Robert Johns | 03 Apr, 2024
Fact checked by Jim Markus

DataCamp Azure Fundamentals Course: Insider Review

Picture this: You need an Azure course to learn cloud. Where do you start?

Join me as I give an insider review of DataCamp’s Azure course with its fundamentals track.

Why DataCamp? Good question!

For starters, their Azure course is like a personal guide, leading you from the basics of the cloud to the fundamentals of Azure, all while getting interactive and hands-on. 

But one of the biggest standouts for me is that it was designed in partnership with Microsoft, meaning you’re learning Microsoft Azure fundamentals from the source.

It’s not surprising that they’ve had more than 50k students on this one course so far.

Whether you’re interested in becoming an Azure solutions architect or you want to use Azure for DevOps deployments, data pipelines, AI and ML, serverless web apps, and more, you need to begin with the fundamentals.

So, let’s dive in to see just what this Azure course is like behind the scenes!

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Overview of DataCamp’s Azure Fundamentals Track

To kick things off, I’ll break down the module structure of DataCamp’s Azure Fundamentals track, including what you can expect to learn and when.

First things first, rather than a single course, you take four separate two-hour courses.

Think of these as self-contained modules which combine to create the learning pathway. 

This also means you can skip any if you already have some Azure skills or are familiar with that particular section.

Something else to point out is that there’s no coding on this pathway. You’ll be able to do everything you need to do by using the Azure platform’s web interface.

I really like this approach to teaching Azure, because it makes the course super accessible for all skill levels and backgrounds.

But back to the four modules. What are they, and what do they cover?

First up, there’s an intro to the basics of cloud concepts and cloud computing. Here's a breakdown of the essential sections covered in this module:

  • Fundamentals of Cloud Computing: learn what cloud computing is by contrasting it with traditional on-premise IT solutions. 
  • Service Models: learn about the three primary service models - Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
  • Deployment Methods: learn about the three main cloud deployment models: private, public, and hybrid.
  • Data Protection and Regulation: explore how data protection laws impact cloud infrastructure choices and the management of personal and sensitive data.
  • Major Cloud Providers: learn about the three leading cloud infrastructure providers - AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. 
  • Vendor Lock-in Risks: learn about the concept of vendor lock-in with guidance on selecting the right cloud service provider based on specific use cases.
  • Real-world Applications: explore various real-world case studies from NerdWallet, The Ottawa Hospital, and Lush to learn how organizations utilize cloud computing in practice.

Next up is your first introduction to Azure infrastructure and services, which covers:

  • Basics of Microsoft Azure: start with a foundational understanding of what Microsoft Azure is and its significance in the cloud domain.
  • Azure's Core Components and Azure Services: take a tour of Azure’s core offerings while getting hands-on with identity and access management to create your first Azure virtual machine.
  • Azure Serverless: learn about the efficiency and scalability benefits of serverless computing as an Azure developer.
  • Azure Compute: dive deep into Azure's computational resources, including infrastructure management, event-driven code, containers, and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). 
  • Azure Storage Services and Data Processing: learn how to set up Azure storage accounts and learn about the various methods for processing data by emphasizing the distinction between engineering and analytics.
  • Security, Compliance, and Azure Economics: delve into Azure's security features, compliance standards, threat detection, and understand Azure’s pricing models to optimize short vs. long-term savings.
  • Resource Management and Monitoring: learn how to manage Azure resources, utilize Azure management tools, and leverage Azure Monitor to keep tabs on resources.
  • Integration and Migration: learn strategies for integrating with and migrating to Azure, including selecting the right tools and adhering to best practices.

At the halfway stage, you’ll know the basics and be ready to tackle Azure Architecture & Services. Expect to go deeper at this point by covering:

  • Azure Architecture Overview: begin with a concise overview of Azure's architecture and its services.
  • Storage Services: dive into the range of Azure storage services, including practical advice on choosing the right service, creating and managing storage accounts, and understanding the functionality of each storage option.
  • Data Management: learn about storage account configuration, file management, and working with blobs within storage accounts.
  • Compute Services: explore Azure's compute services by getting to grips with virtual machines, service models, and app services.
  • Networking: dive into Azure's networking components, discussing cloud resource connectivity, virtual networks, and the process of creating and configuring virtual machines.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): learn about Azure's approach to IAM, including cloud-based identity solutions, access control features, and passwordless authentication.
  • Security Concepts: learn key security concepts like Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), the zero-trust model, and defense-in-depth layers. 

