Microsoft Azure certification & training guide

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The growth of the hyperscale cloud providers (public cloud) has changed the approach for IT service delivery. Cloud platforms from Microsoft, Amazon and Google are evolving, and the rapid growth of the industry has had a parallel effect on the IT market and IT professionals. Because every decision you make has an immediate impact on cost, availability and security, software-defined data centers require a high level of design and implementation skills. The result is gaps in the IT marketplace in skill level and efficient implementation. This skills gap is a problem for the market but an opportunity for you.

What does this mean for the IT ops professional working with Microsoft Azure?

IT professionals with experience and knowledge in Azure are in high demand.  While the days of the paper MCSE are long gone, Microsoft certification is a fundamental requirement, especially in something as complex as Azure. IT professionals who want to work with Azure require cutting-edge training, certifications and constant knowledge updates. Keeping pace with current technology is possible and will ensure that you have the skills you need to master the Microsoft Azure platform. 

Azure training

Beside some of the Pluralsight courses that will take you on a deep dive of Azure on everything from machine learning and building global apps to designing a hybrid cloud, here are just a few other resources to build your Azure skills.

Official course material
The standard Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) or Microsoft Official Courses On-Demand (MOC On-Demand) is a good place to start with Azure training basics. There is a MOC for each of the exams in the various certification tracks, and they are usually delivered in a classroom format. Microsoft also offers Microsoft Online Official Curriculum (MOOC) for learners who prefer an online setting. have released MOOC (I’ve always loved the Microsoft over use of acronyms).

Microsoft Virtual Academy
Microsoft also offers some useful courses for IT pros and developers as well as eBooks through Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). Channel9 on MSDN.com also provides videos on technical topics, upcoming trends and a glimpse into where Azure is headed in the future.

MSDN and Azure documentation
Microsoft has recently invested a lot of time in updating their documentation for Azure users. More importantly, the documentation now releases with the new functionality instead of weeks later. In most cases, you will find what you need with a quick search. 

Azure certifications

Azure certification has undergone some significant improvements. The new certification paths are  modular and link with core infrastructure skills in Windows Server. The three levels or options of certifications listed below will give you good insight and skills into Azure and prepare you for a position in cloud administration and architecture. 

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Cloud Platform
The certification is designed for the Microsoft stack of products. There is a broad range of topics to choose from in infrastructure and developer skills.

To become an MSCA, you have to pass two examinations and demonstrate your capabilities as a cloud administrator and your pathway to becoming a cloud architect.

The options are:

  • Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions [Exam 70-532]
  • Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions [Exam 70-533]
  • Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions [Exam 70-534]
  • Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions [Exam 70-441]
  • Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions [Exam 70-475]

Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions [Exam 70-533] is where I recommend starting, as it covers the fundamental skills. 

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Linux
Azure has become a friendly place for open source, as demonstrated in the MCSA – Linux option. It’s interesting that to get Linux MCSA you have to pass Microsoft and a Linux certification. This path is shorter than the Microsoft focused path as you would expect.

  • Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions [Exam 70-533]
  • Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator [Exam LFCS]

MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Solutions Expert
This MCSE gives professionals a good mix of infrastructure and cloud experience. To achieve this certification, you must pass one of the following exams:

Then, you have to pass one additional exam from this large list of options. You’ll likely find that it’s a good option to continue past your MSCA and move into obtaining your MSCE.

  • Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions [Exam 70-532]
  • Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions [Exam 70-533]
  • Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions [Exam 70-534]
  • Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions [Exam 70-473]
  • Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions [Exam 70-475]
  • Securing Windows Server 2016 [Exam 70-744]
  • Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure [Exam 70-413]
  • Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure [Exam 70-414]
  • Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud [Exam 70-246]
  • Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud [Exam 70-247]

You’ll find the list of exams and some additional details on Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft Azure certification: Why it supports ongoing skill development

Azure is big. It’s complex. It’s powerful. So, once you’ve completed an Azure certification, your learning shouldn’t stop. If there’s anything that’s constant about the cloud, it’s that it’s always changing rapidly. As you navigate the complexity of Azure and other cloud computing tools, don’t shy away from certification—you’ll be better-suited for an ever-changing digital landscape that needs technology professionals like you.

Learn more about Azure with Pluralsight.

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Contributor

Gavin McShera

Gavin McShera is an Independent IT Consultant who specializes in digital and cloud transformation.  Gavin has worked in multiple industries including online gaming, consulting, insurance, banking, pharmaceutical, retail, education, aircraft leasing and the public sector.  Gavin currently produces courses specializing in Microsoft Azure.  He was also the technical editor for the Sybex book – Mastering Windows Server 2012R2.