Category: Cloud Advocate

Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays

Speaking at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays

I am happy to let you know that I will be speaking online at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI Day. The Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI is an online event, organized and presented by Microsoft MVPs as part of the MVPDays. MVPDays was founded by Cristal and Dave Kawula back in 2013. It started as a simple idea; “There’s got to be a good way for Microsoft MVPs to reach the IT community and share their vast knowledge and experience in a fun and engaging way”.

The Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays is a full-day online event on October 23. you can find out more here. In my session, I will be speaking about Azure hybrid management services and how you can connect your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment with Microsoft Azure.

Hybrid Management Technologies using Azure Stack HCI

Windows Server, Azure Stack HCI and Windows Admin Center not only provide you with great hyper-converged solutions but also enable you to connect to Azure Hybrid Cloud services. In this session, Thomas Maurer will show you how you can connect Azure services like Azure Site Recovery, Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Monitor and many more to your on-prem Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment.

If you want to know more about it check you the following blog posts:

I hope you will join us at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays. Let me know if you have any questions.



Tips on how to take Microsoft Azure Certification Exams

Tips on how to take Microsoft Azure Certification Exams

As I wrote a couple of blog posts on Microsoft Azure Certification exams, like why should you become Microsoft Azure Certified, how you pick the right Azure Certification path or how you prepare for an Azure exam, I now got the questions if I have some tips to share about how to take the Microsoft Certification exams. I know that everyone takes exams differently, but I want to share what helped me to pass the exams. So here is a short list with tips on how you can be more successful when you take your Microsoft Azure Certification Exams.

Make sure you are prepared 💪

As mentioned in my blog post how you prepare and pass a Microsoft Azure Certification exam, you need to go through the topics and prepare. There are a lot of great resources to prepare for this exam. Great free resources I use usually are Microsoft Docs and Microsoft Learn, make sure you check out my blog post to get prepared.

There are also Microsoft Official Practice Tests available which are a great way to build your confidence and validate your skills, allowing you to identify gaps that you might need to resolve before you take your Microsoft Certification exam. Another resource you might find helpful is the Exam Replay offer, giving you the opportunity to retake the same exam if you failed the first time.

Empower your brain ⚡

Now it is essential to make your mind work best during the exam. Make sure you had enough sleep, and you have the right amount of sugar and caffeine in you. Depending on the exam, you will be spending quite some time on the exam, and you will read a lot, so make sure you have enough energy to get the answers out of your brain. Questions often come with a lot of different information. Parts of that information is relevant for the answer, and other parts are not. You will need to focus on sorting relevant and irrelevant information.

Plan enough time and avoid stress ⌚

If you are going to take the exam at a test center, make sure you show up early. It is not great if you have to rush into the exam room because you came late. The same applies when you are taking the exam from home. I like to be ready for the exam more-less half an hour before the exam starts. This gives me a little bit of time to get in exam mode and make my brain switch from the thing I was doing before, to the exam topic.

Get into the topic 📄

For some people switching context between different things isn’t a big deal. For me, it works best if I have some ‘stress-free’ time after the last thing I did, before getting into the exam mode. I usually do an extra round on Microsoft Docs to get my brain thinking about the right context.

Get comfortable 🛋

Make sure you are relaxed and ready for the exam at least half an hour before your exam is scheduled to start. Also, make sure you used the restroom, you had your coffee and water because you are not allowed to take a break during the exam, and you can’t have these things close to you during the exam. And again, be relaxed, if you don’t pass the exam it isn’t the end of the world, you can still retake the exam another time. That said, also make sure you take advantage of special offers, like exam replays.

Read the questions carefully 👓

Make sure you read the questions carefully, to understand what is really asked. It also helps you to navigate through the exam, usually, you can go back to specific questions later. However, in some cases, the exam will let you know that you cannot access the question later after you have clicked next.