And to cap it all off, you’ll dive into Azure Management & Governance. After starting with a brief overview of what this actually is, you’ll cover:

  • Cost Management and Governance: learn strategies for managing and optimizing costs, including understanding regional compliance differences and practical cost management and governance concepts.
  • Resource Management and Monitoring: explore the benefits of Infrastructure as Code (IaC), along with resource tags and locks for organization and security.
  • Planning and Managing Costs: gain insights into planning and managing Azure costs by using Azure's cost management tools.
  • Tools and Calculators: learn how to use the Pricing Calculator and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator, among other tools, to analyze and manage Azure costs.
  • Governance and Compliance: learn about the implementation of governance and compliance in Azure, including using the Service Trust Portal, Microsoft Purview for data management, Azure Initiatives, Blueprints, and Policies for organizational compliance.
  • Resource Management Tools: take a deep dive into Azure's resource management tools and practices, including Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates and the distinctions between PowerShell and Command Line Interface (CLI) for Azure.
  • Monitoring with Azure Monitor: learn how to use Azure Monitor to comprehensively monitor Azure resources, understand metrics and logs, set up alerts, and choose the right monitoring tools for specific needs.

What To Expect From The DataCamp Platform

When it comes to DataCamp’s teaching method, expect a blend of professionally produced video lectures, interactive quizzes and exercises, and a range of hands-on labs.

DataCamp's video lessons are professionally produced

DataCamp's quizzes keep the learning journey engaging

I really enjoyed this mix as it helped me to stay motivated throughout the course. 

This might seem small, but it’s actually really important, as you need to remain engaged with the content after the initial excitement of taking a new and interesting course starts to wear off.

It’s also super simple, bt by adding clever little details like drag-and-drop exercises, I found the self-assessments more fun and interesting!

DataCamp's self-assessments make it feel like you're playing a game.

Why am I stressing this part? Well, I think we can all agree that tests and exams tend not to be very fun! 

But DataCamp does a great job of making it feel more like a game, which I really liked, and I think you will, too.

Another major plus is the fact that DataCamp helps you to get hands-on with a real sandbox environment on the Azure platform.

I think this is super important, as there’s literally no substitute for getting your hands dirty with the real thing.

From my experience learning a fairly diverse range of tech skills over the years, I always learn so much by looking around, pressing buttons, and seeing what actually happens.

Simple, but effective! And I’d encourage you to do the same!

Another benefit here is that this also meant I didn’t need to spend any time setting up my own Azure account or environment. 

Instead, whenever you have an interactive exercise, DataCamp makes it simple by showing a screen like the one I’ve shown below.

DataCamp offers direct and easy access to real Azure sandbox environments

I just needed to head to the Azure portal in an incognito window and enter the credentials they provided.

And boom, I’m in! I can now start building things!  

Expect to build and interact with the real-world Azure platform and portal.

Another nice feature of the DataCamp platform is the account dashboard, which keeps track of my progress for any courses I’m taking.

This is really handy because if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be checking out a lot of DataCamp’s courses when you start browsing their catalog.

This is even more likely when you consider that your subscription gives you access to everything in their catalog, including their certifications.

Simply head to the dashboard after you’ve started a course to see something like I’ve shown below. Very cool.

DataCamp's dashboard makes it easy to keep track of your course progress.

Something else that impressed me was DataCamp’s built-in AI assistant. 

This is available literally everywhere on the DataCamp platform, and it follows you from page to page, so you don’t need to restart a conversation.

Think about this like a ChatGPT-style tool that you can use whenever you get stuck or have questions about a specific lesson, exercise, or Azure topic.

Just ask the AI to get help. Very efficient and very thoughtful.

DataCamp's AI Assistant is always available to help with any questions you have.

But maybe you prefer dealing with humans? Well, that’s no problem, because you can even join DataCamp’s Slack channel to interact with fellow students.

If you’re not familiar with Slack, think of it as a more professional version of Discord! Of course, there’s much more to it than that, but I think you get the idea.

I genuinely love this feature because it gives you a direct line to over 120k fellow learners for help, support, or just a general forum to chat.

DataCamp's Slack channel is a great place to get help and support from fellow students.

This is especially helpful if you like the comradery of a traditional classroom setting but need the flexibility of self-paced learning online.

And as you’d expect, it’s very simple to get set up, so you can get chatting right away. 

What Real-World Skills Will You Learn?

Whenever I’m weighing up a new course or boot camp, this is always my first question! 

After all, if you’re like me, you probably want to take an Azure course to make use of the skills in the real-world. 

Of course, that’s not to say that learning cloud can’t be fun for its own sake!

But let’s be honest: you probably have your eyes on a new job, a promotion, or a new project you want to build that requires you to understand Azure, right?

So, what can you expect?

Well, after taking DataCamp’s Azure course, here’s a summary of the real-world skills I think you can gain:

Understanding Azure’s Infrastructure

This seems fairly obvious, but if you take anything away from this course, it’s a solid understanding of Azure architecture, its services, and how to navigate the ecosystem. This foundational knowledge is crucial for anyone who wants to work with Azure cloud technologies.

