A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced that Visual Studio would be a free development tool. A special version, called the Community Edition (Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition) which is roughly equivalent to the current Visual Studio Professional – in other words a pretty high-end featured version (certainly compared to the up-to-now free “Express” editions) would be made available to individuals and also to organisations that had less than 5 developers using the tool and with a turnover of less than $1 million.
Then something really cool happened a few days later. It ended up as an image in the Microsoft Azure VM portal.
You can now provision a Windows Server 2012 R2 with VSCE already installed (and it happens to also have the Azure SDK installed as well). Windows Server 2012 R2 is pretty close to Windows 8/8.1. So you get a very modern development environment which can be provisioned in 9 clicks and a short wait of between 5 and 8 minutes….
You then simply make a remote desktop connection to the machine over the Internet. This has even been made easy by the provision of a “Connect” button in the portal.
What makes this even more incredible is that with a free Azure trial subscription – you can provision this system and use it for free for the 30-day duration of the subscription.
I ran a cloud dev camp yesterday and added this in as the first lab-task. We’ve normally required the delegates to turn up with their laptops pre-configured. But yesterday, they provisioned their own dev machine in the cloud and then used that machine to build further services which they provisioned to the cloud. It’s the very start of one of the huge use-cases we’re seeing for Azure: Dev-and-Test in the cloud. From the conversations I had with people afterwards, it’s really fired a few imaginations as they think of the range of possibilities for their own companies’ dev and test environments.
The first few minutes of this video I just recorded shows you how to use a free Azure subscription (you can sign up for that right here) to provision a dev workstation. I then go on to show you, very quickly, how to provision a couple of Azure services: an Azure website and an Azure Cloud Service. Really just because you might as well use Azure if you’ve got a free subscription.