Answer all questions and use the mark question feature ✔

Now, when you start with the exam, you will maybe find some topics you are not familiar with, and you might not be sure about the answer. In these cases, you can mark this question and come back to it later, so you don’t lose too much time on it. If you don’t know the answer, make sure you at least select an answer, it is always better to have a small chance in guessing the right answer, then not answering the question at all. If you want to know more about the different types of questions in a Microsoft exam, check out my blog, which has a couple of additional tips on how to prepare and pass the exam.

Write down what you have learned 📝

For me it doesn’t matter if I have passed the exam or not, I always write down things I didn’t know the answer to. This allows me to look them up later and learn more. Make sure you don’t share this information since that would violate the testing policies.

Do you have tips to take a Microsoft Azure Exam? 🤔

I hope this blog post gives you some useful tips on how to take a Microsoft Azure Certification exam. Do you have any suggestions and tips? Let me know in the comments!

By the way, make sure you take the 2020 IT Skills and Salary Survey from Global Knowledge and be one of the first to get the results of the report early next year.

Getting started! 🧪

Are you also interested in becoming Microsoft Azure Certified? Check out my blog posts about why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified and how to pick the right Azure exam certification path. And have a look at my Azure exam experience with the different Azure exams.



Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

How to Save Money on Azure using Azure Reservations

I wanted to quickly share something which existing for quite some time but talking with customers still a lot of people don’t know about it yet. And since yesterday the Azure team also shared some news on it, so it is the perfect time to have a look at Azure Reservations (Azure Reserved VM Instances or Reserved capacity). Usually, you pay Azure services in a Pay-As-You-Go model, which gives you the pricing flexibility and agility you expect from the cloud. But, a lot of customers have services like virtual machines or databases which need to run continuously for the next years. With purchasing reservations for these Azure services, you give the Azure team visibility into your one-year or three-year resource needs in advance, and this allows the Azure team to be more efficient with capacity planning. In return, reservations will give you back these savings to you as discounts of up to 72 percent.

The significant change which was announced yesterday is that there are now monthly payment options available for Azure reservations. Which means you can now pay reservations upfront or on a monthly basis. You can find more information about Azure Reservations on Microsoft Docs.

Azure Reservations Chart

Azure Reservations Chart

No worries, you can mix Azure reservations for your predictable capacity needs, with the Pay-As-You-Go model for your unpredictable capacity needs. While purchasing reservations is only a few simple steps in the Azure portal, we also understand that your workload and application needs may change, and exchanging reservations is easy. You can even cancel your reservation at any time and get the remaining months returned for a termination fee.

Azure Reservations are currently available as Azure reserved instances (RIs), for Windows and Linux virtual machines. As well as Azure reserved capacity for Azure data services, like Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. But there are also a lot of other services available.

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Combining the Azure Reserved VM Instances and the Azure Hybrid Benefit, you even can save up to 80 percent. To learn more about Azure RIs or reserved capacity, check out the following pages:

To find out more about reservations, check out the Azure reservations page. You should also have a look at the lastest new options like the Azure Dedicated Host and VMware solutions on Azure. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Prepare and pass a Microsoft Azure Certifciation Exam Microsoft Learn

How to Prepare and Pass a Microsoft Azure Exam

There are many good reasons to become Microsoft Azure Certified and take the Microsoft Azure exams. If you are reading this blog post, you might already have decided that you want to take a Microsoft Azure exam and get a certification. Since I passed a couple of the Azure exams, I would like to share how I prepared for these exams and passed. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to pass them as well.

Passing exams is all about having the right strategy and preparation. If you are looking for tips and tricks to on how to take a Microsoft exam, check out my following blog.

Choose the right Azure exam and certification ☁🎓

To begin with, make sure you choose and pick the certification path and exam which is right for you. There are a lot of different exams and industry certifications out there. Microsoft’s approach of role-based certifications are aligned to relevant market and industry job-roles, to make it easier to find the right one. It makes a lot of sense to pick the right one for you, depending on where you are in your career and where you’re going. I wrote a blog post to give you an overview and pick the different Azure exam certification paths.

