Certification is not for the sake of certification
Hello, Habr! Today we talk about the practical experience of passing the Microsoft certification and obtaining the status of MCSA. Let's take a closer look at the way of certification. Well, at the end of the article you will find useful resources, including courses and books, that will help you better prepare for the exams.
I give the floor to the author
Objectives and advantages of certification
To obtain certificates for various products or directions in the world of IT are ambiguous: some consider it a useless collection of paper /electronic artifacts that have nothing to do with real knowledge and skills, others seek to replenish their profile in LinkedIn with the next "regalia". In my opinion, it is important here to understand the goals and objectives that you pursue, since passing the certification exam, even if you know the product well, still requires some preparation, and this takes time, which is often a valuable resource that is lacking .
The primary goals of preparing and passing the certification exams for me were to expand, deepen and structure knowledge on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. It is important to understand that even if you constantly and intensively work with the product, especially difficult, you often well and deeply understand the individual options (services) of the product, sometimes slightly affecting the others. When you prepare for the exam, in the process of preparation, cover a fairly wide range of different topics, services, product functionality and platform, which allows you to expand your professional horizons.
Another advantage of obtaining certificates is that it can be desirable, and sometimes mandatory requirements of the customer when hiring specialists for the project or simply a requirement for the position of the employer. An important point is that the presence of a certain number of certified professionals is sometimes just necessary to maintain a certain level of partner status of the partner company with the vendor. However, it would be a mistake to think that certification, in itself, will significantly increase your value in the labor market as a specialist. Knowledge should be backed up by good experience of working with the product in real projects.
Ways of certification
The product for which I decided to certify was the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The options and certification paths for Azure are presented at see this page . Certification involves several steps: when you pass one of the exams (for example, 70-533), you get the status of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP).
The first step of the certification path is the status Cloud Platform Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) - for this it is necessary to pass two exams from this list is . The second stage is the status Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) , for its reception it is necessary to have the status of MCSA and to add one more of the exams from this list is . In this article, I'll try to reveal my experience of preparing and passing the two Microsoft Azure certification exams:
70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
Successful passing of both exams allowed to pass the first stage of certification for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and get the status: Cloud Platform Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA).
Training materials and training
I started preparing for the exam already having work skills and experience with Microsoft Azure. In total, I took about 3 months of intensive preparation (combining with daily work) to prepare for the two exams. Additionally, I attended the official five-day training course 20535A to prepare for the 70-535 exam.
In the course of preparation, I used various sources, below I will list their list with descriptions in order of informativeness for me:
Official documentation - this, in my opinion, is one of the best resources for preparing for the exam. It is perfectly structured, informative, easy to read and perceived and provided with a lot of code examples, commands and practical exercises for fixing theoretical materials. Whatever training manual and materials you do not use, I strongly recommend that you view the topic in the documentation, if only because it is updated regularly and it is one of the most up-to-date sources of information on the product. Given that the Microsoft Azure platform is constantly evolving, the documentation is simply necessary to keep abreast of the latest changes in the product and individual services.
Azure Architecture Center - an excellent resource in which the best practices collected, and Microsoft's experience in designing various solutions in Azure. Great attention is paid to various architectural patterns and their applicability in different scenarios. Also recommendations are given - how to implement this or that architectural template using Azure services. Trying to deploy this or that architectural template in Azure is easy and simple, using links to deploying ARM templates through Azure Portal. I strongly recommend to use this resource not only in preparation for the exam, but also during daily work on projects.
Study Guide . I used the official electronic textbook to course 20535A , which Microsoft provides on the platform Skillpipe . Since in the 70-533 and 70-535 exams there are quite a few common topics, the textbook was useful in preparing for both exams.
Training courses on third-party resources. On the portal edx quite a few official training courses from Microsoft, including materials on Microsoft Azure. The instructor of many courses, for example on Azure IaaS is Microsoft MVP - Corey Hynes. He perfectly expounds the material, supplementing it with demonstrations and explanations. Other resources, such as Udemy or Linux Academy can also be useful as additional materials. I used the training courses on edx and one of the training courses on the Udemy portal.
Video channels on YouTube. I recommend the channels Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Mechanics . Within the framework of short videos, the presenters invite product managers and engineers to the studio, who tell in detail about the service they develop and make interesting demonstrations.
In addition to theory, it is obvious that it is important to have enough practical experience with the platform. Surely, you have repeatedly used a number of services in real projects and tasks. But exams, especially 70-535 cover a fairly wide range of services, and there is a possibility that with some of them, you did not have enough work experience. In this case, you can help the practical exercises (tutorials) that are in the documentation. But, in my opinion, it's better to put your own experiments with services, within which you can solve some small applied problems. This will allow you to more meaningfully study and explore the product.
