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Given the flexibility of the platform, it won’t surprise you to learn that Microsoft Azure training is available in all shapes and sizes, and can be found in a number of formats at various price points.

The really good news is that some of the best resources on the web are available at no cost at all.

Despite the brand being almost a decade old, demand for a working knowledge of Azure and its many nuances continues to grow. In April this year, it was revealed that Azure will bring home $13.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2019.

According to Christopher Eberle, a Senior Equity Analyst with financial services group Nomura, Azure is set to enjoy an overall growth rate of 75% over the same period.

“One should assume a slower rate of growth as we move forward, simply due to the law of large numbers,” he told Reuters, “but I can’t name another company of that scale growing at these rates.”

With that in mind, it is little wonder that companies great and small are looking to upscale their understanding of the cloud software and, as a result, find the ideal training resource in order to bring employees up-to-speed.

There is, as you’d expect, a broad and diverse set of options whichever end of the business spectrum your firm sits at, from short ‘learning path’ exercises to full-blown programs that lead to exams and official certification for those successful.

The benefits of such qualifications for prospective employees are underlined in our Microsoft Azure Salary Survey, with 38% of respondents admitting a direct increase in their salaries after they’d earned the relevant certification. On average, those wage increases were at the 27% mark.

As a more specific illustration, 41% of those taking part in the survey said the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification was likely to increase your earning potential, while almost half revealed their employers had covered any cost involved.

So without further ado, let’s take a detailed look at the best options available to get your team up to speed on the cloud or your individual skills polished to help in your hunt for the ideal role.

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Microsoft Resources

There’s arguably no better place to start than with the source material – Microsoft’s Azure training platform. As you’d expect, there’s a whole host of courses for Azure developers, administrators and solutions architects, covering a multitude of factors including Azure fundamentals and solutions with Microsoft Visual Studio.

“Get certified,” says Microsoft, “and show the world that you’re ready to take advantage of the growing collection of integrated cloud services in Azure to develop solutions that can lower total cost and help improve scalability, security, and privacy.”

Once you’ve trawled the impressive volume of content and resources, courses can be carried out via instructor-led training, free video training, online or in a classroom. Microsoft has also teamed with open course provider edX — a site linking to approximately 2,000 online courses (some of which are free) from 140 institutions around the globe, including founders Harvard and MIT. More details on edX can be found below.

You can also put your new-found knowledge to the test ahead of any exam via official practice tests.  Some of the most popular Azure-related certification exams available to sit are:

Exam: Microsoft Azure Administrator

Who’s it for?: Those who manage cloud services spanning security, storage, networking, and compute cloud capabilities.

Requirements: Proficiency in using PowerShell, the Command Line Interface, Azure Portal, ARM templates, operating systems, virtualization, cloud infrastructure, storage structures, and networking.

Outcome: Azure Administrator Associate certification


Exam: Microsoft Azure Architect Design

Who’s it for?: Solution architects who advise stakeholders and translate business requirements into secure, scalable, and reliable solutions.

Requirements: Expert-level skills in at least one of Azure administration, Azure development and DevOps.

Outcome: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification


Exam: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

Who’s it for?: Those from non-technical backgrounds, involved in selling or buying or have some involvement with cloud-based solutions and services.

Requirements: Technical IT experience not required, but some general IT knowledge/experience would be beneficial.

Outcome: Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals certification


Exam: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure

Who’s it for?: Azure Developers who design and build cloud solutions such as applications and services.

Requirements: Proficiency in developing apps and services using Azure tools and technologies (storage, security, and communications etc). Minimum one year of experience developing scalable solutions through all phases of software development.

Outcome: Azure Developer Associate certification


Exam: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions

Who’s it for?: DevOps professionals who combine people, process, and technologies to deliver valuable products and services that meet end-user needs and business objectives.

Requirements: Proficient with Agile practices, familiar with Azure administration and Azure development, and experts in at least one of these areas.

Outcome: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification


Exam: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services

Who’s it for?: Developers with three-to-five years of experience (minimum) developing Web Services, including one-plus years developing Web API and Azure solutions.

Requirements: Professional developers that use Visual Studio 2017 and Microsoft .NET Core Framework to design and develop Web solutions.

Outcome: Credit towards MCSD certification


Exam: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

Who’s it for?: Solution architects who advise stakeholders and translate business requirements into secure, scalable, and reliable solutions.

Requirements: Advanced experience/knowledge across IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data management, budgeting, and governance.

Outcome: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification


Exam: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies

Who’s it for?: Azure security engineers who implement security controls, maintain the security posture, manage identity and access, and protects data, applications, and networks.

Requirements: Skills in scripting and automation, understanding of networking, virtualization, and cloud N-tier architecture, and a strong familiarity with cloud capabilities and Microsoft Azure products and services.

Outcome: Azure Security Engineer Associate certification


Exam: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack

Who’s it for?: Service/infrastructure administrators who use Azure Stack to provide cloud services to their end users or customers from within their own data-center. Those with significant experience in managing and operating Azure Stack environments.

Requirements: A strong understanding of Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft Azure as well as traditional virtualization, networking, and identity management.

