AZ-900: Lessons learned and Cloud perspectives

Recently I did the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam and passed, nonetheless this experience was totally different from previous exams and certifications earned in the past, and probably many colleagues have felt the same. Let me try to explain to you about my professional context and why I think that this exam is a must for any IT professional and how a lot of knowledge acquired on Azure is perfectly portable to other Cloud providers.

The first thing that you should know about this exam is how is structured, it is split into six sections:

  • Describe cloud concepts (20-25%)
  • Describe core Azure services (15-20%)
  • Describe core solutions and management tools on Azure (10-15%)
  • Describe general security and network security features (10-15%)
  • Describe identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features (20-25%)
  • Describe Azure cost management and Service Level Agreements (10-15%)

You can find more details about the skills measured in this link. It is very interesting to note that half of the exam content is framed into general aspects that focus on concepts about cloud, security, cost management, and SLA. Hence, the addressing of this sort of topic is in my opinion one of the most important aspects of this exam, because it gives us a wide coverage on Cloud which includes but is not limited to: cloud computing, benefits associated with Cloud, serverless computing, etc.

Maybe you ask yourself, why is so important to learn this cloud concepts and use cases if I am a DBA? My answer is simple, the Cloud revolution is here to stay. I am trying to tell you that it does not matter what level of specialization you have, would be mandatory to learn and mastering the fundamentals about Cloud, because the company’s datacenters age is close to end at least in the way that we know, where many big and medium companies are adopting a hybrid or full cloud model.

Portability knowledge, could sound estrange terms, but in reality is a very common practice, consisting in compare and understand a new concept or study field from previous knowledge or past experience, historically it is not always a good try, however, the advantages of learning the Cloud concepts that are required to pass this exam would be perfectly transitioned to other Cloud providers like AWS or GCP. Therefore, learning these topics for the Azure exam is totally portable and you shall save some hours of study in case you wanted to do the AWS cloud practitioner exam for instance.

Architecting a new solution is always a challenge, but would be better if we count with a well-suited toolbox, this is another lesson learned, the quality of proposed solutions will be highly tied to the features offered by the cloud provider, this is a simple fact, but what happens if the architect or data professional do not know the benefits of a certain service, the cost in terms of money and time can be high, without mentioning the risk of falling into overengineering.

GDPR, security, geography, region, and data residency are some of the topics required to know, before moving our data to the cloud is vital to rethink and revisited how so much important our data is and how can we take advantage of some services offered by Microsoft as Azure Security Center.

Last but not least, probably a topic that we may not pay attention to is related to the cost management and service level agreement, I must confess that this topic was one of the most tedious to me, and maybe for the majority of people involves in develop/programming areas, we may be tempted to think and say that we are “action people”, and normally the cost and availability of a service is not important or even worse: “it is not my business”.

The reality is that is important to know these details and how can we optimize the resources at our stack, playing for our own benefit, what could happen if we missed setting up a cost alert? Can you imagine offering a new app with an inaccurate service level agreement? Everything in the IT world is tied to money, since the quality of developers that you can hire until the month invoice related to your Cloud service, so IT is our business.

Remember always not reinvent the wheel, this principle is so important to realise and taking advantages of the cloud solutions. I want to shout out the great articles published by Thomas Maurer and Olga Marti (in spanish) about this exam. Here a couple of links that will be useful:

https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2020/03/az-900-study-guide-microsoft-azure-fundamentals-2021/

https://www.olgamarti.com/2020/01/az-900-mi-experiencia-recursos-utiles.html

I hope this post would be useful and maybe you feel tempted to take this exam, especially because the benefits associated go beyond a badge in your curriculum, a deep understanding of the content of this exam will be a great asset in our IT toolbox. Once you pass this exam you can perfectly move between providers without fear and with the confidence about having a solid base about Cloud knowledge.