How to Become a Certified Azure Solutions Architect | AZ-303 & AZ-304

In this livestream Tim Warner and I explain what’s going on with the new Azure Solutions Architect certification exams, answer questions and provide tips for studying for AZ-303 and AZ-304.

Full Transcript:

Mike Pfeiffer:
All right. What’s up everybody. It’s Mike Pfeiffer and Tim Warner and we’re back in another live stream. Today we’re talking about the Azure Certified Solutions Architect Certification. Tim, how are you doing man?

Tim Warner:
I’m happy, Mike. How about you?

Mike Pfeiffer:
I’m doing good. Doing good. Ready for the weekend but I always love these live streams, man. It’s always fun to be on here.

Tim Warner:
Definitely.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. As usual, everybody that’s out there watching, feel free to drop your questions in the comments. Tim and I will take questions. I’m excited about this one because Tim and I, we’ve been working on Azure Solutions Architect training stuff for a long time, different classes, books, stuff like that. It’s been a moving target. I think we’re all struggling to keep up with the pace of innovation and change just in the cloud products and services and yeah, it’s interesting time. We’re all trying to figure out what’s going on with these new exams and what’s up everybody. I’m starting to get messages coming in, Elliot, what’s up. Good to see you guys. What do you think, Tim? What do we got on the agenda today?

Tim Warner:
Well, I wanted to start by sharing briefly what I think is the storyline going on with the Azure Architect program and I’m not going to reveal any NDA stuff. This is just my own impressions having been around since the beginning on this. I know that as a professional writer myself, if I’m writing the first draft of something and especially if I’m on a tight deadline, I can either be too verbose or not verbose enough. In other words, it’s probably not going to be just right. It’s going to need to be refactored and I would say the same thing would go for source code.

Tim Warner:
I think that’s, what’s happening here with these Azure role-based certs. The original Azure Architect exams, the AZ-300 and 301, the original, well, one of the original administrator ones, AZ-103, the security AZ-500, there’s a huge amount of content overlap going on around those exams. What we’ve seen over the last few months is Microsoft worldwide learning, refactoring the outlines and in some cases like in architect publishing new exam numbers. What you’re going to see is two things, I think. From a top line perspective, I think the exams are tighter. They make more logical sense and I know that they wanted to, Microsoft wanted to eliminate that huge overlap among the exams. What do you think about that, Mike?

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, I think you’re right. I think the biggest thing for me that’s been frustrating is the different numbers in the exams and the lack of consistency between other tests. AZ-400, there’s no exam change there, no exam number change but there is for the architect stuff. I’d like to see more consistency, but I think you nailed it, spot on. They do have to iterate. They do need to consistently work on this and try to refine it. I get that but I do believe like what you said is accurate. We’re going to be able to focus a little bit more on the stuff that we should be focusing on in this track.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I’m excited about that and it’s been pretty interesting. When we first looked at the skills measured, I wasn’t sure what to expect. They did a pretty good job though of making it clear. I think for the most part, especially compared to some of the other skills measures I’ve seen for updated tests. That’s been my point of view. I have not though taken the beta exams yet, have you?

Tim Warner:
Have I done any of the architect betas? No. No, not architect yet. I’m not a big fan of beta exams to be perfectly honest. I like to describe it that I like immediate gratification.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That’s the thing about the 104 beta, when I took that. That I didn’t like waiting for the results and then, what was it? There was something else about it that… the 104 beta that I was going to say. I’m not really… I’m drawing a blank right now but I don’t know. But anyways yeah, I’ll try to take probably 303 beta or even just wait and take it. Oh, I remember what I was going to say. I thought you could take any test again and you corrected me a couple of weeks ago. I was going to take AZ-400 again, and then I realized you can’t do that. You can only do it if it’s a new number. I took the 104 beta and I was like, “Oh, okay. I can,” and then I just forgot that, oh, you can’t… once you’ve passed, you can’t go and take it again unless it’s a new exam number.

Tim Warner:
Yeah, and that’s Microsoft tightening exam security. Really, it makes logical sense. Why would somebody who’s successfully cleared or passed an exam want to take it again, unless it’s a new number, which is what they did, as you just said with it. Administrators got a new number. Developer has a new number. Architect has new numbers, but strangely, like you said, the Azure DevOps has received quite a new coat of paint indeed, including the title changing from Azure DevOps to Microsoft DevOps but inscrutably, there’s no exam numbers.

