A couple of years ago Microsoft ended TechNet. A lot of IT Pro’s were unhappy with that decision. IT Pro’s used TechNet to practice in their own labs and get up to speed on new technologies. Well on April 20th, 2016 Microsoft has an answer for this (NOTE: this is my opinion not any official statement from Microsoft).
Microsoft has launched the “Microsoft IT Pro Career Center” and the the free “Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials“.
The Microsoft IT Pro Career Center is a free online resource to help map your cloud career path. Learn what industry experts suggest for your cloud role and the skills to get you there. Follow a learning curriculum at your own pace to build the skills you need most to stay relevant.
Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials is a free annual subscription for IT Pro’s that basically gives you Azure, EMS, O365 resources to practice and learn with. It even comes with a Pluralsight account. It includes:
Free Azure credits to try cloud scenarios like backup, disaster recovery, security & dev/test.
Free Pluralsight subscription for on-line training.
Free Priority support in the TechNet forums.
A free phone support incident for Azure or on-premises products.
A free certification exam voucher. 
Extended trials of Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365.
This is huge. Many of my IT buddies have said they want to jump in on cloud but could not afford to pay for the accounts out of pocket. Well this is no longer an excuse.
Recently Dice published a report that Azure was #2 on the list of the fastest-growing tech skills. Here is the link:
http://insights.dice.com/2016/04/12/dice-report-fastest-growing-tech-skills-2 . I would bet that with the pace Microsoft is moving with Azure this will become the #1 tech skill in the near future. As an IT Pro Azure is something you definitely want to be looking into.
If you are an IT Pro and you want to get started with cloud jump out there and get started today.
Microsoft IT Pro Career Center:
Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials: