Microsoft has introduced a new series of free interactive training classes for its Azure platform-as-a-service offering, as well as discounts on Azure-focused certification exams.
Available both to Microsoft partners and customers, the free Azure-focused education offerings are self-paced Massively Open Online Courses that include labs, graded assessments, and office hours in addition to online videos and demos.
There are 12 new MOOCs in all on topics such as Azure fundamentals, Azure storage, and Azure virtual networks. Microsoft says each class takes from 4 to 16 hours to complete. Students who successfully finish a course receive a digital certificate of completion.
“Building technical skills, particularly those involving technicians, opens a huge opportunity for our partners,” says Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide partner group.
Microsoft is also slashing the fees it charges for Azure-related Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) testing. Technicians can new take one Azure MCP exam, plus a practice exam and one retake, for $99, which is $429 less than before. They can also take three exams with practice tests and retakes for $279, which Microsoft says is a $1,287 value compared to previous rates.
In January, the company says, it will begin offering an additional discount toward Linux certification in partnership with the Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting adoption of the Linux operating system. Other new educational offerings will follow in 2017.
“We’ll be making even more investment in training,” Schuster says.
The discounted Linux training previewed today is but the latest evidence of Microsoft’s ongoing embrace of an operating system it once treated as a threat and encouraged partners to shun. Last month, the company became a Linux Foundation member, and in March it announced plans to release a Linux version of its SQL Server database.
In a further sign of Microsoft’s increasing willingness to co-exist with competing platforms, one of the free MOOCs it announced today is tailored specifically to Amazon Web Services experts.
“As the leading public cloud platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure each offer businesses a broad and deep set of capabilities with global coverage,” says the prospectus for that course. “Yet many organizations choose to use both platforms together for greater choice and flexibility, as well as to spread their risk and dependencies with a multi-cloud approach.”
Schuster confirmed that most Microsoft cloud partners use online solutions from multiple vendors.
“I assume the majority of our partners have always and will continue to have a multi-platform approach to the work that they do, because they want to deliver the best solution to their customer,” she said.
Microsoft’s new training investments arrive amid skyrocketing Azure adoption. The company reported a 116 percent year-over-year jump in Azure revenue during its most recent quarter, as well as a more than 100 percent rise in Azure processing consumption.
As reported by ChannelPro earlier today, Microsoft recorded a 470 percent surge in partners transacting business through its Cloud Solution Provider program this year, as well as an 86 percent increase in partners with gold- or silver-level cloud computing competencies.