Microsoft Virtual Academy on Cloud Computing
Microsoft has opened a free online virtual academy for students interested in learning and graduating in Microsoft Cloud Computing technologies.
Running on Windows Azure, the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is meant to provide IT professionals with free online training content focused on Microsoft cloud computing technologies. Students can study the content at their own pace, and they can choose to self-evaluate their knowledge being rewarded with a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Level. They can also compare their results with others, opting for making their profile public bringing them publicity and building a reputation especially if the student has high grades.
There are four courses at this moment: Introduction to SQL Azure, Introduction to Windows Azure, Planning, Building and Managing a Private Cloud, and Windows Azure Security Overview. Each course is further divided in modules, each module coming with study material (a PDF document), and offers the option for self-assessment. For example, Introduction to Windows Azure has the following modules: Introducing Windows Azure, Deploying Azure Applications, Managing Windows Azure, and Monitoring Windows Azure. The evaluation consists on a number of questions answered against the clock. If the student does not pass the evaluation, he can try again, but he will be met with different questions. Downloading the studying material and taking the assessment is rewarded with points.
By making more points a student advances his membership from Bronze to Platinum. In addition, the site mentions that “these memberships allow the user to participate in promotions and special discounts that are only applicable to MVA students”. The current promotion is a free TechNet Subscription for those taking a virtualization exam. Also, the website does not specify if other courses will be added in the future, but that’s highly probable.