19. Developer services marketplace
Before you reinvent speech recognition, check the Developer Services Marketplace for free and paid ways to extend functionality, turbo-charge development, and manage cloud deployments with certified Azure tools such as io for event-driven computing, or face APIs from Project Oxford.

20. Ride the IoT wave
No set of tips would be complete without instructions on how to program the proverbial light bulb. These days, Internet of Things projects are everywhere. Hanselman, a type 1 diabetic, movingly demonstrated in a November 2015 keynote video how he tracks his blood sugar and insulin pump in the cloud with Azure technologies.

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub offers SDKs, management and security solutions to harness a plethora of IoT devices, and once the data is collected, there are new machine-learning tools available to process data stored in HD Insight, Microsoft’s version of the Hadoop Big Data store. Have fun!

Start your engines
Use these 20 tips as a checklist for leveraging the vast Azure platform. The more you understand Azure, the more you see where it’s headed: “We’re seeing a blurring of IaaS vs. PaaS and starting to just see a compute platform,” said Sanders.

Redmond has clearly learned to embrace today’s polyglot cloud, and you can use that flexibility to your advantage. “Azure is not only a Windows server; they have Ubuntu, they have Linux servers, they have a new agreement with Red Hat, you can spin up an Oracle database… There’s so many different non-Microsoft technologies to choose from,” said Garcia.