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Code Project's Azure Cloud Challenge

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We have started a new Azure Cloud Challenge, in partnership with Code Project. It is already on going, but you can catch up with plenty of time to go.

There are essentially five challenges that you will work through. Over time you will build a web application hosted on Azure that uses Azure data services, virtual machines and provides a great mobile experience. Everything a modern cloud based application needs.

The five challenges are fairly easy and they include a small writing task. I like that there is a writing component to the challenges. I find that that writing about what I am doing helps me think with more clarity about what I am building and how I am doing it.

I have summarized the challenge for you here, but you should read and understand all of the details at http://aka.ms/AzureDevChallenge.

What is the reward?

There will be tiered prizes for the winning submissions, including an editor’s choice award for the most creative submission. 

  • Each challenge will have 3 winners, with each winner receiving a 64 GB Surface RT with black Touch Cover (in the US only), or cash equivalent (outside of the US). That’s $2,100 in prizes every two weeks, $10,500 in total
  • Each challenge will also have up to 10 spot prizes of $100 each. That’s $1,000 on offer per challenge.
  • The Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and promotion on CodeProject and Microsoft owned and operated properties. Fame and fortune.

Does this have to be a .NET thing?

No! Windows Azure is open and flexible, with open source SDKs for all of the common web platforms. Check them out here. Use C++, use node.js, use PHP with MySQL, or C# on ASP.NET with MVC and SQL Server, Your call, as long as you complete the challenges

This competition is to help you learn about building and hosting applications on Windows Azure, so obviously applications that run on the Azure platform are required. However, not just anything will get you a winner’s jersey. Be creative, be daring, over extend and over achieve. The more you show off your understanding of Azure, and the more you focus on explaining what you’re doing, the better your chances.


Late Entrants: If you missed out on any one of the challenges then you can jump in at any time as long as you complete the stages you missed.

1. First Challenge: Getting Started. April 15 – April 28 May 3
The first challenge is a gimme. You need to setup a free trial Azure account (super easy) and post an article on CodeProject (in the Windows Azure Contest section) outlining your idea on what you’ll build for the remaining stages. Most important: in 2 sentences or less explain how Azure might benefit or change the way you do things today. You can keep your article brief if you want to protect your ideas, or you can write up something juicy if you want to win the prize for this challenge. It’s your move in this game of chess.

2. Second Challenge: Build a website. April 29 – May 12

Again, not really a challenge for any webdev worth their salt. However, what about packaging it up for simple deployment? What about responsive design? What about the other 9 free sites you can setup under your free Azure account? And how will your web app tie into the next challenge? Remember to write up your work in your article on CodeProject to have a chance at the prize for this second challenge.

3. Third Challenge: Using SQL on Azure. May 13 – May 26

Now it starts getting interesting. Use SQL on Azure in whatever way you wish. Add a little data to season the mix or use it as a backup.recovery solution. It’s not just about data access. Again, write up what you’ve learned, what you’re doing, and how you did it.

4. Fourth Challenge: Virtual Machines. May 27 – Jun 9

Never used a VM before? Never spun up a virtual machine from your application? It’s time to try. Maybe you want to host a Windows or Linux application, or spin up a test environment, or have your own instance of SQL Express in a VM, or you can just spin up an instance of an existing web application to sit alongside your  application in a VM. We’re really going to be digging into your article at this point. Is there code? Are there explanations of how you conquered challenges? Tell us your story.

5. Fifth Challenge: Mobile access June 10 – June 24

You’re done. You’ve built a distributed n-tier cloud based data drive web application hosted on multiple virtual machines and you are the Master. But does it work on your Nokia, iPhone or Galaxy? I mean really work. Nicely, intuitively, seamlessly. Offline. It’s up to you what you do at this point, but the judges will be testing your final masterpiece on their phones and tablets. Your CodeProject article, at this point, should be mostly complete.

During each challenge spot challenges will be announced and prizes will be awarded. Possible spot announcements could be the 1,000th entry, the first to complete a 5 minute challenge, or the best haiku in an article’s sample code. You never know.

Before you race off and complete the challenges in one fell swoop, be warned that your entry for one challenge cannot be used as an entry for a subsequent stage. If you build a data driven website in Challenge 1 then you need to enter something new for the data driven portion of Challenge 2.

The Cloud Zone is brought to you in partnership with Internap. Read Bare-Metal Cloud 101 to learn about bare-metal cloud and how it has emerged as a way to complement virtualized services.


Published at DZone with permission of Brian Prince, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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