Cloudy and Mobile in Las Vegas

I most often find time to write while on flights to conferences. And this evening I’m soaring over a thick layer of clouds, watching the sun’s bright orange and red colors fade beneath, while planning the rest of my week. I’m headed to Las Vegas, and while I’m normally not excited to go to Las Vegas, because I really despise everything that makes Las Vegas what it is, this trip I’ve been anxiously awaiting, and here’s why.

Escaping the Cold

I live between Chicago and Milwaukee. For those that aren’t familiar with this area of the USA, Chicago and Milwaukee are approximately 90 minutes apart, and I live right between them. This region is pretty far North, next to Lake Michigan, and usually has a pretty long winter season. This year has been a brutally cold winter, with a fair amount of snow, and when it snows in November, that same snow will be around until the spring time. When I left, the temps were in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s, and the snow was melting down, but it’s not going to be an overnight disappearing act. I’m sure when I get back, there will still be snow. But I’d love to be surprised. As a result, of all of this cold, the mid 70 temps and sunshine in Las Vegas sound really appealing.

Teaching others about My Technology Passions

I get really excited about innovation and technology. Two major innovations that I spend a lot of time deeply involve in are mobile and cloud. These two innovations have and will continue to drive changes in the way we do even the most basic things, like communicating with others, playing games and sharing media. Right now I’m on my way to Live 360 which is a group of conferences all going on simultaneously at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. These conferences include Visual Studio Live and SQL Server Live, and I’m truly honored to have been invited to speak at Visual Studio Live in Las Vegas for the past three years. This year, I’m getting to teach developers about some of the things that are most interesting to me, which include mobile and cloud technologies. My four sessions at Live 360 will be on Tuesday and Wednesday and the details on each session are below.

SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines

The introduction of IaaS and stateful Virtual Machines in Windows Azure has expanded the workloads that fit in Windows Azure. One of the most common workloads is SQL Server. In this session, you will learn how to get started with SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Next, Eric will show you how to architect your SQL Server VMs to be highly available and fault tolerant in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Then you will learn how to optimize and tune the performance of SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Finally, Eric will walk through some tips and things to consider like database migrations, security, management and when to use SQL Server over Windows Azure SQL Database.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 at 2:30pm – 3:45pm in Celebrity 5

Overview of IaaS in Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Windows Azure is a great cloud platform for scalable, on-demand computing power. However, there are scenarios that are not supported by Windows Azure’s Cloud Service web and worker roles. In this session, we will explore the traditional Windows Azure web and worker compute roles and walk through the common challenges encountered when using these. We will explore the architecture and internals of Windows Azure, and then explore Virtual Machines and the scenarios that are enabled with a statefull OS in the Cloud. We will walk through the lifecycle of installing, configuring and deploying a Virtual Machine to Windows Azure and we’ll consider the tradeoffs and alternatives to using Virtual Machines vs. Cloud Services. Finally, we will take a look at what’s new in Virtual Machines and how to get started.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 at 9:15am – 10:30am in Celebrity 8

Mobile App Development for the Web Developer Using PhoneGap

Developing mobile apps is very attractive for many reasons, but the cost and time investment to get started is intimidating for most. However, if you are a web developer with HTML, JavaScript and CSS skills, you can repurpose your existing knowledge and tools to create great mobile apps using PhoneGap and Apache Cordova. In this session, you will learn about Apache Cordova/PhoneGap, how it works and how to get started from a Windows PC using Telerik’s Icenium. You will learn how to build native experience mobile apps using HTML5 and how to accelerate your development by utilizing JavaScript libraries like jQuery Mobile, Kendo UI Mobile, Knockout. Throughout this session, Eric will also share some of the lessons he and his team have learned building real-world, production mobile apps using PhoneGap.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 at 2:45pm – 4:00pm in Celebrity 2

Debugging and Monitoring Windows Azure Cloud Services

Windows Azure Cloud Services is an awesome platform for developers to deliver applications in the cloud without needing to manage virtual machines. However, the abstraction that gives you this simplified deployment and scale, prevents you from attaching a Visual Studio Remote Debugger. Sometimes you need visibility into the execution of your production applications. What if you could replay the real production usage with the exact call sequence and variable values using the Visual Studio Debugger? What if you could collect production metrics that would help you identify performance bottlenecks and slow code?

