Microsoft Plans to Retire AZ-203, Release AZ-204
Microsoft Plans to Retire AZ-203, Release AZ-204
| cert news - Paul Korzeniowski

Microsoft Plans to Retire AZ-203, Release AZ-204

In May, Microsoft plans to retire its AZ-203 exam and replace it with AZ-204, Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure. The new AZ-204 exam represents another bend in the meandering Microsoft Azure Developer certification program.

Microsoft has retooled its certification program for the past two years — to emphasize roles rather than products and elevate its cloud credentials. As a result, it has been rewriting the credentials for the Azure Developer program on a nearly annual basis — since replacing the 70-532 exam with the AZ-200 and AZ-2001 exams in March 2018.

Ahead of the AZ-204 exam’s release, let’s explore all the changes to the Azure developer program to date, as well as why Microsoft continues to refine its Azure-focused certifications.

AZ-200 and AZ-201: The First Major Change

In 2018, Microsoft split its Azure developer curriculum into two new tracks. In Exam AZ-200: Microsoft Azure Developer Core Solutions, developers were tested on their ability to select the appropriate cloud technology solution; develop cloud storage solutions; create Platform as a Service (PaaS) Solutions; and secure cloud applications.

Exam AZ-201: Microsoft Azure Developer Advanced Solutions was the second exam. It validated that individuals could develop code for Azure cloud; select the appropriate cloud technology options; and integrate different cloud products.

For IT pros who had the previous 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification, Microsoft offered a seamless way for them to transition to the new certification. They could take the single AZ-202: Microsoft Azure Developer Certification Transition exam.

AZ-203: More Changes Made

The following year in 2019, Microsoft made further tweaks to the Azure developer program. AZ-203: Developing Solutions for Azure replaced the AZ-200 and AZ-201 exams.

The AZ-203 certification focused on how to select the appropriate cloud technology solution for a project, how to allocate cloud storage, how to work with Platform-as-a-service solutions, and how to secure cloud data.

AZ-204: The Latest Exam

The ink is still drying on the AZ-203 exam, but that’s not stopping Microsoft from changing course again. AZ-204 went live on February 24. However, if you’ve been studying for the AZ-203 exam, you have until May 31 to take it. After that, the AZ-203 exam will be retired.

The big takeaway about the new AZ-204 exam so far is that the exam objectives have been tweaked:

  • Develop Azure Infrastructure as a Service compute solution
  • Create Azure Platform as a Service compute solution
  • Allocate Azure Storage
  • Implement Azure Security
  • Monitor, Troubleshoot, and Optimize Solutions
  • Connect to and consume Azure and third-party services

Now, compare those with the AZ-203 exam objectives:

  • Develop Azure Infrastructure as a Service compute solution
  • Develop Azure Platform as a Service compute solution
  • Develop for Azure Storage
  • Implement Azure Security
  • Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions
  • Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services

Clearly, there’s a lot of overlap between the two exams, but as you drill down into each exam’s objectives and topics covered, the changes become more evident.

What’s Up With Microsoft Azure Certs

Why the constant changes? Only Microsoft knows for sure. One reason may be the dynamic nature of cloud computing. In the traditional computing model, new releases came in long, slow steady set patterns. Cloud operates at a much faster velocity, possibly creating the need for steady certification updates.

Also, Microsoft has been retooling its certification program at the macro level, breaking degrees into three categories, Fundamentals, Associate, and Expert, which are fashioned in a building block manner.

Fundamentals is the designation for entry-level IT professionals new to the field or to Microsoft products. It requires passing one of three certifications: Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals; Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals; or Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals.

Associate certifications are aimed at IT professionals who have a few years of experience — usually in a specialized area. This certification level, which focuses on half a dozen areas, requires passing several exams, which may include:

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate

Microsoft’s Expert level credentials validate IT pros as having deep knowledge in a specific technology component. They need to have already passed Associate exams. This certification comes in three areas: Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert; Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Architect Expert: and Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

Final Thoughts

IT professionals may be a bit leery about Microsoft’s role-based certification paths. There is no guarantee that the shuffling of the past few years will cease. So, individuals interested in developing with Microsoft Azure need to stay on top of the latest certification news. It’s the best way to prepare for any changes and plan accordingly. Especially when it comes to Microsoft’s role-based certifications.

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