Passed exam AZ-103 Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate

AZ-103 is one of the newest exam that became available for taking about one month ago. It’s also one of the few exams that have been updated with real labs sections (or performance testing). What does it mean? The exam starts with usual questions, then goes labs where you have to complete tasks by using Azure Portal and Azure Cloud Shell inside of the exam’s subscription. I had about 15 lab tasks, 2 different lab sections with 6 and 9 tasks perspectively, and case studies after each of the labs. In short, it is a real brainstorm – when you think the exam ends, the next questions or labs appear out.

Honestly, it was the hardest exam I have ever had and took me almost 3 hours to get it finished (my personal record, by the way). Again, even though I passed on the first try, it was difficult! Why? I’d say time management is the big challenge, so be well prepared and expect some gotchas.  Anyway, I’m extremely happy to see real labs in the exams as they can filter “dumpers” out and make certification more valuable to all of us.

How to prepare?

  1. Azure Subscription (trial at least)
  2. You must have a real experience in the commercial projects (mid-sized and higher). For example, I have been working with Azure for 3 years so far and now work with different projects related to Azure and DevOps.
  3. Use free online resources for preparation. Please check my post in order to get the list of all available high-quality and free training courses . I used Pluralsight (more than 40 hours), Udemy (AZ-300 paid course), Azure DevOps Labs, hands-on labs, official docs and study guides (MCT). So, I’ve being preparing for 2 months.
  4. Read about performance testing (sections with lab tasks). Some notes: time has been already extended to 180 mins for exams with performance testing, az-103 includes performance testing, choose Bash at the first launch of Azure Cloud Shell, and then switch to PowerShell, otherwise, storage for Cloud Shell won’t be created (just my experience) + add new resources on the resource group level rather than adding them from the main page using search bar or “Create Resource” on the left sidebar (faced with issue that I couldn’t get subscription/RGs list during resource creation, so I navigated to pre-created RG and completed all lab tasks from there)
  5. If you pass the exam successfully, the certification will be valid only for 2 years, so keep learning and practice every day! I wish you good luck on the exam and may the force be with you 🙂

Azure Stack Preview 3 is available

Azure Stack is a hybrid cloud platform that lets you deliver Azure services from your organization’s datacenter. Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview 3 is being made available as a Proof of Concept (POC). The POC is an ideal environment for learning and demonstrating Azure Stack features.

Microsoft is also announced that Azure Stack will be available via Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Cloud Solution Provider Program (CSP) 

azure-stack-architecture

In addition to bug fixes and other improvements, here’s the list of new features:

  • Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) support provides identity options for scenarios where network connectivity is limited or intermittent.
  • You can use Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets to provide managed scale out of workloads.
  • Use Azure D-Series VM sizes for increased performance and consistency.
  • Deploy and create templates with Temp Disks that are consistent with Azure.
  • Marketplace Syndication allows you to use content from the Azure Marketplace and make available in Azure Stack.
  • Isolated administrator and user portals and APIs provide enhanced security.
    Use enhanced infrastructure management functionality, such as improved alerting.
  • Using the Windows Azure Pack connector, you can view and manage IaaS virtual machines that are hosted on a Cloud Platform System (CPS) stamp. For this preview release, you can try this only with a CPS environment and additional configuration is required.