Rotating as a PM in R&D – Hong Kong and Shanghai experience

I started my PM rotation a few week ago and the first task was to help out a project in Hong Kong. It is a cloud project that will servers a million of customers, which is quite exciting. I stayed in CyberPort, a very quiet and peaceful place, located in the very south of Hong Kong island. And that’s also where the office located. From office, you could enjoy nice sea view. And Hong Kong office has a lot of local drinks, even a machine making milk tea.

I was seating in Service floor and it as a quite empty office. People are very busy on the client side I guess. My teammates for this project are all very nice. I learnt a lot from them. Also, I felt quite lucky to gain real project experience on Windows Azure. There are a lot of storage or compute functions designs are unique to cloud computing. After I get a hand on, I begin to realize from on-premises to cloud is definitely cost-consuming. It is not only a configuration change but also architecture change. It is much easier for enterprise to start a cloud project (PaaS) from scratch.

I met Hong Kong DPE team during lunch time. It is quite a young team as my team in Singapore. They are very nice though sometime the conversation switches to Cantonese. We exchanged a lot of information on campaign, technology and all kinds of events. They were inviting me back for a event. However, I am a bit scared about speaking in front of people who are not using English as native language. I did Chinese presentation in Beijing last year in TechEd. That’s also my first Chinese Technical presentation. I have to dedicate time to translate all the technical terms and way of presenting. Overall, it was a unique experience.

Last week’s stress test was a very interesting experience. We were testing on 1000 request/sec. Under this high workload, some abnormal behavior began to pop-up. We were so surprise to find out that using SQL Azure is much faster than SQL table storage. This was very different from my demo tested in Singapore data center. Again, it is on the cloud so you couldn’t really find out physically which machine handles your storage and monitor why it is slow.

I arrived Shanghai 10 days ago. And I met Xibei at my birthday. I wasn’t plan to celebrate in Shanghai, but just having a relax day with some old friends. In addtion, I have already celebrated my birthday in Singapore with friends and teammates. Xibei’s arrival was truly a surprise. It reminds me of my birthday two years ago in New York. That was truly a blast.

My low energy period is finally over. I was quite tired last month after last travelling to US. It was a big trip from Paris- Bulgaria-Amsterdam-New York-Vegas-SanF-Seattle. Currently I am working as a PM, and will be staying in Shanghai for a few weeks. First task is to finalize design of a tool and manage the development process. There are a number of discussions with developers, testers, designers and other PMs in the team. Clearly, there were a few arguments. As a PM, one of the important things are not only bringing in good ideas but also defense for your idea. There are usually many opinions around one particular features and all of them have different advantages. PMs need to make decision to end the discussion with best solution possible.

I’m happy with what I am doing now. This learning experience is totally new to me. I begin to understand how products made in Microsoft. PM work involves a lot of thinking. Also, it is always good for a PM to open eye and see how competitors are doing in the industry. After comparing different solutions and learning newest technology, PMs should bring back those best practices as suggestions during new product planning. That’s how a better product could be made.

I got to know a senior PM from Redmond last week. He was visiting Shanghai with his family. I had a very happy memory with this family for touring Shanghai. I would never want to do that by myself. He is quite well-known in developer community and spoke at a lot of important conference such as PDC and MIX. He spent descent amount of time with developer community, friendly and compete. He also organized a advisory board for his product, in order to get customer feedback in time. I was impressed by his work. Moreover, initially, I was thinking of working on a consumer product in the future. But now I feel, maybe a developer tool is better for me. I am really enjoying of communicating with developer community.

Overall, it was a very smooth beginning. I am quite familiar with R&D team here. Looking forward to learn more in the following three months time. It is a fantastic beginning for my 25 🙂

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Everything MS


Visiting Microsoft Shanghai R&D

It was two weeks of visit in Microsoft Shanghai R&D center. I will be officially enrolled in a Marco Polo program next month. It is a program allow employee to go to other region and experience a different role. My new role will be a Program Manager in a Dev Team. My attached team is part of Server and Tool Business Division in Microsoft.

This is Microsoft APAC R&D in Shanghai

I have visited here before  and has been to Shanghai several times. First day, by taking company bus, it was 40 minutes to reach Microsoft Zizhu Campus. I was kind of shocked, cause in Singapore, it usually takes me 15-20 minutes by taking subway. And most of time, I take cab to office for saving a few minutes. I guess I am really spoilt in Singapore. Second observation is that people work in dev team are quite young compared to people in subsidiary. I found someone younger than me in the team. It is not easy in subsidiary.

It was a AppWeek competition. Basically, we could use the dogfood(early version) of Windows Azure AppFabric, WF, WCF to build some application. My team chooses to build a music player hosted on the cloud. And my team name is mBox. My task is quite straight forward. I need to build UI for the application.

I chose HTML5 since it has audio element. I put music into Blub and streaming from it. After first day, my application starts running. I tried on iPhone and iPad. Truly impressive. I could see a music player appear in safari browser. More surprisingly, it will play in the background while I close the browser. And there is native control for the songs. Since Apple has already announced that it won’t support flash. I have to say that’s really a big draw for using HTMl5.

Prototype - cloud music player

Working in development team is truly very different. Maybe because I am new here, I don’t receive that many emails everyday so I could concentrate. It was really efficient for the past one week. I learnt a lot of things by doing and learning from my peers. More than half of the week I went off work around midnight.

Again, I am still quite irritated by the fact that I need to spend more than 1.5 hours on the road everyday, though there is internet 3G card provided. Shanghai is also quite expensive. I wonder whether people could be able to afford these high expense with local pay.

