The beginning..


I will hold my hands up and admit that I procrastinated a bit too long on starting this blog. Back in August, I created a WordPress site hosted on a LAMP stack in Azure, with the best of intentions of beginning my blog there and then. (Sidebar – In July, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what LAMP stood for, let alone set one up and configure it for WordPress!)

Some context..

I am a Cloud Solution Architect (CSA) at Microsoft, and I started that role in July 2017. The CSA role is a deeply technical role, and we have some of the brightest, most knowledgeable and experienced people I have ever met working in our team. I joined them as part of what we call our ‘CloudCore’ programme. That programme has one main goal; to take a selection of Microsoft’s college hires, and give them the training and support they need to become Cloud Solution Architects.

The programme is global and I have peers here in the UK, and farther afield in the likes of Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and the USA. We are a very mixed group in terms of our backgrounds. Some of us have been in technical roles since graduation, some of us have never been technical. Some of the group did technical degrees, others did not. I fall into the ‘not’ category. My degree was in Management and Strategy, and whilst I have always had a keen interest in technology, my knowledge was somewhat limited to the things that touched me most; in my personal life, that was gaming, PC building, virtual reality and gadgets, and in my professional life, the Microsoft stack.

I joined Microsoft as a Technical Account Manager, although I always stressed to customers and colleagues “technical, with a small t!”. The core of my role was enabling my enterprise customers to get the most out of their investments in solutions like Office 365 – and the skills I needed for that role were mostly business oriented, rather than technical. I did that role for nearly 4 years, and whilst I enjoyed it, I always felt pangs of admiration laced with envy when I would invite deeply technical colleagues to talk to my customers and deliver workshops. They knew their stuff – they were SMEs in their area, and I loved that. At the same time, Microsoft was betting big on Azure and I knew that this was the place to be if I wanted to be at the bleeding edge of cloud innovation. Still, how could I overcome the irrefutable truth that I wasn’t ‘technical’?

I remained incredibly curious about technology and was learning to code in my spare time by making small games in the popular game development engine, Unity. That was around the time the CloudCore programme opportunity came up. My experience in Azure was very limited at that time. I had been in the portal and experimented with web apps, but that was the extent of it. CloudCore has given me a lot of training, support and mentorship over the past few months. I have been lucky enough to travel to Las Vegas, Seattle and Prague for regular Azure training, including hands on labs, whiteboard design sessions and more.

Fast forward 5 or 6 months, and I now have a broader understanding of the Azure platform, and a good grasp of what it means to design distributed cloud applications. I know the learning will never stop in this role, and I love it. The aim of this blog is to document my experience and to share what I learn. I would hope that I might even motivate the less technical folks who might be reading this to roll up their sleeves and just start learning! I believe that the barrier to gaining these core skills has never been so low – with blogs, MOOCs, and free trials for Cloud Platforms to get hands on and learn by doing – there is a wealth of material out there to help you get started – I’ll share anything I find useful, and I plan on a future blog to cover Azure certification exam tips.

Thanks for reading!