Microsoft Offering Free Cloud Training Programs For IT Pros

The company announces two free programs to help IT professionals brush up on their cloud computing skills on Azure

The cloud’s transformative effects aren’t confined to the data center. IT career paths are also being rerouted as enterprises flock to the cloud.

In response, Microsoft today unveiled two new programs aimed at helping IT professionals sharpen their skills on the software maker’s Azure cloud computing platform. “There is a significant opportunity for IT professionals to adopt the cloud,” said Mike Neil, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division, in an April 20 announcement.

“IDC believes that while IT employment worldwide will grow about 4 percent every year from 2015 to 2020, cloud-related positions will grow at more than three times that rate,” continued Neil, citing the analyst group’s figures. IDC further predicts that by 2020, a third of all IT positions will involve the cloud.

Preparing for that future, Microsoft has launched the free IT Pro Cloud Essentials annual subscription and IT Pro Career Center.

rackspaceMicrosoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials includes free Azure credits, enabling users to try their hand at dev/test, backup, security and other cloud-related tasks. Also included is a free Pluralsight online training subscription, TechNet forums priority support, a free exam voucher, and extended Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite trials.

Microsoft IT Pro Career Center is geared toward professionals seeking guidance on how to navigate the cloud IT job market. Visitors can map out potential IT roles and progress along coursework that is tailored to those roles. The online resource site also includes expert advice and salary information for in-demand positions.

Sky-High Cloud Market

It’s no mystery why cloud skills are sought after by enterprises.

Cloud computing has changed the fortunes of IT companies, including Microsoft. Bracing for diminishing client software demand in the post-PC era, in recent years the company has adopted a “mobile-first, cloud-first” product strategy.

The bet is paying off. In January, Microsoft reported that its commercial cloud services business had attained an annual run rate of $9.4 billion.

E-tailing giant and early cloud pioneer Amazon announced earlier this month that its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud business brings in $10 billion in annual revenue. “AWS is bigger than was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and—most noteworthy in my view—the pace of innovation continues to accelerate—we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40 percent increase over 2014,” wrote Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in an April 5 letter to shareholders.

Google, meanwhile, is planning to open 12 new data centers through the end of 2017 in a bid to expand its global cloud footprint.

Two of those data centers, one in Oregon and the other in Tokyo, are expected to go online this year. Google currently trails behind Amazon, Microsoft and IBM in cloud services, with a 4 percent share of the market, according to recent analysis from Synergy Research Group. Whereas its rivals each operate at least 40 data centers around the world, Google currently operates 14 data centers.

Originally published on eWeek.