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14
Feb

Which Azure certification should I do?

Azure training by Flexmind
Are you planning to take an Azure certification for a long time but unable to decide which one to take? In this article, I will take you through the list of Microsoft Azure certifications available & which one you should take depending on your goal, experience & background.

Do I need a cloud certification?

Before I talk about Azure certification, it is important to find out that do you really need a cloud certification to move ahead in your career?

1. Look at Cloud Growth
There is no doubt that public cloud presence is increasing at a fast pace in the IT industry. If you look at the figure provided by International Data Corporation(IDC), Forbes, Gartner etc, you can easily make out that cloud services market revenue is increasing year over year(YOY) at an average rate of 20%. By 2020, Gartner has projected that public cloud services revenue will cross $400 billion.

2. Cloud is empowering businesses of all sizes
Cloud is positively impacting enterprise & small businesses.Gartner notes that enterprises are confident that PaaS can be a secure, scalable application development platform in the future. Gartner predicts by 2021, 28% of all IT spending will be for cloud-based infrastructure, middleware, application and business process services.

3. Cloud Skills shortage
Cloud services are becoming the mainstream of an enterprise’s IT infrastructure. There’s a huge opportunity for businesses if they move to the cloud, but with a lack of skilled resources, they are unable to realize those benefits. According to a report by London School of Economics (LSE) sponsored by Rackspace on cloud skill gap, 71% of IT executives reported that the company has lost revenue due to lack of skills by the staff. Another 42% reported that this skills gap is keeping their enterprises from deploying more cloud platforms.

AWS is no.1 in cloud market then why Azure?

IT professionals planning to take a cloud certification may have a doubt that whether they should take a Amazon Web Services(AWS) or Microsoft Azure certification. Before they jump to a conclusion there are few points that I would like to bring to their attention:

1. Azure is growing quickly
Azure is growing at a better rate than AWS since last few quarters. It appears that Microsoft has started to bridge the gap between the two and further plans to improve integration with on-premise software.

2. Azure for Microsoft Shops
Microsoft has long been synonymous with larger enterprise customers. Almost every fortune 500 company is using Microsoft products & services. For enterprises that have invested heavily in Microsoft in terms of technology & developer skills – Microsoft Azure will continue to be a strong proposition.

3. Azure is embracing Linux & Open Source
Until recently Microsoft has been very closed to open source community. AWS has been open source friendly from the start and it gave a significant lead to AWS over Azure in the open source cloud hosting space. Azure & Microsoft are embracing open source in the cloud and on-premises. Nearly 1 in 3 Azure virtual machines are running on Linux. PowerShell and .NET Core are open sourced, SQL Server runs on Linux and Hyper-V will be running Docker.

Microsoft Azure Certification Path

At this writing, Microsoft Azure certification path can be divided into three levels.

Level 1 – Microsoft Certified Professional (1 exam)
Level 2 – Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) (2 exams)
Level 3 – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) (3 exams)

 

Microsoft certification by Flexmind

Figure 1: Understand how MCP, MCSA, MCSE are related

Level 1 – Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
If you are already Microsoft certified then you are an MCP  having valid MCP ID and access to MCP benefits. Otherwise, If this is the first time you are planning to take a Microsoft certification starting from Azure then clearing your first exam will make you an MCP. Now the question is which is the first exam I should take? The answer lies in your response to these 3 questions:

What is your technology experience?
Your experience will help you decide whether you should start with the fundamental certification or go with the advanced one. e.g. a professional with 2 years of experience cannot go ahead and take an architect-level certification. You need to have strong technology background before you take the architect-level certification.

What is your current job role?
You should always take a certification which you can relate to with your current job role. e.g. a .NET developer can think of attempting Azure developer certification whereas a network/windows admin can attempt Azure Infrastructure Solutions. For professionals who are new to the technology, they should try attempting fundamental certifications first.

What is your goal?
Certification that you are planning to attempt should connect with your future goal. e.g. If I have a future aspiration to become a Big data architect then I will first take a cloud big data certification and then target an architect level certification. Every exam has a prerequisite, though it is not mandatory to possess but having a background makes you ready for the future job roles aligned with the certification that you are planning to attempt.

Diagram shown below will give you a clear picture of which azure certification you should attempt.

Level 2 – Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate(MCSA)
There are 4 different MCSA track available and each one qualifies you for a specific job position.

MCSA: Cloud Platform
This certification demonstrates your expertise in Microsoft cloud-related technologies to reduce IT costs and deliver more value for the modern business.

MCSA: Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2016 certification qualifies you for a position as a network or computer systems administrator or as a computer network specialist.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 certification qualifies you for a position as a network of computer systems administrator or as a computer network specialist.

MCSA: Linux on Azure
This certification demonstrates your ability to design, architect, implement, and maintain complex cloud-enabled Linux solutions that leverage Microsoft Azure open source capabilities.

MCSA: Cloud Platform
You can choose any 2 out of these 4 certifications to earn a MCSA: Cloud Platform.

Microsoft Azure Certification

Figure 2: MCSA Cloud Platform

Exam 70-532/Course 20532C – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

Candidates of this exam are experienced in designing, programming, implementing, automating, and monitoring Microsoft Azure solutions. Candidates should be proficient with development tools, techniques, and approaches used to build scalable and resilient solutions.

Exam 70-533/Course 20533C  – Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

This exam is for candidates who are experienced in implementing an infrastructure solution in Microsoft Azure. Candidates have experience implementing and monitoring cloud and hybrid solutions as well as supporting application lifecycle management.