Tim Warner:
Supposedly Microsoft learning has a policy that if the net outline or the objective domain changes more than 30%, internally they’re required to publish a new exam number, which on one hand, okay, I guess that makes sense but I don’t know if they reached 30% with the Azure administrator outline, whereas I believe they definitely did for Azure DevOps, but yet you have a new number for administrator but not for DevOps. [crosstalk 00:05:35]-

Mike Pfeiffer:
You know what’s funny about… Yeah, that’s true. You know what’s funny about that too? The skills measured document for the new AZ-400 is so different, but the people that I’ve been talking to, especially like in the Cloud Skills community that are passing the tests and from what I’m hearing, it’s not that big of a difference than what it was before so, we’ll have to see. I bet new questions will pop up in the pool over time to match what’s on the skills measured, but I’ve had a couple people tell me that they’re not seeing everything that’s on the current skills measured. That’s fun and interesting to navigate.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Elliot had a good question or a good comment and a bunch of people online with us. Thanks for joining us everybody, Spencer and Peter and Sam. Good to see you guys. But yeah, his question was or just statement is, a lot of people focus on 303 because of the technical stuff. Very close to 104, but what about 304. That’s a really good point that I wanted to touch on because there is a difference between the first exam and the second. Big difference is, design and implementation. The first one’s more implementation and the second one’s more designed focused.

Mike Pfeiffer:
This is what I’ve been telling people lately and I haven’t really been telling people this very long, but I did a private class, I don’t know, about a month and a half ago that was Azure Architect focused. At the end of the class, I was like, number one, schedule your exam today. For anybody thinking about getting certified, I’ve always loved to get myself on the hook, so after this live stream, go schedule your tests even if you need to pick a day that’s two months out. But the other thing I always said to them was like, “Just study for the first one because the second one is all about the same services mostly. It’s just like design oriented.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Then I had, sure enough, the next week a guy DM’d and he was like, “You’re right. I took both exams on the same day, back to back and now I’m certified.” My new approach, I’m thinking for a lot of people is, study all at once and then take the exams close together because you’re already living that world. What do you think about that, Tim?

Tim Warner:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, and I like that clarification a lot because my guidance used to be the same thing but mainly because there was like 40 plus degree direct overlap between 300 and 301. Yes, take whichever one you want to do first, whichever you feel more confident in, and then knock over the other one ASAP because you can capitalize on that content momentum. But yeah, you’re exactly right. It’s the same services, it’s just that with 303 you’re looking through… I like to describe it as that it’s architecture skewed a bit towards the administrator implementation, like you said. 304 seems to be, especially with the messaging architectures and all that, it’s skewed more towards maybe the developer, architecture with a developer in mind.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right. Yeah. I agree with that. The good news is, if you pass 104 already as an administrator, there’s not a lot that you’re going to have to tack on, in my opinion. I mean, you’re pretty close to being almost all the way there and yeah, there’s a few things that you’ve go to still study but if you’ve already done 104, you’re perfectly primed.

Tim Warner:
Yeah. Another incentive to register and take these exams ASAP is at least for the time being it appears that the performance-based labs are still switched off. Who knows what the official reason is? Worldwide Learning’s never told us, but I still get reports that there’s no performance-based labs and that actually in a way seems almost unfair because one person has to deal, months ago, had to deal with the performance-based labs and now you’ve got the same two and a half hours, but you don’t have the burden of those extra performance hands on labs to do. You’ve got that time freed up to accomplish the rest of the test.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That’s also a really good point, man, because we had to go through that, everybody else was going through that. I remember when I took AZ-300 the first time, I wasn’t expecting to get low on time but I did because of the hands-on part. Let’s bring up Sayyid’s comment here or a question. He says one of… the certs are about to expire and he’s asking about the renewal process. We should probably talk about the timing. The betas are out but then, when did the current ones expire?

Tim Warner:
Yeah, I put together a GitHub gist that sums a lot of this stuff up. If you jot down or if you all want to browse out to timw.info/aza. Again, it’s timw.info/aza. I’ve just created a bullet list of this info. I checked today to confirm. At this time, AZ-300 and 301 are scheduled to retire on the 30th of September so we’re down to the last couple months on those exams and exam 303 and 304 are both available for beta right now. Normally, Microsoft tries to give you an incentive to take the beta by giving you an 80% registration discount. However, they only offer that discount for a certain number of registration so you’ll have to actually start the registration process to see if you’re going to get that or not.

