Hendrik Bulens All about .NET development

Preparation guide for the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam

Earlier this week I passed the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam. I am genuinely relieved I did, and here’s why. I’ve been in the field for several years. Heck, I even wrote my master’s thesis on cloud computing. I’ve used Azure for years but I have always been limited to using just a few services while there’s so much more. This slightly odd discovery put me into action to bridge this gap.

Before heading to the real interesting certification paths like the Azure Developer Associate or Azure Architect tracks, I decided to start off light with this optional and basic exam. Looking at the exam’s description, the exam […] is designed for candidates looking to demonstrate foundational level knowledge of cloud services and how those services are provided with Microsoft Azure. The exam is intended for candidates with non-technical backgrounds […]”. Given my history, anything but a pass would be an embarrassment.

Luckily it went well, but it was harder than expected. Not only are there many topics to cover, they are also intricate at times. Having to remember things like the SLAs of virtual machines in availability sets and virtual machine scale sets and knowing where you can get a 0.04% improvement on your uptime is quite the challenge. I am therefore slightly surprised that this exam qualifies as foundational and even optional for other certification paths. You do need to know quite a bit about the services, security, pricing and support on Azure. It’s been worthwhile though as I now have a much better understanding on the aspects that go beyond my usual points of attention.

I don’t want to come over as a Microsoft fan boy, but it is certainly interesting to see what measures they take to lure customers in by delivering an impressive array of services not just for the developers but also for administrators, legal departments, accountants and decision takers. My daily job doesn’t usually concern things like disaster recovery, so I never pay much attention to it, but after this exam, I understand how complex it is to sustain an automated and fail-safe cloud system on such as vast scale. The vast majority of companies don’t have the knowledge, time, money or willingness to take on complex operations like this. But in Azure, it comes right out of the box. And with the immensely improved documentation and overall user-experience, Azure really is a joy to work with.

The exam

Now a word about the exam itself. I promised Microsoft not to give away any of the questions, so I won’t. But in my opinion, it’s not even necessary. If you have prior experience in the field and Azure, a weekend or two should be enough. If you have less experience or have a non-technical background, it may take more than that.

For my (and now your) convenience, I made a small document – which you can download below – that covers nearly all the topics of the exam. I should receive no credit as it’s merely a matter of copy and paste of the documentation Azure and the official AZ-900 preparation book provide. I rarely had to resort to other sources online so these should provide ample support for your preparation. You can also choose to buy the test exam to validate your knowledge before the exam, but I don’t think it’s worth the money.

I got 44 questions, and like the other Microsoft exams I’ve taken, the test follows the same recipe. You will get a mixed bag of multiple and single choice, drag-and-drop, yes/no questions. You have one hour to complete the test, which is more than enough so don’t sweat it. Take your time and make sure to read the question and the answers. The devil is in the detail for some questions. Luckily I flagged enough questions for review as I must’ve saved myself a few points by reviewing my answers.

Even though some of the questions might be tricky (one single word can make the difference), I am quite impressed by the way Microsoft develops these exams. It’s my seventh or eight certification now and every time I got a consistent line of high-quality questions, which must be hard to accomplish. After all, you have to make sure the question and the answers are relevant, unequivocal and concise. Truth be told, I may have had a different opinion if I had failed an exam but so far I’m pleased with the knowledge they test.

So there we go, another certification is in the bag. I had mixed feelings about taking this exam. Because it is optional, it doesn’t really help in completing a certification path. Even so, I can recommend it as you will most likely learn a few new things and it should give you a foundation for the other, more focused exams.

Download the preparation guide here


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By Hendrik Bulens
Hendrik Bulens All about .NET development