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DevOpsGroup Blog Andrew Urwin: Lead Azure Engineer and Microsoft MVP

Andrew Urwin: Lead Azure Engineer and Microsoft MVP

Finding the right talent for any team can be one of the hardest tasks when growing and scaling a business. At DevOpsGroup we have an amazing recruitment team who strive to find the best talent that fits our company vision both technically and culturally.

One of our Lead Azure Engineers, Andrew Urwin, has recently been recognised not just inside DevOpsGroup but also by Microsoft as a Microsoft Azure Most Valuable Professional. Andrew is a real asset to DevOpsGroup and he has continually helped our clients and team with his incredible technical knowledge and by showing his passion for Azure through sharing and showing what he does.

With less than 2,800 Microsoft MVPs worldwide and only 23 Azure Microsoft MVPs in the UK we were beyond excited for Andrew to be recognised and receive this award. In gaining this status within Microsoft, Andrew can now continue to help DevOpsGroup stay on the cutting edge of technology and constantly remain up to date with any major changes which could help or affect our customers. MVPs are invited to exclusive Microsoft events, so Andrew can now join our CPO Steve Thair (a Microsoft regional director) as a DevOpsGroup representative. This enables us to extend our network of connections, and unlock new levels within Microsoft to benefit both the team and our customers.

What does Microsoft say about the MVP award?

“For more than two decades, the Microsoft MVP Award is our way of saying “Thanks!” to outstanding community leaders. The contributions MVPs make to the community, ranging from speaking engagements, to social media posts, to writing books, to helping others in online communities, have incredible impact. Key benefits to MVPs include early access to Microsoft products, direct communication channels with our product teams and an invitation to the Global MVP Summit. They also have a very close relationship with the local Microsoft teams in their area, who are there to support and empower MVPs. Other benefits include an executive recognition letter, an MSDN technical subscription, and an Office 365 subscription.”

Therefore, In order to be recognised for such an award you need to have done something significant in the industry which is worth shouting about. You cannot apply yourself, nominations are made by someone significant at Microsoft.

We caught up with Andrew to find out about his story and journey to receiving such an amazing award…

Andrew Urwin, Microsoft Azure Most Valuable Professional

Andrew Urwin, DevOpsGroup Lead Engineer and Microsoft Azure MVP

Hi, I’m Andrew. I come from a Systems Engineering background and have spent 5+ years heading up engineering teams across the world. I have designed and implemented highly available, scalable and secure global solutions for some amazing companies and I have had a such a great time doing it.

I joined DevOpsGroup over a year ago now, and I still remember the first time I met the team. My first experience of DevOpsGroup was as a client when I was working at a digital agency in the North East of England (I live in Durham – if you haven’t been, you don’t know what you’re missing!). I was so impressed with the company’s approach to solving our problems, and more importantly the awesome team who we met that I always thought about joining one day when the time was right. It was a few years later, after the birth of my son, that I needed a flexible role which would still give me the chance to work with exciting technology and household name clients, so it was a no brainer to check out DevOpsGroup vacancies… and the rest is history! 

So I suppose it was a mixture of activities which led me to this award. I love what I do and enjoy sharing things I have learned. I am very active in the community and love blogging, sharing, answering questions and just engaging in a number of topics across different platforms. None of my community contributions were done with the goal or intention of becoming an MVP. The MVP award is just a sign that Microsoft has recognised you as an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the community so I have accepted this as a really nice bonus for doing the things I would do anyway – showing my passion for technology and learning.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Microsoft MVP?

First of all, don’t aim to become an MVP. Just do and share what you love. You will get the most value out of the community by being valuable to others. If you have been thinking about starting a blog or contributing to open source, stop thinking about it and do it.

I was initially nominated by Simona Cotin, a Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft. She sent my contributions including my Azure Checklist to the MVP Award Program. I was then contacted by the MVP Lead at Microsoft, Claire Smyth. We had a great chat over the phone about my contributions which led into talking about family, dogs and pretty much everything. We followed up with each other via emails but I did not know I had the award until the day I received it in my mailbox, which was a great surprise to find! So a huge thank you goes out to Simona and Claire for being awesome and helping this happen.

Andrew’s Azure Readiness Checklist

As I mentioned before, my contributions to the community were varied. It ranged from interactions, shares and conversations on Twitter, to knowledge sharing on my blog, through to many open source contributions related to projects such as Hashicorp, Terraform and Microsoft Docs.

It was one of my personal projects: Azure Checklist, which actually went viral on Twitter that got me recognised most. Jose Miguel Parella used it at Microsoft Ignite, and I even got a compliment and retweet from Scott Hanselman!

The inspiration for the checklist came from the Gruntwork which covers AWS. I quickly realised that I could not find a checklist which covered Microsoft Azure so decided to make one and share it with the community. The checklist has received over 1240 views in the last 30days, across multiple countries, and is proving very useful to people worldwide, which is really rewarding to see!

The checklist is your guide to the best practices for deploying secure, scalable, and highly available infrastructure in Azure. We now use the checklist with our customers and have had some great feedback about how useful it has been for them to see each step being ticked off. Use this before you go live, go through each item, and make sure you haven’t missed anything important!

Want to find out more about Andrew’s Azure Checklist or how DevOpsGroup can help you with your Azure migrations or queries?

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