Microsoft Rolls Out Free Cloud Support and Educational Resources for IT Pros
Microsoft today announced free new educational resources for IT pros who may be coming to grips with Microsoft's cloud-centric shift.
One of those resources is a "free Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials annual subscription," with sign-up available at this page. It's available today worldwide. The subscription brings free Azure credits, free once-a-year priority support and a "free Pluralsight subscription for on-line training," according to Microsoft's announcement.
The free Pluralsight subscription is for three months, according to Javier Niño, a senior product manager for Microsoft's cloud platform, in a video. There are 10 Pluralsight courses sponsored by Microsoft available with the subscription.
Subscribers also will get suggestions on the various Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) courses to review, based on a particular IT role, Niño explained. Microsoft's MVA courses are free.
Microsoft provides quiz materials for IT pros with the subscription. They also get test guidance in three areas, namely infrastructure as a service (IaaS), enterprise mobility and security, according to Niño.
There's also a free certification exam voucher available, but it's in limited supply and offered by Microsoft on a first-come, first-served basis. No other clarifying details were described in the announcement about this free voucher.
Limited Support, Extended Trials
The Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials subscription includes "a free phone support incident for Azure or on-premises products." It boils down to support for one incident per year, according to Niño. He described it as being associated with a "24-hour SLA" (service level agreement). The support is provided if a subscriber doesn't get an answer from the TechNet support community.
Microsoft also offers extended software trials as part of this subscription. For instance, the Enterprise Mobility Suite trial gets extended under the subscription from the present 30 days to three months, according to Niño. The Office 365 Enterprise E3 trial gets extended from 30 days to 60 days for subscribers, he added.
Niño noted that organizations likely may need more time when it comes to testing the Azure Virtual Machine service. Consequently, Microsoft has a limited introductory offer. Interested parties can sign up before September 30, 2016 and Microsoft will provide $100 per month of Azure credits for a total of three months. He said that Microsoft understands that organizations may want even more time to test Azure Virtual Machines, so Microsoft is working on a longer term model to be disclosed in a future announcement.
Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials has an end user licensing agreement with a clause that's designed to ward off production use of virtual machines or online services. The clause was noted in a Twitter post by Wes Miller, an analyst with the Directions on Microsoft independent consultancy.
In addition, Microsoft has published a new cloud career portal page. It has IT career guidance from IDC and Gartner with regard to the cloud. There's also a "Cloud Role Salaries" link that shows job postings by role, along with salary estimates. For instance, an AWS architect could get an estimated salary of $150,000 per year. The Cloud Role Salaries feature links to a site produced by a company called Acclaim, which is part of the Pearson learning company.
Cloud Friendly Help
All told, Microsoft seems to be easing back a bit from its earlier aggressive approach toward IT pros. Microsoft announced it had gone "all-in" for the cloud under CEO Steve Ballmer back in 2010. Later, Microsoft's cloud push came in the context of its move to kill off its TechNet subscription program for IT pros. The TechNet program had the virtue of permitting IT pro access to Microsoft software for use on premises for long testing periods. That aspect is gone in the present day, except for certain MSDN subscriptions.
The new free subscription program for IT pros seems to be tacitly acknowledging that IT pros need more time to try Microsoft's software, or at least more time to try Microsoft Azure and Office 365 services.
The idea that Microsoft's cloud services push might make IT pros an endangered species was part of Microsoft's messaging that could be seen just a couple of year back. For instance, as part of a series of talks in 2014, top Microsoft executives Mark Russinovich and Brad Anderson offered change-or-die advice to IT pros.
In more recent times, Microsoft officials have been using the "hybrid" network word more frequently. The hybrid network option comes with the idea that organizations can move toward using cloud services when they are ready to do so.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.