Community report: Melbourne Azure Bizspark camp 2011

Last weekend I helped out at Melbourne’s “Windows Azure Bizspark camp”. It was a 3 day event aimed at fostering innovation while also training small start ups in how to pitch an idea and seek funding.
You may remember that I participated in the last Bizspark camp, and came runner up with my application ‘Beachy’. It was the same event but this time it was on Windows Azure instead, and I was helping out rather than being an attendee.
More basic information about the event is on the Australian Bizspark website.

My involvement over the weekend was to assist each of the teams with their ideas, giving advice & assistance with any Windows Azure, Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 based questions. At the same time I would also sit down with each team and get them to talk me through their business ideas. Getting them to focus on the one or two key points that they would pitch to the judges, and not just rely on the fact that they “wrote a lot of really cool code”. Where I could I tried to get them to focus on what exactly they would show the judges on the final day, and to be sure to polish around those key points.

I was also impressed to see that one of the largest gaming websites (, did a blog post on what Bizspark and the Bizspark camp were

All the photos from the event have been uploaded to my Flickr account with a Creative Commons license if anyone would like to use photos of themselves

Day 1: Training the teams in Windows Azure

The first day consisted of a compressed training day for all the participants. Graham Elliot and Mitch Denny delivered training covering Azure basics (Windows Azure Compute, Management, Diagnostics, Storage, SQL Azure, App Fabric). The slides from the training day have been uploaded to the internet for anyone to download and go through themselves.

Another useful training guide if you wish to go through it yourself is to use the latest Windows Azure training kit.


Day 2 & 3: App development & start-up training

The rest of the event was mostly allocated to the teams, to let them build their applications. Most of the teams were 2 people with a few of the larger ideas having teams of 3. All of the teams went to find their own space around the Microsoft office and worked on the projects. They all worked really hard while there at the office, and judging by the bags under a few eyes the next morning, many of them obviously pulled all nighters back at their own places. This was meat of the event, the teams needed to build enough of the application in order to have something to show to the judges the next day. But they needed to be focused and disciplined, there wasn’t enough spare time to waste on things that wouldn’t be shown. They needed to decide what they were going to demonstrate to the judges the next day and focus on enabling enough of their app to demo.


Of course, there was a pizza lunch to keep the attendees going!


Industry talks

During those 2 days, Catherine Eibner organised 2 speakers to come and talk during the lunch times. This helped to try and break the day up a bit and give the attendees a chance to clear their heads.


On the Saturday Ross Hill (twitter: @RossHill) talked to the attendees about the importance of networking when creating your own start-up. Events are important and enable you to meet the type of people that you need to help you get your start-up off the ground. Ross co-founded one of the most successful entrepreneurial networking events The Hive which runs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. I recommend you attend the hive if you live in one of those cities and are interested in the entrepreneurial spirit.

I didn’t record Ross’ talk unfortunately, but I did manage to get some of the URLs he listed of other good events to attend

Jack Delosa’s talk

On the Sunday, there was a talk by Jack Delosa (@JackDelosa) who runs a group called Entourage which “is a movement which encourages and facilitates entrepreneurship in the 18-35 demographic”.  More information about Entourage can be found at

Everyone on Twitter was amazed at how much information he was able to cram into 45 minutes. He was able to distill down the basics of what anyone who is thinking of creating a startup needs to know, from the idea, raising capital, creating your Business plan/Information Memorandum/executive summary.

This is a MUST WATCH video for anyone thinking creating their own start-up company.

Jack Delosa

Final afternoon

On the final afternoon, some of the judges set in a room and allowed each of the teams to have a chance to do a practice pitch. This allowed the teams to have a first run, and get feedback on the sorts of things they should focus on when doing the final pitch to the judges. This in itself was a valuable experience for all of the attendees.

All the judges arrived and the teams took turns to do their 5 minute pitch, and then have a chance for 5mins of question time from the judges.

Idea pitch by

The judges then spent half an hour debating amongst themselves, trying to determine the winner.

Awards ceremony

The final winners were:

  3. TrendFrendz

The winners of the social networking awareness competitionIMG_2943

Everyone talking after the event has finished

Videos of the pitches

I recorded all 11 pitches from the teams, which I will upload slowly over the next few weeks.

Other coverage of the Azure Bizspark camp

By David Burela

List of Azure sessions at PDC 2010

Now that PDC has finished, I decided to collect all of the Azure sessions up so that I could tick off which ones I have viewed, and which ones I have yet to watch. Most them them don’t have the session available as a download, but they are all available as a live stream immediately!

CD07: Building Windows Phone 7 applications with the Windows Azure Platform
CS01: Building High Performance Web Applications with the Windows Azure Platform
CS02: Building Scale-Out Database Solutions on SQL Azure
CS03: Building, Deploying, and Managing Windows Azure Applications
CS04: Composing Applications with AppFabric Services
CS05: Connecting Cloud & On-Premises Apps with the Windows Azure Platform
CS06: Enabling New Scenarios and Applications with Data in the Cloud
CS07: Identity & Access Control in the Cloud
CS08: Inside windows Azure
CS09: Migrating and Building Apps for Windows Azure with VM Role and Admin Mode
CS10: Open in the Cloud: Windows Azure and Java
CS11: Windows Azure Storage Deep Dive
FT04: Building Web APIs for the Highly Connected Web
FT07: Lessons Learned from Moving Team Foundation Server (TFS) to the Cloud

By David Burela

Who is on the Windows Azure team in Australia

I just noticed this blog post

It lists all of the Microsoft Australia staff that are working with Windows Azure platform. If you looking for a Microsoft contact to ask questions of, they would be a great place to start.

