I’ve been working with Azure services for a number of years, and recently decided it was time to bite the bullet and get certified. I know not everyone is a fan of sitting exams and pursuing certifications, but I’ve always found them to be a great way of validating my existing skills and learning services in more depth. My long-term goal is to get the Cloud Platform and Infrastructure MCSE certification, and the first step in doing that was to take the Implementing Azure Infrastructure Solutions 70-533 exam. Having recently sat the exam I thought I'd get some advice written down whilst it's fresh in my memory.
First of all, there’s no mistaking it’s a tough exam. It can be anywhere between 40-60 questions and the scope of the exam is huge, so make sure you’re familiar with the objectives – a full list is available here but at a high level you will be tested on the following:
- Design and Implement Azure App Service Apps (10-15%)
- Create and Manage Azure Resource Manager Virtual Machines (20-25%)
- Design and Implement a Storage Strategy (10-15%)
- Implement Virtual Networks (15-20%)
- Design and Deploy ARM Templates (10-15%)
- Manage Azure Security and Recovery Services (25-30%)
- Manage Azure Operations (5-10%)
- Manage Azure Identities (5-10%)
The exam is periodically updated, so make sure you check the change log that comes with it.
I found the Azure documentation site to be the best way to learn. Each Azure service has its own documentation site, and usually within those you will see a Quick-Start guide and tutorials, these are hands on and will show you how to configure services and resources using the Azure Portal, PowerShell and Azure CLI. Check out the Concepts and FAQ sections of the documentation as well, these will dive deeper into how the services work. The following link is really useful, it takes each of the objectives and maps them to a the relevant Azure documentation.
If you want to get hands on you’re going to need an Azure account. If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up for an Azure Free Account. This will give you £150 credit to use for 30 days which is more than enough to carry out the tutorials outlined in the documentation.
Knowing how to configure resource in the Azure Portal won’t be enough to get you through the exam, you will need to know how to configure using PowerShell and CLI as well and you will be expected to know how to complete commands.
In addition to reading the documentation and going through the quick-starts I used linuxacademy.com to study, there is a 70-533 course on there. If you don't have access then you can use https://www.edx.org/microsoft-professional-program-cloud. It's free and there are hours of videos and hands-on labs covering the exam objectives. Some of it is a little out of date but it will give you a solid understanding of how it all works.
When booking the exam, I would recommend buying one of the Exam Replay Plus bundles, for a little more than the cost of the exam itself. This pays for the exam but also gives you 30 days access to a practice exam and up to two retakes if needed. The practice exam gives you an idea of the style of questions you will be asked and is a good test of knowledge, the retake options provide a safety net and take some of the pressure off when you take the exam.
One final thing to note; Microsoft have recently announced the release of 3 new beta Azure certificates, those being AZ-100: Microsoft Azure Infrastructure and Deployment, AZ-101: Microsoft Azure Integration and Security, and AZ-102: Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification Transition. This is in response to feedback that the current exams are too broad in scope. The first 300 people to register can get up to an 80% discount (this was announced in July, so they may be gone by now but it’s worth checking), note though that with beta exams you will not get results back straightaway. At the moment, it’s not clear what the long-term future of the 70-533 exam is or how the new certificates fit in with the MCSA or MCSE. The latest advice from Microsoft is that if you plan to take 70-533 in the next few months, you should continue with that path. If you pass it then you can take the AZ-102 transition exam and cover the same content that is covered by AZ-100 and AZ-101.
If you are planning to take the exam, then I wish you the best of luck and let me know how you get on!
Posted by Dale Marshall