Azure-ing your future Cloud career

 Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training, a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner. He has worked in the IT training and certification industry for the past 3 years. He is a tech enthusiast with experience working with SharePoint, Windows Server and Windows desktop.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to advance your career is by learning new in-demand skills. In 2015, those skills predominantly align to cloud technology and more specifically Microsoft Azure. The top 5 skills advertised on the IT Jobs Board for jobs in Azure include Cloud, Agile, Security, Integration and MCSE.

Opportunity in the cloud sector is huge, with demand for skilled professionals only set to grow over the next decade. Check out these mind-blowing cloud stats:

  • The current UK cloud computing market is a predicted £6.1 billion (source: TechMarketView)
  • Global demand for cloud related positions is set to grow 26% through 2015 (source: Microsoft/IDC)
  • There are currently 446,703 cloud jobs in the UK, with an estimated 18,239,258 worldwide (source: Wanted Analytics)
  • An estimated 7 million existing cloud-related jobs cannot be filled due to a lack of skills (source: Microsoft/IDC)

Image Credit – Forbes: Where Cloud Computing Jobs Will Be In 2015

The Azure opportunity  With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Azure opportunity. Since its launch, Microsoft’s public cloud offering has experienced widespread adoption. More than 10,000 new customers sign up to Windows Azure on a weekly basis, with 50% of Fortune 500 companies now using the service. In a recent Forbes article, Deutche Bank estimate Microsoft Azure revenues will reach $500M to $700M for the current fiscal year.

As adoption continues, the demand for professionals with Azure focussed skills is only set to rise. Especially with the Windows Server 2003 End of Service date looming. On July 14, 2015, Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows Server 2003 and the logical option will be to migrate workloads and storage to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Azure. With an estimated 10 million versions of WS2003 still in circulation, demand is set to spike in summer 2015.

A career working with Azure is lucrative. Average advertised salaries are around £50,000, with top end salaries peaking at a £100k+. (source: ITJobsWatch)

How do I learn Azure skills?

Take advantage of this Azure opportunity by developing and proving your skills via the Microsoft Specialist certification tracks. There are currently three Azure Microsoft Specialist certifications available:

  • Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions –  if you are planning to expand your developer skills to include Microsoft Azure, this is the certification for you. Attaining this specialist certification will prove you have the skills to construct Azure Virtual Machines, create and host Azure websites and design resilient cloud applications.
  • Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions - attaining this specialist certification proves you can migrate existing on-premise infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. You’ll demonstrate - amongst others - the skills to integrate on premises Windows AD with Azure AD, plan and implement data services based on SQL and deploy websites in Azure. For those looking to tap into the WS2003 EOS opportunity, this is the certification for you.
  • Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions – if you are interested in validating your Microsoft Azure solution design skills, this is the certification for you. Attaining this cert will demonstrate the skills required to design azure infrastructure and networking, design websites and advanced applications amongst others.

You can develop your Azure skills and achieve certification faster with Firebrand. As a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner, Firebrand offers accelerated training for Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions and Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions – with a course for Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions launching April 27, 2015.

If you’re looking to get a taster for the courses or go down the self-study route, head over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy. You can access 1000s of hours of free training materials straight from the Microsoft Experts themselves with courses aligned to the Azure specialist certifications already available.

Attaining one of these certifications will demonstrate your skills, thus increasing your value to existing or potential employers. Your value increases even further to Microsoft Partners as these certifications are a requirement for the new Cloud Platform competency.

So what are you waiting for? Start expanding your universe today and begin developing those Azure skills ahead of the Windows Server 2003 End of Service deadline. Before you know it you’ll be earning that £50k salary you deserve.