Hands-on Visual Studio 2012 Workshops - What to do with your free Azure MSDN subscription.

I run workshops.


Instead of boring lectures, I give the attendees the opportunity to get real hands-on experience and feel the scenario instead of listing only.

Specially the Visual Studio 2012 ALM scenario’s are really nice, the attendees work together on a scenario like: code review, feedback, agile planning and testing.



I run these workshops with Azure Virtual Machines, every attendee has it’s own environment on Azure prepared and configured by me for that specific workshop. After I created an image (see: How to Capture an Image of a Virtual Machine) one day ahead of the workshop, I start creating Azure VM’s just before the workshop starts (see: Create a Virtual Machine). After the workshop I kill everything again. so, I only use it for a minimal amount of time, a perfect cloud benefit scenario.

A small calculation on the Azure costs will give you insight in how many time you can run such a workshop a month. Indeed this costs so less money that you can run these kind of workshops for 20 people multiple times a month without getting over the free boundaries of your MSDN Azure account. Probably this will change while, the in beta, Azure VM’s are still free. You ‘re only charged for bandwidth and blob storage, which is cheap.



All attendees are connected with my Team Foundation Service. They provide a MicrosoftID (aka LiveID / Hotmail account) which they use to connect to TFS, within five minutes after the workshop starts everybody works together in teams on the same code base and backlog.

A really nice scenario on how Team Foundation Service enables ad-hoc teams to start working together. I few weeks ago I did a test workshops and after five minutes 40 testers where testing, specifying test cases, run tests cases and automated test cases for just one specific application for three hours. Not only interesting for workshops.


So, what to do with your un-used Azure power which comes with the MSDN Subscriptions benefits, run workshops! It is really interesting for the attendees, easy to setup and free. 


One thing to pay attention to: look if the software you're installing on the image is valid for Azure. I use trial versions of software, sometimes you’re not aloud to run it. But, my workshops only take three hours. I kill everything afterwards and make the attendees experienced in the installed software, explain it to the software company they will probably love it and almost for sure they didn’t cover this three hour scenario in their licensing and allows it to use it.  


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