Over the years I’ve taken a LOT of technical exams. I have no idea how many. My first one was in the year 2000 and overall, I enjoy the process. Yeah, I know that’s weird. Most people don’t like taking exams or tests, but I like proving my skills to myself. It’s a good challenge.
As a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) the classes I can teach depend on competencies in related areas, and those competencies are tied to passing certification exams. But I was taking Microsoft exams for many years before becoming a MCT. Of course, not all of the exams have been with Microsoft, some others included Cisco, CompTIA, ITIL, NCSF, etc.
However, with the incredible way that the cloud is shaping the business environment, it became apparent that I should check out a Microsoft Azure certification. Thankfully there is an ideal, entry-level Azure exam, AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals.
Now, I’m a technical person. I teach highly technical (including PowerShell, System Center Configuration Manager) and cybersecurity (including Security+, CySA+, and NIST Cybersecurity Framework) classes regularly. Many of those classes touch on cloud topics, including Azure. But full disclosure here, I’ve not spent significant time looking at the breadth of Azure. I work in the specific niches of Azure, and don’t go much outside of them.
What do you do then, when you want to learn more about a technology, especially one you have only limited experience with from a big picture view? Here’s my suggestion. Take a class! At LRS Education Services we offer two classes related to the Azure Fundamentals exam. A one day option that does not have labs and a two day class that lets you practice in an Azure environment. The content on the slides and in the book is otherwise the same. Just so you know, those classes are recorded, which means you can go back and review the instructor’s presentation, demonstrations, and in class discussions. So helpful for exam prep!
In addition, to support your post-class exam prep, Microsoft Learn offers a free six-part learning path series on Azure Fundamentals with plenty of great information.
Let me give you my thoughts on the exam topics, then a recommended plan for your certification journey.
The exam covers four overall skills areas:
- Describe Cloud Concepts: this skills area is about general cloud topics such as Disaster Recovery, Elasticity, CapEx, OpEx, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and the three major cloud models (Private, Public, Hybrid). Although some of these topics are not Azure specific, some Azure services directly support and/or affect them.
- Describe Core Azure Services: this skills area is exactly what it sounds like. What are the major components, products, solutions, and tools of Microsoft Azure?
- Describe Security, Privacy, Compliance, and Trust: this skills area is the most technical (in my opinion) of the four. It covers firewalls, DDoS Protection, Azure Active Directory, Azure Security Center, Azure Key Vault, RBAC, Locks, Blueprints, Azure Monitor, and a host of other technical aspects of Azure. In addition, it gets into various policy and compliance topics such as GDPR, ISO, privacy, Compliance Manager and many more.
- Describe Azure Pricing, Service Level Agreements, and Lifecycles: in this skills area we look at the various Azure subscription options, cost management, SLAs, and preview features.
Just reading that list may seem intimidating, and it is a broad range of topics, but, according to Microsoft documentation, most Microsoft exams are 40-60 questions. Because there are so many possible topics, and the fact that this is a fundamentals exam, I would not focus my studies on getting too deep into any one area.
This is a fair exam, meaning with the right amount of study and preparation, you can pass it. I would also suggest that this exam isn’t just for technical staff. Your sales professionals, if they are selling Azure solutions, would have a great advantage over your competition if your team took this class and passed the exam. Not only would they be more confident in their knowledge, but it means something to your customer if their salesperson has proven their expertise in Azure Fundamentals by becoming certified.
A Recommended Plan for Certification
If you want to pass the AZ-900 exam, here is my recommended path:
- Take the LRS Education Services MS-AZ-900T00 - Microsoft Azure Fundamentals class. I’d suggest the two days with labs option, this will help to cement any Azure specific topics in your mind. Having an expert instructor for two days to explain the concepts, answer your questions, and make it applicable to your role is very valuable. Plus you get to see the actual Azure interface.
- If you want to review the topics from Microsoft’s perspective, check out Azure Fundamentals on Microsoft Learn. It’s free and you can choose just the topics that interest you, or in which you feel your skills are still weak.
- Get some practice tests. MeasureUp offers the Microsoft Official practice exam with 180 questions. If you go with MeasureUp then just get the 30 Days option. It’s the least expensive and you will want to take the actual exam not long after you finish the class anyway. There are plenty of other options for practice exams, some are good, and others not so much. If you do go outside of the official exam from MeasureUP be sure to steer clear of braindump sites, they won’t help you learn and are 100% against the Microsoft Exam Non-disclosure Agreement! I NEVER take a certification exam without first doing practice exams. They help me see what areas I’ve got mastered and where to focus my last-minute pre-exam study time.
I hope you are able to take some value from this post. I believe preparing for and passing the AZ-900 exam is a great way to get a strong big picture understanding of Azure and how it can benefit your organization and, if applicable, your customers.