Is the AZ-800 Worth It?
The AZ-800 exam is a newer certification released by Microsoft in December 2021. It was designed for Windows administrators who want to validate their knowledge with the popular server.
The exam is a prerequisite for the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification — in addition to the AZ-801 exam. In this post, we will focus on the AZ-800 exam.
What Does the AZ-800 Exam Test?
The AZ-800, also known as the Administering Windows Server Hybrid Core Infrastructure exam, covers a wide array of topics. You'll be expected to know everything from Active Directory Domain Service to troubleshooting Windows Server environments. Let's take a deeper dive into what exactly you will see on the exam — and how each subject is weighted.
1. Deploy and manage Active Directory Domain Services in on-premise and cloud environments. (30-35%)
This refers to actions like deploying AD DS domain controllers, configuring group policies, and troubleshooting flexible single master operations (FSMO) roles. It also covers Azure services such as Azure AD Connect, Azure AD Connect Synchronization, and Azure AD DS.
2. Manage Windows Servers and workloads in a hybrid environment. (10-15%)
These are actions like running remote commands via PowerShell. Additionally, it also covers creating runbooks to automate various tasks on a particular virtual machine.
3. Manage virtual machines and containers. (15-20%)
This is all about creating virtual machines (VM) in the cloud. In this section, you'll need to understand proper VM memory utilization, how to implement high availability solutions, and how to configure remote containers.
4. Implement and manage an on-premises and hybrid networking infrastructure. (15-20%)
You will be expected to integrate a Windows Server DNS with Azure DNS private zones — as well as create and manage zones and records, amongst other things.
5. Manage storage and file services (15-20%)
In this section, you will be tested on the ability to create sync groups, cloud endpoints, configure SMB directly, and a host of other challenges.
How Much Does the AZ-800 Exam Cost?
At the time of this writing, the AZ-800 exam costs $165 USD. In terms of certification exams, this is about an average cost. If anything, it is a bit on the low end. If you are taking this exam because you are required for your work, ask your manager if your company will cover that fee.
The AZ-800 exam is generally 45 to 60 questions long. You may run into some easy questions, but there will be plenty of difficult ones as well. Microsoft tries to ask fair questions, so don't expect any gotchas on the exam. And because there are no trick questions, if a question sounds easy, then it probably is!
What Experience Do You Need for the AZ-800?
It is recommended that you have two to three years of experience administering Windows servers. If you are brand new to Windows Server administration, then it would be a great idea to tackle the AZ-200 or AZ-104 exams first.
It is strongly recommended that you have experience administering a Windows Server in an on-premise, hybrid, and cloud environment. If you only have experience in one or two of these, however, don't be deterred. You can still take the exam with that experience.
It is important to point out that this is not necessarily a cloud exam — it is a Windows admin exam. It is not necessary to have a vast amount of knowledge about cloud architecture. If you are a Windows administrator who is still unfamiliar with cloud services, do not let that deter you from taking the exam.
Who Should Take the AZ-800?
It is important that the role you are in (or are vying to fill) requires the knowledge tested in the exam. For instance, this is a great exam for existing Windows admins or someone who is managing a Windows IT operation. It is also great for those who have Azure experience and want to cross over into the world of IT adding. Let's go over who would benefit from taking this exam.
Windows System Administrators
This exam would be perfect for individuals who are already well-versed in Windows system administration. For example, let's say you are a Windows admin, and your company is migrating to the cloud. There would be no better exam to take than this one to validate you can handle the process.
It wouldn't hurt to touch up on Azure's Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) capabilities. There are important differences in how the administration is done on the cloud, as opposed to on-premise.
If you are thoroughly familiar with Azure services and have experience coding with Azure, then this certification may be for you. This cert would be an excellent way to round out your skills as both a developer and an administrator. Also, it will bolster your resume, and you would be able to get any job imaginable vis-à-vis Azure.
A lot of the AZ-800 exam focuses on Azure services such as PowerShell Remote, Azure Arc, and virtual machine creation. As a developer, it is likely you have experience with these Azure skills and more.
Is the AZ-800 Worth it?
The AZ-800 is certainly worth it for those who are in the world of Microsoft administration. Microsoft is one of the leading names in IT, and having a certification provided by them is a gold standard. The AZ-800 is an excellent investment for both you and your organization. Let's discuss how the AZ-800 can be used to learn new skills and validate existing ones.
Using the AZ-800 to learn skills
Judging by the exam skill sheet, it is clearly not a walk in the park. The AZ-800 goes over everything about administrating on-prem, hybrid, and cloud servers. However, there are dozens of resources to help you. Take this study guide for instance. It has everything on there to set you up for success.
The knowledge gained from taking the AZ-800 will make you a prime candidate for any role your organization needs to fill with regard to Azure. Many organizations do not have Azure experts. So by learning the skills needed, you will be a trailblazer.
Using AZ-800 to validate skills
People often say they have experience with a particular technology. In reality, they have experienced doing one or two things over and over. They are not experts in the sense that they truly understand Windows administration.
Taking the AZ-800 exam proves that you are a bona fide expert on the subject. You are somebody who truly understands the nuances of the technology and has a grasp on how to troubleshoot the system. It also displays initiative and an overall interest in the topic.
Employers are attracted to IT pros who are passionate about a subject. By earning Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification, you demonstrate you are not only an expert but passionate about the industry as well.
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