Cloud Computing

Learning Azure – where to get started?

I spend a lot of my time at work introducing clients to Azure. There’s a lot to learn and understand about Azure – and the cloud computing paradigm in general. I’m often asked questions like:

  • “Where do you learn about Azure?”
  • “Where did you get started with Azure?”
  • “How can I learn about Azure?”
  • “What free stuff is there for learning about Azure?”

These are easy questions to answer – there’s so many places to learn about Azure and cloud computing right now. The first thing I’ve done – and it’s been something I’ve been doing for years, really – is to get a really good feed of information from people who are smarter than you. I’ve chosen Twitter for this purpose, and continue to find new and interesting people to follow. The official Azure accounts are useful, and the MVPs tweet out a lot of great information. I have many accounts that I really enjoy, but the following spring to mind:

These are great sources of fairly unstructured information, but it’s not really organized for someone who’s really new to Azure. For that, I recommend heading over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy where there’s lots of courses for getting started with Azure, as well as courses that are directly aimed towards giving you an overview of the essential exam content. The courses come and go and are updated semi-frequently, so keep visiting. In addition, there’s the Channel9 website with lots of good content, such as the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions course, which was extremely helpful when I was studying for my 70-532 exam.

If you’re after specific documentation about an Azure feature or component, you need to visit the Azure documentation center first. It’s got great walk-throughs for getting started with many of the components of Azure, and also has the in-depth documentation you need to design architecture and follow best practice.

A screenshot from displaying the Documentation/Best Practice navigation

There’s a whole section dedicated to best practice. The whole documentation project is open-sourced, so if you spot an error or typo, you can go to GitHub and make a pull request and make the change.

There’s e-books available as well, as well as paper books. However, I’m a little skeptical of that kind of content, simply because Azure is moving too fast for electronic documentation to keep up, let alone dead-tree format.

In addition to the Microsoft websites, there’s lots of independent bloggers with great content, in particular, the CloudRanger series of videos. These can be really good resources. Outside of reading all the posts that go by in Twitter, I don’t really specifically follow any blogs, beyond the official Microsoft EM+S and Azure blogs.

Hopefully this gives you a starting point to begin to learn about Azure!

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