My Microsoft Journey (Part I)

As promised in my last post, this post will provide walk you through my journey through the Microsoft role-based certifications. My Microsoft Journey within Azure began in early 2017, as the organization that I was working for at the time prepared our Public Cloud managed services strategy. I had aligned some resources as the SMEs for Microsoft and Amazon, and I built training roadmaps for these resources to complete. At the time, the focus was on AWS due to a very structured free training path for foundational training and accreditation within their partner portal. At the time, Microsoft hadn’t consolidated their learning sites and finding a clear training path was a challenge, but I was able to find enough content for fundamental Azure training for the team. Around this time, I obtained my first cloud certification with the AWS Cloud Practitioner.

Fast forward a year and a half, the organization had pivoted from AWS to Azure for services development as the lead hyper-scaler. Therefore, as the Product Manager in charge of the public cloud services life cycle, I pivoted as well. Some other interesting organizational challenges also took place at this time, so I felt that it was time to up my certification stature. I had always wanted to be a Microsoft MCSE, so I started studying for the MCSE for Cloud Platform. I found and purchased Scott Duffy’s 70-532, 70-533, and 70-535 courses on Udemy as a start.

Microsoft then pivoted their Cloud Platform certifications to the Role-based certifications. I began the journey to obtaining the Azure Administrator and Azure Solutions Architect certifications. I took a detour when the Azure Fundamentals certification was released on December 31, 2018 and immediately registered to take that exam. Since I had been working around Azure and taken the Azure Fundamentals course on Microsoft Learning, I scheduled this on January 8. I did use a partially created Udemy course that had the first two objectives for some refresh, and I reviewed Microsoft docs for review of services, SLAs, and compliance, per the exam objectives. I felt that this would get me prepared for the other exams and prep me on the way that questions were worded. I had also started studying for AZ-100 with Scott Duffy and Nick Colyer’s courses, so I was feeling confident. I had created a tight schedule for myself with the AZ-100 only a week away, so I wanted to get AZ-900 knocked out.

I took and passed AZ-900 on January 8, 2019. Though this was only a Fundamentals (single star) certification, I still felt very good about clearing the step in the journey. Next up, Azure Administrator exams. Like I stated before, I had the AZ-100 scheduled for the next week, so I had some studying to do. I continued watching both courses on Udemy, which were extremely helpful. I highly recommend Nick Colyers (Skylines Academy) and Scott Duffy (Software Architects) for training. They both are excellent trainers and both have their own perspective, which helps me out in comprehension and understanding.

I forgot to mention that for the AZ-900, I decided to venture into utilizing the new home proctoring option through Pearson Vue. I had no issues for the AZ-900, so I decided that this was going to be my method of choice going forward. The date for my AZ-100 exam came up and I prepared to take the exam at home. An issue happened when my laptop screen decided to blue screen when I was asked to scan the room. After getting it rebooted and finally getting back online with Pearson, the fifteen minute window after my scheduled time had passed, and my exam would not launch. So, instead of taking the exam, I spent the time opening a ticket for support. No AZ-100 exam today. Since there was an open ticket for this exam, I was not able to reschedule it, so I moved on to the AZ-101 exam.

My AZ-101 was scheduled for February 5, again I used Nick and Scott’s courses to prepare. I also followed along within the Azure portal with the exercises that were being shared by both. Scott also had recommendations for Microsoft Self-paced Labs to follow, and I completed those as well. During my time preparing for AZ-101, I received a retake voucher for the AZ-100, so I scheduled that for February 12. February 5 came and this time I had a spare laptop ready in case of any glitches. I also made sure that all Windows updates were completed the day before. The home proctor process went smoothly and I passed the AZ-101 exam. Seven days later, I passed the AZ-100, and receiving my first Microsoft Associate certification. I was pumped and on a roll, so I decided to fast track myself to the Solutions Architect Expert.

I had reviewed the objectives of the AZ-300, and Scott Duffy had updated and re-branded his 70-535 course for the 300, so I was feeling good about it. I schedule this exam eight days after the AZ-100 on February 20. I reviewed Scott’s material and worked through the labs. I home proctored the exam again, and passed again! Keep in mind that this exam is long. I am generally a fast test taker and I completed with 20 minutes left. I have had co-workers say they got it done with five minutes to spare.

Now that I had the AZ-300, I am now completely addicted to the role-based certifications and I’m ready to move on to the AZ-301 exam. I scheduled this for two weeks out. I’ve now surpassed much of the course material that is available, so finding study materials for AZ-301 was difficult. I found that Scott Duffy hadn’t removed the second half of the 70-535 course from his updated AZ-300. This portion had the SQL, CosmosDB, and data objectives that were the most unique part of AZ-301. This was extremely helpful. I was very comfortable with the Azure Migrate and Azure Site Recovery portions of the objectives, so this material helped fill the gaps. March 6 arrived, I took the AZ-301 from home proctor again, and passed again. I was now an Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Four exams and two certifications in a month, I was feeling pretty good. I found that Scott Duffy had a course for the AZ-203 exam, so I decided to give it a shot. I forgot to mention at the beginning that MindHub had run a promotion for an exam with two retake vouchers, so I had purchased these for all of these exams (except for AZ-900). My company was supportive of certifications, so I was able to expense the cost. And I hadn’t needed to use a retake yet. So, I went through Scott’s course and followed along creating my own Docker and Visual Studio installations. I passed this exam to become an Azure Developer Associate on March 20.

My first disappointment came on March 26. I attempted the AZ-400 exam and did not pass. I got a 644. I decided that I wasn’t ready for this one and needed more time, and materials, to prepare. This ends Part I of my journey. Part II will continue my journey to becoming a MCT and gaining additional role-based certifications. Thank you for being a part of the journey.

Thank you goes out to @scottjduffy and @vNickC for the great training courses. Skylines Academy link is provided on this site.