Identify the certification of your interest to find the required exams. To browse all the Microsoft Certification exams, check out the official website.

Start Small 🤏

If you are not 100% sure where and with which exam to start, I recommend that you start small by taking the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam. This will help you understand how Microsoft exams work by not being too deep into technology. Having experience taking Microsoft exams helps you to focus on the actual topics and not on the testing process. Also, make sure that you have a look at these special offers, you can find more information on special offers further down.

Know the exam content, read what is measured 📏

First thing after and during picking the exam is to see what is asked during the exam. Every Microsoft exam page lists the “skills measured” in the exam. This list is usually very accurate and helps you to focus and study the right content. The page itself even lists available training and courses to prepare for the exam.

Microsoft Azure Exam Page - Skills measured and Prepare for exam

Microsoft Azure Exam Page – Skills measured and prepare for the exam

Understand the question types ❓

Understanding the exam formats and question types before taking the exam can help you a lot. Microsoft does not mention which question types for exam formats are exactly in each exam, but you can find a list of exam and questions samples here in this YouTube playlist. Understanding what questions types will be coming in your exam, will make it easier for you to answer them and get the most point per question.

Take free hands-on learning courses on Microsoft Learn 🎓

Microsoft Learn was introduced at Ignite 2018 as a free learning platform for a lot of different Microsoft technologies, not just Azure. Microsoft Learn provides you with various learning paths depending on your job role or the skills you are looking for. Most of the learning paths give you a hands-on learning opportunity so that you can develop practical skills through interactive training. And it is free! You get instant in-browser access to Microsoft tools and modules, no credit card required.

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn 🎓

Up your game with a module or learning path tailored to today’s IT Pro, developer, and technology masterminds and designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Hands-on experience 💪

The best way to learn and pass the Microsoft Azure exams, or basically to learn anything, is most of the time through real hands-on experience with the technology. While Microsoft Learn gives you some free hands-on learning modules, there is also an Azure free account. The Azure free account will provide you with 12 months of free Azure services. You can find out more here. Make sure you dive into the skills measured and try the tutorials in the Microsoft Docs.

Read the Microsoft Docs 📄

Next, to Microsoft Learn and Hands-on experience, this is one of my main recommendations to prepare for a Microsoft Azure exam. Read the Microsoft Azure Documentation. Trust me on this, Azure and the topics which come up in the exams are very well documented. As mentioned, read the skills measured on the exam page, look up the specific Microsoft Docs pages and read through them and try out the tutorials.

Microsoft Docs Azure

Microsoft Docs Azure

Video courses and training 📽

There are a lot of different video training courses out there, which allow you to do video-based Azure exam preparations. To mention a couple of them like LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, Whizlabs, ITPro.TV, Udemy, A Cloud Guru and many many more! Just browse through the different offers and read the review to find the best match for you. There are also a lot of Microsoft Learning Partners which offer online courses.

Choose instructor-led courses and learning partners 👨‍🏫

As you can see, there is a lot of self-study learning materials out there to prepare and pass the Azure exams. However, the classroom experience can be super beneficial and efficient, especially with the right trainer. You can find a list of official Microsoft Learning Partners with Microsoft Certified Trainers depending on your country here. A lot of them offer different courses for different technologies and in combination with in-person or online training.

Books 📚

If you prefer to learn and prepare for an exam using books, Microsoft offers books written by the experts at Microsoft Press. There are some excellent books which will help you learn more and prepare and pass the Microsoft Azure exams. However, if you get a hard copy of the book, it won’t be updated in the future, to reflect changes in the technology or in the exams.

Take a practice exam 📝

Some of the exams also have official practice exams available. These are great to see where in the learning process you are standing and on which topics you need to spend a little bit more time. I highly recommend that you only do the official practice exams and don’t use brain dumps. Besides cheating on the exam and yourself, brain dumps are often simply wrong and contain a lot of mistakes. You can find Microsoft official practice tests here.