Exam 70-535/Course 20535A – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

Candidates for this exam define the appropriate cloud native, cloud migration, and hybrid cloud solutions to meet the required functional, operational, and deployment requirements through the solution lifecycle.

Exam 70-537/Course 20537A – Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack

Candidates for this exam should have significant experience managing and operating Azure Stack environments. Candidates should have a strong understanding of Azure as well as some knowledge of virtualization, networking, and identity management. Candidates should also understand how Azure Stack enables DevOps processes and the hybrid development model.

MCSA: Windows Server 2016
You can choose any 2 out of these 3 certifications to earn a MCSA: Windows Server 2016.

MCSA_Windows_Server_2016
Figure 3: MCSA Windows Server 2016


Exam 70-740/Course 20740A – Installation, Storage, and computer with Windows Server 2016

This exam focuses primarily on the installation, storage, and compute features and functionality available in Windows Server 2016. It covers general installation tasks and considerations and the installation and configuration of Nano Server, in addition to the creation and management of images for deployment.

Exam 70-741/Course 20741A – Networking with Windows Server 2016

This exam focuses on the networking features and functionality available in Windows Server 2016. It covers DNS, DHCP, and IPAM implementations, in addition to remote access solutions, such as VPN and Direct Access.

Exam 70-742/Course 20742A – Identity with Windows Server 2016

This exam focuses on the identity functionality in Windows Server 2016. It covers the installation and configuration of Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), in addition to Group Policy implementation for non-Nano Server environments.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012
You can choose any 2 out of these 3 certifications to earn a MCSA: Windows Server 2012.

MCSA Windows Server 2012

 Figure 4: MCSA Windows Server 2012

Exam 70-410/Course 20410D – Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
This exam is part three of a series of three exams that test the skills and knowledge necessary to administer a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure in an enterprise environment.

Exam 70-411/Course 20411D – Administering Windows Server 2012
Passing this exam validates a candidate’s ability to administer the tasks required to maintain a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure, such as user and group management, network access, and data security.

Exam 70-412/Course 20412D – Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012
Passing this exam validates a candidate’s ability to perform the advanced configuring tasks required to deploy, manage, and maintain a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure, such as fault tolerance, certificate services, and identity federation.

MCSA: Linux on Azure
This certification is meant for Linux Administrators/Professionals. It validates your Linux system administration skills & demonstrates your ability to design, architect, implement & maintain cloud-enabled Linux solutions that leverage Microsoft Azure open source capabilities. You should clear both of these exams to earn MCSA: Linux on Azure

Figure 5: MCSA Linux on Azure

Exam 70-533/Course 20533C – Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
This exam is for candidates who are experienced in implementing an infrastructure solution in Microsoft Azure. Candidates have experience implementing and monitoring cloud and hybrid solutions as well as supporting application lifecycle management.

Exam LFCS/Course 55187A – Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator
Demonstrate to employers that you have both the skills and the knowledge to be a top sysadmin with the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator.

 

MCSA Sample Certificate
Figure 6: MCSA certificate sample

Level 3 – MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
After clearing Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate(MCSA) level, the next step is to earn Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) by passing 1 additional elective exam. Below diagram provides a comprehensive list of elective exams from which you can make a selection depending on the MCSA certification that you have cleared.

MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
Figure 7: MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

List of elective exam that are not part of MCSA track:

Exam 70-473/Course 40441A – Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
This exam is for candidates who are interested in validating their skills in designing and implementing Microsoft data platform solutions. Candidates for this exam will have relevant work experience in on-premises and cloud-based platform solutions.

Exam 70-475/Course 552241 and 552242 – Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
This certification exam is targeted towards data management professionals, data architects, data scientists, and data developers who design big data analytics solutions on Microsoft Azure. Candidates for this exam will have relevant work experience in big data analytics solutions.

Exam 70-744/Course 20744A – Securing Windows Server 2016
This exam focuses on how to secure Windows Server 2016 environments. It covers methods and technologies for hardening server environments and securing virtual machine infrastructures using Shielded and encryption-supported virtual machines and Guarded Fabric.

Exam 70-745/Course 20745 – Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter
Candidates for this exam are data scientists or analysts who process and analyze data sets larger than memory using R. Candidates should have experience with R, familiarity with data structures, familiarity with basic programming concepts (such as control flow and scope), and familiarity with writing and debugging R functions.

Exam 70-413/Course 20413C – Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
This exam is part one of a series of two exams that test the skills and knowledge necessary to design, implement, and maintain a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure in an enterprise scaled, highly virtualized environment.

Exam 70-414/Course 20414C – Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
This exam is part two of a series of two exams that test the skills and knowledge necessary to design, implement, and maintain a Windows Server 2012 infrastructure in an enterprise scaled, highly virtualized environment.

Exam 70-538 – Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions
Coming Soon.

Exam 70-539 – Managing Linux Workloads on Azure
Coming Soon.

Which exams should I take?
It can be difficult to decide which exams to take, here is a list of example “job areas” and the suggested exams you could take:

For Developers:
70-532 – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
70-535 – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

For Administrators/Network Professionals/Infrastructure:
70-740 – Installation, Storage, and Compute with Windows Server 2016
70-741 – Networking with Windows Server 2016

For DBA/Data Admins:
70-475 – Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
70-473 – Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions

For Technical/Solution Architects:
70-535 – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

For DevOps Professionals:
70-538 – Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions

For Linux Administrators:
70-539 – Managing Linux Workloads on Azure

For Private Cloud:
70-537 – Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack (Beta)

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