Friday, 19 May 2017

Firebrand Launch the Azure Academy

We’re living in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. According to Forbes, the cloud computing market is set to reach 127.5 billion by 2018 and 42% of UK and US companies are actively looking to hire professionals with cloud computing skills.
Microsoft’s public cloud offering Azure is leading the way with 120,000 new customer subscriptions per month. Demonstrating the strength of Azure, 90% of Fortune 500 companies are currently using the platform.

For those unfamiliar with Azure, it’s “a growing collection of integrated cloud services – analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web – for moving faster, achieving more and saving money”.

In this post we’ll take a look at Azure’s growth and how rapidly expanding demand for Azure cloud professionals is creating a skills gap. 

The growth of Microsoft Azure



In July, Microsoft announced that Azure revenue and usage again grew by more than 100% in the past quarter. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella attributed the growth to a mixture of high demand for cloud platforms combined with Azure’s ability to offer solutions that reflect the realities of today’s world. 

Testimony to this high demand and growth, is Microsoft’s recent announcement of the first complete cloud offering delivered from a global provider within the UK. These datacentres, which adhere to Microsoft’s stringent Trusted Cloud principles, means Azure can now offer customers 28 regions – with six more coming soon. More than any other major cloud provider.  

As mass adoption continues to accelerate, so too does the demand for cloud professionals with well-developed skills in Azure solutions. In a recent study by the managed cloud provider Rackspace, jobs specifying Microsoft Azure experience increased demand in the UK by 75%.

Lagging significantly behind this demand however, is the number of qualified individuals capable of supporting a business’s Azure needs. Rightscale found that the number one challenge for companies looking to bolster their cloud capabilities is the shortage of appropriate skilled job candidates.

Furthermore, while Microsoft’s Azure certifications provide excellent insight into the cloud platform, professionals and businesses alike are increasingly looking to further their Azure knowledge and subsequent application.

Microsoft offer a series of highly-demanded Specialist Azure certifications; Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect – aimed at demonstrating how to competently implement and administer Azure in a business environment. However, the demand for more in-depth, technical know-how surrounding Azure has seen Firebrand training in partnership with Microsoft develop the Azure Academy.

The birth of Firebrand’s Azure Academy 


Azure Academy is a new, accelerated product created by Firebrand Training in partnership with Microsoft and partners. The Azure Academy introduces the cloud platform in a greater and never-before seen depth.



The accelerated nature of Firebrand Training means each deep dive is just 4 days. Moreover, the content provided includes more than 80% in-depth technical content not found in the Microsoft Official Curriculum.  

Our UK Commercial Manager, James Lapwood said: "We’ve worked with Microsoft and partners in creating the accelerated Azure Academy. The content of the programmes - from Apprenticeships through to expert-level Deep Dives - has been developed based on what the market has asked us for. All delivered at twice the speed of traditional training".  

This Academy, which should be seen as an extension of the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect, is made up of three deep-dive programmes:
  • Infrastructure and Networking
  • Data Platform
  • Application Development

Let’s take a look at them in a little more depth:


The first of the three brand-new Microsoft programmes is Infrastructure and Networking. The course will focus on topics such as:
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Azure storage, backup and recovery
  • Automation, PowerShell and the Azure CLI
  • Microsoft Cloud Estate

You can see the full curriculum here.

The second deep-dive program is Data Platform. This programme will develop understanding of Azure data services, analytics and IoT – plus a detailed look at security. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Implementing Azure SQL Database
  • Azure Redis Cache
  • Azure HDInsight
  • Azure BizTalk Service

Check out the full curriculum.

The third and final Azure Academy programme is Application Development. Aimed at developing your knowledge of designing cloud application in Azure, some of the topics you’ll focus on include:

  • Availability
  • Data-management
  • Messaging
  • Resiliency

Integrated into each deep dive program is a focus on Azure security. With security in the Cloud seen as the second largest cloud challenge to businesses, the need for a holistic understanding of security is imperative.

Check out the full curriculum