Over the past few years, there has been a paradigm shift in the world of computing, with cloud computing being on the forefront. It is a computing model based on the internet and it provides on-demand data and shared computer processing to computers and devices.
With cloud computing, a pool of computing resources can be shared and accessed. This allows the transfer of information in an effortless manner. Cloud computing has enabled enterprises and users to store and process data in third-party data storage centers. This makes it cost effective for companies as overhead costs for IT infrastructure is avoided.
Since a large majority of organizations all over the world are adopting cloud computing, there is a high demand for professionals who are skilled in this particular area. Cloud computing experts have a wide range of options in addition to getting lucrative salaries, which is why it is an extremely sought-after position in the world of IT.
Do you need to be cloud certified?
Before thinking of Azure certification, it is important to know whether getting any cloud certification is worth it for your career.
- Immense growth of the cloud: The cloud has taken the IT industry by storm and its use is growing by leaps and bounds. Looking at the figures provided by IDC (International Data Corporation), Gartner, Forbes, and others, it is evident that the market revenue for cloud services is increasing at an annual rate of 20% on an average.
- Businesses of all sizes are being powered by the cloud: Both small businesses and big enterprises are being positively impacted by the cloud. Enterprises have the confidence of PaaS being a scalable and secure application development platform of the future. It is predicted that in a few years, a majority of IT expenditure will amount for cloud-based infrastructure, application, middleware and business process services.
- Shortage of cloud expertise: Cloud services are becoming the focal point of the IT infrastructure of enterprises. Businesses will have tremendous opportunity if they decide on moving to the cloud. However, they aren’t actually being able to utilize these benefits, mainly because skilled resources are lacking. Lack of skill can cause a company to lose revenue. Also, the skill gap is preventing several enterprises from deploying more cloud platforms.
Why Azure Certification over AWS Certification?
An IT professional considering taking a cloud certification may be confused whether to go for Microsoft Azure or AWS (Amazon Web Services) certification. For such professionals, the following points should be considered before making a decision:
- Azure is growing rapidly: The rate of growth of Azure has been better in comparison to AWS over the recent past. It seems Microsoft is beginning to bridge the gap that exists between the two. Microsoft is also improving integration with on-premise software.
- Azure for Microsoft products: Microsoft has always been associated with large enterprises. Microsoft’s products and services are being used by almost all Fortune 500 companies. Azure remains a worthy proposition for those enterprises that have heavily invested in Microsoft based developer skills and technology.
- Open source and Linux incorporation: Microsoft didn’t have an open source community until recently. On the other hand, AWS has been open source since the beginning, which is what gave it an advantage over Azure in the open source cloud hosting space. Microsoft and Azure are incorporating open source both in the cloud and on-premises. Moreover, around 1 in every 3 Azure virtual machines run on Linux. .NET Core and PowerShell are open sourced, Hyper-V will run Docker and SQL Server is running on Linux.
What certifications and exams are on offer?
Microsoft has a vast platform with lots of features. Furthermore, new features are released by Microsoft on a regular basis. As such, the landscape of Azure continuous to evolve regularly. Having said that, with an Azure certification exam, you will gain a good understanding on certain feature sets that form the core of the entire platform. These features include Cloud Services, Web Apps, Messaging, Storage, Virtual Machines and a lot more.
Microsoft doesn’t have certifications specifically for each set of Azure features. Instead, the certifications target a particular work role through more encompassing exams. The three main roles targeted in this regard are IT Professional, Developer and Architect. Hence, the materials for each specific exam do end up overlapping, although they target a particular work role.
Why Microsoft Azure Certification?
Getting certified in Microsoft Azure is indicative of a skill that certainly increases the chances of a candidate getting hired. Given the increasing demand, there has also been a drastic increase in opportunities for Microsoft Azure certified aspirants in recent years.
- According to reports from Microsoft, more than 1000 new customers daily sign up to MS Azure. This means that around 365,000 companies adopt Azure over the course of a year
- More than 57% of the Fortune 500 companies are using Azure
- With the help of Azure, the commercial cloud revenue of Microsoft has increased by 104%.
- The UK government has officially accredited MS Azure
- There is also MS Azure Government offering that is backed by the US Government.
Key reasons to get a certification in Microsoft Azure
- Public cloud is on the focus: Around 88% of companies have already used the public cloud, 13% of which are already running over 1000 virtual machines in the public cloud. It is an impressive statistic that should convince you to take some time to learn cloud technologies such as MS Azure.
- Microsoft Azure holds a fair share of the market: Azure is catching up to its competition at an amazing rate. In fact, a recently conducted survey has found the user base of Azure to be quite comparable to that of AWS.
- A future-proof technology: The rate at which cloud technologies such as Azure are evolving is tremendous. It is growing at a rate that is faster than the IT sector in its entirety.
- Easy to learn and adaptable: Microsoft has monopolized the American personal computer market. Most regular users are familiar with the Windows operating system from Microsoft. What this means is that the learning curve for Microsoft is flatter as compared to other platforms. It is definitely advantageous to be aware of the working principles of Azure. If you are exposed to Microsoft tools at work, you will find it easy to learn concepts like Operational Insights and Azure automation.
- Extreme Potential: The IT space is set to be dominated by the cloud infrastructure. The potential of MS Azure is evident from its rate of growth, which is faster than any other cloud services provider.
- Extremely efficient tool: Azure can handle most of the conventional tasks of designing, deploying and managing platforms. For gauging the efficiency of cloud platforms such as Azure, the following factors need to be considered:
- The value added to a large app development project
- Assistance provided to the Ops facet of Dev/Ops
- Integration provided with Powershell integration
Microsoft Azure meets all the needs for satisfying millions of users across the world.
