GR DevNight: Cool Titles, Cooler Technology

Shawn Neville
C2 Team Member Alumni
GR Dev Night Logo

An evangelist and a viceroy walk into a bar after a conference…

Grand Rapids DevNight, a quarterly conference for software professionals, featured “Cloud for Developers” on December 10th. The keynote speaker was Microsoft Technical Evangelist, David Giard. A breakaway session I joined was by David Wheeler, Technology Viceroy for ArtPrize. These speakers focused on how cloud services solve problems and create new digital powers, and showcased their unique titles.

What is an evangelist for Microsoft? Surprisingly, ecumenical comes to mind as Giard presented “Microsoft Azure Without Microsoft.” He rapidly deployed virtual apps and services in both open-source and third-party code. On the surface, that seems heretical as Microsoft bills the “evangelist” as the technologist with the “unabated passion for expanding the Microsoft community.” But in this Cornerstone University dining hall full of development talent, Giard won hearts and minds for the openness of Microsoft Azure platform.

A competing cloud platform is Amazon Web Services (AWS). Wheeler detailed the service and the technology needs of Grand Rapid’s ArtPrize. As the Technology Viceroy, he described real challenges in recruiting, registering, and matching artists and venues. He colored that with the need to display art not over an entire city, but show digitally, sometimes in real time, when demands are variable and participation might be viral. And he reminded everyone, even in a viceroy’s kingdom “there’s a vote.” ArtPrize is an open competition after all, voted on by the public, via text, app, or online. So, it’s an exotic mix of technical jobs happening in a compressed space of weeks. Giard described how AWS was appropriate to widely scalable, unpredictably busy, immediate situations because it is powerful, easy to work with, and a good match for needs as dynamic as ArtPrize.

“Cloud for Developers” included dinner, networking, presentations, and conversations at a happy hour. Chris Woodruff, a Top 20 Microsoft MVP in C#, also presented. And it’s the participation of coders, technologists, students, and business users that highlight Grand Rapids DevNight’s value. The C2 Group is proud to be both a participant and Platinum Sponsor.  

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