Tim Warner:
But that’s what we’re looking at here as far as metadata. After September 30th, it looks like we’ll be saddling out to where there’s no choice. It’ll only be 303 or 304. You can take them in any order, like we mentioned a few minutes ago and if you’ve accomplished either 300 or 301, you can mix and match. If you’ve already cleared AZ-300, you could do either 301 or 304, that all results in the same certification and yes, that has a two-year expiration and Worldwide Learning has still not published re-certification guidelines, even though some of us are actually coming up on our two year expiration.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I’m glad you brought those things up. I was actually going to ask you about being able to mix them. I’m sure that’s a common question because you took 300 and now 301’s expired. That’s really good. You can mix them. You can take them out in order, we know that, that’s really good. All right. Great question Sayyd. I appreciate that. Let’s see, there was a couple ones up here. Phil, “I had a question for you, Tim. You were saying…” he heard you talking at one point, I don’t remember if it was a live stream or not, but he’s saying, or maybe it’s on this one, that you did architect and then went back to admin so he’s wondering, why did you do go architect first and then go back to admin? Or is that not accurate?

Tim Warner:
I think what you might’ve heard or you might have inadvertently heard a little something different. I actually started with architect and excuse me, I started with administrator. That was the first of these role-based exams I took and then I went back to fundamentals. That may be what you remember but because there’s no hard prerequisites, I could have started with architect and some people do and they stay there or they go back to administrator. If you’re new to this, there’s the three tiers of the role-based certifications.

Tim Warner:
There’s the fundamentals level. That’s the 900 series exams like AZ-900. Then there’s the associate level where you’ve got your discreet job roles like administrator, developer, security, et cetera. Then the expert level is where the architect and the DevOps engineer fit. The only of those that has any kind of hard formal prerequisite is the DevOps engineer where you have to hold either the administrator or the developer as a pre-req. I mean, you could take the AZ-400 first and you do get a badge for every single exam that you pass, it’s just you won’t get the DevOps engineer unless you’ve passed that exam and either the AZ-104 or 204.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s the thing that drives me crazy too is, you can go straight to architect, yes, you do have to take two tests obviously, but AZ-400 has a prerequisite, just to what you just said. It’s kind of like, “Why can’t I just go straight to that one?” Again, it feels to me, even though I understand what they’re doing, it feels a little inconsistent. Then, the other thing with 400 is that, I think that you should be able to just jump into that because you could be coming from either angle. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion.

Mike Pfeiffer:
All right, let’s bring up another question that came up before. This was another thing that I was going to mention, which is the exam numbers being all over the place. Ankit is asking about basically what path, and it follows up on that last question, what path to follow and he’s wondering, should he go down the administrator track, so 104, 500 and then the architect path? Then it sounds like 500 is the security specialty. It seems like that would be a higher, a much more complex exam, but it’s really just more of a specialty. I don’t really think you need to stop in the middle and do security. You could, I don’t think that it’s going to be required for you to be successful at the architect tier. Right Tim? I mean, it’s nice to have.

Tim Warner:
Right. Yeah, This is a tough question because it’s so individual. I mean, if you’re already working for a business and they need you to get certified to fulfill Microsoft partner status or whatever, you may already have had that decision made for you. But if you’re crafting your career yourself, I mean, you have to evaluate it. It seems to me a couple of things, what are your own professional strengths and interests? Really, it involves self-inventory and discovery to do that and then what’s the minimal viable goal of certification to get to where you do because these cost money.

Tim Warner:
I mean, if you’re getting sponsored, awesome, take them all, but they’re not inexpensive to register and they’re per attempt, so there’s that and then there’s the time and effort to ramp up and prepare to earn these certifications. I would suggest besides inventorying your skills, abilities and interests, ask around, professional networking and find out what kind of job roles have a hard requirement of a particular cert, or if you get feedback from colleagues who are working in the kind of role that you’re interested in, which of these Azure certs, if any, do you think would give me a leg up? Do that rather than just try to connect the dots at the Microsoft site. Because I think Mike, and I have made it pretty clear, there’s a lot of inconsistency there. I hope that makes sense.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, and it’s hard to understand too and there’s also tons of overlap. I mean, I agree with what Tim said and if you want to be a security specialist and seen that way and that’s what you’re working on, then stop off on 500 at some point but it’s not required. It’s also not required to do multiple tracks. I think there’s a notion that you’ve got to do architect or admin architect and all this stuff. You could just stay in architect lane if you wanted to, or the administrative lane. That’s really the idea with role-based certs anyways. But appreciate the question. Awesome question.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Let’s see, what else do we got in here? Oh, and this is a really good one. [inaudible 00:17:08] says, “Can you guys suggest textbooks for these exams?” Me and Tamar, and a bunch of other people are in the process of writing the 303 book for Microsoft press. That’s pretty much in post-production, but it’s going to be a while before the 304 book comes out, but going back to what I was saying earlier, if you just… I believe if you get really deep into studying for the first exam, 300 or 303, that can carry you, you can ride that wave into the next exam but the books are kind of like-

