The presenter asked for a show of hands of who got their start in networking because they wanted to play multiplayer Doom or Wolfenstein. Over half the room put their hands up. He then suggested that gaming is a gateway to geeking, hence his session on setting up a cloud server on Azure using Minecraft as the incentive.
So after I got home and had my post-TechEd snooze, I proceeded to Azure.com and signed up for the month's free trial. Within a half hour I had signed up, spun up a 2012 Server, installed Java and Minecraft Server, opened the necessary port and bingo, a Minecraft Server in the cloud. The boy took over managing the server to install all his mods, and since then he and his friends have been going wild. Perfect timing for the school holidays.
The only downside is now we'll break his little geeky heart if we don't sign up for a paid account so he can keep administering his own world.
Last time I configured an actual physical server it took hours, this took minutes. I'm still a wee bit suss about the whole cloud computing thing, but this has gone a long way towards convincing me that owning your own rack full of iron could be a thing of the past.