Sasha Bar in Shanghai

Most exciting part is actually weekend. I met up with Rong Rong and went to her hometown Jin Hua. She has a very happy family and her mom is very entertaining.

With Rong Rong in jin Hua

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Shanghai


Microsoft Cloud Day April 27th 2011

Last wednesday, we organized Microsoft Cloud Day at Auditorium of Microsoft Singapore. There were around 200 people came, very nice crowd. I was the host for the event, and was a Demo Monkey for one of the presentation. It was only 15 minutes about Windows Azure Appfabric caching service. I demoed about the usage of Session State cache, network cache and local cache (Lucky I remember to wirte this blog, remind me of turning off my instances in the cloud :p) .

I will publish all my codes later through . There are two very important points about configrations. Firstly, it’s better to uninstall Windows Server Appfabric. Otherwise, the application will recognize the wrong assembles. Secondly, my corp net couldn’t allow port 22233 traffic. I have to connect to non-corp internet. Set up definitely costed me more time than demo code itself.

There are a lot of lessons learnt through this event. For cloud this topic, there is always a mix of audiences from decision makers to developers. Therefore, it is hard to please everyone compared to a web event, which has more specific audiences. Lucky this time we had all kinds of contents to satisfy everyone. From the event response, cloud is definitely a big big thing. Everyone wants to jump on board. However, it is also chanllenging. There are so many different offers in the market. The most common questions we receive from this event is the comparison between Amazon and Windows Azure.

Here are some event photos with my lovely team. Most of the decisions were made through virtual meeting since I was away last month. The more I talk about cloud, the more I feel the excitement from industry. The changes have already been there and you don’t have a choice but to embrace it.

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Posted by on April 30, 2011 in Everything MS


Half Day tour in Bulgaria

I had half day time in Bulgaria to tour around the city. It was a sunny Thursday afternoon, nice and relax.

This was Alxander Nevski Church in Sofia, one of the attractions. It was completed by 1912 and as built as a memorial to the 200,000 Russian soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish Liberation War. I happen to pass by this place at night as well. I love the round shape top and the shinning gold.

I spent most of time walking on the street. It was very easy to tour around Sofia since all the attractions are in the central area.

I crossed through this park. It was a sunny day and a band was performing there. I sat there for quite a while. Watching people passing while enjoying the music.

I didn’t have chance to try public transportation in Sofia. They have a lot of this type of trains/buses, very classic and interesting. Also, whenever I cross the road, cars will always stop to let people pass first.

This is the yellow road of Sofia. There is a mastery that people came from other provinces will always try to bring back a brick on yellow road, to show others they have been to the capital of Bulgaria. After walking for a while, I finally found this “missing” brick on the road. =D

Here are more buildings at Sofia. Very nice church.

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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Bulgaria


Bulgaria Microsoft Techdays 11 – sofia

This is my first English travel blog. I was being lazy and always prefer to record whatever happen in my life through my lens. But this time, I felt like writing something. Maybe I was inspired by Rob Miles, who is a very funny professor I met from UK in this conference. The way he blogged the event makes me feeling like doing it as well.

I could never imagine end up in Bulgaria. By the time I confirmed my sessions with this conference, i don’t even know where exactly Sofia locates. And here I come.

This was the pre-event cocktail party with all the medias. As a speaker, I did “speed-dating” with all the journalists. Basically, we sat on the long table, every five minutes, I will be talking to a different journalist and they will ask questions. It was really a lot of fun because you have to yell at each other, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to hear anything. And I guess that partially contributed to my “interesting” voice the second day. I went back hotel quite early cause I was quite worried about the keynote at the next day. I didn’t finish preparation because I was sick days before.

End up I didn’t sleep that night and prepared for my first keynote.

Event day. The whole event was held in the largest cinema in Sofia and that’s my huge keynote stage. I couldn’t see anyone when I was on stage because of the strong light on my face. It started at 9:30 am. 9:25 am, I was seating in the audience seat. These were all cinema seats so comfortable that almost made me fell sleep. I was invited to the stage around 9:45 after a Lync live stream with another city in Bulgaria.

I guess I must looked tiny on that huge stage.And there were more than 500 audiences. But it felt great to own that big stage with bright spot light. Initially I was not so used to it because I couldn’t see audiences response. And before the session, I was told they were kind of shy. But they did laugh loud when I threw my second joke. I felt more and more comfortable from that point onwards. Even my demo had a small problem, I joked about it and didn’t get affected. My first keynote went really smooth and I was totally relaxed. I even told them at the end, “If you ask me to dance, I will dance on the stage now” to encourage them ask me questions.

Now I knew. Being a keynote speaker is not easy. There are much more pressures since you are the first to go and everyone is paying full attention. But it also felt great that you know they are concentrating. I truly learnt a lot from being a keynote speaker. Great great experience.

That’s where they featured me as a Keynote Speaker and my speaker pilot badge with AC(Technological Ace). Very nicely made.

I did another two sessions about Windows Azure and Windows Azure AppFabric. I was totally relaxed on the stage and made my audiences laugh a lot. I tried my best to bring fun to them. I always believe, it doesn’t matter which kind of contents you are delivering, there is always a way to make it fun to the audience. I didn’t have much photos about my sessions because there is always a professional photographer there. I will update photos when I get them.

Here are some photos about the event. Since it was held in a cinema, there were a lot of interesting decorations. On the right photo, Winnie was showing the direction of speaker room.

This is the event organizer Raya and she is the only DE in DPE Sofia. There are only 40 people in this sub. However, they managed to pull out this amazing event! Impressive!

Lastly, this is the gift received as a speaker. The world clock is quite interesting, by changing the airplane pin, you can easily set the world time! Every details are taken care of. Nice job team Bulgaria!


Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Bulgaria


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