Microsoft is offering a host of freebies to encourage IT pros to familiarize themselves with its cloud products.
Now that the cloud is core to Microsoft, it wants IT pros who are sticking with familiar server technologies to get cozy with services such as Azure.
Consumers might have most of their apps and data in the cloud, but for big corporations in-house IT systems, operated by a team of IT pros, are still the norm.
Microsoft has historically been good at selling products to these IT pros, but it's finding that many of them aren't ready for the direction it's been taking with Azure, Office 365 and Windows as a service.
To change that situation, Microsoft has created a new training program called IT Pro Cloud Essentials, which aims to help IT pros update their skills for the cloud.
To entice them to join, Microsoft is offering up Azure credits, free online training, free tech support and extended trials of Office 365 and its BYOD product, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).
"Over the past 20 years there have been many technology transitions led by IT professionals. With each technology transition, the role of IT professionals changes," Microsoft cloud and enterprise corporate VP Mike Neil said.
"We are in the middle of the cloud technology transition and IT professionals are not always leading this transition," he said.
Citing a Microsoft-sponsored IDC report, Microsoft also highlights that cloud-related roles are expected to grow three times faster than IT positions in the next four years.
The program and free offers are available worldwide beginning today. To get started with the free annual subscription, IT pros will need to sign into the IT Pro Cloud Essentials page.
Microsoft is offering participants a 60-day trial of Office 365 instead of the standard 30-day period, as well as a three-month trial of EMS, up from the usual 30 days.
IT pros who sign up before September 30 will also be give $100 Azure credit per month for a three-month period. Microsoft is looking at extended periods on Azure with a lower monthly credit.
The program includes a free three-month subscription to Pluralsight and access to one of 10 cloud-related courses selected by Microsoft. The education program also includes access to Microsoft virtual academy courses and access to professional advice about career paths in cloud computing.
Finally, as part of the package, IT pros will be offered free phone support for one incident per year for Azure or on-premises products.