Getting Started with Azure for Free

I recently created a blog post about Getting Started with AWS. I like what they do and think they’re a great platform but there is more than one horse in the public cloud race. Microsoft Azure is a close second to AWS and getting better every day. Microsoft has many advantages that AWS doesn’t: They are probably already in your datacenter and you probably have an ELA with them. If you do, check and see if there are Azure credits in there. Chances are you have some “free” money to use Azure. Even if that doesn’t apply to you, there are plenty of reasons to learn Azure. I recently passed the MCSE: Cloud exam with 70-533 and wanted to share the resources I used.

Microsoft provides a ton of free resources to learn Azure. The one that impressed me most is Openedx. If you sign in with your Microsoft account you will have access to free self-paced courses. At the time of writing there are 29 courses focused on both operations and developers. These include lab guides, lecture videos, and other resources. A great place to start is AZURE214x, Azure Fundamentals.

Microsoft also offered the Microsoft Virtual Academy, which provides training to many more Microsoft products than Azure. They have some very good courses that are up to date. Many of the videos are used in Openedx but this is a one stop shop for all videos without extra content if that is your learning style.

This course includes instruction for how to sign into the Azure portal and get your free trial. Their free trial is significantly different from AWS’s trial. AWS gives you a one year set of free resources in many, but not all, of their products. Azure gives you $200 of credit to use in your first month on anything. It is restricted so you can’t accidentally overspend, though that can be turned off.

On their page they have a link to even more training. Many of these courses link back to Openedx website but there are other training options on here, plus some discounts on certification.

$200 dollars is a great amount of credit to test things out but one month is barely enough to play with and really learn. Another extremely impressive Microsoft program is Visual Studio Dev Essentials. This membership gives $25 of credit per month for a year and extended trials of Linux Academy, Pluralsight, Xamarin University, WintellectNOW, and Opsgility.

It is also worth mentioning that Microsoft is knocking it out of the park with their Azure Documentation. These are great sources of knowledge and cover topics exhaustively.

Now that you’re trained up you may want to get a certification to prove yourself. If so you can use the limited time Azure bundles. This gives you a voucher, a retake if you fail, and30 days access to a practice exam for 99 dollars. The offer ends June 30, 2017 and the voucher expires 3 months after the date of purchase. If you want to go for the full MCSA: Cloud you can buy the Azure Triple Pack for 279 dollars. This triples the previous bundle and all the vouchers expire in 6 months instead of 3.

As you can see, Microsoft offers multiple first part training opportunities to learn Azure. These are only the free options. If you want to pay they will gladly offer classroom training. I think these resources will be a great way to skill up and get ready for Azure.