Outcome: Credit towards MCSA/MCSE certification

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Beyond Microsoft

Udemy.com

Billed on their site as “the leading global market place for learning and instruction”, Udemy connects students to a vast array of courses covering just about anything you can think of — including Microsoft Azure.

First, the numbers, which are somewhat mind-boggling. The company boasts a global reach of over 40 million students, 130,000 courses, 50,000 instructors, 245 million course enrolments, and some 30 million minutes of video available in over 60 languages.

They also cater for 4000-plus enterprise customers, while 80% of Fortune 1000 companies trust them for employee upskilling (including the likes of Adidas, Booking.com and Volkswagen).

A simple search for Microsoft Azure throws up over 5,600 results, and while all of those will not be directly relevant, it demonstrates the wealth of resources at Udemy’s disposal and the amount of choice available to potential students.

Among their Azure bestsellers is Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure Exam Prep, their Azure cloud Beginners Bootcamp, and a nine-course bundle on focusing on Azure Solutions.

Paid-for course modules rank from two hours anywhere up to 17 hours-plus, and come in at various price points. Each module is also rated by a familiar, comment-driven star system similar to the one used so successfully by Amazon’s retail division.

Build Azure

Run by Milwaukee Azure meet-up founder and Microsoft MVP Chris Pietschmann, Build Azure is a comprehensive collection of content focusing on all things Azure, from Developer to IT Pro and everything in between.

The site contains how-to articles, certification news, open source showcases, and a whole lot more.

Of particular use are their up-to-date guides on the basics — such as Azure certifications and associated costs — to more in-depth studies looking at intricacies relating to Azure storage, cloud apps, virtual networks and Microsoft Learn to name but a few.

Chris also offers email subscription service Build Azure Weekly, which looks at new developments affecting the platform and drops them into your inbox every seven days at no cost.

edX

Numbers are normally a good indication of an organization’s authority, and the fact that edX boasts over 20 million students across the globe should tell you all you need to know about the education and learning platform that was originally founded by US powerhouse universities MIT and Harvard — currently ranked first and third respectively in the QS World University Rankings.

If that still isn’t enough kudos in your search for effective training resources, a simple Microsoft Azure search from their homepage throws up a number of courses, with the majority verified by Microsoft themselves.

While not all are directly impacted by Azure per se, the choice on offer affords employees and job seekers alike a wealth of options, allowing the opportunity to tailor requirements to better match a specific role or skillset.

As well as the two already mentioned, edX’s charter members include household names from across the academic spectrum, with the likes of Berkeley, Caltech, the University of Oxford and Imperial College London all represented.

Specifics include Processing Big Data with Hadoop in Azure HDInsight to build batch processing solutions, Processing Real-Time data Streams in Azure, to include technologies like Event Hubs, IoT Hubs, and Stream Analytics, and Developing Planet-Scale Applications in Azure Cosmos DB, which accommodates a greater understanding of the multi-model Microsoft database that transparently replicates your data wherever users are.

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Guru99

If you’re pushed for time, or boxed in by budgeting constraints, you could do a lot worse than visiting Guru99’s dedicated Microsoft Azure ‘Learn in one day’ section, which offers a one-stop introduction to the platform via a beginners tutorial.

Effectively a library of tutorials, Guru99 bill themselves as a “totally new kind of learning experience”, and as well as Azure they cater for an impressive range of topics and tools, from big data and testing to AI and SAP.

As the title suggests, their Azure category starts at the very beginning and works through the various types of Azure clouds, its key concepts, each of its domains and the benefits when held up against traditional cloud models. They also factor in applications as well as advantages and disadvantages.

Simple to navigate, clearly written and very user-friendly, Guru99’s Azure segment is ideal for those looking to get to grips with things as a novice.

Cloud Foundation

Such is Cloud Foundation’s confidence that it’s the right place to go for Azure training, it boldly advertises its offering as “the only course you need”. This may seem adventurous for an emerging online training provider, but a quick check on knowledge bank Quora suggests their claim might well carry some weight.

“I discovered Cloud Foundation and it is awesome,” says one commenter. “The course they offer will give you an insight over Azure and its underlying services. The trainer’s approach towards the training is very experimental and a thoughtful process.” High praise indeed.

Their Azure course is completely self-paced, meaning the user has complete authority over when they start and finish, and their lifetime access model means the stress of a time limit is completely removed.

The course is two-tiered in terms of price – the $80 version includes advanced sessions, interview Q&As, free study materials and premium technical support, while a $229 option adds the advantage of a live instructor to the package.

Cloud Academy

Supported by an impressively packed technical training library, Cloud Academy focuses specifically on working with businesses to provide training templates that plug potential skills gaps, while playing the part of trusted advisors on all things cloud.

Complementing their library is a ‘Hands-on Labs’ section, which will walk the learner through stepped processes using likely scenarios on real cloud infrastructure via secure, actual accounts, including Azure.

Learning Path choices open up everything from the ‘3 Pillars of the Azure Cloud’ to more definitive, role-ready subjects such as ‘Azure Services for Security Engineers’, and they also provide study materials for exams as well as preparation exams themselves.

This is a professional, slick organization that knows both its audience and the challenges they face in terms of upskilling their employees and utilizing innovation and growth within the cloud sphere.

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