Courses with Labs Provisioned On or Using Azure:

Support and Guidance for MCTs

With this article, we are attempting to address collective issues which our Learning Partners/MCTs and their students are having with courses and labs about or on the Azure platform.   Due to the constantly changing nature of Azure, we cannot stay immediately abreast of changes which impact the function of MOC course content and labs.  The best advice we can give, reiterated by many MCT Regional Leads recently, is this: If you are going to teach a course on Azure, make sure to allow at least several days, up to a week of preparatory time.  And then expect the Azure interface/platform to change during the week you are delivering the course.

We are providing some guidelines below, but we would also like to appeal to our Partners and Trainers to do their part when it comes to help keeping the content current and viable.  The demands of teaching an Azure related course are much higher than a standard course where the technology remains fairly static.  Being able to consistently deliver such a course and staying ahead of platform updates can be a definite differentiator for both Learning Partners and MCTs.  While we can institute various measures to try to keep up with the changing Azure platform, we probably will never be able to proactively address all of the possible changes that can happen. The reality is things will break, the Trainer should expect this, and should be able to respond to those challenges.

There are a limited number of passes available to be distributed to Learning Partners and MCTs. Availability can only be guaranteed while supplies last and only in countries where Microsoft Azure is supported.


Eligibility
: Courses eligible for the student Azure pass are listed below, the localized equivalent versions are also eligible:

  • 20697-2 Deploying and Managing Windows 10 Using Enterprise Services
  • 55093 Windows Azure Data Services
  • 55065 Microsoft Azure for IT Professionals
  • 10958 Programming Fundamentals of Web Applications
  • 10971 Storage and High Availability with Windows Server
  • 10974 Deploying and Migrating Windows Server
  • 10977 Updating Your SQL Server Skills to Microsoft® SQL Server® 2014
  • 10978 Introduction to Azure for Developers
  • 10979 Microsoft Azure Essentials
  • 20347 Enabling & Managing Office 365
  • 20465 Designing a Data Solution for Microsoft® SQL Server® 2014
  • 20467 Designing Self-Service Business Intelligence and Big Data Solutions
  • 20482 Advanced Windows® Store App Development Using HTML5 and JavaScript
  • 20485 Advanced Windows® Store App Development Using C#
  • 20486 Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications
  • 20487 Developing Windows Azure and Web Services
  • 20532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 20533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

Note: This list is subject to change and titles may be added to or removed from this list as new versions or courses are released and older versions and courses are retired.

Teaching Azure Courses in the (Virtual) Classroom:
Steps Reviewed by MCT Allan Jacobs

Below are steps to take and resources to reference when preparing for and delivering a course with labs that use the Azure platform.  These steps have been reviewed by MCT Regional Lead Allan Jacobs, who regularly teaches Azure-based courses using MOC:

  • First review the MOC course Error Log for any updated information pertaining to your course.  When a MOC course is released, labs are thoroughly tested and run as expected.  However, updates to the Azure UI or platform (and/or Office 365 changes to the UI or functionality of the products for MOC labs using Office 365) may create lab steps that are no longer accurate, or labs that do not function as expected.  As LeX is made aware of the impact of Azure and Office 365 changes to the content, they will update the Error Log first, available on the Microsoft Learning Download Center.
  • Check the Lab Set-up Guide for the course to determine if the Lab steps for the course have been added to GitHub.  GitHub is an open source platform where lab steps can be dynamically updated, usually through a moderator.  MCTs are encouraged to update and comment on Lab steps posted to GitHub to share information with others and advise on changes in UI and function in an effort to keep the labs as up to date as possible. Currently, lab steps for the following courses are represented on GitHub: 20532C and 20533C (20347A is now hosted by Authorised Lab Providers and they update and provide lab instructins specific to their environment).  We will have lab steps for more courses using Azure, Office 365, or other cloud-based products posted on GitHub in the future.
  • MCTs can check to see if a Forum posting exists on MCT Central for a particular course by doing a search for that course within the Forums area.  There may be helpful information posted by other MCTs who have already taught the course.

