If you want to focus on SQL Server 2017, then the way to go is to create a VM. You can create the SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition server easily enough. I'm not sure what your spending limits on Azure are with your MSDN account, so you'll have to pick the service tier that you can afford. Here's how you get going:
Right at the very top of the screen on the portal is a + sign. Click it. That will open a blade (that's what the little windows are called).
There's a search icon (magnifying glass) next to an input box. Type this in the box: sql server 2017 developer.
You'll see a drop down with a variety of operating systems supporting a VM with SQL Server 2017 on it. Pick one. For me, Windows was the bottom one, but you might see something different.
You'll see a window with licensing information. Ignore it. At the bottom of the screen is a button. Click it.
Fill out the basics. Give your server a name. Supply a user name and password. Create a new resource group (always put your work into discrete resource groups. This is because when you're done, you can drop the group and it drops all the stuff inside of it, makes clean up from dev & test easy). Define a location. Doesn't have to be close to you, but it doesn't hurt. Click OK.
You're on your own for this step. You have to pick your service level. If all you're doing is mucking about with SQL Server and you're not exploring all that Azure offers, max this out to your monthly limit. Click on the words "View all" over on the right to get a full listing of all the sizes of machines available. Pick one. Click Select.
The next blade is Settings. You can leave the defaults in place here (yes, tons to experiment with, but if we're just going after SQL Server 2017, I'm fast tracking you). Click OK.
SQL Server settings can also be left at the defaults. Click OK.
You'll see a summary of all the choices you made. Click Create.
Wait a bit. At the very top of the screen There's a little bell icon. When your VM is ready, it'll tell you there. You can click on the VM and it should open in a new blade. At the top of that blade, on the left, is Connect. Click that. It'll download an RDP connection. Use your login and password that you created earlier ".\username".
Bob is your mother's brother at this point. You'll be inside a VM (windows presumably) and you'll have a running version of SQL Server 2017 and, as I write this, Version 17.4 of SSMS installed and waiting. It'll have SSAS and SSIS installed and running too. Everything you need.
I'm going to turn this into a blog post.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
Theodore RooseveltThe Scary DBA
Author of: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning
and SQL Server Execution Plans
Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software