Study groups 👩‍🎓👨‍🎓

If you have a couple of colleagues, friends, or people you met at an Azure User group meetup, it can help to build a study group. Study groups don’t just help you to get more structure in your learning. They also help you to gain a new perspective on the study material and reduce procrastination.

Relax 🏝

Make sure on the day of the exam you are relaxed. Have enough sleep and no stress and other appointments directly and before the exam, which could make you run into a potential time issue. Make sure you arrive early at the test center, to have enough time and no need to rush so that you can focus on the exam itself.

Take the exam online 💻

Taking Microsoft exam at home

Taking a Microsoft exam at home

Sometimes it is difficult to find a test center which is close to you, or they don’t have time slots available. To make it easier, you can also take an exam online by using at-home testing. For example, Person Vue offers an online proctoring service called OnVUE, which allows you to take the exam from home or your office. I take almost every exam online these days, which saves me a lot of time. However, it also comes with a couple of requirements. For example, you will need to have a room where no other person can walk in and no monitor or other things close by which cloud make it possible to cheat. You can find more about taking the exam online on the Microsoft Learning page.

Special Offers 💵

Microsoft also has a great set of Microsoft Learning special offers like student discounts and exam replays. Exam replays allow you to retake the exam if you don’t pass it the first time. This can make your exam experience way more relaxed. It is worth checking out the special offers to see if there is one for you.

Getting started! 🧪

Are you also interested in becoming Microsoft Azure Certified? Check out my blog posts about why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified and how to pick the right Azure exam certification path. And have a look at my Azure exam experience with the different Azure exams.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can prepare and pass for a Microsoft Azure Certification exam. In my next blog about the Microsoft Azure Certification exams, I will give you some tips for taking the exam itself. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Microsoft Cloud Advocacy Methods and Practices Team

Update on my job in the Azure Cloud Advocacy team – Methods and Practices

Today I want to take the time to give you a look at the latest changes in our Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocacy organization. It is precisely 7 months since I joined Microsoft in the Cloud Advocacy team in Cloud + AI. Our AzOps team, led by Rick Claus, with the focus on the success of IT Pros, is now part of Donovan Brown’s new organization called Methods and Practices within Microsoft’s Developer Relations. Rick Claus wrote a blog about the latest changes for the team, which I am excited about.

This team was specifically pulled together to span the operations spectrum of folks who specialize in all types of infrastructure architecture, DevOps practices, DevSecOps specialties, virtualization platforms, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) principles and more. Regardless if you are on-prem only, hybrid or a cloud native team or organization, if you work in some form of IT operations space supporting your technical infrastructure used by internal end users, external customers or development teams – there are resources here for you to connect with.

Check out the video of Rick Claus and Donovan Brown having a chat about the reorg as well as the future of the Methods and Practices team.

So far it has been a great time in the Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocacy team, and I am really looking forward to work in that amazing team. If you have any questions about our team, let me know in the comments.



Microsoft Azure Switzerland - Microsoft Cloud Switzerland

Microsoft Azure Regions in Switzerland now available

Today is an excellent day for cloud adoption in Switzerland. Back in March 2018, Microsoft announced the plan of opening a new Azure Geography with two Azure Regions in Switzerland. Today, Microsoft announced the availability of new Azure Regions in Switzerland, next to 31 new Azure edge sites. With the Azure Region Switzerland West and Switzerland North, Microsoft addresses the need of customers to have cloud regions and datacenters available in Switzerland. The availability of these Swiss Azure Regions and Microsoft Cloud datacenters will address data residency, sovereignty, compliance, resiliency, and latency requirements of Microsoft customers and partners.

Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure:

Today, we’re announcing the availability of Azure from our new cloud regions in Switzerland. These new regions and our ongoing global expansion are in response to customer demand as more industry leaders choose Microsoft’s cloud services to further their digital transformations. As we enter new markets, we work to address scenarios where data residency is of critical importance, especially for highly regulated industries seeking the compliance standards and extensive security offered by Azure.

