Microsoft is turning on the afterburners behind its collection of business cloud services and capabilities, formally known as Azure. A winning combination of free books online and equally free Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) online video training can get interested candidates almost all the way home to this certification for very little out-of-pocket cost. Check it out!
While visiting the Microsoft Press site, I chanced upon the Free eBooks from Microsoft Press page. In looking over the Azure titles available there, I couldn't help but notice a sizable collection of free goodies, including the following:
- Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Machine Learning, Jeff Barnes (April 2015) – 237 pages
- Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Automation, Michael McKeown (April 2015) – 112 pages
- Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure, Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan (February 2015) – 246 pages
- Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure, Scott Guthrie, Mark Simms, Tom Dykstra, Rick Anderson and Mike Wasson (July 2014) – 198 pages
- Introducing Microsoft Azure HDInsight, Avkash Chauhan, Valentine Fontama, Michele Hart, Wee Hyong Tok and Buck Woody (May 2014) – 130 pages
- Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model, Marc Farley (July 2013) – 120 pages
Not all of these target the MCSE: Azure Solutions Architect certification directly, but all of them have at least some relevance, while others (especially the "Essentials" titles and the Guthrie, et al) are aimed right at that specific credential. There's certainly no arguing that the price for these books isn't right, either – they're all free!
If that's not enough to whet your interest, visit the Microsoft Azure Courses page at the Microsoft Virtual Academy (sponsor of the aforementioned free books), where you'll find a total of 69 Azure or Azure-related courses available, also for free. What's more, there's a link to a 30-day free trial of Azure for those who'd like to get their feet wet without buying into the program on a monthly service basis. There is a raft of introductory topics and basic fundamentals, a bunch of developer topics, a plethora of usage scenarios, and a whole lot more, all available for your online viewing and learning pleasure.
Sure, you'll still have to pay for the actual exams (there are three of them for $150 each, for total out-of-pocket costs of $450), and you may want to buy into some practice exams to identify areas where additional study or practice may be needed (these usually cost $80 to $110, depending on how long you need access to them; visit MeasureUp.com to see its Microsoft-approved offerings). But you'll be able to save up to $100 per exam on books, and more if you're into buying training materials (though Pluralsight's $49 a month Everything subscription is a hard value to beat).
If digging deeper into Microsoft's business cloud services and capabilities is of interest to you, this is too good an opportunity to pass up.