01 August, 2017

Microsoft Azure Certification Exams - Guide

Recently I have cleared the Microsoft Cloud certification Exams 532 (Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions) and 534 (Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions); earning me the MCSA - Cloud Platform. As with all Microsoft certification exams, this exam covers a huge amount of information and content. As a result of this, a variety of materials and sources need to be studied in order to get the level understanding and memorization necessary to pass these examinations.

Now that I've passed these exams, I cannot share anything about the question sets and patterns but I'd share some of the tips which might help you to clear these exams and to become a certified Azure developer or architect or both!
I won't spend your time providing links to study materials, videos,  practice tests, books etc. as these are easily available in internet.

70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

This exam is targeted towards a Developer audience. If you're an experienced .NET developer, then you'll likely have an easier time preparing for this exam. As a result, the exam will assume you are proficient with development tools, techniques and have experience developing scalable and resilient solutions.

Skills Measured
Here's a high level break down of the exam objectives:
  • Create and manage Azure Resource Manager Virtual Machines (30‒35%)
  • Design and implement a storage and data strategy (25‒30%)
  • Manage identity, application and network services (15‒20%)
  • Design and implement Azure PaaS compute and web and mobile services (25–30%)

Here's a few tips of techniques you can use when studying and preparing for certification exams:
  • Make sure to go through each exam objective category and study until you're comfortable with that topic
  • Use at minimum 3 study resources on each topic. The variety and repetition will help you retain everything.
  • Play with stuff. "Book smarts" are good, but practical hands-on experience is better.
  • Give yourself a deadline. Once you're in a comfortable study pace, estimate when you'll be ready for the exam and schedule it.
  • You need to have good understanding with powershell and you need to understand how some creation and deployment flows work 


70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

This exam is targeted towards audience who are interested in validating their Microsoft Azure solution design skills.  This exam aims to cover basically all major Azure services and technologies, so it goes over the entire Azure Services map, including all the tools that can be deployed on-prem, such as Azure Site Recovery, AAD Connect, etc. 
In my opinion this is the most complex and difficult exam to pass in the cloud series as Microsoft wants you to know the Azure architecture in both length and breadth.

Skills Measured
Here's a high level break down of the exam objectives:
  • Design Azure Resource Manager (ARM) networking (5–10%)
  • Secure resources (20–25%)
  • Design an application storage and data access strategy (5–10%)
  • Design advanced applications (20–25%)
  • Design Azure Web and Mobile Apps (5–10%)
  • Design a management, monitoring and business continuity strategy (20–25%)
  • Architect an Azure Compute infrastructure (10–15%)

Here's a few tips of techniques you can use when studying and preparing for certification exams:
  • The exam covers all the areas described in the Exam Summary. Literally! There is at least one question from each chapter 
  • You need hands on Azure experience prior to attempting this exam, there is no way around it.
  • Very focused on: Mobile Apps, WebApps, AAD, SQL, ServiceBus, Scaling, Batch. If you do not have any experience with these, you will have difficulties attempting the questions.
  • You need to have experience with powershell and you need to understand how some creation and deployment flows work: web app deployment, mobile app deployment, runbooks and automation, etc.
  • Manage your time accordingly because you will have to read a lot of case studies.
  • Take your time and come back to the answers. Many times I changed the answer  because I understood more going through other questions from the same case study.

Common Tips

  1.  Get your family on board to support you spending a significant amount of time outside of work to study
  2. Don’t ever go for dumps. Most of the available dumps are from the old exam model which do not hold good any more (Remember from November 2016, Microsoft has changed the course content completely focusing ARM model). Rather, you will end up wasting your time on these materials. 
  3. Don’t take these exams for granted. Microsoft will really test you in these.
  4. For some questions you may do not have absolutely no clue!! Use logic and try to eliminate some of the wrong answers. 
  5. Use all the time available to you, because answering one extra good question can make the difference. Like it did for me
  6. Choose the online proctored exam option when scheduling the exam. This way you can take the exam in a less stressful environment that is the comfort of your own home. But make sure you have stable internet connection at home.
  7. Don't be afraid to fail an exam. You will learn what areas you need to focus on better and can always take it again.

Good Luck! I hope this guide will help you pass the exams and earn your Azure certification!
Do post your comments and share your experience. Let me know if I can come to any help.

Best Wishes !!

17 February, 2017

Microsoft Azure - Cloud Computing Service Models

Before moving into the cloud you need to make two specific decisions. The first is determining the service model on which you will host your application(s), for example IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. Each of these service models require various levels of support and responsibilities once a system is deployed to the platform

The summary of these terminologies is as follows –

  • IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service – a set of infrastructure level capabilities such as an operating system, network connectivity, etc. that are delivered as pay for use services and can be used to Host applications. Example, Azure VM, VNET.  
  • PaaS – Platform as a Service – is about abstracting developers from the underlying infrastructure to enable applications to quickly be composed. This is specifically for developers who are willing to Build applications without worrying about management of hosting environment at all. Example, Azure Cloud services, Azure Web Apps, Storage, SQL Azure Database and so on. 
  • SaaS – Software as a Service – applications that are delivered using a service delivery model where organizations can simply Consume and use the application. Typically, an organization would pay for the use of the application or the application could be monetized through ad revenue. Example, Office 365, Gmail, Saleforce.com, SharePoint online, CRM online and so on.
Following diagram explains important difference between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

As you can see from the above diagram, more you go towards right hand side of the graph things that you manage become lesser and lesser. In SaaS typically you don’t manage anything and just consume. At the max you can make look and feel or configuration changes but everything rest is managed by Microsoft Azure for you.

*** Thanks to Kunal Chandratre and Vikram Pendse for this topic