 

Microsoft Azure Switzerland

Reliable, secure data residency in Switzerland Your data. Your solutions. Local cloud. Global scale. More about the Swiss Azure Regions

Microsoft Azure Switzerland is not only interesting for Swiss organizations which need low-latency access or have data residency requirements, but also for companies outside of Switzerland which want to store their data in Switzerland.

Understanding Azure Regions and Geographies

Azure Geographies

A geography is a discrete market, typically containing two or more regions, that preserves data residency and compliance boundaries.

Geographies allow customers with specific data-residency and compliance needs to keep their data and applications close. Geographies are fault-tolerant to withstand complete region failure through their connection to our dedicated high-capacity networking infrastructure. You can find more information on Azure Geographies here.

  • Geography: Switzerland

Azure Regions

A region is a set of datacenters deployed within a latency-defined perimeter and connected through a dedicated regional low-latency network. This allows customers who are having data residency requirements to have disaster recovery and geo-redundant within the same country.

Microsoft Azure Switzerland - Swiss Azure Regions

Microsoft Azure Switzerland – Swiss Azure Regions

With more global regions than any other cloud provider, Azure gives customers the flexibility to deploy applications where they need to. Azure is generally available in 46 regions around the world, with plans announced for 8 additional regions. You can find more information on Azure Regions here.

  • Switzerland North
  • Switzerland West
Microsoft Azure Regions Map with Swiss Azure Regions Switzerland

Microsoft Azure Regions Map

As of today, Microsoft will offer two Azure regions in Switzerland called Switzerland North (Zürich region) and Switzerland West (Geneva region). Switzerland North will become the main available region for this geography, while customers can request access to Switzerland West if needed. You can find more information about Microsoft Azure locations here.

Microsoft Cloud Switzerland

With the opening of these new Swiss Azure regions, Microsoft will deliver cloud services directly from Switzerland. This will not just include Microsoft Azure, but also Office 365 and Dynamic 365. However, Office 365 and Dynamics will be available later after the initial launch. The Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland will provide you with more than 90 compliance certifications, including over 50 specific to global regions and countries, such as the US, the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, and China. And, get more than 35 compliance offerings specific to the needs of key industries, including health, government, finance, education, manufacturing, and media. Find out more about Azure compliance.

The Microsoft Azure Switzerland regions will offer multiple benefits for customers and partners.

  • Enterprise-grade performance, flexibility, and reliability
    Get all the cloud benefits to accelerate your business growth using an extensive collection of cloud and secure data services.
  • Remove barriers
    Financial services and other regulated industries can accelerate their digital transformation to the cloud with unique services tailored to meet their needs.
  • Regional paired Swiss datacenters
    Azure Switzerland will enable customers to meet local data residency requirements within Switzerland. Customers will also have the ability to pair the geographically separated Switzerland North (Zurich) region with Switzerland West (Geneva) for regional disaster recovery scenarios that maintain data residency.
  • Compliance you can trust
    One measure of Microsoft’s commitment to the privacy of customer data is Microsoft’s adoption of the world’s first code of practice for cloud privacy, ISO/IEC 27018. Upon completion, the Swiss Azure datacenters will have global Azure certifications, including SOC 1-3, ISO 27001, and others. Visit the Microsoft Trust Center for more information.

Azure Services available in Swiss Azure Regions

The availability of Azure services will be a staged process, with some services available as of today and additional services following in the coming months. Also, remember that not all services are available in all Azure regions. As of today, you can find more information about the products and services available in the Swiss Azure regions on the Azure website.

Office 365 and Dynamics 365 in Switzerland

Office 365 and Dynamics 365 will be following later after this initial release. This will allow Office 365 customer data-at-rest to stay in Switzerland depending on the service. You can find more information about where Office 365 stores your customer data on the Office 365 page. If you are an existing Office 365 customer, you will be able to move your Office 365 tenant later. More information on tenants move can be found here.

