only-in-the-cloud features such as Windows Azure AppFabric, you’ll lose some portability (but it may be worth doing so for the benefits). An assessment is an occasion to weigh these tensions and pick a lane.

Disaster Recovery

Cloud providers have many mechanisms to protect your data, such as redundancy, but much of this is automatic and neither visible nor controllable by you. You may require a level above this where you can for example make time-stamped snapshots of your data and be able to restore them on demand. An assessment should map out your DR requirements, including RTO & RPO, and determine how you and the cloud platform will collaborate to meet them.

In-house Capability & Process

If you are going to adopt cloud computing your developers and IT department will need the appropriate skills. An assessment should include an analysis of where people skills are today and where they need to be for cloud computing adoption. It’s not only skills that need updating but process as well: the cloud will surely impact your development and deployment processes. Your cloud computing plans should budget for this training and process refinement.

Billing Concerns

Some find the “just like electricity” metering aspect of the cloud unnerving: what if your billing runs out of control? An assessment should identify procedures for measuring billing and monitoring applications proactively, identifying disturbing trends early so they can be investigated before large charges accrue. In the case of Windows Azure, for example, billing can be inspected daily and it’s not necessary to wait till the end of the month to learn how charges are trending.


By and large, trust is at the root of most cloud computing concerns. Trust is something that needs to be earned, and in cloud computing it can and should be earned in degrees. If you’ve had a good experience with a proof-of-concept in the cloud, that will bolster your confidence to put something in production in the cloud. Your assessment should produce a roadmap that promotes measured, increasing use of the cloud with validation that expectations were met at every step.


Since the purpose of a cloud computing assessment is to find the fit for your organization, it’s very important to understand what is already going on in the company. Any cloud computing plans should align with this backdrop.

Business Alignment

Your company’s business plan likely has significant events on the calendar, for example launch of a new product line or service. Annual planning and budgeting are another example. The flow of business initiatives may suggest that certain cloud opportunities make sense sooner or later on the timeline.

IT Alignment

Your IT department is also likely to have events on the calendar that should be taken into consideration. Is a server refresh cycle scheduled? Consider that using the cloud might allow you to avoid or reduce buying that hardware. Are there plans to overhaul the data center? A cloud strategy might allow you to drastically alter the size and cost of your data center, using the cloud for overflow at peak times.

Envisioning Provides Business Context

Much of a cloud computing assessment will involve identifying and analyzing specific opportunities (applications), but this initial envisioning activity is important. It gives you the business context for your technical decisions. In envisioning you capture both the areas of traction and disconnect between cloud computing and your organization. This information will help you in forming your cloud computing strategy and it will color the suitability scoring of potential cloud opportunities. Timing of cloud initiatives should take business and IT initiatives into account.

In subsequent installments we’ll look at more activities that are performed in a cloud computing assessment. If you’d like to see how we do it at Neudesic, visit

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cloud Computing Assessments, Part 1: The Right Way to Adopt Cloud Computing

There is a right way and a wrong way to get involved with cloud computing. This article series is about doing it the right way and focuses on the use of cloud computing assessments to properly evaluate, plan for, and adopt cloud computing. Here in Part 1 we’ll be looking at the technology hype cycle, the best rhythm for adopting the cloud, and the critical role an assessment plays. In subsequent parts of the series we’ll look more deeply at various aspects of an assessment such as computing ROI, dealing with security, technical considerations, and the impact on IT. Since I work with the Windows Azure platform that’s where I’ll be focusing.

The Technology Hype Cycle

When major technology waves are unleashed, there’s a lot of buzz and also a lot of uncertainty. The well-known Gartner Hype Cycle explains why this is so. A new technology triggers many expectations, some of them unrealistic or not immediately attainable. As the market’s understanding gets sorted out, these inflated expectations transition into disillusionment which is also exaggerated. As time passes and technology and best practices mature enlightenment occurs and there’s a general understanding of what’s really possible and advisable. It’s at that point we have widespread, productive use of the technology.

Technology Hype Cycle

The hype cycle can be scary, and you might be thinking right now that the best thing to do is sit back and wait for cloud computing to mature. On the other hand, early adopters who leverage new technology sooner than others can gain a competitive edge. The hype cycle doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a technology in its early years, but it’s essential to take some careful precautions to avoid getting burned.
In the case of cloud computing it’s particularly confusing for businesses to know what to do and when to do it. What’s real today, and what’s hype? Where are developments headed? Should you be doing something now or is it best to wait? There’s a real tension between the wish to join the party and realize the benefits and savings vs. the fear you might be jumping the gun or making a costly mistake.

Rhythm for Cloud Computing Adoption

Fortunately, there’s a way to move from uncertainty to certainty about cloud computing, and that’s to follow the rhythm shown below, which has 4 stages: awareness, assessment, experimentation, and adoption. The missing link between thinking about the cloud (the awareness phase) and using the cloud happily (the adoption phase) are the inner activities of an assessment and an experiment.

Let’s look at each phase.

