UK Imagine Cup Finalist Konstantin Delov looks at the opportunities available with free Azure for Students

Imagine Cup is a global student technology program and competition that provides opportunities for students across all disciplines to team up and use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications, games and integrates solutions that can change the way we live, work and play.

Konstantin Delov is an Exeter University student and a member of Team Siymb, who reached the Worldwide Finals of the Imagine Cup earlier this year eventually taking 3rd place. He’s written the following blog all about just how easy it is for students to build their own website in the cloud with Microsoft Azure – even if they don't feel they have the coding expertise.

Microsoft Azure for DreamSpark is available now for validated DreamSpark students at no cost and no commitment, with no time limit and no accidental charges. You can upgrade to more services later if you want, but you can host your web apps and websites today with the power of the Microsoft cloud behind you and it won’t cost you anything.


Building websites on Azure… Child’s play!

A month ago, I was among the few lucky ones to be invited to the worldwide finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. I had scheduled a week off after it was all over, so I headed back home. Though it’s true that some things there never change, this wasn’t exactly the case for me.

Delov 1Redmond Campus can be quite impressive. Especially during the competition week!

I was used to seeing my brother spend most of his hours around different Minecraft servers. Just like most twelve year olds. This time around, I was quick to notice that something had clicked in his little mind. Perhaps inspired by watching me pitch in Redmond, he had come up with an ambition to achieve more. He had taken up a hobby and wanted his work to be seen. To do that, he had resorted to one of the many free website creators.

Delov 2Website in its previous version

I was positively impressed by his initiative. However, having just set up a landing page for our MIC project with my teammates, I knew that there is a better way for him to get his message across. The web-based administration panel that my brother used limited his imagination. It only had a pre-defined list of settings and taught him nothing about the way a webpage functioned. It wasn’t scalable and had ads lurking out of every corner.

Delov 3Creative process underway! Bit of a tight workspace, though…

That’s when I decided to introduce him to the world of Microsoft. In a matter of minutes, we activated a DreamSpark account that gave us an entire year of free Azure, Visual Studio and a range of other software packages, servers & applications.

Delov 4A lot of free stuff to choose from on DreamSpark

I’m not a coder myself, but if there is one thing that meeting some of the brightest minds of my generation in Seattle taught me, it’s that everything’s possible.

I got my brother a pre-made html template with some basic php integration and we went about dissecting it. Luckily, with Visual Studio’s design mode he was provided with a friendly way to see how it all came together. Most importantly, without knowing anything about code, he was able to put his own content in it simply by dragging the new images in and amending the text.

Delov 5Editing HTML made easy thanks to Visual Studio’s Design mode

At that point, I hadn’t even looked into Microsoft Blend, that I’m now eager to show him during the Christmas holidays.

Once we reached the point when we were ready to get his work online, we went on to the azure control panel. The experience was just as simple. In just several clicks, we managed to set up a Dropbox deployment slot that made getting revisions online as easy as clicking the “Sync” button.

Delov 6Azure Portal’s friendly UI makes the task even simpler!

You can see the result at . Though it’s not the most advanced website, I’m sure my brother would appreciate your support. He will certainly be happy to see some new visits on his Azure Analytics Panel.

Many are convinced that cloud computing is a territory reserved for a selected group of experienced professionals. To the extent that they wouldn’t even dare look into it.

But here’s the deal, if a non-developer with a questionable level of intelligence managed to teach a twelve year old how to set up a website on Azure, what is your excuse?

With the help of Microsoft and all the opportunities that they bring to your fingertips, the only limit is your imagination. There’s never been a better time to get into code. All you have to do is act.

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