This is a review of Iain Foulds’s Learn Azure in a Month of Lunches, Second Edition (Manning, 2020).
To set up my review, you can’t learn Azure in a month of lunches. You can’t learn Azure in a year of lunches. And cloud services change so quickly that by the time a book comes out, some of the services already have breaking changes. That said, Foulds does a great job of walking us through a fairly simple but realistic-enough scenario and showing off a couple dozen major Azure services along the way. Much of the book is built around a sample web-based pizza ordering application, but there’s a lot more to the story than that. Foulds has chapters diving into storage accounts, ARM templates, networking, Key Vault, and more, making this a book about Azure as a whole, not just “developing an application in Azure.” The pacing of the chapters is solid and they do fit together fairly well at the logical level: you start with simple things like virtual machines and then extend out to more and more services, introducing things along the way and revising the pizza application to make it more complete and robust.
The “month of lunches” pattern is great for this type of broad-based overview, as chapters are intended to take you 30-60 minutes to get through. Granted, most of the chapters were of the “long lunch” variety, but you get a lot of information in a hands-on lab format. I appreciate the level of effort in getting everything to fit together, and it was rare that I felt like a chapter was slapped in there to fill a quota. The only chapter I remember being disappointed by was the one on machine learning, which ended up focusing on LUIS and bot framework after a small discussion of Cognitive Services but completely ignoring Azure ML. I would have preferred scrapping that chapter and instead including a full chapter on Function apps, which are themselves covered in just a few pages in a late chapter on IoT. CI/CD is also notably absent from the book, with tiny mentions of Azure DevOps and GitHub. In fairness, I think leaving that out is quite defensible given a fixed number of chapters (again, fitting the “month of lunches” motif).
Still, if you have 20 successful chapters and one which I don’t much like, that’s a good book. As such, I recommend picking up a copy of it if you’re interested in getting a broad, useful understanding of the Azure environment.
You can also get a free copy of this as an e-book through Microsoft.