Is the DP-900 Worth It?
People and businesses love talking about data, and how Big Data is in the middle of changing the shape of the modern economy. And it's definitely true: data is being captured, moved and sold at huge profits all the time. But data doesn't just exist – someone has to know how to store it, how to package it up into usable chunks, and how to make sure those packages arrive.
In the world of data, the DP-900 is the very first test of a data analyst, database administrator or data engineer's skills in asking and answering the most important questions about moving and storing data and putting it to good use.
What is the DP-900?
The DP-900 is the certifying exam for the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals certification. The DP-900 tests the fundamentals of using Microsoft Azure's data administration and management services. Azure is Microsoft's cloud platform of over 200 products and services — data storage and processing may only a small portion of Azure's overall capabilities, but the DP-900 represents a beginner's mastery over them.
The DP-900 is meant for beginners to both data administration and Azure administration. There are 40-60 multiple-choice questions on the DP-900, which you have 60 minutes to take. The exam covers foundational data concepts and how Microsoft Azure's many data services implement them.
After the DP-900, there are other certifications that can focus your career. You could go the route of the Data Analyst Associate, or the Power Platform App Maker Associate, depending on which parts of managing data you enjoy and excel at.
What are the DP-900 Exam Objectives?
The DP-900 is the only necessary exam for earning the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals. The DP-900 has four sections:
Core data concepts
Working with relational data on Azure
Working with non-relational data on Azure
Describing analytics workloads on Azure
The first section covers fundamental concepts in data analysis like batch data, streaming data, visualizations and charts, and analytics techniques. The other three sections focus more heavily on Azure itself and knowing how to actually use Azure's data-related tools, resources and interface.
How Much Does the DP-900 Exam Cost?
The DP-900 costs $99 to take and it can be taken online. Since it's at the beginning of Microsoft's certification track in data analysis and administration, the DP-900 has no prerequisites. Plus, since it can be taken online, $99 really is all it'll cost to take the DP-900 and earn the Azure Data Fundamentals certification. One last cost consideration is how much training and preparation you do – online courses and training can help make sure you're prepared for the exam, but those shouldn't cost too much.
What Experience Do You Need for the DP-900?
The DP-900 is a beginner exam and Microsoft doesn't expect or recommend any explicit experience before attempting it. That doesn't mean you should attempt it without preparation, though. A successful candidate should have a theoretical understanding of data analytics and workloads as well as a practical understanding of working with data in Azure.
For the theoretical part, you'll want to understand the different types of data workloads: batch, streaming, relational and non-relational. You'll also need to understand data visualization methods, analytics techniques and the concepts behind data processing.
When it comes to using Azure, you should have a sense of where Azure falls relative to other data solutions. Understanding what PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS solutions are and what some of Microsoft's offerings are will help. Relational and non-relational data are handled with different products and services in Azure, and you should be familiar with their basic uses before attempting the DP-900. Last, you should have a good understanding of analytics workloads and how Azure handles them.
Who Should Take the DP-900?
The DP-900 is an entry-level data fundamentals exam. Junior IT professionals who work with data are the ideal candidate for the DP-900. Data-related professionals further along in their career are also prime candidates if they're trying to build a portfolio of career-defining certifications.
Is DP-900 Worth It for Database Administrators?
The DP-900 is worth it for most database administrators. Especially if you work with any cloud service providers while you maintain your databases, understanding how Microsoft Azure works with data is important. Whether you're used to maintaining your databases according to your own specific methods, or you're curious about implementing new services to your data management, the DP-900 makes sure you understand what Azure is capable of so that you can maximize its usefulness for you.
If you've been working as a database administrator for a while already and you know your data might be moving to the cloud soon, you should find DP-900 particularly worth it. Earning the Azure Data Fundamentals will be a quick process, and afterward, the basics of Azure's data management services will be illuminated for you to pick and choose what tools you want to incorporate.
Is DP-900 Worth It for Data Analysts?
The DP-900 is definitely worth it for data analysts – it was basically created for them. The DP-900 and the Azure Data Fundamentals certification sit at the start of Microsoft's line of certifications meant for data analysis, administration and engineering. Earning the DP-900 early in your career as a data analyst can set you up for long-term success and familiarity with the tools of the trade.
Not only is data visualization a key part of the DP-900, but so is demonstrating proficiency with Azure's built-in tools for automating data visualization. Data analysts can benefit from the specific knowledge of how to best use Azure, but especially from having a certification that proves broad data competence to employers.
Is DP-900 Worth It for Network Administrators?
The DP-900 might not be worth it for many network administrators. There are times it could be, but depending on where you are in your career and what you need the certification for, there could be other better options available. If you're early in your career as a network administrator, you might want to focus on other certifications from Microsoft that focus on administration fundamentals, like the AZ-900.
But if you're well-established in your job and now you're interested in expanding your knowledge into adjacent skills that can expand and enhance your work, the DP-900 could be a great option. Earning it will teach you the fundamentals of data administration and reveal some of the considerations of using and navigating data in your networks. Later in your career, it could also make you a better manager of network administration teams as you learn how to analyze and visualize important data related to your teams and networks.
Is the DP-900 Worth It?
For beginner and intermediate IT professionals who work with data, the DP-900 is definitely worth it. If you're a data analyst, junior data engineer, database administrator, even an app developer, the DP-900 will prove your competence navigating Azure's features. If you need to prove yourself with Microsoft data management and visualization tools, the DP-900 is a great way to start the journey.
Using DP-900 to Learn Skills
Preparing for and taking the DP-900 can prepare you for learning data administration skills because not only does it cover the fundamentals, but it's also broad in its approach. Whether you're coming at the DP-900 having never worked in data administration at all, or having worked for several years in the field but with no Azure experience, it's a great way to learn skills that you'll use regularly.
Database administrators and data analysts can get tunnel vision on the job, get increasingly specialized in the parts of the job they do most often, and overlook peripheral parts. The DP-900 covers all the bases of how Microsoft Azure extends and enables the core concepts around data workloads and visualization.
As you prepare for the DP-900, you'll revisit writing SQL queries to retrieve and manipulate data. You'll learn basic troubleshooting practices as well as security best practices. The test will explore using APIs and the differences between Table, Blob and File storages. And if you're shaky on non-relational data management techniques, you'll have them mastered before you test.
Using DP-900 to Validate Skills
Microsoft is one of the most trusted vendors of software in the world, and their certifications come with that same level of respect and regard. For employers or managers, there's not much more you could do to demonstrate your competence with Azure than earn a Microsoft certification.
It doesn't matter if you're new to your database administration job or if you've spent several years as a data engineer, passing the DP-900 is a specific step in your certification journey. There are many certs that follow the DP-900, and each one will further prove your excellence in the job, but those sorts of journeys are best started at the beginning.
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