Cloud computing is more than just the latest buzz word in the IT trade papers. It is a remarkable paradigm shift with as much potential to "turn over the apple cart" of IT computing as client-server had for the world of mainframe and minicomputers. If you're not spending time to learn about cloud computing, in general, and SQL Azure, in particular, then you're missing the boat in a big way. (Ha! Two big metaphors in one afternoon. My high-school English teacher would be proud.)
There are mountains, literally MOUNTAINS, of free and high-quality content to be had. For example:
Late last year, Microsoft released a whole training pack of sessions lead by David Aiken from Microsoft, including:
Fire Side Chats are invitation only Live Meetings. They are an hour in length, repeated at different times of day so you don’t need to attend at 3:00am because of time zone issues. Each Fire Side Chat has a key Microsoft individual talking about their area of expertise and answering questions from the audience. The Fireside Chats are aimed at technical experts, MVPs, user group leaders and the like. But they have content of interest for everyone. When looking at the archives, I noticed that there didn't seem to be many recent chats. But some of the older ones still looked interested. You can register to see one at http://ug.gitca.org/sites/FireSideChats.
Do you ever wish that Microsoft consolidated all of their blogs in one easy to find central clearinghouse? Well, your wish was answered, actually quite a long time ago. BlogMS consolidates almost 250 Microsoft team blogs across a variety of Microsoft product and online services portfolio, with usually about 70 - 80 blog posts per week. Yes, children, that's two to three HUNDRED blog posts per month.
You'll find important announcements and details of Microsoft news, product releases, service packs and important support issues. On top of that, I really like all of the great links to Microsoft web resources on the right hand side of the website. If you're like me (and let's be honest, most rational or just sane people would not want anything of the sort), you'll probably bookmark quite a few of those links.
The following BlogMS Resource Guides may also be of use:
You might be familiar with the term "Most Valuable Player", but haven't heard that MVPs exist in the professional world too. Microsoft has nearly 3,000 designated "Most Valuable Professionals". These folks are designated experts who know their subject matter at an expert level and, as an added bonus, they don't smell like a basketball locker room (SQLRockstar, Thomas LaRock, being a notable exception to this rule).
Late last year a cool new tool was launched called Microsoft Desktop Player. The player aggregates contextual technical content (webcasts, podcasts, white papers) from across all sorts of Microsoft websites having an IT Pro adoption lifecycle. In addition, it also provides links to local resources and news for the Developers and IT Pros based on their local settings, helping to drive the local engagement/relationship. You'll need Microsoft Silverlight to run the website, but it's oh-so-cool looking. Check out the details here: http://www.microsoft.com/click/desktopplayer.
-Kevin, Twitter at keklineMore content at http://KevinEKline.com