Abhimanyu Chitra Selvan




Hosting the Microsoft Azure Hackfest

A small milestone in my cloud journey

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Abhimanyu Chitra Selvan
·May 1, 2022·

3 min read

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Table of contents

  • The Announcement
  • The Buildup
  • The Day: Europe meets the USA
  • Learnings

I have been an avid user of Microsoft products since childhood. Probably 99% of the household were running a Windows machine back in the day. Microsoft has been doing phenomenally well since Satya took over in 2014. Those close to me know that I have defended Windows against the so-called "Linux" and "Mac" users. I am not going into the debate of what is better and what it is not. We shall leave that for another blog :p

If it is not clear at this point, then let me phrase it again

diabhey <3 Microsoft

In this blog, I will share my thoughts on how we hosted the Microsoft Azure Hackfest and what I learned from it.

The Announcement

As you can imagine, I was pretty ecstatic when I heard the news from my CEO that we will be hosting the hackfest at MSFT, where we will be running through some labs that will allow the engineers to explore our OSS project Otomi. It was not only a huge deal for our early-stage startup but also for me as a technologist to establish the first connection with a firm that I had looked up to(still am) all my professional career.

The Buildup

This was going to be a virtual event as the entire team of engineers who will be participating were from the USA. We had to make sure that our instructions in the labs were made as easy and intuitive as possible so that anyone can follow the workshops without any hassle.

Writing a good user manual is hard man!

But through several iterations, we believe we reached a point where it could not get any simpler. Being an extremely small team of engineers, it was easy for us to get things done efficiently. There were no bottlenecks or overhead. We just had to get it done ;)

The Day: Europe meets the USA

The event was at 18:00 hrs CEST on the 19th of April. CEO and I stayed up at the office to set up the demo environment and the slides. It was a two-hour event, starting with some introductions and an overview of our product, followed by hands-on workshops for the participants.

We had about 25 Engineers from Microsoft who had participated. They were quite the active bunch as we were flooded with questions. We were able to tackle them and it also served as a vital input to incorporating new features into our product.

The demo gods were with us!

If I have to be brutally honest, before the start of the event, I was a bit intimidated by the presence of some industry stalwarts and I was a bit overwhelmed. To my surprise, during the event I realised, they are also a bunch of nerds like us who are curious to try out new things. They didn't have any air around them and acted with humility. It was a huge confidence boost for me as it made me realise as long as I keep focussing on my craft, and stay humble, there is nothing that can intimidate me.


By going through this exercise of creating labs and hosting the hackfest, we learnt a few things,

  • Writing audience-specific user instructions/manuals is crucial (where do you draw the line?)
  • How to chain the labs together (sequencing) to make it interesting for the participants
  • Using a real-life example for the labs makes it even more relatable
  • Teamwork and collaboration is vital to the success of the event
  • How to reuse this content for other workshops and developer onboarding (we got some wild ideas, coming soon! )
  • Be brave and just go for it.

I am really happy to share this story with y'all. You can find the labs to the Azure Hackfest here.

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