By David Burela

Community Report: Hobart.Net usergroup (Windows Azure & Windows Phone 7 Series)

On Friday 16th July, I headed down to Hobart to present at the Hobart.Net usergroup.

It was a good turn out for a Friday afternoon and Christopher Baker as usual had organised a great venue for the event to be held at. It was hosted at the Hobart casino in a members only bar that was booked just for us. The catering provided by the casino was great, there was a nice selection of hot finger food available.

For my talk I spent the first 1.5 hours doing a lap around Windows Azure.

  • I explained the fundamentals of cloud computing
  • What the vision of Window Azure is
  • the basic building blocks available with Windows Azure
  • some code demos
  • How to deploy to Azure
  • how to change the number of instance and deploy new versions

After that initial talk, I then did an hour talk on Windows Phone 7 series

  • What Windows phone 7 series is
  • The programming models available
  • Some code demos
  • I showed Beachy and explained how I had built it
  • Showed some design time data tricks with Expression Blend

By David Burela

Presenting at Hobart.Net user group on Windows Azure – July 16

I am doing a talk at my old user group I ran for 2 years, the Hobart .Net user group. If you are in Hobart come along and attend usergroup Friday July 16th – “Introduction to cloud computing and Windows Azure”

Location: Wrest Point – Portlight Bar
Time: 4pm-6pm

Cloud computing has been getting a lot of attention lately, but what does it really mean and how does it effect you and your business? In this session David Burela will explain the fundamentals and building blocks of cloud computing and how they can be used to build scalable web applications. David will demonstrate how to develop with the Windows Azure platform and easily deploy your applications into the cloud.

Topics that will be covered

  • Cloud introduction, basic building blocks of the cloud
  • What is windows Azure, how does it compare against Amazon and Google’s offerings?
  • Developing applications for Windows Azure
  • Fundamentals of architecting for the cloud

Bio: David Burela is a Tasmanian who went to the University of Tasmania and worked for “Federal hotels and resorts” for many years as a Graduate Analyst Programmer. Since leaving Tasmania he has worked for Readify as a Senior Devloper and now at Hazaa as a Senior Consultant. He won the international Microsoft programming competition, the ‘Imagine Cup’, with software project SOAK which aimed to assist farmers manage their farms through a cloud computing platform. Now David focuses on ways that Silverlight, Windows phone 7 series and Windows Azure can all be used in unison.

By David Burela

Windows Azure sessions from North America TechEd 2010

TechEd North America just wrapped up this week, so I have taken the time to pull together all of the Azure related topics into one area. As usual each of the sessions are available as streaming video through silverlight, but are also able to be downloaded in low and high qualities. Most sessions also have the slides available for download. So go ahead, download some of the sessions, then sit on your couch and watch them while you relax. Happy learning!

ARC304 Real-World Patterns for Cloud Computing
ASI202 Real-World SOA with Microsoft .NET and Windows Azure
ASI204 Windows Azure AppFabric Overview
COS201 A Day in the Life: Running Hosted Services in the Cloud
COS209 Building Momentum with Windows Azure
COS303 Lap around the Windows Azure Platform
COS305 Microsoft SQL Azure Development Best Practices
COS306 The Economics of Cloud Computing
COS307 Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 to Build Applications That Run on Windows Azure
COS310 Windows Azure Storage Deep Dive
COS311 Migrating Applications to Microsoft SQL Azure
DAT209 What’s New in Microsoft SQL Azure
DEV208 Open Data for the Open Web
OSP213 SharePoint and Azure: How Do They Play Together?
SIA303 Identity and Access Management: Windows Identity Foundation and Windows Azure
WEM201 Discover Windows Embedded Standard 7 as Your Next Application Platform
WSV310 What Does the Cloud Mean for the IT Professional?

By David Burela

June 2010 Azure tools now available

Microsoft has just released a new version of the Windows Azure SDK

The most notable thing about this release is that it now works with the Visual studio 2010 RTM! so we can start building Azure applications with the latest tools.
Other notable features include

  • VS2010 RTM support
  • Support for .net 4 applications
  • being able to deploy to Azure directly from visual studio, like web deploy for websites.

By David Burela

Architecting for the cloud – Best practices from Amazon

Amazon released a great “best practices” guide on how to architect for the cloud. It can be found at

It covers off a lot of great information, some of the information is Amazon specific as you would expect, but a lot of it is generic enough to let you apply the thoughts to any cloud architecture.

  • Starts with the benefits of using the cloud (reduced up front cost, quicker provisioning of additional resources, etc.)
  • Explains why your application needs to be created in a way that you can scale the work out, not up
  • Explains the concept of elasticity
  • The concept of changing your thought process from “this one server doesn’t have enough RAM to handle all the users”, to thinking of the resources as abstract components for you to use
  • Expecting that servers will fail and to compensate for it

If you haven’t read it yet, i highly recommend that you do.

By David Burela

February 2010 Azure tools now available

The June 2010 azure tools are now available for download

This is mostly a bug fix release, however it does have one interesting new feature; Azure applications can now chose which OS version the instances should use. This means you can now choose when to upgrade your instances to the latest OS snapshot with hotfixes applied.

By David Burela

Using Windows Azure to scale your Silverlight Application

When deploying your Silverlight application out to your customers, there are a number of points that could become bottlenecks. Looking at it at a high level there are 3 main ones

  1. Getting your files to the client (.xap + other media)
  2. Processing requests
  3. Retrieving data

Lets tackle these in order

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