Studying Azure Fundamentals ...
In early 2019, I spotted a post on LinkedIn by a guy called Julian Sharp who was offering to run a free study group for a new exam that Microsoft had recently introduced called AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals.
I had recently switched career to the Dynamics space, and had been hearing quite a lot about the power of Azure. Although I had spun up a trial and checked out a few interesting things I’d seen posted by the Microsoft community, I didn’t really know too much about it. I thought maybe the study group was a good way to find out more …
I applied for the study group using the online form and was delighted when Julian let me know I was registered. It was slightly daunting joining the first session, as I didn’t know anyone else on the call, but it wasn’t long before we were all chatting away as if we’d known each other for ages!
We started out by taking a look at the content of the exam which was as follows;
- Describe cloud concepts (20-25%)
- Describe core Azure services (15-20%)
- Describe core solutions and management tools on Azure (10-15%)
- Describe general security and network security features (10-15%)
- Describe identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features (20-25%)
- Describe Azure cost management and Service Level Agreements (10-15%)
We would be having sessions twice weekly over the course of 6 weeks, as there was a lot to get through! Julian is a great trainer, and the format of his study groups is that he teaches out the materials and encourages the members of the group to participate by asking questions, investigating other learning resources, and doing quizzes. This is great both in terms of the learning experience, and also in encouraging people to get to know each other and building support networks.
Subsequent to this very first study group, I’ve since joined 4 more and passed 5 certifications as well as getting to know literally hundreds of lovely people in the Dynamics and Power Platform community, not least Julian himself. So, if you do happen to spot an invitation to register for one of Julians groups, I would 100% recommend joining!
Microsoft Training Day ...
When you sign up to one of Julians study groups, he normally asks you to confirm that you actually do intend to take the certification, as spaces are limited and serious learners take priority. It was my intention to take the exam very shortly after the study group but as I was tasked to take a number of other exams by my employer I wasn’t able to get the AZ-900 done immediately. So when I spotted a ‘Partner Training Day’ on Azure Fundamentals being offered by Microsoft I jumped at the chance to refresh my knowledge, especially as the day came with a free exam voucher.
The training day was held at the Microsoft offices at Thames Valley Park in Reading. It was extremely well attended, although I don’t know the exact number of attendees I’d guess there were around 100 people there. I went along with a couple of my Tisski colleagues and I think it’s safe to say we all really enjoyed the day, and not long after we all passed the exam first time round which is a testament to the quality of the training. The training was provided by a Microsoft Azure Technical Trainer called David Alleeson, who was extremely knowledgeable and had a great training style.
Online Resources ...
Prior to joining Julians study group, I had first heard about the massive potential of Azure while attending the Microsoft Tech Summit in Birmingham UK the previous year. During the summit I had attended a really inspiring session by a Microsoft evangelist called Daniel Baker, otherwise known as ‘Azure Dan’ who had delivered a powerful and fascinating session showcasing the way he’d used the power of Azure to help overcome his diabetes. Dan has published some great resources on cloud computing and Azure on his website here.
All of the material required to study for the exam can also be found on the Microsoft Learn website. It is broken into a number of ‘learning paths’, each containing a number of modules, as detailed below.
- Describe Core Azure Concepts
- Describe Core Azure Services
- Describe Core Solutions and Management Tools on Azure
- Describe General Security and Network Features
- Describe Identity, Governance, Privacy and Compliance Features
I really like Microsoft Learn, as once you are familiar with how to navigate your way around the site it is really easy to use. I would recommend creating a ‘Learning Profile’ as this allows you to track your progress, and will be needed when you are ready to take your exam.
Taking the Exam ...
I booked the exam for AZ-900 using the voucher I had received from the Microsoft training day, and took it at my local test centre.
Despite having had 2 lots of training, and having utilised lots of online resources, I found this exam quite tough. When I finished the exam, I was quite hesitant submitting it, as I really wasn’t confident of the result.
Although AZ-900 is a ‘fundamentals’ exam so is very high level and not technically difficult, it covers a huge amount of functionality and there are a lot of technical terms to learn and understand. I would definitely recommend spending a decent amount of time going through the materials and getting a lot of hands on practice with the Azure concepts covered before taking the exam.
Anyone working in the Dynamics or Power Platform space will know that Azure is the foundation of everything we do. Learning for the Azure Fundamentals certification will provide the essential grounding required to understand how that foundation works.