Phase 1: Awareness

In the awareness phase, you’re starting to learn about cloud computing and are forming an initial impression of it. You’re likely getting information from many sources which might include the media, discussions with peers and colleagues, webcasts, conferences, vendor presentations, and the like. You’re getting pummeled with information, partial information, and misinformation. There’s a large buzz, but everything you’re hearing is either generalized or is someone else’s experience.

You wonder, what would cloud computing mean for us specifically? When you ask that question, you are ready for the next phase, an assessment.

Phase 2: Assessment

A cloud computing assessment has one purpose, and that is to bring the cloud into focus for your organization. In the cloud computing assessments we practice at Neudesic we seek to answer these questions in an assessment:

• Can I believe the claims of cloud computing?
• What is Microsoft doing in the cloud?
• What are the benefits?
• Is the cloud a good fit for my business?
• Where are the opportunities and what ROI will they bring?
• How do I avoid risk?
• What does it cost?
• What belongs in the cloud and what doesn’t?
• When is the right time to engage?

An assessment is very much like having a suit tailored to fit you perfectly. We move from the general to the specific. You’ll exit the assessment with a clear understanding of how the cloud can benefit your company; a strategy that fits your business plans; a roadmap of opportunities; and a full view of risk/reward considerations. The roadmap your assessment produces will typically recommend a proof-of-concept and a prioritized timetable for cloud adoption. Some opportunities may make sense immediately but others may be more appropriate further out. Business and IT events on your calendar as well as upcoming cloud computing platform features will help determine the best timing for moving applications into the cloud.

Armed with the clarity and plan that comes out of an assessment, you are ready for the next phase, an experiment.

Phase 3: Experiment

Although an assessment plays an important role in planning for the cloud, there’s no substitute for some actual experience. A proof-of-concept experiment is recommended before you start adopting the cloud for production purposes. The experiment serves several purposes. First, it gives you an opportunity to test the claims of the cloud personally. In addition, the experience will either confirm the results of your assessment or cause you to revise your conclusions and cloud adoption plan.

Once you’ve concluded both an assessment and an experiment, you can proceed to cloud adoption with confidence.

Phase 4: Adoption

The final phase is actual adoption of the cloud. Your earlier assessment should have produced a roadmap for adoption, where some opportunities make sense in a “do them now” first wave and others in a potential second wave. After each migration to the cloud or new project in the cloud, you should reflect on the most recent experience and refine your cloud plans if warranted.

It’s important to set up monitoring and management of your production applications in the cloud, adjusting deployment size in response to changes in demand. Failure to do this could undermine the ROI you expect to get from the cloud.

Now or Later?

Having said all this, what should your timing be for cloud computing? My belief is you won’t be in a position to really answer that question until you’ve had an assessment done. Regardless of your ultimate conclusions about where to use the cloud and when, there are some good reasons to take a serious look at cloud computing right now and put an initial plan in place. Since assessments are often free, there’s a lot to be gained by having one sooner than later. It should be clear after an assessment what opportunities there are for your business to leverage the cloud and what the best timing is. Getting an assessment now doesn’t mean you have to start adopting the cloud now.

What considerations should affect your timing decisions? There are several. One is the importance of getting in front of the cloud. Since cloud computing is a self-serve technology, it may come into your organization all by itself as one department or one individual starts to use it. It’s better to proactively have taken a look at cloud computing and have a strategy and guidance in place for acceptable use--and you can only do that if you start looking at it sooner than later.

Another key consideration for timing is your company’s culture of risk vs. reward. Using Gartner’s definitions, we recognize that not all companies balance risk vs. reward equally. There’s the Aggressive Innovator who values reward over risk and has gotten good at managing risk in order to get the brass ring. There’s the Pragmatic Adopter who looks at risk and reward equally. And there’s the Risk-Averse company who is hesitant to consider risks of any kind. If you’re in the first two categories you’re more likely to take an early look at cloud computing.

Cloud computing may offer you significant savings and agility, and if that’s the case the sooner you start using it the sooner you’ll realize the financial and institutional benefits. In particular you might find it useful to consider business and IT activities on the horizon and align your cloud plans with them. Are you launching a new product line or renewing budgets? Are you nearing a server refresh cycle or re-planning your data center? Aligning your cloud computing plans with existing business and IT plans will maximize opportunities and minimize disruption.

In subsequent installments we’ll look at the various activities that are performed in a cloud computing assessment. If you’d to see how we do them at Neudesic, visit

Friday, October 1, 2010

Azure MVP

I'm very honored to have been selected as a Windows Azure MVP by Microsoft. I've been told I was the first selected, so I'm going to consider that a double honor.

To quote the MVP web site, "The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is an annual award given to outstanding members of Microsoft's technical communities based on contributions made during the previous 12 months to offline and online Microsoft-related technical communities." I'll take that to mean I'm doing something useful to help adoption of this great technology platform.

Well, enough tooting my own horn. I'm happy to have received this valuable credential, and I know I need to keep up participation to have it renewed next year.

Windows Azure certainly has come a long way since I got my first advance look at it 2 years ago. It's growing up rapidly, and I love working with it. The best is yet to come. Go Cloud!