The 2016 Microsoft MVP Global Summit was held as usual, almost as usual, at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue Hotel. All of the other Bellevue hotels were filled with geeks and nerds November 6th through 11th.

But, on November 8th I went to the central hall of the Hyatt and I suddenly realized that the people around me were not geeks but normal looking people, although they had similarly enthusiastic faces. After a minute I realized that I was at a Republican Party meeting, and the guy on stage announced that the Republicans had caught up with Democrats. All of the people around me were screaming with delight, although no one believed that a victory was coming so soon for their party… Weird.

But back to Wired… The summit was held under the umbrella of Azure, the Microsoft Cloud technologies. The dam collapsed, the heavens fell, and almost all the sessions were about Azure. A couple of years ago, few programmers faced with the development, installation and maintenance of the cloud programs. All this happened nearby on workstations and servers. But it seems that soon on local computers and servers do not remain large programs. Local computers would be used only as a terminals during the mainframe era. The spiral of history.

Azure now has more than a hundred different services. I hardly know how many there are, let alone what they all do, and new services appear with each passing month. The list of Azure preview features and services is a continuously growing and contracting list always showcasing around 20 items. The Microsoft guys showed us new versions of services and many times it was a case of, ‘Wow!’. I got to see things that no one else has seen yet. Microsoft has managed to compound its experience of industrial programming with fresh ideas and methods drawn from the open source community. These guys are racing forward, but not as an old enterprise monster of yesteryear, but as an agile fast moving responsive behemoth and they look like they are going to firmly stay in that saddle.

The Visual Studio Code editor is a lighter version of VS, runs under Mac, Linux, and Windows, and it supports a LOT of languages. Do not worry about money either, VS Core is free. It’s light, geeky, and looks like a JetBrain masterpiece, but created by Microsoft.

No one expects major changes from the SQL Server side, but what can be said about Data Lake Store, StorSimple, or about Data Factory? I can say that it’s now time to try it all.

Now try to find on your server something that does not find its counterpart in Azure. Found? Hardly. Now try the opposite. Hmm…

It is time to begin to deal with cloud-services pricing. Already cloud services are not expensive, and they make sense. Incidentally the Price Calculator now looks simpler and easier. However we can ignore the calculator since we can try all Azure services for free. Many services have a free initial level, even for production.

And forget about the fear of becoming dependent on Microsoft as Azure supports a reasonable set of programming languages and operating systems.

What if you want something else, that is not available yet? Go to the General Feedback site and leave your idea or feature change. If a sufficient number of people vote for it, it will be implemented.

I am more interested in Machine Learning (ML) currently, and it is at the forefront of Microsoft’s efforts. Azure ML Studio is unique. The editor works in a browser, and the models train and work on Microsoft’s servers. Trained models for speech recognition, language, video, search, are brought together under the umbrella of Microsoft Cognitive Services. If you do create any Neural Network models the Cognitive Toolkit helps. If you are a hard-core programmer then there is still a Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit with great LightGBM. Do not forget about the R Server, which is now supported by Microsoft.

After the summit I can conclude that the trend is now in two directions. Cloud, is already outgrowing childhood and is definitely ready for production. Machine Learning, the hottest trend that is not too late for you to catch up to.