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    How to Learn Azure on my Own?

    Aside from big data, cloud computing is among the fastest-growing technologies in the world. Going by the IDC Report that public school spending on cloud computing will grow from $229 in 2019 to almost $500 in 2023, there is already a spiking interest in cloud computing. As businesses consider shifting their operations to the cloud, many providers have come forward with unique cloud offerings. At the top of the list is Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and IBM.

    Microsoft Azure commands up to 19% of the $36.5 Billion market share, commanding the attention of top tier banks and several Fortune 500 companies who are interested in the more than 100 cloud services offerings. For this reason, it is worth some serious consideration by IT professionals in the cloud arena. While it is very rewarding to possess skills, undertaking the Azure architect training and acquiring a certification takes serious dedication and discipline. You can learn Azure on your own. However, a certification stands as credible proof of your knowledge and skills. 

    Getting started with Azure

    For beginners, choosing to learn Azure is certainly a good move. However, figuring out your learning path can be overwhelming. The good news is that Microsoft has plenty of free online resources for all learners at various experience levels. This article offers valuable guidelines on learning Azure on your own.

    First off, however, it is important to know that Azure has service offerings in several categories including compute, networking, storage, containers, databases, web and mobile, IoT, security, development tools, monitoring, and others. To master Azure comprehensively, you may consider familiarizing yourself with these services.

    Here are some guidelines for planning your learning path. 

    1. Getting the grips: Azure terminology

    Getting started with Azure is not as difficult. First things first, like any other field, Azure has its own share of jargon that you need to get familiar with to understand Azure concepts. Basic terms like Azure Active Directory the identity access manager, Azure resource manager (RM) the framework that manages resources, Azure Stack the set of products that lets companies extend Azure resources in environments of their choice, and other basic terms. 

    • Skills required to learn Azure

    Preparing to learn Azure means that you need to have the basic skills required to enable you to have smooth learning especially if you are new in the cloud computing field. Such skills as

    • Basic cloud computing including databases, networking, and computer operating systems
    • Servers and infrastructure support
    • Microsoft knowledge
    • Knowledge of virtual machines
    • Programming background particularly with .Net language which is mostly

    While it may be argued that you do not require programming skills to learn the basics of Azure, having this knowledge gives you an easier time grasping concepts. However, you could opt to take the AZ-900 fundamentals course before considering programming. When you will be ready to pursue an advanced-level course, say the AZ-103 administrator course, you’ll require programming skills.

    • Learning the fundamentals

    Here is where you learn the fundamentals of Azure. There are plenty of free learning resources available on the Microsoft Azure training website for learners at all levels. Here, you will acquaint yourself with Azure virtual machines, networks, Platform as a Service (PaaS), and cloud migration among other topics. In general, you will learn about Azure concepts, core services, management tools, security, compliance, and much more. Starting with the Azure fundamentals training course, you will find the courses organized in a way that you can advance your knowledge systematically. 

    To increase your knowledge, check out

    • Microsoft Azure Tutorial site developed by Microsoft for professionals who intend to pursue software development. 
    • Microsoft Technet site if you are ready to dive deeper into advanced theory and technical Azure concepts.
    • YouTube tutorials. Microsoft Azure videos are also available on YouTube in addition to resourceful tutorials from third party channels like Azure DevOps and Cloud Ranger Network.
    • Microsoft Learn, a comprehensive resource with valuable content on Azure and other technologies that equips professionals with technical skills based on their job roles or learning paths.
    • Deeper knowledge: Azure documentation

    Microsoft Azure documentation offers more tutorials and quickstart guides to help you gain a practical understanding of how Azure service offerings operate. The documentation on the Azure portal offers detailed step-by-step guides with diagrams for launching, operating, scaling, configuring, and managing specific Azure products along with APIs.

    • Getting hands-on experience

    All theoretical concepts in mind without hands-on knowledge does not give you an edge in the job market. Beyond taking advantage of free Azure training courses, also open a free account on the self-paced labs site to develop practical skills. The free Azure account is limited to one year of free services. Within the first month, you will be awarded free $200 credit to explore the portal. You can test, deploy enterprise services, build mobile user experiences, and much more to test your knowledge. 

    Other great hands-on learning resources include

    • The free interactive Microsoft learn portal that offers both theoretical and hands-on training on various technologies including Azure. 
    • GitHub, the largest development platform is open-source thus offering free access for ardent learners who are confident enough to build their skills by working on projects. With a vibrant community of millions of developers, there is much to learn from Azure developers. Aside from this, the Microsoft Azure GitHub site offers not just hands-on learning but also tips and tricks to get you through faster. 
    • Internships, if you can land one without prior official training, presents an excellent option for testing your knowledge. 
    • Consider mentors. Mentors can train you on the job or assist you with your projects.
    • Training and getting certified

    While it is not a must to get certified, a certification course will boost your employability by validating your skills. Structured instructor-led courses help you attain professional guidance with real-world experience. If you intend to skip ‘groping around’ by going straight to an already prepared curriculum, enrolling in a training course is the way to go.

    Granted, you can go through the basics relatively fast and easily on your own. However, you may need to enlist the services of an instructor to walk you through the advanced levels of Azure for instance creating services like virtual networks, web apps, and deploying databases in Azure.

    Azure certifications you may be interested in pursuing include

    • Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator
    • Microsoft Certified Azure Developer
    • Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
    • Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer
    • Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer
    • Become part of the Azure community

    Microsoft Azure has a large vibrant following of developers and other professionals. It is open-source and makes Azure community forums the place to pick up expert tips, latest trends, and developments, find mentors, as well as put in your contribution, and see how others react to it. 

    In conclusion

    Because learning never ends, you consider advancing your knowledge on platforms like the Azure Architecture Center where you learn how all about building end-to-end solutions on Azure platform, Cloud Adoption Framework where you get guides on Azure cloud adoption lifecycle, strategy, migration, and management, other platforms like the Azure Security platform and aspects like compliance, service level agreements, and privacy. Finally, stay up to date by getting involved in virtual and local tech meetups. These give you a one-on-one experience with industry experts where your questions are answered.

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