Tim Warner:
Yeah. Right. Yeah, print books nowadays, especially with a subject like Azure, in my opinion are a terrible fit. In that GitHub gist that I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a couple references in the concept section. If you’re a reader and you learn best through that form factor, I mean, you can’t beat the Azure docs, let’s face it because they’re open source themselves. It’s a living document library. There’s the Azure architecture center. There’s the Microsoft cloud adoption framework. Just those three online resources. Number one, they’re free. Number two, they’re directly from the source. Number three, you can print them off as PDFs. I mean, the Microsoft docs is really nicely laid out now so if you do want to kick it old school and read a printout, go for it or just read on your tablet or whatever.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I used to do that back in the old, old days. I would print out the docs for whatever products.

Tim Warner:
Yeah. Same here.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I had these gigantic three ring binders in my office. But to your point on open source or the open source GitHub documentation, so a couple of things there, excuse me. Number one, I agree that probably one of the best books is the Microsoft documentation and I love that you brought up cloud adoption framework because that’s what the people in the field are using to help customers. That, and then the third resource is the Reference Architecture Center, which does a nice job of talking about different architectures and really like real world design considerations and what to think about, scalability and security considerations, all that kind of stuff. Since all the documentation is in GitHub, I wish that we could get the skills measured for the certification exams in some kind of version control system as well because having it in a word document and a PDF is killing me.

Tim Warner:
Well, I can give you and everyone else assurance, I gave that feedback directly to the guy who’s in charge of Microsoft Learning. I said, “Instead of just this PDF for heaven sake,” exactly as you said, Mike, if you’re keeping the skills measured in source control, then you can very easily see the lifetime history of the document. Isn’t that what you want? I mean, right now they’ve red lined, they put red line through the PDF, which is really difficult to read and make sense of.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. Once you start writing in Markdown, it’s very hard to go back to word templates and yeah. I mean, it’s almost impossible. All right. Let’s take another question here. DJ says, basically what’s the function of Azure Solutions Architect? Preparing right now for AZ-900 and then would like to know, what’s the day to day look like for that job role. There’s a lot there. You’re really quarterbacking projects. You’re deciding what is the right fit. You’re composing solutions and you’re the quarterback of the project usually and helping the big picture, pick the right services and then sometimes you’re doing hands on sometimes… depends on where you work, sometimes you’re doing both design and implementation. Sometimes you’re just doing design. It really depends, but usually it’s a seasoned person. It’s usually somebody with five to 10 years of experience.

Tim Warner:
That’s exactly what I was going to say. There’s a reason and a good and valid reason why that the Azure Solution Architects badge is considered an expert level badge because there’s enormous amount of assumed knowledge there. If you don’t have the experience, preferably with administration and development, how can you be confident in sculpting, helping a customer sculpt a solution and avoid pitfalls, et cetera, et cetera? I guess technically it’s possible but boy, I admire anybody that can come in new and go directly into that kind of role.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Well, if there’s ever going to be a time where you could do it, it’s now because the amount of open jobs in the market is through the roof. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this good. I’ve actually seen a few people wiggle their way into higher level roles when maybe it was a little early for them. If you’re going to pull that off, this is the time to do it. But yeah, I mean-

Tim Warner:
Well said.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. It’s definitely like, being a solution architect for a project is, your scope of needing to know what you need to know is huge. All right. Peter’s over on YouTube and he’s got a comment here. He says, “For some reason I’ve been hesitant about online proctored exams, any tips and tricks for getting over the jitters?” I don’t know, I guess for me, probably when I first started doing the online stuff, actually the very first one I ever took, hung in the middle and I got kicked out and I had to retake it. But what do you think, Tim, in terms of the jitters about doing remote proctor?

Tim Warner:
The best solution to jitters I have is to perform due diligence by going through the system check once or more than once until at least that friction is not an issue anymore. That’s what I’ve found in my experience to be the biggest point where if somebody does have a bad experience, I suspect in most cases it might not have been that if they had gone through the system check process. Again, I keep advertising that GitHub gist that I put together, but I’ve got a link in there. I created a 20-minute YouTube video called how to have a successful experience and I go through that whole registration and system test process with you because-

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s a good point.

