17 Small Projects That Can Teach You Microsoft Azure

In today's technical era, it's vitally important that we keep our skills fresh and learn new things. We cannot expect that our University or College education will carry us through to retirement without needing to learn something new. And we cannot even expect our employers to be entirely responsible for teaching us new things. Not all the time, anyways. 

So I thought I'd throw a little list together of projects. These projects are interesting ways you can challenge yourself to learn Microsoft Azure. But instead of reading a book, or watching a video course, you do it yourself. It's the best way to learn in some ways.

So here's a list of 17 things that you can choose to take on, which should help you grow and expand your knowledge in cloud computing concepts and Microsoft Azure specifically.

In no particular order.

1. Install WordPress into an Azure Web App Free Tier

Nothing better than learning Azure for free!

2. Create an Etherium cryptocurrency miner 

An example of this here: https://medium.com/azure-developers/mining-ethereum-with-azure-n-series-gpu-virtual-machines-81248b6f89ec

3. Install an Open Source bug tracker

Here's one on the Azure Marketplace: https://azuremarketplace.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/apps/bugnetproject.BugNET?tab=Overview

4. Create your own email server

5. Deploy a Minecraft server

Here's a tutorial on running a Minecraft server. It's a couple of years old, but should still be close to accurate. https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/malte_lantin/2016/06/14/english-host-your-own-minecraft-server-on-microsoft-azure/

6. Create a chat bot

Create a chat bot. Just don't make it too smart. If you know what I mean. https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/uk_faculty_connection/2017/09/08/how-to-build-a-chat-bot-using-azure-bot-service-and-train-it-with-luis/

7. Install a phpBB bulletin board

Bitnami has a phpBB image you can set up. https://docs.bitnami.com/azure/apps/phpbb/

8. Create a Magento ecommerce website

Well if you use the Bitnami "one-click" installer for getting an ecommerce website launched in Azure, I am not sure that counts as a project. But you can do it yourself I bet and learn a lot. https://bitnami.com/stack/magento/cloud/azure

9. Create your own Wiki - MediaWiki

Wiki's are very 2000's. But still a good way to create internal company documentation where anyone can edit. MediaWiki is an open source wiki you can use, and here's some tips on installing it. https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/appserviceteam/2016/07/05/creating-a-corporate-wiki-in-azure/

10. Create your own course platform using Moodle

If Moodle is your thing, and online courses are definitely awesome, then you can have your own course platform on Azure super quick. 

11. Create your own VPN server

You know how people pay $50 per year to have a VPN server they can use to connect to other places on the web anonymously? Well, it might be an interesting project to try to make one of those yourself!

12. Set up Azure Service Fabric with a Hello, World App

Microsoft rolled out Service Fabric as a new paradigm in computing, and if you're wanting to learn Azure it can't hurt to at least understand how that works. Why not try to create a very basic Service Fabric app of your own? You can turn it off immediately after, but you'll learn a lot in the process.

13. Set up Azure Functions with a Hello, World App

Another type of serverless app, is using Azure Functions. I cover functions in my Azure Serverless course, so you could certainly sign up for that if you wish. But it's not too hard to start creating basic functions yourself using the Azure free documentation.

14. Create a Logic App that will send you an SMS message every time Scott Duffy tweets

You can do that if you wish. ​I tweet occasionally here.

15. Get Visual Studio running on a Windows server for a remote development environment

16. Set up a SendGrid email server

How about a nice instance of SendGrid? https://azuremarketplace.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/apps/SendGrid.SendGrid?tab=Overview

17. Get a LAMP server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server running with a basic website

Hopefully some of these ideas spark an interest in diving into Azure by tackling an interesting project.

I do have a free course on installing the WordPress CMS (free) into a free instance of Azure, which is one of the items on the list. If you're interested, come over here and check it out!