Microsoft are actively ignoring all what is not Azure
SQL Server certifications for SQL Server have gone, if you want a database certification form Microsoft, it will have to be one of the Azure ones.
Look at how much information Microsoft is giving about the next version of SQL Server. I assume that there will be one. Normally, Microsoft release a new version of SQL Server every 18-24 months.
Look at all of the marketing coming out of Microsoft: *everything* is about Azure. It is almost as if Microsoft will punish anyone publicly mentioning SQL Server.
And if you want to learn Azure, you will have to pay, because Azure is a service to be rented.
Sure, the first hit is free:
-- from the PDF 'The Developer's Guide to Azure' 
You don’t need to do much—just sign up for an Azure free account. This includes 12 months of free services, including $200 in credits for 30 days, enabling you to explore paid Azure services, and over 25 services that you can use for free ad infinitum.
But after that, it costs and you have to pay to learn. Microsoft wins both ways.
Now, don't get me wrong, Azure *is* great and it allows one to do a lot of things that on-premises make hard. If you need a server with 64 cores and 512GB RAM for a project, it's available and much, cheaper than buying the hardware for on-premises. The AI and IoT services look particularly good too.
But, it is not the be-all-and-end-all of databases in Microsoftland.
And, AWS is super for cloud-based servers and short projects with massive resource requirments too.
And Microsoft is actively discouraging SQL Server on-premises as well as online. I wonder how long SQL Server as we know has to live? One more version maybe?
I expect that I, and the company I work for, will have to make hard decisions in the coming years. If we want to stay on-premises, when do we need to start getting the DBAs & developers up to scratch on PostgreSQL, or do we take the less hard road and surrender our security, freedom & data to the Microsoft Cloud.