Learning Azure Through Community: Preparing to Learn


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I’ve been part of technology communities for over a dozen years. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that you never stop learning. When I started in tech, Cloud was the shiny new thing. At the time, I was recruiter who wanted to learn about the technologies I was recruiting for so, I started attending Columbus Cloud Computing User Group. Over time, I became more involved in the community, co-organized a cross-platform cloud computing conference, and worked in Community Management with cloud and DevOps engineers, architects, and admins. Through this ad hoc learning, I gained a theoretical understanding of the cloud but not much hands-on experience. 

As the newest member of Veeam’s Product Strategy team, I’m enhancing my knowledge and becoming more hands-on with Azure and Veeam’s Azure backup and recovery solutions. Today, I’m sharing how I’ve started learning plus my top tips for preparing to learn a new skill. This post is the first in a series called “Learning Through Community” and sets the stage for more technically focused content.

Set a Measurable Goal

It’s one thing to say, “I want to learn Azure” and another to act. I knew I needed a specific, measurable goal to focus on. I advise others to learn new technical skills by working toward certifications and decided to take my own advice. I made it my goal to earn the AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification. Once I set this goal, it gave me an idea of where to focus my learning. I also knew that AZ-900 training courses would provide a refresher on the basics and foundational knowledge for more advanced concepts. 

Engage with Community 

Since I focus on the human side of tech, my first thought when looking for learning resources was to ask the humans in my community. I posted on LinkedIn and X that I was learning Azure and asked for resources and advice. The support I received was great! One well-known person even sent me links to his training courses and invited me to reach out with questions. I’ve found that when community members invite you to reach out, they mean it. I will continue relying on my community and asking questions, plus share my own knowledge to help others who are earlier in their learning journeys.

Find Resources

I decided I wanted to approach this with the learner’s mindset of someone new to Azure and cloud in general. That way, I wouldn’t rely on outdated, incomplete, or inaccurate knowledge I’d picked up. A great place to look for resources is your current employer. Many large companies offer learning libraries or subscriptions to learning tools like Pluralsight or O’Reilly. One morning, I told a coworker I was looking for Azure training; and he told me Veeam had O’Reilly training for employees. I logged onto the site, searched Azure, completed Reza Salehi’s Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) course, and added other courses to my playlist.

If your employer doesn’t have resources, or you want to supplement, Microsoft offers tons of Azure content on the Microsoft Learn site. On the Veeam Community Resource Hub, there are hundreds of posts about all things cloud. YouTube has some great tutorials as well, including many on Veeam’s own channel. I’m also a fan of in-person learning at conferences and events and suggest looking into events in your area. I’ve been attending local cloud meetups and plan to attend cloud sessions at conferences.

Schedule Time to Learn

This seems simple but can be challenging to implement, especially if what you’re learning isn’t directly relevant to your day job, and/or you’re juggling multiple projects. Regardless of your situation, block off time on your calendar. Every week, I have recurring time blocks that say Learning Time. While I am happy to move these time blocks around, I do my best to make sure they happen at least twice a week.

Keep Yourself Accountable

Tell other folks that you want to learn a new skill. If it’s relevant to your role, discuss it with your manager. I knew when I posted about this online or told someone at an event, I was setting myself up for people to ask how my training was going. I wasn’t wrong. Someone asked me about it at a meetup last week! I was happy I could say I’d found training courses and was working my way through them. 

In coming months, I’ll be sharing my learning journey and advice plus community and other resources here and on social media. Since one of my favorite ways to learn is by teaching, I’ll also be creating YouTube demos and how-to videos about my lessons learned and Veeam’s Azure backup and recovery solutions. I hope you’ll join me, share your experiences, and expand your own knowledge. Let me know your most valuable learning tools and tips in the comments.
 


11 comments

Userlevel 7
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This was a great read and post @Cassandra Faris .  Might just now motivate me to learn Azure.  😂

Thanks for sharing.

Userlevel 4
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@Chris.Childerhose You can join me on the journey! 

Userlevel 7
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No matter how good you write it, Im struggling now with Azure,

OMG! Im TOO On Prem!!


thanks for sharing this.

cheers.

Userlevel 7
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“TOO On Prem” LOL @HunterLAFR 

Userlevel 7
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Great Insights. I think one of the challenges we all face is choosing what to learn given the restrictions that we have with time and energy. I think organizations need to encourage specialization. Everyone picks and area and dives deep. Later they can share with their peers. Keep going @Cassandra Faris and please keep us up to date on your progress and things you think we all need to know! 

Userlevel 7
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No matter how good you write it, Im struggling now with Azure,

OMG! Im TOO On Prem!!


thanks for sharing this.

cheers.

Did I hear “TOO ON Prem so then again I am an Ootbi friend!”

Userlevel 5
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This is decent for anyone interested in AZ900:


John Savill's Technical Training

 

Userlevel 7
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This is decent for anyone interested in AZ900:


John Savill's Technical Training

 

I have seen him before.  Thanks for sharing this.

Userlevel 5
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Also, for AWS, it is not free but discounted on a regular basis:

 

Stephane Maarek on Udemy

 

Adrian Cantrill

 

On Adrian: Not related to cloud but he has 2 free courses: Docker Fundamentals and Tech Fundamentals that I like.

Userlevel 4
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Great Insights. I think one of the challenges we all face is choosing what to learn given the restrictions that we have with time and energy. I think organizations need to encourage specialization. Everyone picks and area and dives deep. Later they can share with their peers. Keep going @Cassandra Faris and please keep us up to date on your progress and things you think we all need to know! 

Absolutely! To date, I’ve been a generalist who knows enough about a lot of technologies to be dangerous. I’m excited to have an area to focus on more in-depth, and grateful that I have the support! 

I do swear by setting time blocks on my calendar and treating them like I would any other meeting or even an activity I’ve scheduled in my personal life. Otherwise, I’ll just push things off till tomorrow. 

Userlevel 4
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Also, for AWS, it is not free but discounted on a regular basis:

 

Stephane Maarek on Udemy

 

Adrian Cantrill

 

On Adrian: Not related to cloud but he has 2 free courses: Docker Fundamentals and Tech Fundamentals that I like.

Ooh. Thanks! Someone at a usergroup last week was talking about how they’re looking for Docker training. I’ll pass that link along to him. 

I did do a basic Tech/IT Fundamentals course prior to the Azure one. It was pretty entry level, but a nice refresher and foundation for learning what I am now.

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