Support Model & Escalation Paths for Courseware Marketplace, Azure Passes, and MOC 

For Courseware Marketplace issues:

Regional Support Centers (RSCs) that support Courseware will continue to be your first point of contact for all queries related to the availability/purchase/fulfillment of these resources through Courseware Marketplace.  The following existing Support Model for Courseware Marketplace assistance should be used:

Courseware Marketplace ‘contact us’ details can be found here: https://shop.courseware-marketplace.com/shop/en-GB/Content/contact

Possible access and purchase support issues using Courseware Marketplace:

  • Customer has issues accessing their account to purchase or redeem passes.
  • Customer has issues during purchase/checkout process for passes.
  • Customer has purchased MOC and should have the option to purchase passes but cannot access them on CWM for purchase.
  • Customer has purchased passes but cannot access them for use through the account dashboard.
  • Customer has purchased MOC but is having issues with after-the-fact pass reconciliation.
  • Passes not correctly associated with a given MOC (Arvato first contact, with escalation to Microsoft when necessary)

Azure Student Pass Support:


Azure divides support into 2 areas – Commerce Support and Technical Support. As the passes that are distributed through Courseware Marketplace are free to Learning Partners purchasing MOC, there should be no need for Azure Commerce Support.

Azure Support Options: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/options/

Also on this page is a link to the Service Dashboard which shows the current status of all Azure services.

Commerce Support for Azure

Commerce/Billing support covers any problem not related to the delivery of a running service already deployed on Azure.  This includes account/subscription management, usage/billing, purchase issues, technical integration questions, invoicing enablement, etc.  Commerce/Billing support is provided for free to all users including Trial users and is unlimited.

Technical Support for Azure

Technical support is related to deployment specific problems involving production or test environments hosted on Windows Azure.  The work being done by students on these Trial accounts is directed so it’s unlikely they should need technical support to do the tasks as directed in our course materials.

Free public forum technical support is available on the Azure forums:

Microsoft Azure.  Post questions in the Azure forum.

Stackoverflow.   Questions should be tagged with the Azure keyword.

Paid support is also available.  Users can get a number of support incidents through either an MSDN or MPN subscription which they can use for Azure support.  Support may also be purchased and more information is available here: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/plans/


MOC Course content support:


MCTs can provide feedback or updates for MOC course content such as technical inaccuracies and bugs in course materials, or report lab step or UI changes.  Please contact support@mscourseware.com.


Specific Azure Pass issues

We are receiving some complaints from Learning Partners that the Azure Passes they received with their MOC course purchases “just don’t work”.  Some of the most common Azure Pass issues we are seeing from Partner escalations have to do with how Partners and students are using these Azure Passes.  Below are the top 3 (preventable) ways in which Azure Passes have been rendered as expired, blocked, or unusable:

  • If the student assigns a pass to a Microsoft ID that has been used with a Pass before, it will render the pass unusable.  Passes can only be used once per MSID and if the student has already assigned it to one account, they won’t be able to reuse that code on a different account that has not previously been associated with an Azure pass ID.
  • Azure Passes cannot be redeemed on accounts that are linked to an Enterprise Agreement (EA) subscription.
  • Azure passes cannot be used on accounts where any subscription to any 3rd party service has been setup – the credits cannot be used for 3rd party payments.

Any of the above actions will cause an Azure Pass to show as expired and there is nothing the Learning Experiences team can do to resolve such a situation.  Due to the limited availability of Azure Passes and the current requirement to distribute them only in conjunction with a purchase of a MOC course which is supported by an Azure Pass, the alternative to the above scenarios is for a partner to inform a student that he/she needs to sign up for the publicly available pass (needs a Credit Card number to validate) or pay for the access.

There’s a document on Campaign Factory about how to redeem/activate Azure Passes:

http://www.mslcampaignfactory.com/Downloads.aspx?level=2&PID=510

This includes common error messages, like what to do if you get an error while activating the pass.

Other resources regarding the use of Azure Passes or courses using Azure:


MOC Course Call-outs:

20532C
Developing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure SolutionsThis course is now updated quarterly.  This is going to become common place for cloud courses.

20533C:
Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure SolutionsThis course is now updated quarterly.  This is going to become common place for cloud courses.

20346D:
Managing Office 365 Identities and Services
– As mentioned above the labs for this course are now through an
authorized hoster solution through Learn on Demand / Microsoft Labs Online / Virsoft.  I have used all 3 and its a great move forward and increases satisfaction of this course.