Azure, technology

Microsoft Azure Certifications Explained

Over the past few years, the cloud computing industry has generated a lot of interest and investment and it is one of...

Written by Freddy Ayala · 3 min read >

Over the past few years, the cloud computing industry has generated a lot of interest and investment and it is one of the fastest growing and expanding industries, having 3 main actors that are Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

In this sense Microsoft controls more than 20% of the marketshare of cloud providers with a plethora of different services that are well integrated with their own technologies such as Microsoft 365 (former Office 365), Active Directory, Windows Server, SQL Server and others such as c# and powershell.

Because of this, being a cloud engineer with Azure has become a very desirable career path because it allows people that are already familiar with Microsoft products to transition into the cloud and thus certifications allow cloud professionals to earn a virtual badge that formally acknowledges their proficiency with a certain cloud technology or most specifically to new Azure Certifications, an specific Azure Role such as Security Engineer, Developer or Solutions Architect.

Certainly, getting a certification is not an easy feat, not even for seasoned professionals, although the transition might seem easier for infrastructure professionals, it is not because even tough the cloud resemble traditional on premise deployments it is vastly more dynamic.

Therefore, professionals mut not only master networking and computing skills but also security, architecture, infrastructure as code, and others. more skills are required, and this is where certifications become useful, they are tools for professionals to study towards a role oriented career path, mastering different skills and related technologies according to their own careers goals and for employers it is a way to select candidates with the required skill set.

However, as good as it might seem, this is not always the case, the are case in the wild of engineers with Expert level certifications that are incapable of explaining what is a resource group.

How is that possible? Simple, due to the existence of cheat sheets, dumps and proxy exam taking (just take a look in any azure group in facebook in order to see how many people offer this kind of service), which goes against exam policies and can you earn a permanent candidate ban, which will prevent you from further taking any Microsoft certification and forever walk in shame.

Nevertheless, I still believe that certifications have a great value and that most people that take time off from their jobs and families in order to study for months, stress themselves, practice and learn the different concepts, do really stand out from the crowd and deserve to be recognized. All that effort is what really gives the value to this certifications and future.

So once we agree that certifications are indeed very valuable lets take a look inside the Azure Career Path. The new Microsoft Azure exams and certifications are role-based, which means that there are different exams and certification path to choose according to your career path or technical skills that you want to develop as we have mentioned.

So without further ado let’s dive in into the different paths:

The Azure certifications for 2019 – Iain Fielding

  • Azure Fundamentals
    • Useful for non technical profiles, managers and beginners in order to know the basic terminology and azure resources.
    • To be skipped in favor of AZ 104 for people with technical experience.
  • Associate Level
    • Azure administrator certification (AZ 103 replaced by AZ 104)
      • Focuses on the knowledge to perform everyday tasks in azure, from deploying resources to managing security, in my opinion this one is a very important milestone in the microsoft certification roadmap, other certifications such as AZ 300 and AZ 500 will go into more details of the topics already covered in AZ 104.
      • The most important certification in my opinion for any professional that wants to work with Azure.
    • Azure Certified Developer (AZ 203/204)
      • Focuses on topics related to develop solutions using azure resources, such as event grid, event hubs, Cosmos DB, Web Apps, Storage Accounts, Logic Apps, Azure Functions and a bit of code, this is more geared to developer profiles.
      • .NET developers will feel at home with this one.
    • Azure Security Technologies (AZ 500)
      • Geared towards the security management and compliance in Azure by using services such as Azure Active Directory, Policies and Security Center.
  • Expert Level
    • Architect Technologies (AZ 300/303)
      • Goes into detail of several topics already covered in AZ 104 and 204.
      • Some topics covered are Storage Account, Virtualisation, Migration, Site Recovery, Monitoring.
      • One of the hardest exams in the certification path and in my opinion harder of their equivalent AWS Exam (AWS Solutions Architect Associate)
      • Requires AZ301/304 to earn the Solutions Architect Certification, doesn’t grant a certification by itself.
    • Architect Design (AZ 301/304)
      • Oriented to governance and architecture, covers networking, virtualization, identity, security, business, continuity, disaster recovery, data management, budgeting, and governance.
      • After passing this one together with AZ300/303 you get the Solutions Architect certification.
    • DevOps Engineer (AZ 400)
      • As it’s name indicates this certificate will cover topics such as designing and implementing strategies for collaboration,code, infrastructure, source control, security, compliance, continuous integration, testing, delivery, monitoring, and feedback.
      • In order to earn this one you require to already have either AZ 103/104 or AZ 203/204.

So with that in mind, which path you should take? In my opinion most people with some years of technical experience should skip AZ 900 and go directly AZ 104, this one will test the most important knowledge that is required to be competent in Azure.

Once you got 104 you can either purse the expert paths or take your time to delve into the other more specialized certifications such as Security, Data and IoT.

There is no need to rush to get the expert levels, you should try them once you are comfortable with all the different subject and have practical experience.

You should give it a try, now is easier than ever because you can take tests at home.

And remember it is your effort that gives these certification their value, don’t rush them, don’t cheat and most of all prepare well and enjoy what you do, always.

In another article I will provide with tips about how to prepare for a certification.

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