Mark Brown, senior product marketing manager for Windows Azure, remembers when it was much harder to make connections in technical communities, which is one the reasons he’s so passionate about facilitating those connections now.
Senior product marketing manager for Windows Azure, Mark Brown, has been with Microsoft more than a dozen years—and active with community even longer. “I’ve been friends with MVPs for as long as there’s been an MVP community,” he said. “And I’m genuinely wowed and impressed by this group.”
Mark has been a member of the Microsoft Windows Azure team for two years and seen the important role MVPs have played in helping people get the most from this new cloud technology. “Our engineers have been relentless in producing new services and MVPs have a substantial impact on improving the services we’re releasing,” he said. “The engineering team will reach out and talk with MVPs throughout the development cycle—even if it’s just a new idea.”
“And then MVPs take their knowledge and they’re out there organizing community and industry events, writing blog posts with original technical content, sharing code, and answering questions,” he continued.
In addition to working with the Windows Azure MVP community, Mark also works with community members across a range of Microsoft technologies which integrate with Windows Azure (such as SQL Server, IIS, C Sharp, Windows Server, Dynamics CRM) and with technical influencers beyond the Microsoft community, since Windows Azure provides support for a range of languages and platforms.
“Part of my job is just facilitating them,’ he said. “Helping them find a location for an event or the right engineer to answer a unique technical question.” He’s also created a private portal for the 300 community members he works with, aggregating content from a range of sources (such as blog posts, github, SlideShare, Stack Overflow) and highlights them in his community round-up posts. “It helps to surface amazing new technical content and promotes community influencers both globally and locally where others can connect with them in their local communities,” he explained.
Mark remembers when it was much harder to make community connections. He began building software on the Microsoft platform in 1992 and, as he describes it, he lived on the news groups and scoured websites for information. “It was a different world back then,” he remembers. “Much harder to connect with people who were not local to you.” Today, much of his work is around creating bridges for a dynamic community. “There’s a certain elegance and symmetry in working on the Azure team and using the cloud to benefit my community members, making it easier for them to do great things.”