Evaluating Technology Based on Specs vs. Social Proof – Microsoft DevCamp Cloud

by on May 10, 2012 in Events
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Social ProofAs an engineer, I am often driven by the technical aspects of a design decision. When I selected a cloud platform for Embarke I looked at the feature set, pricing, tool chain, reliability, roadmap etc. in order to pick the best platform. I selected Windows Azure largely based on its technical merits.

In April I was invited to be a proctor at Microsoft’s Dev Camp: Cloud Camp at UC Irvine. This was a great event and covered all the major aspects of Windows Azure. Basically the day consisted of short lectures interspersed with hands on labs.

There was no shortage of technical proof as to the merits of the platform. What was most interesting to me though were the questions I was asked. People were interested in my experience with the platform more than they were the specific technical details! Most of these people were experienced developers that were new to cloud computing. They clearly had the background and experience to evaluate Azure on its technical merits, but that did not seem to be their focus.

Social ProofI think that this can be explained by the way in which we make decisions. Human beings often substitute social proof for analysis. Yes, this is even true of us engineers! If people that we respect are making a choice then we can save a lot of time by simply making the same decision and avoiding a detailed analysis. We are inundated with options today and using this technique helps to reduce complexity. I think that this explains the nature of the questions at the Dev Camp. People were looking for Social Proof, not specs to validate the merits of Windows Azure.

If you’re an entrepreneur or startup looking to evaluate platforms, or simply want to learn more about Microsoft technologies – definitely check out one of the DevCamps!

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