The thoughts, opinions and sometimes the rants of Mark Evans

Jump in Camp - Day 2

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Day 2 is where things start to get interesting, after a brief introduction by Yuriy Zaytsev on the hopes for the camp we got underway.

First up was Josh Holmes with an overview of Windows Azure

Scaling Big While Sleeping Well

View more presentations from Josh Holmes.

Whilst I had briefly looked at Windows Azure before I never really took the time to understand what it was, the overview from Josh was enlightening and made me realise that in my brief look earlier I had totally missed the point of Windows Azure.

I had foolishly grouped all cloud platforms into a single group along with Amazon EC2 when in fact Windows Azure is much more than that. Where are EC2 is almost like a dedicated server in that you control (and have to maintain/upgrade/patch) the entire software stack, Windows Azure removes all need to deal with patching of operating systems and runtime libraries leaving you to concentrate on your application.

I will be digging deeper into Windows Azure in coming blog posts.

Next up was Faith Allington with IIS / Windows Deployment. This demonstration took me a little by surprise as I had not heard of the Web Platform Installer or Web Deploy. It had also been about 6 years since I’d even dared to try and get PHP working with IIS so I was intrigued by how easy it would be since before it was a real pain in the ass.

I was pleasantly surprised however that Microsoft had been spending quite some time making the deployments easier and the tools they showed us made deploying even complicated applications incredibly simple.

By creating some simple XML files you can easily create an installation package which can handle everything from installing dependencies (MySQL for example), creating databases, configuring permissions and actually dealing with your own application configuration all from a simple Windows based UI.

This makes installing PHP applications a breeze which is an awesome thing for all the open-source PHP applications out there. Again I will be digging deeper into this cool technology in a later blog post and will also cover how we got osCommerce working via the Web Platform Installer with just a few hours work.

After some coding and lunch we back back into the thick of it with a presentation from Maarten Balliauw on SQL Azure

Windows Azure Storage & Sql Azure

View more presentations from Maarten Balliauw.

One of the interesting things which came out of this is that you can move your application from running on SQL Server Express (Free) to SQL Server Full Version and even to SQL Azure all without changing your database layer. The only thing which needs to be changed is the connection string for SQL Azure.

Once again it was back to some coding and quite a lot happened quite quickly. There were a few issues getting the Windows Azure for Eclipse tools working properly but once we managed to navigate over the initial issues progress quickly ensued.

After a couple of hours coding it was time for a quick break and then some fun for the afternoon. This took the guise of “Alpine Olympics” in the farm next to the Spa we were staying in.

The events which we took part in were

  • Milking a Cow (Plastic not real fortunately)
  • Ski-ing
  • Cow-pat Golf
  • Horseshoe Throwing
  • Crossbow Shooting
  • Blow Darts

The afternoon was a great team building exercise and allowed us plenty of time to get to know the other attendee’s in much greater detail. After all teams had completed all 6 events it was time for the awards ceremony, unfortunately my team didn’t win but we all got to share in the celebration drinks. Then it was time for a shower and dinner at which again the food was simply amazing.

After consuming what must of been an entire lamb by myself along with a few glasses of wine and good conversation it was time to hit the sack for the next morning we were starting at 8.30.