Program CloudPro 2020
Program CloudPro 2020 allows you to get a free voucher for certification on one of the exams. It is necessary to pass a very simple test, after the successful delivery of which, you will receive a letter with information on how to receive and apply a voucher for the exam chosen by you. A pleasant moment is that the voucher is given for the exam with an attempt to retake, which is very useful in the event that you suddenly did not pass the exam the first time.
Now the program is suspended, but it is likely that very soon it will continue.
Rules of examinations
Detailed rules for conducting Microsoft exams are available at this link. Here you will find information about test formats, types and number of questions, rules and timing of the re-interview. A separate point, which I would like to mention, is the so-called "brain dumps". I strongly warn you against their use. Well, firstly, it's a violation of Microsoft's policies, which can be punished with cancellation of the results of the passed exams and denial of certification. Secondly, both the Azure platform itself and the content of the exam change quite often, so using the "dump" for preparation, you risk running into the outdated content. And, at last, at us after all «fair play» and we pass examination first of all for ourselves and increase of the level of knowledge.
The format of the exams is
The exam is available in various languages, including Russian, but I strongly recommend that you give it in English because all the terms in the documentation and the literature in English were originally originally. Before the exam you will be asked to pass a small survey in which you answer questions about your experience with Azure, the reasons that prompted you to take the exam and so on. The answers to these questions are collected for statistical purposes and do not affect the course of the exam.
Some of the questions on the exam are the nature of the situation assignments. For example, in the exam 70-53? a number of questions are divided into separate blocks, which initially describe a customer's scenario, which is already given architectural tasks in the format of questions with different choice options (multiple /single choice, the need for ordering the answers, etc.). Thus, the tasks are formulated on the understanding and role of each individual resource (service) in a specific infrastructure construction scenario. In my opinion, this is a very correct approach to testing, which makes the examiner think and logically reflect, and not automatically learn the facts from the documentation.
For incorrect answers, points are not withdrawn, this is clearly indicated in the rules for conducting exams. Separately, I would like to quote an excerpt from the rules regarding the question "What does my assessment mean?": "Having passed the exam, you simply demonstrated competence in the assessed area of skills. In addition, assessments of candidates who pass the exam do not allow comparison of their competence; a higher passing score does not mean higher levels of competence. The same is true for scores below the passing score; lower scores do not mean a lower level of competence. Having passed the exam, you demonstrated competence regardless of your assessment; not passing the exam, you have not confirmed competence. "
After passing the 2 exams and getting the status of MCSA, - I did only the first step in the pyramid of certification for Microsoft Azure. The next step is to obtain Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) . For this I plan to take the exam 70-538 Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions , which is not yet available for delivery, but, I hope, will be available in the near future.
When choosing the ways of certification and exams for surrender, do it intelligently, so that it correlates with your career development and growth plans.
Success to you in examinations!
About the Author
Emin Askerov is the architect of cloud solutions at BANKEX , Microsoft Certified Professional, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. In the past, the developer of geoinformation systems in the company CSoft, a technical evangelist and consultant in Microsoft and Oracle, where he helped the partner community to implement in their projects cloud solutions and on-premise middleware products. Currently focuses on cloud computing and Microsoft Azure /Visual Studio Team Services platforms.
Useful materials (courses + books)
Online preparation course for certification exam 70-533 "Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions"
This course consists of 8 video lessons:
Development and implementation of applications using the Azure Application Service
Creating and managing virtual machines using Azure Resource Manager
Designing and implementing a storage strategy
Development and deployment of ARM templates
Realization of virtual networks
Operations management Azure
Identity management Azure
In addition, the course provides 7 laboratory works (homework), for better mastering the material.
→ See Details
Preparation for the exam 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
This course examines the main points that must be considered when preparing a cloud or hybrid architecture. Let's look at examples that will allow IT professionals to gain practical knowledge in the preparation and planning of the architecture of infrastructure services and business applications. And also passing this course will allow you to get closer to passing the exam 70-535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions.
→ See Details
Preparation for the exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
Having studied this video you can get acquainted with Azure technologies and confirm your expertise with the Microsoft certificate. In addition, you will learn how to deploy, configure, and administer services and virtual machines in Microsoft Azure, migrate local servers and services to the cloud, and use Microsoft Azure to host web sites and background services for mobile applications.
→ See Details
Microsoft Azure Security Infrastructure
This book provides general information, design tips, deployment scenarios, best practices, technology survey results and step-by-step instructions that will help you compile a comprehensive overview of Azure's security capabilities.
Guide to the architecture of cloud applications
Use a structured approach to developing cloud applications. This 300-page e-book on the architecture of cloud computing discusses architecture, design, and implementation recommendations that apply regardless of the cloud platform chosen. This manual includes steps for:
choosing the right cloud application architecture for your application or solution;
the choice of appropriate technologies for computing and storing data;
implementation of 10 development principles for the creation of a scalable, fault-tolerant and managed application;
follow the five principles of creating high-quality software that guarantees the success of your cloud application;
Use constructive templates designed for the problem that you are trying to solve.
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