On December 9, 2015, Microsoft surprised the industry by launching a Linux certification. More surprising was the announcement that this new MCSA: Linux on Azure certification was created with the help of The Linux Foundation and requires you to pass a non-Microsoft exam.
This certification is another signal Microsoft’s continued efforts to advance technology integration between Microsoft and the open-source community. Whilst some may scoff at this new credential, or question its audience, I’m going out on a limb and predicting this will be one of the most sought-after cloud certifications of 2016.
How do I get the new MCSA: Linux on Azure certification?
Before I explain why I think the certification will be so popular, let’s look at how you achieve it. In order to attain the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification you must pass the following combination of Microsoft and Linux exams:
- Microsoft - Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – exam 70-533
- The Linux Foundation – Certified System Administrator – exam LFCS
To prepare the exam 70-533, you can take the aligned Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions course. For the LFCS exam, the Linux Foundation offer the Essentials of System Administration preparation course.
Achieving the Linux on Azure MCSA will demonstrate you have the skills to design, architect, implement, and maintain complex cloud-enabled Linux solutions that utilise Microsoft Azure’s open source capabilities. You’ll also prove your skills in Linux system administration vital in today’s cloud-native world.
Why will the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification be popular?
So now you have an idea of how to achieve the credential, here’s why I think it’s set to be so popular:
As we head into 2016, the demand for professionals with cloud-related skills is huge, and growing fast. In 2015, Wanted Analytics reported 1.5 million cloud jobs open globally in the IT sector alone. This is a figure that will undoubtedly grow throughout this year as businesses continue to migrate on mass to both public and private cloud offerings.
Making up a massive part of the demand for cloud skills is Azure. Satya Nadella reflected on the impressive growth of Microsoft’s public cloud offering at Future Decoded 2015, reporting a huge 90,000+ Azure sign ups every month. This is a 200% growth from reports in late 2014 where the figure was estimated to be 30,000+ subscriptions per month. As the enterprise user base continues to grow so too will demand for Azure skills. This has been reflected in the launch of no fewer than five Azure certifications from Microsoft in 2015.
I can hear you saying, demand for Azure skills doesn’t equal demand for Linux skills. That is until you recognise the fact that more than 25% of servers running on Azure are Linux Servers. If you consider Microsoft has a global portfolio of more than 100 data centres and 1 million servers, then the rapidly increasing demand for Linux skills quickly becomes apparent. This fact is reinforced by the 2015 Linux jobs report suggesting 97% of hiring managers were looking to hire Linux professionals in the next 6 months. This will no doubt be a similar story in the 2016 survey from the Linux Foundation.
More interestingly, the reported figures for the percentage of Linux servers on Azure in early 2015 was 20%. This means that the demand for Linux servers on Azure is outpacing Microsoft servers. This is somewhat unsurprising considering Microsoft has made great strides over the past year integrating Linux into their Cloud Stacks. The tech giant now offers support for eight Linux distributions running on Azure.
These include: Ubuntu, openSUSE, SUSE Linux Enterprise, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CoreOS, CentOS by OpenLogic and Debian by Credativ. Azure users are also able to provision their own Linux distributions from the command line, besides the vendor-backed, endorsed distros and Azure Marketplace pre-packaged Linux distributions.
With all this in mind, I’m confident the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification will be the most sought-after cloud credential of 2016. The modern cloud enterprise demands more from IT professionals than ever before. If you’re looking to develop and prove you have the skills to manage this new landscape, attaining a professional certifications will help you to rise above the rest.
I’ll leave you with Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation's executive director’s recent statement. "A Microsoft-issued certification that includes the Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin exam will most definitely allow professionals to stand apart from their peers and allow them the opportunity to work on the most interesting technologies of our time."
About the Author
Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training and has a background in the training, cloud and technology fields, and is Microsoft professional with skills in Windows Desktop OS, Windows Server, and SharePoint. Ed is also an active member of the IT community writing for a range of renowned technology publications.