AzUpdate: Free Certification Renewals, 2020 Azure Announcements Recap, and more
Published Dec 17 2020 11:02 PM 4,024 Views

The holiday season is upon us and while things may be quiet on the Azure news front, many creatures are stirring with tales of what was in 2020.  News items to be covered this week include Microsoft Learn's plan to help you stay current with in-demand skills through free certification renewals, A retrospect to announcements shared on AzUpdate over the course of 2020, AzUpdate Team gadget holiday picks, and a very special Microsoft Learn Module of the Week.



Providing certified professionals a new method to renew their Microsoft Certifications

With Microsoft moving away from product-focused certifications, they looked at new ways to continue investing in role-based learning offerings.  When the pandemic hit, 1,000 new Azure capabilities were created to address our current situation by allowing us to innovate with key advancements in AI, machine learning, and virtualization.  To keep pace with this exponential growth, Microsoft has announced a couple of upcoming updates to the certification program.


Beginning in early February 2021, once you've completed and passed your initial exam, you’ll be able to renew your role-based and specialty certifications by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. The renewal assessment is completed online within six months before your certification expires. Once passed, certification is extended by one additional year from the current expiration date and can be completed annually.

Further details surrounding this, and other certification changes can be found here: Stay current with in-demand skills through free certification renewals 


2020 Azure Announcements Recap

As mentioned earlier, over one thousand new Azure services were launched in 2020.  Here is a quick recap on a couple of announcements that the AzUpdate team reported on:


  • Detecting large-scale cryptocurrency mining attack against Kubernetes clusters - April 17th (S01E01)
    Written by Yossi Weizman, a Security Research Software Engineer with the Azure Security Center team, this blog post describes a recent large-scale cryptocurrency mining attack against Kubernetes clusters that was recently discovered by Azure Security Center. The post shares details on what Azure Security Center discovered during the attack and how others can better protect themselves from similar attacks.
  • Microsoft announces next evolution of Azure VMware Solution - May 8th (S01E04)
    The new Azure VMware Solution empowers customers to seamlessly extend or completely migrate their existing on-premises VMware applications to Azure without the cost, effort, or risk of re-architecting applications or retooling operations. Customers can also save money with Windows Server and SQL Server workloads running on Azure VMware by taking advantage of Azure Hybrid Benefits.
  • AMD Nested Virtualization Support now available - June 12 (S01E08)
    Nested Virtualization is not a new idea. In fact, we announced our first preview of Nested Virtualization running on Windows way back in 2015. Unfortunately, users of AMD hardware were unable to take advantage of Nested Virtualization on Windows.... until now. Windows Build 19636 saw the public preview of Nested Virtualization on AMD processors
  • New Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities now generally available - July15 (S01E15)
    New Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities now GA including Azure portal integration for deployment / management and new audio/video redirection capabilities providing seamless meeting and collaboration experience for Microsoft Teams. 
  • New Microsoft Learn Modules for Azure and Windows Server IT Pros - August 14 (S01E17)
    Whether you're just starting or an experienced professional, the hands-on approach helps you arrive at your goals faster, with more confidence and at your own pace. In the last couple of days, we published a couple of new Microsoft Learn modules around Azure, Hybrid Cloud, and Windows Server for IT Pros. These modules help you to learn how you can leverage Microsoft Azure in a hybrid cloud environment to manage Windows Server.
  • Azure IoT Central new and updated features - September 18 (S01E21)
    A plethora of new IoT Central capabilities were announced in September and included the redesign of Jobs creation with a new wizard experience, added File upload support, newly added data export capabilities, CLI improvements and others.  Biggest Azure IoT Central update of the year making it easier for organizations to deploy and manage their IoT infrastructures. 
  • First Look at Azure Automanage - October 10 (S01E27)

    Microsoft Ignite 2020 saw the announcement of Azure Automanage, an exciting new preview service which aims to simplify the management of Windows Server virtual machines. When you deploy a virtual machine (VM) into any environment, on prem or within the Cloud there are other components and services that you need to consider. Backup, Monitoring, Patch Management, etc. The management and operations of a VM. What Azure Automanage helps you with is enrolling and configuring those supporting components for you. 

  • Using Windows Admin Center on-premises to manage Azure Windows Server VMs - November 27 (S01E30)
    Sonia Cuff and Orin Thomas share how to spin up a WAC gateway server instance on a local VM, configure Windows Server’s built in Azure Network Adapter as a VPN connection (between your on-premises server and the VNet that hosts your Windows Server VMs in Azure), and then add connections from the WAC gateway server to your Windows Server VMs in Azure.
  • Azure Synapse now Generally Available - December 4 (S01E31)
    Solutions like data lakes and data warehouses have helped organizations collect and analyze several types of data. The process however, created niches of expertise and specialized technology. Azure Synapse rearchitects operational and analytics data stores to take full advantage of a new, cloud-native architecture. The solution enables organizations to query data using either serverless or dedicated resources at scale while maintaining consistent tools and languages. Think of it as your organization's one pane of glass to analyze all its captured data. Azure Synapse combines capabilities spanning the needs of data engineering, machine learning, and BI without creating silos in processes and tools.

Community Events

  • Patch and Switch - It's the holidays and Rick Claus and Joey Snow are back one final time in 2020 with surprises in store.
  • Festive Tech Calendar - Continuing this month's content from different Azure communities and people around the globe for the month of December
  • All Around Azure - A Beginners Guide to IoT - Focus on topics ranging from IoT device connectivity, IoT data communication strategies, use of artificial intelligence at the edge, data processing considerations for IoT data, and IoT solutioning based on the Azure IoT reference architecture
  • Introduction to Cloud Adoption Framework - Sarah Lean investigates Microsoft's Cloud Adoption Framework offering and what is available for organizations to take advantage of

MS Learn Module of the Week


Kids out on holiday break?  Looking for a fun way to keep them entertained and possibly have some fun yourself?  Check out this ne Learn module which is fun for the whole family!

Explore data in basketball; inspired by Space Jam: A New Legacy

Basketball and coding both require creativity, curiosity, and the ability to look at the big picture while strategizing your next move. Space Jam: A New Legacy is the perfect inspiration to learn computer and data science, and we've teamed up to create unique learning paths for data science and machine learning. 

Develop skills in Visual Studio Code, Azure, GitHub, JavaScript, and Python, to gain insights into how individual moments throughout a player's history can lead to a critical game decision in the finals.

This learning path can be completed here: Use basketball stats to optimize game play inspired by Space Jam: The New Legacy 


Let us know in the comments below if there are any news items you would like to see covered in the next show. AzUpdate will return for Season 2 on January 8th, 2021 so be sure to catch the next episode and join us in the live chat.

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