Tim Warner:
Yeah. I just think that’s so important. That, and I guess the second thing is make sure that you’re investing in a quality practice exam product because that’s the other side of it. One is the physical environment and the ramp up of online testing. The other is, actually doing a computer-based exam and the value I see in the practice exams besides the education is getting comfortable and familiar with different item types, whether they’re drag and drop or multiple choice or case study or whatever the case may be.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That’s one thing I forgot to mention that you touched on is, I had one and I’ve mentioned this in a past episode, I had one where I didn’t do the connection tests and this was a separate time and so I went to take the test and I was on a Mac and it didn’t work. The Windows version was working, but they had a bug [inaudible 00:24:03] so, always do that system test. That’s a really good point Tim. I think-

Tim Warner:
Yeah, definitely, because there’s a lot of stuff that’ll hose you up. I mean, I couldn’t do an online test wearing this headset for example, because headset mics are not allowed for exam security reasons so I don’t have somebody whispering through my earpiece. You need to be prepared potentially to scan your webcam 360 degrees. Depending on what computer you’re using that could present a problem. If you’ve got multiple monitors, you can only have one active. Again, going through all this in advance and sorting all of those problems is going to make you a lot more confident, it seems to me on exam day.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, I agree. That’s definitely the way to do it and there’s so many little hacks to that or nuances, I should say that you touched on. It could be kind of a stressful because, “Oh, now I got to take all the stuff off the walls or clean out my desk,” and all that kind of stuff, but yeah. Do the system tests to make sure your environment is ready to go. It’s funny that you mentioned the headset because, when I had to dig out a windows PC out of the closet or it was actually a Windows laptop to do the test, the only microphone… the laptop itself didn’t have a microphone so I had to use an old podcast mic. I’d literally have like this USB microphone, like just sitting next to the laptop, it’s really the weirdest setup. But anyways, all right.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, just prepping yourself, going through the exercise Peter, I think would be good. Really great question. Phil’s like, “Don’t read the question out loud. That will get you disqualified.” That’s a good point Phil. You’re not supposed to talk. Yeah, that’s a good one. Okay, cool. Tons of comments here. Let me bring up, somebody… there’s been a couple of questions like this. Well, oh, this is interesting. He said windows defender shut down the on-view application last week when he was taking DP-900. But that was another question. There’s been a couple of those questions, Tim, about the data platform certification exams and stuff like that. Any experience with that yet. Have you been [inaudible 00:26:07] that at all?

Tim Warner:
I think I’ve taken DP-200. I’m not sure. It’s kind of a blur to be perfectly honest with you.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I haven’t gotten into those either. Maybe at some point.

Tim Warner:
Yeah. I don’t know. I know I did at least a couple of the AI exams, but I guess DP, I still haven’t gotten around to.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. Me neither. I’ll get into that at some point. All right, cool. I guess let’s talk about what’s different on… because that’s been a question that’s come up a couple of times, what’s the difference between, like specifically in the skills outline? Maybe we could shine a light on that a little bit.

Tim Warner:
Yeah, and to do that, I’d recommend everybody dial up the AZ-300 skills measured because that PDF at the tail end of it has a comparison table that shows AZ-300 on the left and 303 on the right. I’m pretty sure if we open up the skills measured for AZ-301 it should do a similar thing. I’m going to go there right now. Exam AZ-301.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That was the thing I was complaining about a couple of weeks ago on the podcast, was that the AZ-400 skills measured didn’t have the line by line comparison. I’m like, “Come on guys,” but luckily, I realized that somebody took that feedback and routed it to Microsoft on my behalf so I appreciate that. Yeah, I’m looking at it right now. They do have… like you were saying Tim, the skills comparison table at the bottom.

Tim Warner:
Yep, exactly.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Tons of [crosstalk 00:27:45] stuff, huh?

Tim Warner:
Yeah. Yeah. Whereas the Azure administrator, you could nickname it the networking exam because there’s so much software defined networking there. Here Microsoft is really showing its emphasis on monitoring with all roads leading to log analytics. Let’s see, it says note, Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel. I imagine you can see a fair amount of Kusto Query Language queries on the exam there. I’ve seen that as a pattern that’s gradually getting more and more and I’ve been seeing more Azure command line interface than ever before. It used to be that it was all Azure PowerShell and little to no CLI, but that appears to be changing

Mike Pfeiffer:
Well, it’s interesting in that, on the 303 side, if you go all the way to the bottom of the monitoring stuff, they say the last bullet point is not to create log analytics query.