Storage and Data Management

Data isn’t just a buzzword; it’s one of the most valuable resources in any organization. That’s why I appreciated the sections on how to efficiently manage Azure storage services. This also includes an understanding of the nuances of blobs, queues, and tables, all essential for designing and implementing robust data storage solutions.

Compute and Networking

Next to storage, cloud compute and networking are some of the most prolific use cases for cloud services.

So it’s great that you gain hands-on experience creating and configuring virtual machines, managing containers, and understanding the intricacies of Azure's networking features.

Security, Identity, and Access Management

Security is one of the biggest factors for anyone considering a cloud migration. That’s why it’s good that this course covers Azure’s comprehensive security features, including identity services, access control, and the principles of zero trust and defense-in-depth. 

Cost Management and Governance

Effectively managing costs and governance with Azure are vital real-world skills for any aspiring cloud professional.

So it’s great to see detailed lessons on navigating Azure's pricing models, optimizing costs, and implementing governance policies for operational efficiency and compliance.

And the cool thing about all of these skills is that they are hard skills you gain by actually doing things with Azure.

Remember what I said at the beginning? When I take a course, I want to walk away with something tangible for my time investment.

And that’s exactly what you get, a practical set of fundamental skills in Azure that you can use and build on for your own specific cloud ambitions.

DataCamp Pricing & Value for Money

Now, if my first question about any course I’m considering relates to real-world skills, a close second, if not tied for first place, is the obvious question about course cost.

Rather than opting for a per-course cost model, DataCamp has a monthly or annual subscription model.

What does this mean?

Rather than paying for one course, you pay for access to their entire catalog of courses and even their certifications.

And when you consider that this course is only 8 hours long, you could even complete it in as little as a day! 

Although I’d probably recommend taking it over a few days to truly absorb the material.

And it’s only $42 on a monthly rolling basis or just over $325 for an annual subscription. 

Hackr readers can also access an exclusive 25% discount on the annual Learn Premium and Teams subscriptions.

So after finishing the Azure course, you now have the rest of the month or the rest of the year to explore DataCamp’s varied range of courses and certification options.

This is especially helpful if you want to use your new Azure knowledge in a data-related discipline, as this is where DataCamp really shines (hence the name!).

With courses and skill tracks in data engineering, analysis, manipulation, and visualization, as well as courses in AI, machine learning, and programming, there’s a lot to choose from.

Plus, they offer industry-recognized certifications in data science, data analysis, and data engineering.

I should also stress that these are not course completion certificates but real-world certifications to enhance your resume and impress future employers.

You can even blend DataCamp courses with certifications to help prep a certification exam.

So, for less than $45 per month, there is a tremendous amount of value with a DataCamp subscription. 

There’s also the added benefit that by completing the Azure Fundamentals track, DataCamp offers a 50% discount off the AZ-900 exam for Microsoft’s Azure Fundamentals certification.

Wrapping Up

There you have it, an insider's tour of DataCamp's Azure course, from cloud basics to the intricacies of management and governance. 

Whether you’re interested in shaping the next big tech innovation, scaling applications to meet global demand, or securing networks in an ever-evolving cyber landscape, understanding Azure can be your first step toward mastering the cloud.

And with DataCamp’s hands-on, interactive approach, I really think it’s the ideal starting point for beginners and seasoned professionals alike. 

Plus, their partnership with Microsoft ensures you learn best practices from the source and gain practical skills that are immediately applicable in the real world. 

It’s no wonder that more than 50,000 students have embarked on this journey, a testament to the course's value and effectiveness.

Remember, cloud computing is not just about storing data or running applications; it's about leveraging technology to solve complex problems, innovate, and transform businesses. 

Whether you're eyeing a new job, aiming for a promotion, or planning to deploy your own cloud-based solutions, the Azure skills you gain from this course can be instrumental to your success.

It’s also nice to know that with DataCamp, you're not just paying for a course; you're also gaining access to their full catalog of courses and certifications.

So, my advice is to take the plunge, explore DataCamp's Azure offerings, and start building the cloud skills that will define your career's next stage. 

Remember, in the world of technology, learning is an ongoing journey. 

Good luck, and feel free to drop a comment below to tell me about your experiences with this Azure course.

Learn More About DataCamp’s Azure Fundamentals Track

By Robert Johns

Technical Editor for Hackr.io | 15+ Years in Python, Java, SQL, C++, C#, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, .NET, MATLAB, HTML & CSS, and more... 10+ Years in Networking, Cloud, APIs, Linux | 5+ Years in Data Science | 2x PhDs in Structural & Blast Engineering

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