Years ago, companies debated whether to migrate their tech stack from on-premises to the cloud. Today, relying on the cloud for a range of tech functions is a foregone conclusion—the only question is which platforms to utilize for clients, customers, and employees. Azure, Microsoft’s competitor to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Google Cloud Platform, has slowly gobbled up interest and market-share, making it the choice of many companies that need cloud infrastructure.
Azure currently holds 21 percent of the cloud market, trailing AWS (at 32 percent) but well ahead of Google Cloud Platform (at nine percent). There’s also a lot of room to grow: Web hosting alone is a $150 billion industry, and is expected to be worth over $200 billion by 2025.
Azure offers customers a variety of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) features, many of which could come in useful for everyone from web developers to cloud architects. But with that size comes complexity, and some technologists might find themselves a bit intimidated.
The good news: There are lots of training pathways and documentation available for Azure. We spoke to a few experts about those pathways, as well as whether investing time in Azure is worth it.
Why should technologists choose to learn Azure?
Carl Long, Director of Partner Engagement at Nerdio, says those who want to position themselves as experts in the Microsoft realm should absolutely learn Azure. “The Azure cloud platform contains 200+ products and services used across all industries worldwide. Learning Azure is a necessity if you plan on identifying yourself as an expert in Microsoft technologies.”
Steven Walker, CEO of Spylix, notes Azure is positioned well for the future of the internet. “Azure is the only cloud channel that provides blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS), machine learning, boats, and congestive APIs.” If you want to work for a company that utilizes any of those things, chances are good they’ll want you familiar with what Azure can offer.
Microsoft-certified cloud solutions architect Viachaslau Matsukevich tells Dice that Azure may be a fundamental skill for anyone who wants anything to do with the cloud. “Nowadays almost any IT role depends on cloud skills one way or another. Some organizations even ask all employees to pass basic certifications like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals. This way they want to ensure that everyone within a company understands cloud security basics and has overall general knowledge of cloud capabilities.”
How Can Technologists Learn Azure?
Microsoft has its own Azure training course(s) that offer several paths to success. Microsoft’s training encompasses “community” and “training days” that take you beyond the typical e-learning experience. If you’re better at hands-on or networking, Microsoft’s offerings may suit you well.
Long tells Dice: “Multiple third-party vendors offer Azure training courses, boot camps and online videos but I would recommend starting with Microsoft’s online Azure learning. Starting here ensures the training, materials and concepts are coming straight from the source. Specifically, Microsoft offers the AZ-900 (Azure Fundamentals) course for beginners.”
Walker adds that the A.I. fundamentals (AI-900) and Data Fundamentals (DP-900) courses may be especially useful.
“I would suggest focusing on online training programs,” Matsukevich tells Dice. “Microsoft’s Azure portal is free and pretty good if you want to get started with Azure and the services it offers without spending anything. This portal has several paths and could help you prepare for Azure certification.
Matsukevich adds: “If Microsoft’s platform seems a bit too ‘official’ you should check Udemy. There are tons of various Azure courses and there are often discounts or promotions to save you a few bucks. Just be sure you check ratings before buying any course on Udemy.”
Remember: You get the most out of training if you head into it with a realistic goal. For example, target a particular certification or skill and work toward it; once you master that, you’ll have a better idea of what to pursue next.
Will Azure Training Help You Land a Job?
The simplest question is sometimes the most difficult to answer, but our experts agree if you’re serious about working on cloud services, Azure helps.
“Completing training and getting an Azure certification badge will allow you to list Azure as one of your skills in your résumé,” Matsukevich says. “Azure certificates will give you more exposure on the job market since some recruiters are specifically searching for certified tech pros. If you are just a fresh graduate without any experience, public cloud certification will highlight your Azure skills. For experienced professionals, certification will be a great addition to their résumé and help them stand out on the market.”
Long underscores that having a direct path to certification is your best route. “Azure certifications may help someone stand out vs their competition in a specific role type as it proves a foundational understanding of the underlying cloud technologies.”
Microsoft's platform may also help you keep your job, Long adds: “Technology is constantly evolving and changing. What is new today is old tomorrow and being behind on the latest terminology and technology could lead to a failure of the underlying services offered. Ongoing training and certification should always be a focus for anyone in the cloud and technology space to ensure they stay ahead of the curve.”
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