Azure Fundamentals: Sam’s journey to the cloud

little fluffy app services, little fluffy app services

2024-01-24 12:11:32


Sam joined Cortex as a software developer in September 2022, straight from school, bringing with her a wide variety of skills and interests. From creating a shark-tracking website for her GCSE in computer science to various gaming projects while obtaining her A-levels.

She initially participated in the Discover Digital Summer Internship with Cortex where she worked on tabi - a time and billing platform (written in C# and using the Blazor web framework). Following her internship, and with the offer of a full-time position, Sam decided to jump straight into work. It’s been over a year since Sam started and her already impressive skillset has grown since. She recently completed the AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification and that seemed like a great opportunity to catch up with her and learn more about her progress.

What is the Azure Fundamentals course?

AZ-900 is the first step into learning about the cloud, with a particular focus on Azure services and offerings. Whilst anyone can just get started and play with Azure, the end goal is to have a broader understanding of the platform in terms of all the different things it can do. There’s the opportunity to gain the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals status after passing the exam. It’s a steppingstone into other Azure courses to build up my cloud experience and since Cortex uses Azure as their cloud provider, the AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals course seemed like a natural decision.

Talk us through the course...

It starts by teaching you about cloud concepts in general. This section was the least specific to Azure and mainly focused on covering key concepts required to understand the cloud. The content was very broad and descriptive, providing a surface-level overview of each concept. I enjoyed how this section made me question concepts which I hadn’t previously understood enough about. For example, many of the Cortex products are SaaS (Software as a Service) apps, but I hadn’t considered that there were similar terms relating to other service types, like PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).

Once I got familiar with cloud concepts, the course moved to individual Azure services, explaining their pros, cons and use cases. There were a few interesting concepts, namely redundancy, and serverless computing. The redundancy section provided insight into the various ways Azure can provide resilience and disaster recovery, and it was impressive how many different options exist with varying durability levels. Serverless computing (which actually does use servers) was a fascinating real-world example of abstraction.

Serverless computing? Virtual machines?

In serverless computing, the servers are managed for you – in fact the user does not need to be aware of their existence; you instead interact with the computing component you’re interested in such as a web server The most challenging area during the course was virtual machines, as although I thought I understood what they were, they were surprisingly difficult to explain. A virtual machine is an emulation of a computer system, meaning there is no requirement to buy or maintain physical hardware. They provide IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) in the form of a virtualised server and can be used to run custom software.

What did you find the most interesting?

The module on Azure management and governance covers the various ways in which consistency and compliance can be achieved by Azure resources. This section stood out to me, with Azure Arc and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator being particularly fascinating. Azure Arc is a service which allows Azure and on-premises resources, as well as resources from other cloud providers, to be managed cohesively using Azure tools. I found it impressive that resources from various locations could be used as if they were stored together. The TCO calculator allows users to enter their existing cloud configuration and compare their costs to the cost of running it in Azure - including labour and power costs. I thought this was a clever way to convince users to move to Azure, without forcing them to take a risk first. The Microsoft practice questions for this section were the least enjoyable, as the majority of them were focused on Azure Policy, which at times felt a little too sales-focused.

What’s next?

My short-term plan is to continue to the AZ-204 Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure certification, with an end goal of achieving the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate status. I’m looking forward to this course, as I am particularly interested in developing within Azure. In the long term, I’d like to complete a variety of courses to gain skills and provide a greater insight into the options available. This will allow me to determine which areas I enjoy most and begin working more specifically within it. Life at Cortex is never dull, but I love the freedom I have to explore new tech in the areas that interest me!

Are you interested in working at Cortex? We're always keen to hear from like-minded people, so if you think you might be a good fit, please get in touch.