Tim Warner:
Yes. I noticed that the other day and it’s the weirdest thing. Half the exam is on monitoring and a lot of these products rely on KQL, Azure monitor workbooks, Sentinel log analytics itself, but then it says that. That is really weird, Mike.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I don’t know if I’d trust that [crosstalk 00:29:09] see the exam before I trust that one. If not doing it in this one, where would it be? Administrator? Maybe. I mean, that would make sense, I guess. I mean, because in the architect you just have to know the basic concept. Maybe not sit there and write KQL queries, but maybe an administrator would do that. That might be the rationale line of thinking that they’ve got there. I would be comfortable with it anyways. Just you don’t get knocked off kilter, but outside of that and it’s not that much different, less networking stuff, right?

Tim Warner:
Oh, a lot less I should say. If you go one section 1.5 there in the comparison table, the implement virtual networking, they just mentioned Vena to Vena connections and Vena peering, which essentially the same thing.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right. Yeah, that’s a good point.

Tim Warner:
That seems to have been uprooted big time.

Mike Pfeiffer:
When they say Vena to Vena connections, they might be talking about Vena to Vena VPN.

Tim Warner:
Yeah.

Mike Pfeiffer:
[inaudible 00:30:08]. The outside of that, it looks pretty similar to the old stuff, for the most part.

Tim Warner:
Then right underneath that, when they’re talking about implement Azure AD, I don’t know why they put every single MFA option. They’re talking about bypass and trusted IPS. It’s like, I don’t know why they’re being extra verbose here instead of just one or two bullet points. It struck me as kind of excessive.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah That’s definitely excessive. The other one that I saw where there was a note, just a couple lines down, I don’t want to jump too far ahead but for containers, because that’s always a big wild card for a lot of people, they are finally saying no service fabric.

Tim Warner:
Oh yes. I see that in section 4.2, implement container based applications. Now I wonder about that. Does Microsoft… are they signaling a de-emphasis of service fabric and instead maybe pushing AKS?

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s what it feels like, man. I bet you anything that they’re pushing… they’re putting all the resources to developing AKS and they’re probably taking people away from working on service fabric because Kubernetes is the new hotness. That would make a lot of sense. Also, it’s been around for a long time. It wasn’t originally intended to only do Microsoft. You know what I mean?

Tim Warner:
Yup.

Mike Pfeiffer:
It’s bastardized in a little bit of a way. All right. Outside of that, man, this looks [crosstalk 00:31:39]-

Tim Warner:
Well, notice that there’s no mapping for the implement authentication and secure data for the 300 side. There’s no mapping on 303 and that’s all some real getting into auth, that’s some real developer heavy stuff that was in 300 and it looks like, again, that may be an attempt to eliminate duplication and reserve all the real true dev stuff to the developer certification exam maybe.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I agree. Yeah, that’s the way to do it too, because that stuff confuses the developers anyways and it’s insanely confusing for somebody that doesn’t write code. I always wondered why that was in there and every time I had to teach that portion, I’m like, “Ah great,” because I always knew that people were going to be like passing out because it’s so boring and non-applicable to what they do. I’m glad they cut that. Carlos actually had a really… a good comment here. I think a lot of people can relate to this one. “Where do you guys get your time to learn? I have a toddler and I can’t.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Well, I think for me and Tim, we’re privileged in the fact that that’s part of our job, but I think all of us are stuck with that now. It’s like you have to continuously learn and so if your employer is not carving out the time for you and giving you the air cover to do it, you got to find a way to do it on your own. That’s tough, man, when they’re not supporting you. [crosstalk 00:32:59].

Tim Warner:
Yeah, and also it comes down to, if you have multiple learning styles, it can be a lot easier. For example, I, myself, as long as I know I’ve seen whatever topic it is at least once with my eyes, I’m then good at for instance, just listening to an audio streams. For example, I’ve been studying Mike’s Cloud Skills Kubernetes boot camp entirely in audio, just on my iPhone because I’ve worked with AKS and Docker and Kubernetes to a degree enough to where I can follow along in my head when they’re instructing. You see what I mean? If you can do other learning styles, that can open up pockets of time that you otherwise might be running or getting groceries or something.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right. Yeah, man, that’s tough. I would say, find an hour out of your day that right now you’re just wasting it watching Netflix or whatever, even though you need to recharge but find a way where you can find protected time, go bed hour earlier, wake up an hour earlier, find a way to get that practice time in because, if the employer is not giving it to you then it’s on you to find a way. All right. I’m screwing around with the controls on something so I’m a little distracted. Give me one second. All right, cool. Let’s see. I mean, yeah. Do this. I wanted to bring this up on the screen. That doesn’t look very good. We changed the color of this. This is to address a couple of questions that have popped up.