Which certification exam should you take?
The industry recognized Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certifications demonstrate your IT professional and developer technical expertise through various industry-recognized exams. On passing your first qualifying MCP exam, you will automatically become a Microsoft Certified Professional.
Note that the Microsoft Certified Professional(MCP) certification is no longer available, but will be added to your transcript when you pass an MCP exam. However, you may not be able to get all the program benefits until you successfully earn your first certification.
The main consideration is which exam should you take first? To decide that you need to consider the following factors:
- Your technological experience: The experience you have in technical field will help you determine whether you should go for advanced certification or start with a fundamental one. For instance, a professional having 2 years of experience can’t take up architect-level certification. A strong technical background is a must if you are willing to take an architect-level certification
- Your present job role: It is always advisable to take a certification that is relatable to your present job role. For instance, a windows or network admin should consider attempting Azure Infrastructure Solutions whereas a .NET developer may attempt Azure developer certification. If you are a professional who is completely new to the technology, it is recommended that you first begin with the Fundamentals certification.
- Your objective: Any certification that you wish to attempt should align with your goal for the future. For instance, if your aspiration in the future is to become a big data architect, you should first take a big data cloud certification followed by an architect level certification. There is a prerequisite for each exam. Although not mandatory, a good background prepares you for job roles in future that align with the certification you plan on attempting.
Azure certifications for IT professionals
In 2018, new Azure certifications were added for the IT professionals and some of the existing ones were retired. The new Azure role-based Azure certifications were launched after getting feedback from the previous exam takers. To select the best certification, you must know about all the certifications Microsoft has to offer. Here, we are providing you with six different Azure Certifications path based on the roles:
AZ-900 is the foundational level exam created for IT professionals wanting to validate their knowledge of the Microsoft Azure platform. You can take this exam even if you are not from a technical background but have a basic knowledge of the cloud concepts. This exam is also a stepping stone for other associate and expert level Azure certifications. The exam will cover the cloud concepts, the core services of Azure, Azure support and pricing, and security, trust, compliance, and privacy. The exam is available in English and costs $99 USD.
Azure Administrator Associate
For this role, you need to pass Exam AZ-103. To be eligible for this exam, you must have an understanding of Azure applications, cloud, operating systems, and storage infrastructure. Apart from this, you must know how the virtualization tools and networking components work. Having a basic understanding of Command Line Interface and PowerShell will act as an advantage. In the exam, there will be a number of different domains covered including Implementing and managing storage, configuring and managing virtual networks, managing Azure resources and subscriptions, managing identities, and deploying and managing virtual machines. It is available in English and costs $165 USD.
Azure Developer Associate
For this role, you need to pass AZ-203 exam. The prerequisites for this exam include expertise in developing apps and services by implementing tools and technologies provided on the Azure platform. At least 1 year of working experience in developing solutions that are scalable is required. Also, the candidate must be proficient in at least one programming language supported by the cloud. During the exam, you will be asked questions regarding developing for Azure storage, developing Azure infrastructure as a solution for service compute, implementing Azure security, troubleshooting, monitoring, and optimizing Azure solutions, and connecting and consuming services from third-parties and Azure. The exam is only available in English and costs $165 USD.
Azure Solutions Architect Expert
You need to pass two exams for this role, AZ-300 and AZ-301.
For the AZ-300 exam: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies, you must have at least 1 year of experience working with the Azure platform. A basic knowledge of data management, identity, security, and IT operations is also required. Also, you must be familiar with DevOps, Azure administration, and Azure development. The exam covers several domains including deploying and configuring infrastructure, implementing security and workloads, creating and deploying apps, architecting solutions using cloud technology, developing for the cloud, securing data, and implementing authentication. The exam, costing about $165 USD, is only available in English.
For the AZ-301 exam: Microsoft Azure Architect Design, the prerequisites are the same as for the AZ-300. However, you also need to pass the AZ-300 exam to be eligible for the AZ-301 exam. The domains of this exam include determining requirements of the workload, designing for security and identity, designing a strategy for business continuity, designing a solution for data platform, designing to deploy, migrate, and integrate, and designing a strategy for infrastructure. The exam is only available in English and costs $165 USD.
Azure DevOps Engineer Expert
The exam for this role is the AZ-400: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions. To be eligible for this exam, candidates must have knowledge of Azure administration and development. You must have the ability of designing and implementing DevOps practices for version control, infrastructure as code, configuration management, releasing, compliance, building, and testing using the Azure technologies. Also, you must be proficient in Agile practices. The exam will include domains like designing a DevOps strategy, implementing continuous integration and delivery, DevOps Development Processes, continuous feedback, dependency management, and application infrastructure. The exam costs $165 USD and is only available in English.
Azure Security Engineer Associate
For this new role, you need to pass the AZ-500 exam: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies. The prerequisites for this exam include knowledge of how to implement security controls on the Azure platform, virtualization, Amazon Kubernetes Service, and cloud N-tier architecture. You must have the ability of using security tools for recognizing and addressing vulnerabilities and protecting applications, data, and networks by implementing the security solutions. Expertise in maintaining security status, identity and access management, and scripting and automation is also required. The domains covered in this exam include management of identity and access, and security operations, implementing platform protection, and securing applications and data. The exam is available in English and costs $165 USD.
Now that you have all the information regarding the different Azure certifications, you can select the one that best suits your needs. To learn about the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, check out Microsoft Azure Fundamentals course.