In this session, Eric Boyd will walk you through debugging and monitoring real-world Windows Azure applications. Eric will show you how to collect diagnostics like Event Logs, Perf Counters, IIS Logs, and even file-based logs from running Windows Azure compute instances. Next, Eric will also show you how to debug your production Windows Azure services using IntelliTrace’s black box recording capabilities. Lastly, you will learn how to collect CLR-level diagnostics and performance metrics without instrumenting your code using tools like AppDynamics and New Relic. If you feel like Windows Azure Cloud Services are a black box when debugging issues and solving performance problems, you will leave this session feeling like Windows Azure is radically more transparent and easier to debug than the applications in your own data center.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 at 4:30pm – 5:45pm in Celebrity 8

Collaborating with Others

I have always really enjoyed conferences, both as an attendee and over the past several years as a presenter. In addition to learning during sessions and workshops, conversations outside of sessions are extremely valuable. I love to discuss new and old technologies, exciting and painful projects, and the challenges that other developers and presenters are struggling with. There’s so much you can learn from others and their experiences, and it’s as simple as chatting over a meal, cocktails, or in Vegas maybe at a blackjack or craps table. I anticipate many fun, intriguing and inspiring conversations while in Vegas this week. If you see me around and would like to chat, feel free to get my attention and fire up a conversation. This is one of the things I enjoy most about being a consultant, trainer and developer.

I’m also looking forward to collaborating with Lenni Lobel while I’m in Vegas. If you don’t know Lenni, Lenni ( is a developer, SQL Server guru and MVP and if you can, you should attend one of his sessions because he’s a great presenter. Lenni is also my co-author on a new Microsoft Press book titled Step-by-Step Windows Azure SQL Database. We are at the end of finishing up this project and it’s expected to hit the shelves (or eBook readers) in June. Right now you can pre-order the title on Amazon at

There are a number of reasons I’m excited for Live 360 in Las Vegas, warm weather is certainly one of those, smoking cigars with Miguel Castro ( is another, but spending time with other software development practitioners tops the list.

Next Time

If you aren’t attending Live 360 in Las Vegas, but the sessions and conference sound interesting, there are additional opportunities in 2014.

May 5-8, 2014, Visual Studio Live! will be making it’s way to my area of the world in Chicago. You can still register and there’s a great lineup of speakers and sessions coming.

November 17-21, 2014, the multi-conference Live 360 conference will be in warm, sunny Orlando, FL. And as the date gets closer, there will be more details at

If you are just interested in exploring Cloud, Windows Azure, Mobile Development and PhoneGap further, my company does customized private training events and we’d be happy to explore that with you. To learn more or contact responsiveX, visit

Storing and Access Data in Windows Azure

If you are currently developing web or mobile apps, you have likely spent a significant amount time planning where and how to store and access your data. You probably want your data to be highly available, scalable, easy to manage and access, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind if it were affordable too.

If you’re considering or interested in using the cloud as a potential solution, I can show you how to easily get started and how to get rewarded for doing so.

eSeminar has put together a number of resources that will help you get started storing and accessing your data in the cloud in no time—and they’ll reward you every step of the way.

I had the privilege of working with CodeGuru to create an eSeminar that walks through using Windows Azure SQL Database. In the eSeminar I walk through how to get started with Windows Azure SQL Database by creating a database, setting up the schema and populating it with data. I then show you how to build an OData service that connects back to your SQL Database. And lastly, I walk you through how to setup a simple website that pulls in data from your SQL Database and displays it in an ASP.NET MVC Web App.
You can watch the eSeminar video here at CodeGuru.

Step-by-Step Articles

If you’d like to follow a written guide, in addition to watching the video, I’ve written the following two articles for CodeGuru detailing the process and steps that I walk through in the eSeminar.

The first article will outline the steps to store your data in Windows Azure.
Click here to read the Storing Data in the Cloud article.

The second will show you how to access your data with an OData service and a simple ASP.NET MVC web site.
Click here to read the Accessing Cloud Data using an OData Web Service article.

Activities and Prizes

Upon completion of this tutorial (and successfully storing and accessing your data in the cloud) you will have completed Activity 1 and 2 and you are eligible to pick up some pretty cool prizes.
See Activity 2 and the prizes you can win here.

In Activity 3 you will be taking your new knowledge of the cloud and data services to build a database in Windows Azure along with an OData service and a website to display your data. You will be following the same guidelines you learned in Activity 1 and Activity 2, only this time YOU will be create creative and unique data set. After you have completed Activity 3 you will be entered to win one of several gift cards.
See Activity 3 and the prizes you can win here.

Now it’s time to do something big—bring your new skills together and find out how useful the cloud can really be! In Activity 4 you will be creating your own project that uses Windows Azure to store data, utilizes a service to pull that data down and then displays that data in an app. The project can be anything you like but you need to make it useful—more than just storing data; find a way to actually use the data! Upon completion of the 4th and final Activity you will be entered to win one of two Windows 8 Tablets!
See Activity 4 and the prizes you can win here.

After you have finished these activities you will understand how to easily and effectively store your data in the cloud and with any luck you’ll have some sweet prizes to go along with your new knowledge.

Along with the prizes mentioned above, everyone who completes an Activity will have access to use CodeGuru badges showing off their new Cloud knowledge and skills.
You can review all of the awesome prizes here.

Roundtable Discussion

Still not convinced that the cloud and Windows Azure is the right fit for your applications? Check out the following Video Roundtable where other cloud experts and myself discuss advantages to using Windows Azure and discover if the cloud is right for you.
Check out the Video Roundtable here.