Thinking about the Cloud and/or Azure?

Gartner predicts that by 2013, "Cloud computing will grow to 20% or more of the total IT budget. As a developer, where do your Cloud skills current stand? Have you built your first application yet? Have you even taken thirty minutes to follow one of the walkthroughs that are available?

We've produced quite a bit of content on Windows Azure and the other Microsoft technologies related to Cloud development. In fact, we have created two entire portals around Cloud Computing. One is for developers and the other for IT Pros. After all, developers and IT Pros have different interests.

we've also added three articles worth reviewing to Developer.com. Microsoft actually worked with us to produce these articles. Even so, they were produced by independent writers we found that had credentials to show that they could do a great job. These three articles are:

 

 

Whether you are new to Cloud or not, these can help you quite a bit. If you've not used Azure at all, then start with the Step-by-Step Guide to Setting up a Windows Azure Free Trial . The key here is "free". You can get started and play with this without spending any money. In fact, there are settings that you can use to prevent yourself from being billed. These settings are covered in the articles.

Once you have an Azure account set up, then the obvious thing to do is start using it. If you don't know where to start, then you'll want to move to the second article, Creating a Windows Azure Application: A Step-by-Step Guide . With your free account set up, you'll be able to follow along with this article to actually use it. You'll walk through creating an application. Once done, you can take what you learned and apply it to your own scenarios.

The third article that is listed might seem odd at first, but it really falls back to that word free I mentioned before. Microsoft has provided a lot of resources to help get you started. They've even provided resources to help you with testing and marketing. You can get access to these through a program they have called Microsoft Platform Ready. This third article, Don't Do Azure Cloud (or any Development) on Your Own! covers this program and shows you what is available from it. While this title slants towards Cloud, it is worth noting that the MPR program providers similar aid for other applications including mobile, SQL Server, and more. Read the article and you'll see that the program is at least worth a look.

All three of these articles are posted on the Cloud Computing for Developers Showcase. I believe you'll find they are great for helping to get you started using Cloud. At a minimum, working through the articles and following along with a free Azure account will help you say you've worked with Cloud computing. Such a credential can't hurt, especially if more IT budgets are headed that way in the near future!