How do you practically get started with Microsoft Azure?

I’ve been asked a lot from my colleagues and friends on how to get started with Microsoft Azure. I believe that if you do Google search, you will get hundred millions of results.  Ironically there are almost guide on how to create a trial Azure subscription rather than a practical advice to help you get started. Indeed like other Microsoft products, Azure has been emergent for 2 years although Azure was firstly announced 6 years ago. I’ve been playing with Azure,  mainly Azure Infrastructure-As-A-Service for the past 3 years. Have a look at Azure at the time I started Azure. There are just about 20 services.

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And look at what have been available today. There are about 60 services available to Microsoft’s customers globally and several services have been on the preview stage e.g Microsoft Azure Stack.

Should we learn all of these Azure services? Of course you should as always if you want to be an Azure guru in the future. But how to get started?

Let’s start with Azure App Service & Azure Virtual Machine

Starting with what you are most familiar with is always recommended. If you have never been in the IT field or an experienced developer, you should start with Azure App Service to try creating a website running on Azure. If you know Visual Studio, you can quickly deploy an ASP.NET application into Azure App Service using Visual Studio. Or If you are a blogger you would have to be familiar with WordPress so let’s start creating a WordPress website in Azure with Azure App Service. During your first experiment on Azure App Service, you may need to execute server-side code which the Azure App Service couldn’t do. In this case, you probably need a virtual machine running on Azure with Azure Virtual Machine.

In a nutshell, let’s practice on Azure what have been familiar with you such as playing with Visual Studio, working on on-premises virtual machine in daily basic. Now these things are on Azure which don’t become hard on you.

If you don’t have an Azure subscription, you can try Azure trial with free of 200$ by this link https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0044p/

Advance by asking yourself real-world scenario

Creating a website or virtual machine on Azure is to only for your experiment to get you slowly familiar with Azure. Let’s advance by asking yourself real-world scenario. For example, asking yourself how to make your website highly available 24/7, or how to back up your website’s database. What would be a way to monitor your website’s traffic (Azure Application Insight) ? How do I better secure my website (Azure Security Center) ? You will realize that these questions are practical as you’ve done today even not on Azure. For such a question, you realize a need to start learning about high availability on Azure, or to think of load balancer which controls your website’s request  (Azure Traffic Manager, Azure Load Balancer). Should you need to extend your virtual machine’s storage (Azure Storage)?

In a nutshell, try yourself asking real-world scenario on what you have started with (Azure App Service, Azure Virtual Machine).

Go far with integration

At this time you know well with some of the Azure services mentioned above. You are able to at least build a website on Azure, monitor and secure it, ensure its availability and optimal performance. Building a SharePoint farm is also within your ability.

Now let’s go far with integration. Imagine if you want to build a YouTube-like website on Azure? You of course are not interested in writing a lot of code to do streaming, conversion, video encoding or so on. And Azure Media Service is what you need to pay attention to.

If you are an experienced software developer or a solution architect you probably know what you need from Azure  during your solution design.

Go far to see how Azure can help, and what you need for an integration.

Course to learn

There are many free and paid courses right now. Below is my recommended list:

Try hard with MCSD: Azure Solution Architect certification

To strengthen your knowledge, you can take an exam of MCSD: Azure Solution Architect certification. More information please learn more from this link https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcsd-azure-architect-certification.aspx

Write and share on your blog

To me the best way to memorize is to write what you learn and how much of understanding you have. Let’s write and share with folks what you learn from Azure, and what you do to get it done (e.g. step-by-step configuration and deployment).

Wish you luck on the Azure journey.

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