Saturday, 23 September 2017

Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials

The last article that I posted was about my thoughts on the future of the DBA role and the direction that it and many others are going. If you haven't read it then please give it a read as it's been really interesting to read other peoples views and opinions on this topic and of course, huge thank you to anyone that has taken the time to do so already.

The TL/DR version of the post is that whilst job roles will be changing to keep with all of the technical advancements going on around us this isn't necessarily something to be worried about and it's actually quite an exciting time for us with lots of new these avenues to explore.

That's all fine but how do we go about gaining these new skills and will it be cost-effective to do so? Keeping our skills up to date has been of paramount importance to IT professionals and traditionally it's been down to the individual to shell out for courses and training material just to stay constant. Now there has been a bit of shift in regards to training and thankfully it has swung very much in the favour of those seeking to learn the technologies that are now becomign more common place.. 

Behind this shift are the very same organisations advancing and pushing their platforms into the commercial spaces. The bottom line is that as well as offering these technical solutions they also need people to be able to both use and support them. The more people that can do that the more adoption rates increase and with pay-as-you-use services such as the cloud this is vital.

In a nutshell, this means that they're giving us lots of training, mainly for free!

I don't want to sound like a TV/radio advert and say things like "THIS OFFER WON'T BE HERE FOREVER" but there is a little bit of truth to this. Whilst there are skills shortages in areas such as the cloud platforms these really won't last forever, particularity with adoption rates on a such a steep upward curve. Whilst I'm sure any free training options won't disappear, it does make a lot of sense to get on board now.

One option that I would certainly recommend you go look at is Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials. Although the same suggests is very development focused it's definitely been designed and put together for anyone working in Microsoft's Data Platform. 

There's a bunch of goodies to download such as Visual Studio (surprise, surprise!), Developer Editions of Microsoft R and SQL Server, plans for Office Online and Power BI and crucially a trial subscription for Microsoft Azure.

Then there's the training options:

Now the image is a little blurry (maybe there's some copy and paste courses for me?!) but this is what you get:

3 months of online training with Opsgility (Microsoft Azure training),
3 months of full access to Pluralsight (um, everything!) ,
2 month subscription to Linux Academy (makes sense with SQL 2017 etc),
3 month subscription to WintellectNOW (for developers) and the various courses offered by Microsoft's Virtual Academy.

That is a lot of free training material and when you factor in all the resource available already out there like tutorials, labs and of course the community contributed materials, all in all it makes for one superb learning platform.

Choice is great but I would also recommend pausing for just a second before you hit the activate button on the training modules! Before you do make sure you have a good look at what courses are on offer, what interests you and start to formulate a plan for your learning. It doesn't have to be a strict timetable but being smart upfront will avoid any waste, after all, if you activate each training option at once and you are already pushed for time then some bits will be missed, it's bound to happen (and that would be a shame).

It is worth mentioning for those wondering if it's similar to an MSDN subscription then yes, it's very similar to a cut down version, last time I looked MSDN offers some of the same but for double the subscription period so if you want a paid option, or your organisation will pay for one then it might be worth going down that route.

It's a good time for many reasons; SQL Server 2017 now has a generally availability date of the 2nd of October and with it's native support for Linux, languages like R and Python then as always training is going to be really important and right now there is a lot of material out there for us to start exploring new areas and that is exactly what organisations like Microsoft want (and need), and as such they're heavily supporting it.

It's a really important time to be involved in the data platform right now and with things changing very quickly it makes a lot of sense to be both keeping up with changes and learning more about them. I'll post again shortly and explain some of the areas that I am focusing on but for now, I highly recommend if you haven't already take the time to learn a bit more about Azure or Linux or whatever appeals to you to advance your career as a data professionals.

As always, really interested to hear others views.