Wondering if it’s time to highlight your distributed computing skills by earning cloud certs? Cloud computing expertise is becoming an important bullet point on many job descriptions. In response, the array of cloud exams and certifications have multiplied the past few years. Microsoft, for example, currently offers five Azure-specific exams with several more on the horizon!
For those who intend to focus specifically on Azure, we can reduce the applicable certification paths down to just three. After you’ve earned one of the prerequisite MCSA certs, you can add “MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure” to your list of IT credentials by passing one of the three primary Azure exams. But which one is the best for you?
This is when the confusion typically sets in. Prospective Azure pros will usually begin by checking out the list of qualifying exams:
- Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- Exam 70-534/535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
Remind you of your elementary school synonym lessons? Despite the similar sounding titles, each test does have its own particular focus and depth. By familiarizing ourselves with the objective domain of each exam, we can determine which test to train for in order to best cover our career path.
Exam 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
As its title implies, the first exam is the most programmer-centric. The Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions exam emphasizes the .net SDK, specifically how to use .net to incorporate Azure’s feature set into your projects. But despite the emphasis on code, the exam also wants certified developers to know how to implement and configure the services they will be using. The result is an inherent overlap with the other Azure exams, with the advantage that you don’t necessarily need to take all three exams if you’re a budding Azure dev.
As a result, you can expect to see in-depth questions relating to Azure Resource Manager and Virtual Machines, including monitoring and scaling of VMs. Of further interest to developers (and DB-Admins) is the focus on databases and storage strategy; the exam expects a high level of proficiency with configuring and optimizing Azure SQL as well as Microsoft’s non-relational Cosmos DB.
Exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
The next exam, “Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions” forgoes the .net technicals, instead focusing on skills needed for IT pros. The requirements for 70-533 may seem like a simpler subset of those in 70-532, but closer inspection reveals that this exam places heavier emphasis on the use of PowerShell and the Azure CLI for setup and configuration. For this reason, Azure-devs might be interested in training for this exam as an extension to the skills gained from 70-532.
Continuing with the IT pro theme, infrastructure planning and security topics are covered in depth. If your previous Azure experience has been limited to provisioning a few virtual machines, you’ll need to study hard for this section! It’s expected that you’ll know how to utilize the App Service Environment to secure and scale apps, with specific emphasis on the configuration of secure virtual and hybrid networks.
You may notice the word “secure” mentioned frequently in the objectives for 70-533. Security stormtroopers should take note: This IS the Azure test you are looking for! In addition to the aforementioned security concepts, expect to be tested heavily on Key Vault, SSL, and compliance issues. And whether your organization uses them or not, you’ll want to get up to speed on how to properly implement public identity authentication.
Exam 70-534/535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
The “Architecting” exam focuses more on understanding Azure’s diverse capabilities and best use cases for applying those capabilities. It might be surprising to learn that this exam is the most non-technical of the three. As a result, training for 70-534 can be useful to consultants and semi-technical sales staff who need to establish a game plan with clients before diving into the implementation details.
The emphasis here is on identifying appropriate solutions to an organization’s needs. It’s expected you will understand Azure’s various data storage and access mechanisms, when to apply those systems, and how to manage security risks and authentication.
It’s also important to note that this exam is being replaced with a new version (70-535) that covers a more diverse subject area. In particular, the 535 version will emphasize recent advances in serverless solutions to common workloads.
While it’s possible to earn your Cloud Platform and Infrastructure cert with any of these exams (or several others that are not Azure-specific ), there is an advantage to choosing the most appropriate test. By understanding the unique qualities of each, you can ensure that your study time is spent learning the skills that are most applicable to your individual career path.