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Posted by Mike Racine

How to Learn Azure for Free

Everybody starts with the same level of Azure knowledge: zero. The aspiring Azure Administrator however doesn’t stay that way. Through resources like Microsoft Learn, Hands-on Labs, and something about a mysterious mansion you can get a good push-start on learning Azure. Best part, there is a lot of it made available to you for free! (This channel included).

In this episode of KnowOps, Dana introduces his go-to learning resources for aspiring and experienced Azure admins alike. Turns out, it’s suspiciously like learning to ride a bike.


Resources mentioned:

Show Transcript

Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? I bet it wasn't by reading a book. Nor did you learn by going and getting a certification like Bike 101. Nah, you probably learned by one of your parents sitting you on a bike and telling you to pedal. All while they pushed you along. You may have had training wheels, maybe not. But at some point, while running beside you, they let you go. And you were cycling. You know, learning Azure should be just like that. Stop overthinking things, and just start doing. Let me show you how.

Dana Epp here. Welcome to the channel that helps aspiring Azure administrators to know OPS. And well, master the Microsoft Cloud. I'm glad to have you here. If you haven't yet, smash the Subscribe button, so you can be notified when I release new videos each week.

So through 2019 I had a goal for myself. Take time each month, and learn more about Azure from others in the industry. I signed up for paid online courses. I attended entire day training seminars online. Subscribed to membership content posted on Patreon. You name it, I did it. I spent a ton of time and money each month, in an effort to learn from others. To be honest, it was rather disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I learned stuff. But so much of it was repetitive. Book knowledge that had little practical applicability in the real world life of those of us responsible for production workloads in Azure.

And you know what?

Most of it was just taken from free resources that Microsoft already makes available. Why pay for training when you can learn the core fundamentals of Azure for free? Stick around to the end of this video, and I'll give you a ton of resources that will help you do just that.

So when you first learned to ride a bike, you needed a bike. Seems logical. So let's make sure you have what you need to learn with Azure. That would be an Azure account. If you haven't yet, head over to Azure dot Microsoft dot com, slash free, and create a free account for yourself. It will include 12 months of free services, along with an additional 200 dollars worth of credit to use to explore any Azure services in the first 30 days. Even if you have a company account already, I encourage you to sign up for a free account for yourself. Consider this your playground to really learn how to do things. Just like when you were first learning to ride your bike, you need somewhere to safely fall down. So don't do this on your production accounts, if you can help it.

There's another reason why you should create your own account. Depending on your experience and access rights at work, you may not have the right privileges as a global admin, to really get to the bowels of Azure. By setting up your own account and tenant, you are the one in control. No need to ask anyone for anymore access. This is particularly important when you want to get deeper understanding of Azure Active Directory, and the Microsoft Graph. And don't worry, you can always delete this account later if you don't wanna be on the hook after the first 12 months. And by default, Microsoft sets up a spending limit, so that you can't go over your first 200 dollars of credit. You can always adjust that spending limit to meet your budgetary needs later.

Oh, and one last thing. If your company's a partner with Microsoft, you may very well have an MSDN account that offers up to 150 dollars a month of the free Azure credit. Consider using that for your personal use, if you're allowed to. Just remember, if that's tied to your corporate account, you may not have enough privileges to fully learn all the nooks and crannies around Azure, that needs more access than owner privileges on a single subscription.

Okay, so you now have an Azure account that you have full control over. Now what? Let's start by checking out Microsoft Learn. Head over to dub dub dub dot Microsoft slash Learn. When you get there, you'll see a ton of popular modules and learning paths to check out. Get signed up and start by taking the Azure Fundamentals learning path. There's almost 10 hours of free training that will teach you all the fundamentals of Azure. In fact, once you've completed that online course, you have all the knowledge needed to take the Microsoft AZ 900 exam. Which gives you the Azure Fundamentals Certification. Once you complete the fundamentals learning path, take the Secure Your Cloud Data path. There's over five hours of additional training dedicated to helping you learn how to protect your information and secrets in Azure. After that, start hunting for the learning paths that fits your interests. Best way to do this is to hit Browse All Learning Paths, and then set a filter for Administrator. And then Learning Paths. Lots of free learning that you can take advantage of. Have fun with it.

