Over two and half years ago, I wrote a blog post about starting .NET Oxford. I started it with good friend and ex-colleage, Matt Nield. Since then, .NET Oxford has grown to be a thriving community in Oxfordshire. We've had a wide variety of talks and speakers - ranging from famous names like Jon Skeet and Uncle Bob, to first-time speakers who have never been on stage before! And some of those first-time speakers might never have ever gotten on stage if it hadn't been for the .NET Oxford community! It's facts like this that really make starting a user-group worthwhile!
I've very recently decided to start a second user-group, which will focus on the Microsoft Cloud platform - Azure. Whilst .NET Oxford covers everything of interest to a .NET developer - including Azure stuff - Azure Oxford will just focus on Azure. Given that Azure has so many different services and technologies - this certainly shouldn't be an issue!
I've been doing quite a bit with Azure with various clients, and have recently decided I want to focus both my own personal learning and community contributions a bit more towards the Azure space. I'm also planning on taking some of the Azure certification exams, and will blog about my experiences.
I started creating the usual stuff - a Meetup.com page, Twitter account, etc. - then mentioned the new user-group on Twitter. Immediately, the developer community was awesome as usual, and offered plenty of help and expressed tons of interest. It's this kind of community that makes setting up user-groups so rewarding!
I'm planning on following the same format as we have for .NET Oxford. We'll start with a short intro-talk, which will include news items and prize draws. Followed by either one or two full-length talks. There'll be a 10-minute break in the middle for mingling and drinks. Followed by the pub afterwards for those who wish to continue the tech conversations!
Corriculo Recruitment, who are our sponsors for .NET Oxford, and have been AMAZING, have kindly agreed to also sponsor us for Azure Oxford. Whilst when first starting .NET Oxford, I was dubious about being sponsored by a recruitment company - Corriculo have absolutely removed that concern! They've been amazing, not only helping us out financially paying for the venue and providing plenty of drinks and refreshments at each of our meetups - but also helping us out with marketing and promotion, and various other things behind the scenes. And they have not once pushed recruitment at any of our members'! They've been an integral part of the .NET Oxford team. So they were definitely my first port of call when looking for a sponsor for Azure Oxford!
Also, just like for .NET Oxford, our secondary sponsor will be my own company, Everstack Ltd - providing my time for organising the meetup. That time of course being my own evenings and weekends - but who's counting!
Just like .NET Oxford, we'll be aiming for monthly meetups.
For the very first meetup, I'm intending to have two talks...
The first one will be myself, covering an overview of Azure. This will introduce Azure, the Azure Portal, a high-level overview of the more common services, the different ways to interact with Azure, and also how and where to learn more.
For the second talk of the night, I want a more specific talk. I have a long list of topics I want to be covered by Azure Oxford - so I'll start planning this second talk very soon, and reaching out to potential speakers.
I don't have a date for the first meetup yet - but this should hopefully be announced within the next week or so. The venue will probably remain the same as for .NET Oxford (ie. the Story Museum) - but we'll confirm this when announcing the first meetup.
Before wrapping up this post - I'd just like to say, that starting this new user-group does not mean that I'm any less committed to .NET Oxford. Nothing will change there.
If you can help us share the word of our community on social media, that would be a great help. Both .NET Oxford and Azure Oxford! :) Please remember to mention us in your Tweets (@dotnetoxford / @azure_oxford) so we can see them.