How to prepare for Azure Cloud Certification
With a consistent increase in the number of public cloud service providers, the very nature of the IT service industry has undergone a sea-change. The major cloud platforms operated by tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Google have evolved over the years, leading to a similar evolution of the skill set requirements expected of IT professionals who work on these platforms.
Since every decision made in a cloud platform has major ramifications in terms of cost to the company, security of the platform components and availability of services; companies are looking to hire professionals with comprehensive skills to stay relevant in a highly competitive market.
With Microsoft Azure being an especially popular platform, IT professionals with expertise in managing and developing applications on this platform are in high demand and the best way to showcase this is by means of a Microsoft Azure certification.
Whether you are familiar with Azure or are interested in pursuing a career in Azure, it is essential to keep up with the latest certification roadmap from Microsoft to enhance employability and showcase your skills.
The Azure Cloud Certification Path
In order to adapt to the changing demands of cloud-based platforms and technologies, Microsoft decided to revamp its Azure Cloud Certification learning path at the Ignite 2018 conference to encourage “role-based learning”. This retires some of the older exams like 70–532, 70–533, and 70–535 and sets forth a streamlined pathway across three levels of expertise, viz. Fundamentals, Associate and Expert.
Within the three expertise levels, practitioners can aim to obtain the following certifications. It must be noted that Microsoft has more certifications in Beta and has planned to further phase out some more certifications in the coming months.
Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals
Associated Exam(s): On clearing the AZ-900 examination you can obtain this certification.
Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator
Associated Exam(s): On clearing the AZ-103 you can obtain this certification. If you have cleared the old 70-553 examination, then you need to take the AZ-102 transition examination.
Microsoft Certified Azure Developer
Associated Exam(s): On clearing the AZ-203 examination, you can obtain this certification. If you have cleared the old 70-532 examination, then you need to take the AZ-202 transition examination.
Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate
Associated Exam(s) – On clearing the AZ-500 examination, you can obtain this certification.
Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
Associated Exam(s): On clearing the AZ-300 and AZ-301 examinations you can obtain this certification. If you have cleared the old 70-535 examination, then you need to take the AZ-302 transition examination.
Microsoft Certified Azure DevOps
Associated Exam(s): On clearing the AZ-400 examination, you can obtain this certification.
How to Prepare
Every certification is meant to qualify you for different roles and have different prerequisites and associated exams. Though the preparation technique is similar for most certifications, some certifications require particular attention to certain topics and a modification in preparation techniques.
Using the Microsoft Learning Platform
The Microsoft Learning Portal functions as a central node of reference for all of its learning paths and certifications. All the listings for any and every exam offered by Microsoft is available.
In fact, for anyone desirous of attempting the Azure Certifications, this is the first pitstop on the journey. It contains links for registration, details on the examination policies and hints about the structure. This is also the place where all updates regarding the schedule and notifications regarding changes in module content and pricing are made available.
Referring to the Microsoft Documentation for getting the base concepts
Not to be confused with the Learning Portal described above, this site contains pages dedicated to official documentation regarding Azure. Especially valuable for beginners, this page contains key insights in fundamental concepts like Agility, Elasticity, Fault Tolerance, High Availability, Scalability and other core features in any cloud network.
It also contains Azure-specific details like computation, security and storage in Azure. Furthermore, it provides a thorough grounding into creating an account in Azure, networking options, application storage, using PowerShell to automate Azure tasks and using the CLI for utilizing Azure services.
Even for those taking up advanced certifications and having some basic experience in Azure, this would prove invaluable as a ready-reckoner and as a refresher course material.
Joining Instructor led courses for refining concepts and practising Labs
After brushing up on the exam fundamentals and acquiring the basics from Microsoft’s own documentation, it is beneficial to join some instructor-led course to obtain further expertise in the topics and for availing the mock-exams such courses usually provide.
Any standard course would provide a thorough grounding in the topics covered in the exam’s syllabus and would also prepare you better by hosting lab sessions where you can hone your practical skills.
Studying from standard Books and Periodicals for particular certifications
In order to buttress the teachings of the instructor it is important to refer to standard tests for getting that extra insight into the nitty-gritties of the exam. There are different books which have been used as popular texts for the exam, however since most of these exams are new and some are even in Beta.
Therefore, it is essential to do a thorough background check of the authors before buying them. Some books by authors such as Microsoft MVP Michael Washam may be referred to.
Joining study groups and forums
There are different formal and informal study groups on both Facebook and other social media platforms which you can join in order to interact with people who have prior experience in clearing azure exams.
It helps in getting solutions to tricky questions and is a rich source of tips for clearing the certification tests. There are other groups like the Azure community and MSDN forums where you can get your doubts clarified by experts and peers alike.
In a nutshell
The Microsoft Azure certification path can be an enriching journey and enable you to pursue a career in the cutting-edge world of the public cloud. With proper preparation and support and with the right instructors, clearing the exams should be not challenge at all.