Mike Pfeiffer:
We are doing a boot or a workshop for AZ, we call it AZ-30X. If you go to cloudskills.io/az30x, we’re doing a three-day workshop coming up in August, 1st week of August. A lot of you guys probably saw that already but [Tyra 00:34:54] was asking about 204. Any plans for 204 training? So, for developer training. We’re doing that one September 15th, 16th and 17th I think, Tim. It’s not on the website yet, but that’s the game plan. If you guys are looking to come to a developer, Azure developer workshop, we’re doing 204 in September, and then the combo workshop coming up August 5th.

Tim Warner:
I’m really excited about the AZ-204 developer workshop because, for Azure DevOps people who are developers, you have to have one of those prerequisites and there seems to be more available from a prep perspective for the administrator than the developers. I think this workshop is going to serve a nice need, especially for those who need that cert as a stepping stone to the Microsoft DevOps engineer.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. The reason that I wanted to work with Tim on this one again, like we did 104 a couple months ago and, but really build a better storyline like Tim has mentioned, because if you’re doing it by yourself, you’re going to end up chasing duplicate content and you’re going to overthink it and you’re going to go probably study way too much potentially or get distracted. I think constraining everything down into a nice storyline, remove the [inaudible 00:36:12] of the content and do it in a nice way, it’s just like get it done. Go through the content, figure that out and then know what’s the strategy step by step to go pass the test. That’s what we’re trying to create with this workshop. You guys can just focus for a few days, understand what the path needs to be and you just go execute after that.

Tim Warner:
Yup. Exactly.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Sometimes people come back the next week and they’re like, “I already passed.” It’s kind of cool.

Tim Warner:
Yeah. A lot of people have cleared their Azure administrator exam after attending that bootcamp. That’s super rewarding and makes me so happy to hear that.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, absolutely and that’s a good point. I love when you guys tag us and celebrate your success, so keep doing that when you guys pass, if the workshops are helping. Let’s see what Sam says here. He says, “Mike and Tim, can you see Azure AWS?” Oh wait, I think he’s saying a specialty exam for Kubernetes, so do we see them going down the road of doing a specialty certification for like AKS or over at Amazon, maybe doing one on EKS because Kubernetes is so big? I don’t really know.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I think in specialty exams what we’ve been seeing Amazon doing is they’re doing some of the stuff Microsoft started doing now. Amazon first had a security specialty, a networking specialty. I’m hoping Microsoft does that on the Azure side because networking is so insanely huge. But I think it could be interesting for them to have an actual specialty just on containers, but I haven’t heard anything and so I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting idea.

Tim Warner:
I have heard a little bit and I can’t speak in great detail, but I would just say that you have to keep in mind some things, that these role-based certifications are wonderful for us as consumers, et cetera but it’s a money… it’s a business stream for Microsoft and of course, ultimately and principally they’re supporting their own products. I think that until they’ve got their full product portfolio covered and defined in these different role buckets, we’d probably see that first before we saw a specialty for another cloud vendor or another non-Microsoft product. But it’s funny because it takes me back to the old, old days. Remember the networking essentials certification exam and the TCP/IP one?

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, the TCP [crosstalk 00:38:36].

Tim Warner:
I remember being so afraid of that with all the IPv4 subnetting that was required.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That was crazy. That was when I first started getting into IT, as I was studying for the TCP/IP exam, that was the very first windows NT certification exam that I took. I was also studying in the same time for CCNA so it was a good timing to learn how to subnet and stuff. Even though I still kind of remember, I always… if I get a deep into it, I got to break out the subnet calculator but having that experience, man, and actually running CAT5 Drops back in the day, that stuff served me amazingly well in my career.

Tim Warner:
Same here.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I have empathy for you guys that don’t have a ton of practical networking experience because you’re just in the dark if you don’t understand the basics.

