Cloud Skills Challenge Complete

Four weeks and 43 learning modules later, I have completed the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Admin Cloud Skills Challenge.  In doing so, I will be receiving a free Microsoft Certification Exam voucher on April 7, 2021.  For this post, I wanted to give some general thoughts on the challenge and the learning material. 

The Challenge 

Having watched videos from Ignite for a few years now, this was the first time that I was able to actively participate in some way.  Free attempts at Microsoft Certifications have been a popular to-do item for conference attendees, but as the show shifted to a completely virtual platform in 2020, it became accessible to anyone who was interested in the material and willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to learn. 

Here are some of the highlights of the challenge itself: 

  • Microsoft Learn  Anyone who has studied for an IT certification can tell you that the preparation process is often expensive, boring and lacks real-world practicality.  For this challenge, participants had to complete a pre-defined module (lesson) list on the Microsoft Learn platform.  Though it doesn’t cover the small details to sufficiently exist as a standalone study-resource, it does offer thorough product overviews and interactive labs for hands-on experience.  Oh yes, and it’s completely free. 
  • The Free Exam Voucher – Microsoft Exam attempts are not cheap and, for those who do not have certification reimbursement from their employer, the cost can be prohibitive.  By offering this challenge, Microsoft is providing not only the opportunity to get a great head-start on the studying, but also to pass the exam free-of-charge. 

Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Course Material 

With over 22 hours of course material in this challenge, it’s difficult to summarize all the content.  However, even as someone who spends much of their day in the Microsoft 365 environment, there were still a few elements that stood out: 

  • Security – From Rule Based Access Control (RBAC) to Guest Access Controls to the Microsoft 365 Security Center, there are a several new tools organizations can employ to improve their security posture to prevent security issues and remediate them more efficiently. 
  • Azure Active Directory – In the early days of its release, Azure AD was criticized for being a non-replacement for its on-premises namesake.  That is quickly changing as Azure AD becomes more feature rich and the need for on-premises infrastructure fades.  Controls once exclusive to Group Policy are finding Azure AD equivalents and new user / endpoint management capabilities are added. 
  • InTune – The past year has seen the acceleration of company data from a variety of devices.  This opens a ton of doors for new workflows and productivity.  This also opens a ton of doors for major security vulnerabilities and compatibility issues.  InTune, Microsoft’s MDM / MAM solution, helps organizations expand how their employees work without compromising on security.  When combined with products like Windows AutoPilot, it can also streamline core tasks such as device provisioning  

Next Up 

I’m looking at taking the MS-100 after I receive my voucher.  The exam just went through a re-write, but hopefully the core material of the assessment has remained the same.  I’ll be sure to post any updates as they come. 


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