Five lesser known Azure certifications and courses you need to become a cloud expert

By 2020 there will be 1.3 million unfilled jobs in Europe, many will be in cloud-related fields. As businesses invest in digital transformation (83% believe cloud skills are critical for digital transformation, according to Microsoft), demand for skilled cloud professionals is set to surge.

Microsoft’s leading cloud platform, Azure, now boasts more regions than any other major cloud provider and continues to integrate with more Microsoft’s services, like Azure’s LUIS.

For businesses transitioning to Azure, knowledgeable cloud experts are required. Luckily, Microsoft’s comprehensive Azure certification portfolio is ready to support professionals looking to build or prove their knowledge.

Whether you’re new to Azure, or seeking new certs to bolster your credentials, you may not have considered these five lesser known Azure certifications.

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (Course 10979D)

Get to grips with the principles of cloud computing and how they apply within Microsoft Azure. The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals course will teach you how to create the most common Azure services, like Virtual Machines, Web Apps and Azure SQL Databases.

Released in September 2017, this new course was created to provide the fundamental Azure skills and knowledge needed for professionals fresh to cloud computing. If you’re unfamiliar with Azure and are aiming to achieve the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification this course is a great place to start.

While Microsoft Azure Fundamentals does not map to an exam as yet, it is an ideal precursor to the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and Implementing Microsoft Azure Solutions courses. Pass the certification exam for both of these courses and you’ll get the MCSA: Cloud Platform.

Microsoft also supports a self-paced, online Azure Fundamentals course provided through the Edx platform.

Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning (Course 20774A)

At this year’s Ignite Conference in Orlando, Microsoft announced a swathe of new machine learning services, including Azure Machine Learning Experimentation, Azure Machine Learning Workbench, and the Azure Machine Learning Model Management.

These new tools will be hosted on in Azure, which already supports machine learning with Machine Learning Studio – a platform for developing machine learning applications at big data scale.

Providing professionals with a route to gain machine learning Azure knowledge, Microsoft launched the Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning (Course 20774A) in June 2017.  

This lesser known course is aimed at professionals who need to gain the skills to analyse and present data by using Azure Machine Learning. IT professionals, developers and anyone who needs to support solutions based on Azure Machine Learning will benefit from this credential.

Plus, pass the associated exam (70-774) and you’re only one more exam away from achieving the MCSA: Machine Learning.  

Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack (Course 20537A)

Microsoft recently launched Azure Stack, an extension of Azure allowing enterprises and service providers to run their own mirror images of Microsoft’s cloud platform on premises.

Aligning with this announcement, Microsoft also introduced Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack (Course 20537A). Complete this course and you’ll get the crucial knowledge you need to help enterprises migrate to, and manage Microsoft’s new hybrid cloud technology.

Designed as an in-depth introduction to Azure Stack, this course is ideal for service administrators, DevOps and Cloud Architects who are responsible for using Azure Stack to provide cloud services.

Take this course and you’ll also learn how System Centre 2016 components can be added to further manage your Azure Stack Environment.

While there is no exam yet, Azure Stack is set to be hugely popular for enterprises demanding more control of their cloud. It may just be a matter of time before we see more Azure stack certifications and exams in the future.

MCSA: Linux on Azure

With the rise of Azure, Microsoft has embraced Linux – having this week announced it’s sponsorship of the Open Source Initiative.

20% of the operating systems on Azure are Linux and to cater to this growing audience, Microsoft introduced the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification towards the end of 2015. This MCSA provides Linux specialists with a path to transfer their Linux skills directly into Azure.

Achieve this MCSA and you’ll learn how to deploy, configure, host and manage Linux websites in Azure. You’ll also study Azure’s key features incorporating Linux, including Windows PowerShell, Azure Active Directory, virtual machines and virtual networks.

Created with the help of The Linux Foundation this unique certification requires you to pass a non-Microsoft exam. Pass Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (Exam 70-533) and The Linux Foundation’s Certified System Administrator (LFCS) to achieve this certification.

Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions (Exam 70-475)

This course previously awarded a “Specialist” certification, before that designation was retired by Microsoft. Nonetheless, this credential remains relevant and continues to provide valuable knowledge and skills.

The Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions (Exam 70-475) supports data professionals who design and build big data analytics solutions in Microsoft Azure. Plus, this unique certification was updated in February 2017, removing elements of Azure Machine Learning to focus more on real-time data processing solutions.

Don’t confuse this niche certification with the similarly titled Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions (exam 70-743). The latter certification focuses on SQL Server and Azure SQL Database.

This exam also forms part of the MCSA: Cloud Platform, achieve just one additional exam after to achieve your MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure.

What are you waiting for?

After a recent certification overhaul, Microsoft’s credentials no longer expire, remaining valuable as long as the knowledge gained is useful.

Plus, pass any Microsoft Certification Exam and you’ll become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), with access to the Microsoft Certification Program. What are you waiting for?

Read more: The top five in-demand cloud skills for 2017

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