Notes from Microsoft Ignite Azure Developer Challenge

Microsoft Azure cloud computing service has grown steadily to challenge Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform but until now I hadn't had a change to try it and see how it compares to other platforms I've used. So when I came across the Microsoft Ignite: Cloud Skills Challenge November 2021 I was sold and took the opportunity to go through one of the available challenges: Azure Developer Challenge. Here are my short notes about learning minor part of Azure.

The Azure Developer Challenge was for developers interested in designing, building, testing, and maintaining cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure. Each challenge was based on a collection of Microsoft Learn modules. If you completed your challenge before it ended, you got one free Microsoft Certification exam like "AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure".

Microsoft Ignite: Azure Developer Challenge

"This challenge is for developers interested in designing, building, testing, and maintaining cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure."

Microsoft Ignite

The Azure Developer Challenge consisted of following products in Azure:

  • Azure App Service
  • Azure Functions
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure Blob storage
  • Virtual machines in Azure
  • Azure Resource Manager templates
  • Azure Container Registry
  • Azure Service Bus
  • Azure Queue storage
  • Azure Event Hubs
  • Event Grid

Learning to use those different products were done by different exercises which showed you how to do things and checked that you had done it correctly. The exercises used Azure portal where the Learn module gave you free learning environment to use. Towards the end I got my free development environment credits used for the day and had to skip some of the practicalities.

Exercise with Sandbox

After going through the introduction to different parts of Azure the Learn module practically teached you to use Azure Functions. And not much more. With Azure Functions the exercises teached to create serverless logic, execute functions with triggers, chain functions and have durable functions. You also learned to develop functions on your local machine. Azure Functions were used i.a. with Cosmos DB, webhooks and for creating an (serverless) API. The last module was about building serverless apps with Go.

In overall the learning experience was nice and the practical exercises forced you to click through the Azure Portal and get the hang of how things work. I was in a bit of a hurry to go through all of the 33 modules which was calculated to take around 21 hours. I think it took me about 10-12 hours.

Now the last step is to actually take the Certification exam. Also as the learning modules for different topics are still available I will maybe go through some more. At least the "Azure Admin Challenge" looked interesting for my purposes.

Azure Portal with Console and VS Code

Hands-on learning Cloud Technologies with QwikLabs

I've used Google Cloud Platform for some time and got a opportunity to attend Codemen Cloud Academy's Google Workshop which concentrated to "Kubernetes in the Google Cloud" and "Google Cloud Run Serverless Workshop" topics using the Qwiklabs is a platform. Here's my (very) short notes from the workshop and using Qwiklabs. Most of the things I had used already by running our service on GKE but there's always something to learn from other's experiences.

Google Cloud Workshop with Qwiklabs

Qwiklabs is a platform for learning cloud technologies by following exercises and hands-on training. It gives temporary credentials to Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services, so you can learn the cloud using the real thing.

The workshop used Cloud Study Jams 2020 session contents. After we completed the first lab, we were automatically granted 30-day pass to continue doing the rest of the labs. The quests in the labs are "priced" with credits which you can buy ($1 per credit) or get with workshop code.

Kubernetes in Google Cloud

The "Kubernetes in Google Cloud" quest in Qwiklabs is an advanced-level quest which gets you hands-on practice of configuring Docker images and containers, and deploying fully-fledged Kubernetes Engine applications. It teaches you the practical skills needed for integrating container orchestration into your own workflow.

Kubernetes in Google Cloud quests outline

There's nothing much to tell about the quests contents except bunch of docker, gcloud and kubectl commands so I'll not go through them here.

The Kubernetes in Google Cloud Quest in QwikLabs was as hands-on as it promised and the final quest "Challenge Lab" put all the things together with quite strict time limit. Although I had made notes from the previous quests I just and just managed to paste the commands, wait for the cloud to provision and especially for the Jenkins service to run continuous integration jobs.

Google Cloud console

Summary

Overall the "Kubernetes in Google Cloud" lab was excellent overview to Kubernetes and how things work in Google Cloud. It covered essential topics and showed how to do things in practice. It helped to have previous experience with Google Cloud but everything was explained and shown so you can learn by doing.

Qwiklabs Google Cloud quests

Qwiklabs has also other Google Cloud related labs as shown below but I didn't had time to go through them (I totally forgot :/) although the participants who completed the Kubernetes course got two month's free pass to the platform.

Infrastructure and Architecture quests
Machine Learning and Data quests
BigQuery quests