By: Linda Rosencrance
Microsoft has launched new free Azure training courses to help address the need for highly skilled cloud techs across a variety of industries – especially those in which Microsoft partners operate.
The courses are available in an interactive online learning environment, where people can work at their own pace, stated Gavriella Schuster, corporate VP, Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post.
These courses are aimed at technical professionals looking to enhance their careers in the areas of cloud infrastructure, security, and application development, according to Alison Cunard, general manager of Microsoft Learning Experiences.
“Since Azure is an open and flexible platform, participants will be able to leverage their existing skills, while accumulating next-generation cloud expertise,” stated Leon Jones, director, Open Source Sales and Marketing at Microsoft.
Microsoft is also offering opportunities for Azure certification at a discount. Currently six courses are available and six more will be added in the next few weeks – with more coming over the next few months, she stated.
The certification program is focused on skill building and validation. It offers “access to digital badges that allow technologists to broadly share their technical credentials across their personal online networks to advance your career,” Cunard stated.
Technology professionals can start with Azure Fundamentals. Professionals who want to become multi-cloud specialists can take a look at Azure for AWS Experts courses or get right into more specific courses such as Azure Storage or Azure Networks, Schuster stated.
“To help ensure our partners can tap into a skilled and well-equipped workforce, Microsoft is investing in a variety of technical training, tools and resources, including the Microsoft Virtual Academy, the Cloud + Enterprise University Boot Camps, and the Microsoft Professional Program, just to name a few,” Schuster stated.
Courses cover key technology concepts, such as Microsoft Azure fundamentals, core infrastructure as a service, deployment, security and messaging as well as scale and agility, that address critical skills needed in the modern workforce and allow all learners to achieve more, she stated.
These new Azure offerings feature a modern learning model called a Massively Open Online Course, or MOOC. More than online videos and demos, MOOCs incorporate videos, labs, graded assessments, office hours, and other features, she stated.
Currently, learners can access Microsoft’s catalog of MOOCs free. When people finish each MOOC, they get digital certificates of completion that they can share on professional networking sites, including LinkedIn.
MOOCs incorporate hands-on learning experiences equally as rigorous as traditional classroom environments and training providers can improve their courses in real-time, to improve learner outcomes, Cunard stated.
“And this is not only for [Microsoft partners], but for your customers as well,” Schuster stated. “Use this as a resource in your toolkit to help your customers learn and explore Azure to uncover opportunities.
The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exams can also help technology professionals use MCP certification to differentiate their businesses.
A single exam, retake, and practice test is $99, while three exams, retakes, and practice tests cost $279. The training courses are available to customers as well as partners.
“This is a major discount from market value, and in January we’ll be partnering with the Linux Foundation to offer an optional add-on discount toward Linux certification,” Schuster said.
Certification allows hiring managers to fill positions 25 percent more quickly, according to IDC. Additionally, new employees who are certified are fully productive an month sooner than their peers who are not certified.
And the company says it has found that Microsoft certified developers are 90 percent more productive and almost 60 percent more efficient than their peers.
“This means that they make nearly twice as many applications per year and in half the time per application,” Schuster stated.
In a recent Microsoft State of the Channel briefing, Schuster noted that more than 20,000 partners are now transacting through the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) program – up from 3,500 a year ago. She also stated that the number of partners with Gold or Silver cloud competencies increased 86 percent year-over-year and the number of partners with three or more cloud competencies has increased 53 percent year-over-year.