Azure Pricing

Azure pricing is different depending on the Azure region you pick. You will be able to find the Azure pricing page for the specific Azure regions.

Request access to Swiss Azure Regions

If you login to the Azure portal today, don’t be surprised that you won’t see the Azure Switzerland regions, Switzerland North and Switzerland West. To get access today, you will need to request access by creating a support ticket, which will give you access to Switzerland North. This managed onboarding process of customer access to the Swiss Azure datacenters will be removed later.

Azure Portal Region Switzerland North and Switzerland West

Azure Portal Region Switzerland North and Switzerland West

In Switzerland, where Microsoft has been operating for 30 years, Azure is now available from new cloud datacenter regions located in the areas of Zurich and Geneva. A selection of more than 30 early adopter customers and partner organizations are already using Azure services. Microsoft is helping Swiss organizations embrace cloud services for improved efficiency, innovation development, and increased productivity. General availability of Azure is anticipated for all customers in the coming months. Additional early access customers will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Request access to Azure Switzerland

Innovate Switzerland Event

Innovate Switzerland is an event where Microsoft celebrates Swiss innovation driven by the cloud and the Microsoft datacenters in Switzerland together with customers and partners. On Thursday, August 29, Microsoft hosts three parallel events in Geneva, Bern, Zurich and many other locations with our partners, to demonstrate Swiss diversity.

Primo Amrein, Cloud Lead at Microsoft Switzerland

Partners are in the core DNA of Microsoft. That is why we offer Innovate Switzerland as an enabling platform for our Swiss partner ecosystem. There will be a live broadcast from the three Microsoft-led events including content from all regions. This stream is shared with Microsoft partners, enabling them to hold their own customer event at the same day/time. Thereby, partners can add their relevant content around the overall broadcast from Microsoft.

With that, join our partner events in a location near you!

Create free Azure Account ☁

Create your Azure free account today and get started with 12 months of free services!

I hope this gives you an overview of the Microsoft Cloud Switzerland and the Swiss Azure datacenters. I hope you will be joining us at one of the partner locations or online in the live stream for Innovate Switzerland and also check out the latest Azure Certification exams to get your Microsoft Azure Certification. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. And please refer to the official Microsoft documentation and resources on azure.com. You can also find the Microsoft Switzerland announcement here.



PolarConf 2019

Speaking at PolarConf 2019 in Helsinki

Today I am excited to let you know that I will be speaking at this years PolarConf 2019 in Helsinki Finland, also known as the most northern Azure conference for IT professionals. PolarConf is a two-day, single track, conference focusing on Microsoft Azure and is organized by the Finland Azure User Group. PolarConf 2019 takes place from 16-17th of October in the Scandic Park hotel in Helsinki.

PolarConf is a two-day, single track, conference for all things Azure for IT Professionals, Architects and technology leaders. PolarConf will bring a world-class speaker lineup to Helsinki, Finland. Join us in Helsinki to hear the latest on cloud technology and tooling straight from the experts!

PolarConf 2019 is organized 16-17th of October in the Scandic Park hotel in Helsinki, Finland.
During the two fully-packed conference days, you will learn about the latest announcements, best practices and survival stories on the following topics:

  • Azure Platform, Tooling & Automation
  • Azure Case studies
  • Hybrid Azure solutions

PolarConf is built for modern technology professionals, who want to learn from experts speaking about their real-life production-level implementations, not slideware. PolarConf is a Finland Azure User Group event.

In my session, I will be speaking about Azure Cloud Shell.

Mastering Azure using Cloud Shell, PowerShell, and Bash!

Azure can be managed in many different ways. Learn your command line options like Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, and Cloud Shell to be more efficient in managing your Azure infrastructure. Become a hero on the shell to manage the cloud!

This will be my first conference in Finland, and I am super excited. I hope to see you there!