So now that you have a good handle on how the Microsoft Learn site works, let's have some fun with it. Go check out the Azure Mystery Mansion at dub dub dub dot Microsoft dot com, slash Mystery Mansion. It's an interactive experience that helps you learn more about Azure, by solving puzzles that have hints within content on the Microsoft Learn site that it's gonna link you to. It kinda reminds me of one of those Choose your own adventure books, or maybe a pretty version of Zork. Okay, maybe that's dating me right now. Anyways, it's a great way to burn some time while having a coffee. Give it a try. It's an interesting way to learn.

So for my fellow Canadians, Microsoft Canada regularly hosts free, exclusive workshops to help you expand your knowledge of Azure through hands on experience. These are guided workshops structured to help you learn Azure through practical examples and challenges that you work through live. Microsoft gets subject matter experts, like Azure Advocates and MVPs like me to help you work through these labs. So check out the links in the description below, and register for the next one, in the city near you. Who knows, you might even get a chance to work with me at one of those future events. But don't fret if you can't make it to a workshop, or if you aren't in Canada. Microsoft also offers online, self-paced hands on labs, that lets you get a similar experience, all online. I'll leave a link to the self-paced labs in the notes below as well.

Another great resource published by Microsoft Canada, is the Microsoft Cloud Digital Series. It's a series of pre-recorded, on-demand, webinars that you can follow along with, to learn everything. From modernizing your IT with the Cloud, all the way to AI, Analytics, and IOT. If you filter for Cloud Fundamentals, there are some dedicated on-demand resources that you can use to help you explore Azure in more depth. Everything from Governance and Compliance, all the way to Cost Management and using DevOPS in Azure. It's available online for anyone to register for and watch at your leisure. As always, I'll leave a link in the notes.

As you progress in your Cloud journey, you may start to realize that modernizing Cloud IT includes opportunities to rethink how things get done. Decoupled, distributed, event based systems, can really accelerate this modernization and embracing this in Azure, it's extremely powerful. One great resource to help you explore this is the Azure Architecture Center. It offers you guidance and reference architectures that you can build out in your test environment to help you gain experience in designing, deploying, and managing resilient production workloads in Azure. It also includes example workloads and sample code, available on GitHub, so that you can check it out and try it for yourself. You can even head over to the Azure Quickstart Template gallery and get sample ARM templates that you can use to deploy, learn from, fork, and even contribute back. All in an effort to quickly create, test and tear down Cloud resources that you want to experiment with. Links are in the notes.

Chances are, IT isn't new to you. Cloud IT, maybe, but I'll bet you've resources On-Prem that you continue to work with each and every day. At some point you're gonna wanna think about your migration strategy. And probably wanna do a few test migrations. This is where the Azure Migration Center comes in. It helps you learn how to move your data and infrastructure to Azure using a proven Cloud Migration Plan. Plus, it helps you find Cloud Migration tools and guidance to make the most of your new environment. Use this to learn the tricks and the traps when moving On-Prem resources to Azure. The resources section and the webinars are packed full of educational goodness that can help you with this. Just like riding a bike, you get better as you practice. And with more experience, you'll never forget. Use things like Microsoft Learn and the Azure hands on labs, to hone your skills. Then move on the Azure Architecture and Migration centers, to see what's possible going forward. There is so much opportunity to learn and get better at our craft. Use them.

What do you think? Was this helpful? Let me know by hitting the Like button. And if you haven't yet, smash the Subscribe button, so that you can be notified as I publish new content each week. Until then, thanks for watching. Now go learn. Go do. We'll see you in the next episode.



Learning Azure should be just like learning to ride a bike. Stop overthinking things, and just start. #knowops @auditwolf






Topics: Cloud Operations (CloudOps), KnowOps