January 25, 2023
Welcome to the second edition of the Azure World Newsletter in 2023.
I hope you’re doing well.
I recently heard that the third Monday of January (this past January 15th) is called Blue Monday, and is known as the “most depressing day of the year” in the Northern Hemisphere. This claim isn’t based on anything scientific, but there is a “sounds true” appeal to the idea that we are into the Winter season now, and it’s cold in many Northern places. The Christmas holidays are now solidly over, daytime is still short, some places aren’t seeing the sun too often, and many people can’t wait for Spring.
Of course, others love the Winter and all it entails. So that’s not universally true.
Anyways, I hope you’re doing well, getting rest when needed, and even taking a vacation if you can. Every day that passes means the Earth is getting a bit closer to the Sun again. So Winter will be over before we know it.
Let’s turn our attention to cloud computing and Microsoft Azure.
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There has been a lot of excitement about a new AI tool called ChatGPT lately.
On the surface, it’s just a chatbot that can craft human-sounding answers to any question. It doesn’t always tell you the right answer, but it would be difficult to determine that it was written by an algorithm and not a human.
But when I dig a bit deeper, I am really excited about this advancement for the future of artificial general intelligence. I may have to update my AI-900 course, where I say that General AI is very far off in the future. It’s getting closer.
I can imagine a day when this newsletter is written by AI and not by me. The technology is not ready for that today. But in 5 years? Could a computer write what I write? And could anyone tell the difference? I’m not so sure they will be able to.
Microsoft was a big initial investor in the OpenAI company behind this technology. And now, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that the ChatGPT will be available as part of the Azure OpenAI Service. Currently, you can use the OpenAI Service to generate images based on text, called DALL-E 2. I’ve talked about DALL-E before in this newsletter.
I think really interesting things will happen with this technology. Especially, if you can train it for your own industry.
I have more to say about the future of language models like GPT-3 and GPT-4. I’m actually worried about governments and large companies restricting access to this technology which will slow down the benefits of this to society as a whole. But I’ll talk about that another time.
David Heinemeier Hansson (better known by his initials, dhh) is a bit controversial in computing. Loved by some and hated by some. But he’s a pioneer as well, and often what we see him doing with Basecamp and Hey is followed later by other companies as well.
For instance, 37 Signals (maker of the project management tool Basecamp) famously instituted a “no politics at work” policy in 2021. The company would not take any public political stance, and employees were barred from discussing it on internal forums. Around one-third of 37 Signal’s employees resigned. The company stuck to its policy, they hired new employees to replace those that left, and it didn’t take long before the controversy was over.
At the end of 2022, dhh posted about his company’s cloud computing bill. He claimed they spent over $3 million, mostly on AWS. $907,000 on the S3 storage service alone.
And then he announced that the company was moving off the cloud. He was going to take that $3 million per year he was spending and buy servers with it.
This flies in the face of the conventional cloud sales pitch that says that you can save money by moving to the cloud. Some companies don’t experience that, it seems.
Clearly, cloud computing providers like Amazon and Azure are making a profit. AWS appears to have about 30% gross margins, which means its computing services cost it $7 to operate and they charge $10 for it. So the fact that such a profit exists means that some companies can do computing cheaper themselves than a cloud provider would charge them for it.
dhh promises to provide a full accounting of what he’s spending on the cloud and compare it next year to what he spends on his own datacenter. So we’ll get a real-life lesson examining the cost savings of the cloud or lack thereof. Will be interesting to see.
AZURE PLATFORM UPDATES.
Since the last newsletter was sent at the beginning of December, a lot has happened. Here’s a summary of the highlights.
The following announcements were made in the last two weeks:
- Azure Active Directory authentication for exporting and importing Managed Disks in GA
- Azure Automation Visual Studio Code Extension, in preview
- Viewing SQL Server Databases via Azure Arc, in preview
- Azure Active Directory authentication for SQL Server 2022, in GA
Check out the Azure Updates page if any of these affect you.
COMING UP FOR ME.
Don’t have any big announcements to make at this time. I’ll keep you updated in this section in future newsletters.
WHERE TO FIND ME.
And that’s it for issue 4.02. Thanks for reading this far. Talk to you again in two weeks.
What is your favorite platform to be on? Perhaps we can connect there.
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