One of the advantages of working for a large Microsoft Partner is getting access to some of the best training around. Whilst there’s alot of value to be gained from the endless blog posts by experts in their field, in addition to other online resources such as the Microsoft Virtual Academy, there’s no substitute in my opinion to dedicated instructor-led classroom training. Microsoft Airlift sessions were renowned in the past for their content quality as was the now defunct Microsoft Exchange Conference, replaced by the Ignite megaevent. Bootcamps take this a stage further, where the focus is on deep-dive technical architecture training in a small group. (Actually you have to be invited and meet a minimum criteria of experience). The days are long and intensive where we get hit with the latest product information and updates, followed by hands-on lab sessions putting it all together. The instructors delivering are usually a mixture of persons who work in the engineering teams. In short, the folks you would want to learn from:
- Course content has been developed, and will be presented, by senior Microsoft Solution Architects, Engineering, Azure CoE and CAT teams.
- There will be a mix of presentations, chalk talks, case study workshops, hackathons, and Q&A panels.
- Attendees will participate in general sessions alongside Microsoft FTE as well as separate sessions that have been specifically designed for just the partners.
Looking at the Agenda (below) for next week, as a guy transitioning into Azure in a big way, most of these areas will be taking my knowledge to a new level of understanding. Not only in a technical capacity, but in how these solutions might add value to the customer in a particular complex scenario. One of the hardest things to get right in presales, is having a wide ranging knowledge of all types of Azure options which could be employed and often there’s more than one. Throw in the murky world of Microsoft Licensing…
Next week’s agenda:
I’m really excited to see some of the topics being covered, including the Hackathon and Customer Case Studies, which take the deeply technical and apply it to real world customer case evaluations. According to what i’ve read, some of the Microsoft guys play the customer role and us grunts have to make them happy. What fun.
On a lighter note, there’s a trip scheduled to the Microsoft Company Store at the Redmond Campus on the Wednesday night; i’ve been there before and usually can’t resist buying something. There’s also social occasions in the evenings:
- An ISV Expo will offer the opportunity to interact with partner companies and for ISV partners to demo their solutions. Hearty appetizers and drinks will be provided.
- An Engineering and executive social reception will offer the chance for all attendees, presenters, leaders, and experts to meet and mingle.
Frequently mentioned is: “…Hearty appetizers and drinks will be provided….” – I’ve found the Microsoft catering to be awesome at the Redmond campus ( I had the best plate of pasta in my life one lunchtime during the EMS Bootcamp i attended last Fall). This time we’re at the Westin in Bellevue but i expect the same standards to apply.
Forget about the food, what’s the point of all this great training? Putting it into practice of course. In my case i have challenged myself to write one of the following three exams by the end of June 2016, for which Partners are being personally rewarded to achieve:
- Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
I think in my case it will be the 70-533 to begin with, but lots of work and prep to do before then.
Playing in Seattle
I love the city of Seattle, this will be my fourth visit. It has a cool vibe. As someone who now lives in the land-locked Alberta Prairies, it reminds me of how much i miss the water. I grew up in Scotland not far from the seaside. On my last trip to Seattle in October 2015, I hired a decent rental and drove out to the ocean (specifically to Ocean City) for some proper fish and chips and a long walk along the beach. It was a 400km round trip for a plate of fish and chips, but man was it worth it! There’s endless deserted beaches, where i was having some fun driving the 4×4 actually IN the ocean, as you do. There was noone around!
I’m also a bit of a plane-spotter and thoroughly enjoyed the Boeing Factory Tour at Everett Field, production facility for all current Boeing commercial aircraft. Visiting the Museum of Flight nearby was also very cool.
This time i’ll be lucky to get a trip up the Space Needle to get some nice photos and afterwards some tasty seafood.
So, I’ll hope to post some info next month on what i learned during the course and the latest news from the Azure engineering teams.