Azure's new look

Azure at Microsoft Ignite: Three New Certifications, One New Workload, One New Logo

Greetings from Microsoft Ignite in sunny Orlando, where the Linux Academy and Cloud Assessments Azure team is manning booth 2169 (back of the exhibit hall, across from the Microsoft Bookstore), talking with students like you, and learning about new developments in Azure!

The Linux Academy sales and marketing team at Microsoft Ignite booth 2169. Stop by!

Monday’s keynotes and sessions included some developments we knew were coming, some we didn’t, and a new look for the Azure logo.

In fairness, it’s been a few years since Azure last changed its logo; generally speaking, flagship products that are evolving usually do need to be re-branded once in a while, just to remind people that they aren’t the same thing they were since the last brand change.

New certifications

Microsoft announced three new Azure certifications on Monday. They are:

Exam 539: Managing Linux Workloads on Azure

I previously mentioned that Microsoft is dead serious about supporting Linux workloads in Azure. This is another step in that direction.

Currently, Microsoft offers an MCSA certification for Linux in Azure. The way you earn that is to pass the LFCSA exam, then Exam 70-533, Implementing Microsoft Azure Solutions.

For what it’s worth, I highly recommend learning Red Hat if you’re looking to work at an enterprise that uses both Linux and Windows. Most Windows-first shops that are also running Linux workloads come in two varieties: The ones that are using Red Hat to host a lot of things and the others who have a dusty old rack server in the corner that runs Linux for some limited (but usually, critical) workload.

Exam 537: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack

This exam will focus specifically on implementing Azure Stack, Microsoft’s on-premises version of Azure.

As I’ve noted previously, while it’s pretty expensive to operate, Azure Stack is a great entry point for conservative enterprises that are not sure their workloads are public-cloud ready. This includes banks, healthcare organizations, and other enterprises with significant governance and compliance requirements, as well as enterprises that rely heavily on legacy code or proprietary monoliths that need to be re-engineered to make the most of cloud efficiency.

Exam 538: Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions

What’s been missing in all of Azure’s certification courses is how you get the code from the developer’s computer into the cloud. And that is due, in some part, to the fact that Microsoft’s implementation tooling had previously been built around Team Foundation Server and the on-premises datacenter.

Microsoft is shifting that focus rapidly to Visual Studio Team Services, which is the online version of TFS that also enables build automation, custom pipelines, and extensible tooling like Jenkins.

At this writing, some of this tooling works great; other pieces are still in preview, such as the CI/CD pipeline to Azure. Increasingly, though, Microsoft is adopting the principles of DevOps and developing tooling that allows for the same, or similar, Azure deployment experiences that are available in Amazon Web Services.

Of course, we’ll be building certification courses around these new exams. However, we’ve not had a chance to sit down yet and figure out a schedule, so we don’t have specific delivery dates for these courses. A guesstimate would be in Q1 and Q2 of 2018; but, again, we’ll get that schedule together when we get back from Ignite.

SQL Server on Linux

SQL Server on Linux has been in preview for several months, so the announcement Monday that it’s now generally available wasn’t unanticipated.

However, this represents a significant new opportunity for Microsoft. SQL Server represents about a 68 percent market share of enterprise relational database systems, behind Oracle, but not by much.

By decoupling SQL Server from the fairly expensive Windows Server license it traditionally ran upon, Microsoft encourages many of those Oracle users – and even a number of MySQL users – to transition to SQL Server. This is especially true because SQL Server on Linux runs quite easily inside a Docker container. Which means that we can pack a lot of SQL Server containers onto a single virtual host, making our investment in the host virtual machine even more profitable.

This won’t be an overnight thing. Shifting a mission-critical database to a new platform that uses even a slightly different query syntax is not to be done lightly. But for new databases, SQL Server on Linux is an especially attractive option.

We’re planning to deliver a certification course for Exam 70-473, Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions by the end of this year. While that exam doesn’t specifically cover SQL Server on Linux, it does cover SQL Server in detail, and as part of that course, we’ll get into running SQL Server both on Linux and inside containers.

That’s it for now from Orlando! If other significant news comes up, we’ll post it here. And if you’re in town, swing by booth 2169, say hello, tell us about your experiences, pick up some swag, and even take a picture with Pinehead!

 

 

Doug Vanderweide

Here to teach you all things Azure. MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect and Microsoft Certified Trainer. I'm a .NET and LAMP stack developer with 20+ years' experience. Follow me on Twitter @dougvdotcom

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