Tim Warner:
Yup.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Let’s see, somebody said, “I’m going through the Cloud Skills AZ-104 exam prep course and it’s really good.” Thank you for that. I hope you guys are successful in your certification. Then Yon said, “Hey Mike, I’m preparing myself to go for Azure administrator exam. I’d like to go for architect later on. Do you consider that I would go for the developer one before?” No, actually, once you do the administrator roll right into architect, because you’re going to have… we mentioned this earlier, if you just joined us, but that momentum of 104 will carry you into the 300 or the 303, a lot of duplicate concepts there, some new stuff too but-

Tim Warner:
Yeah. It’s important to note, that although as we mentioned, the Azure Architect exams, particularly the 304, the 301/304, I’d mentioned that it seems to skew, architecture skewed may be more towards a developer. That’s not to say that you’re going to see any C# source code on either of the architect exams. The only exam that you can expect to see that kind of source code would be AZ-204, the developer exam.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s a tricky part about 204 too, because I get developers a lot that are like, “Well, I’m not a .net developer. I’m a developer.”

Tim Warner:
Yeah. That’s right

Mike Pfeiffer:
But that happens a lot.

Tim Warner:
That’s right. That’s a very good point.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I wish that they weren’t so .net heavy because of that, but it’s good for me because that’s like my bread and butter.

Tim Warner:
Gosh, that’s actually a significant element of inconsistency, isn’t it? Especially given that, think of Azure app service, it says right on the 10, not just .net.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s true. Yeah, so they probably… if you are going to do that, maybe mix up some of the code samples, but it makes sense. I mean .net core, you got to… I think if you’re going to work in the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s a good idea, if you’re going to be in the developer space or the DevOps area, to have a little bit of knowledge about .net core and understand how devs are building those apps and how they’re packaging them so you can assist in the deployment and all that kind of stuff, or at least understand what people are talking about in those conversations. [inaudible 00:41:29] had some props for you, Tim, because your AZ-900 YouTube series is amazing.

Tim Warner:
Thank you.

Mike Pfeiffer:
He’s like, “Now, where do I go for 303, 300?” That’s what the Cloud Skills workshop is all about. Yeah, check it out if you can. Well, Tim and I have also been doing lots of different YouTube stuff on our own channels so, there’s also that. If you can’t afford to go workshop, we’re still pumping out free content all the time. Tim has also a wealth of information on Twitter. I don’t spend a ton of time on Twitter as much as I’d like to, but man, Tim’s really pumping out the… If you’re not following Tim, you’re crazy so go follow him.

Tim Warner:
Thanks a lot, Mike. Yeah, it’s finally become almost, Twitter that is, has become almost a muscle memory thing for me that if I come across something interesting and I feel intuitively that others could benefit for it, it’s almost a reflex for me to post it on Twitter. I love being able to pass on tips, tricks, and knowledge that way.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, there’s just small gems that are always popping up and so it’s important to try to stay on that if you can, top on that if you can. I guess as we’re wrapping this live stream up, to summarize and for you guys, give you a minute to answer any or ask any last questions, but to summarize, it’s not a huge departure. The documentation, the skills measured clearly defines what’s in the current exams, what’s in the new ones and you’ve got plenty of time to take the existing ones, you’ve got all the way until September. If you take a beta, you’re not going to know if you pass right away, right?

Tim Warner:
Right. Right.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Another big takeaway is to go through… if you’re doing remote stuff, make sure that you go through the [inaudible 00:43:11] or the actual tests, make sure your system is working, make sure you go through all those hoops. That’s kind of it, I guess. Any other questions from you guys out there? Tim, do you got any follow-ups or wrap up stuff here?

Tim Warner:
No, I don’t think so. You summed it up pretty well. I like to advise that there’s really three interdependent factors to being successful on any IT certification exam. There’s the conceptual knowledge, there’s the hands-on, which allows you to apply the conceptual knowledge and then there’s the practice exam so that you get comfortable with having your knowledge evaluated in the way that Microsoft will. Please don’t let any of those three elements go. Focus on them all equally.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. Go schedule your exam today. Don’t procrastinate. Just get it on the calendar. Somebody was asking, what’s your Twitter handle?

Tim Warner:
Tech Trainer Tim is mine.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Got it. Yeah, Tech Trainer Tim. I’ll put it in the comment or in the posts later. Oh, and Andrew added it. There you go. Thanks Andrew. [inaudible 00:44:18].

Tim Warner:
Thank you.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Tech Trainer Tim. Yeah, go out there and follow him. You can follow me too. It’s just Mike_Pfeiffer. Also, follow Cloud Skills_IO. But yeah, all right everybody. I appreciate your time and your questions. That was awesome. We’re looking forward to everybody that signed up for AZ-104 workshop, or sorry, AZ-30X workshop, the new architecture workshop. Hopefully, we’ll see you there. If not, we’ll see you on another live stream soon. All right. Thanks everybody. Have a great weekend.

Tim Warner:
Okay. Thanks.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Bye guys.

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