Microsoft Azure For Dummies
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If you really want to be successful with Microsoft Azure, you’ve got to keep up to date with it. To help you with that, here are ten hand-selected Azure educational resources. Happy reading!

Azure documentation

The Azure documentation library is your ultimate source of truth on how Azure products work. Microsoft has open-sourced the documents to GitHub, so community members (like you!) can edit them and submit your for review.

The living nature of the library means that the documentation evolves with Azure products. You’ll also find plenty of multimedia resources to address educational styles that cater more to a hands-on or visual approach.

If you have yet to skill up on Git source-code control and the GitHub collaboration workflow, consider checking out Sarah Guthals’ and Phil Haack’s splendid GitHub For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

Azure Architecture Center

Microsoft has long since eaten its own dog food, so to speak, which means two things:
  • It uses the products, technologies, and frameworks that it develops.
  • It shares its best practices with customers.
The Azure Architecture Center includes two super-valuable online guides:
  • Azure Application Architecture Guide: How Microsoft approaches designing scalable, resilient, performant, and secure application architectures in Azure
  • Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure: How Microsoft helps customers transition from fully on-premises to hybrid cloud to cloud-native architectures
The center also includes a reference architecture library as well as a varied collection of topology diagrams and explanations. Many of the diagrams are available for free as Microsoft Visio drawing files.

If you haven’t invested in Visio or an equally good technical diagramming tool, consider doing so. Practically every Azure architect uses either Visio or Microsoft PowerPoint to create Azure architectural diagrams.

Azure REST API Browser

Every action you take in your Azure subscription translates into Representational State Transfer (REST) API calls to the Azure public cloud. The Azure REST API Browser enables you to deep-dive into resource providers, view available operations, and even test them.

Microsoft REST API Browser Work from the bare metal by using the Azure REST API Browser.

After the API Browser shows you how the Azure Resource Manager API request/response life cycle works, you can productively build custom applications that interact directly with the ARM REST API.

Microsoft @ edX

edX is a not-for-profit company that hosts massive open online courses (MOOCs, pronounced mooks). Microsoft bought into the edX ecosystem heavily. You’ll find a large collection of Azure-related courses that cover most disciplines, including
  • Architecture
  • Administration
  • Development
  • Security
  • Internet of Things
  • Data engineering
  • Data science
  • Machine learning
These courses are free and require only that you log in with your Microsoft account to track your progress. The company’s multimedia approach is an excellent way to reach people who have different (or multiple) learning styles.

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn is similar in ways to edX, with the exception that Learn is entirely homegrown at Microsoft. You’ll find hundreds of free, curated labs on most Azure job roles; the labs are well-written and complete.

Microsoft includes a sandbox environment in many hands-on labs that gives you access to Microsoft’s Azure subscription. This means you learn Azure by working with Azure directly rather than working with a mock-up or simulation.

Azure Certification

If you ask five IT professionals their views on professional certification, you’ll likely get five different responses. Some folks require Azure certification to keep up their Microsoft Partner status; other people want certification to differentiate themselves in a crowded job market.

Regardless, this site is the one you want to delve into for Azure role-based certification. In 2018, Microsoft moved from a monolithic Azure certification title to role-based badges. This way, you can demonstrate your Azure expertise in a way that’s closely aligned with your present or desired job role, be it administrator, developer, architect, DevOps specialist, and so forth.

It’s a good idea to bookmark the Microsoft Worldwide Learning Certification and Exam Offers page. Most of the time, you can find the Exam Replay offer, as well as discounts on MeasureUp practice tests. Exam Replay gives you a voucher for a second exam if you don’t pass on your first attempt.

MeasureUp

MeasureUp is Microsoft’s only authorized practice exam provider. It can’t be overstated how crucial practice exams are to success on the Azure certification exam. There have even been seasoned experts walk into an exam session smiling and exit crying because they didn’t pass because they weren’t expecting the myriad ways that Microsoft Worldwide Learning tests the candidate’s skills.

Oh, by the way: Microsoft Learn referes to Microsoft Worldwide Learning’s online technical education hub. Yes, they are different things.

MeasureUp gives you an accurate exam experience. Just as important as understanding the theory is understanding and being comfortable with how Microsoft assesses your knowledge.

On the Azure exams, you can expect to see performance-based labs in which you’re given an Active Directory (AD) login to the real Azure portal and required to complete a series of deployment and/or configuration tasks.

The exams also feature case studies that present a fictional company’s current situations, Azure-related goals, and technical limitations; then you’re asked to answer several questions by analyzing each the case. These exams are no joke and deserve dedicated preparation time.

Meetup

When you make professional connections, it’s a natural outcome that your name will arise when opportunities make themselves manifest.

To that point, you should visit Meetup.com and search for Azure user groups in your area. At this writing, there are 716 groups worldwide with more than 300,000 members.

Azure user group Find an Azure user group near you.

Azure meetups are great opportunities to find out new stuff, and you’ll meet neighbors who do the kind of work you’re doing or want to do in the future. IT recruiters make a habit of sponsoring user groups, so you can get plugged into job-search networks at meetups as well.

You should also try Microsoft Reactor, which is a Microsoft-run community hub listing free meetups for learners and community organizers. The subject matter covers Azure and most other Microsoft technologies and job roles.

CloudSkills

CloudSkills is a boutique cloud consultancy that has Microsoft Azure education as its principal aim. Mike Pfeiffer is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) who has worked as a cloud architect for both Amazon web Services and Microsoft. He created CloudSkills As a training company that offers free and paid training, professional consulting, and general cloud and career guidance. You can find training sessions at CloudSkills.io, free podcasts interviews at CloudSkills.fm, and free tutorials at CloudSkills.tv.

Pluralsight

Many of the world’s Azure experts train with Pluralsight. Pluralsight and the Azure teams partnered to create an industry-leading online learning library.

Many of these video training courses, covering all the major Azure job roles, are available for free. Pluralsight also offers pre- and post-skills assessments as well as mentoring services.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Edward Tetz has worked with computers as a sales associate, support tech, trainer, and consultant. He holds the Cisco CCNA and numerous other certifications, and has provided system and LAN support to both large and small organizations. Ed is coauthor of CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One For Dummies.

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