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Am I the right candidate for this certification?

As per Microsoft expectation if you want appear for this certification you should have experience in designing, programming, implementing, automating, and monitoring Microsoft Azure solutions. Beside this you should also have good experience with  development tools (such as Visual Studio, VSTS (Visual Studio Team Service), DevOps techniques etc.. You should also know and different design patterns for to build scalable and resilient solutions.
So the million dollar question, from where are you going to get this experience because it is not necessary that you have been be working with all the technologies which this examination covers.

Which Azure Services and Offerings are covered in the exam?

There exam expects you to know about 4 main areas of Azure offerings ( as per Microsoft Certification guidelines)
  • Azure Compute offernings (Virtual Machines & related stuff)
  • Azure Storage & Data Strategy (Storage Services,  DbPaaS)
  • Azure Network Services, Identity (Virtual Network, Azure AD)
  • Web and Mobile Services (Web App, Mobile App, Logic App)

If you refer to Microsoft Certification guidelines you can see the the weightage given to each area (don’t misunderstand the weightage as the % of examination question, because if you add up weightages it will be go above ~100%)

After you have understood the coverage now you need to start the preparation! For preparation, you need to give yourself time and have a meticulous plan.

Study Plan for Azure 70-532 Exam

Before you take up the exam , you need to make few commitments to yourself:

  • You are going to stick to your study plan
  • Spend time in Thinking Activity 
  • Complete Labs
  • Be honest and diligent during entire preparation schedule
  • Will use paper and pen as much as and often possible  (Don’t be a Tech Egoist, remember the old saying “Pen is mightier than the sword”)

I know you may have few questions like – how much time it is going to take? How much should I study (topics are exhaustive, there is so much of information available)? How to evaluate myself (Is there a test available)? I promise to answer these questions in next few posts.

So First thing First – Let us examine the 70-532 examination mandate. The first topic is Create and Manage Azure Resource Manager Virtual Machines (20-25%). You don’t have to be genius to understand that it is all about Azure Virtual Machines and deployment model ARM. So what are you expected to know about ARM Virtual Machines? So two things – Creation of ARM VM and Management. Before you deep dive into creation of VM using ARM you must know what is ARM?

If you start researching about Azure ARM using Google, you will be overwhelmed with the amount of information available on Internet and you. Let me give you precise information about ARM.

What is ARM?

ARM stands for Azure Resource Manager. We know the infrastructure of enterprise applications consists of multiple components (I will call them resources) such as -database, network, storage, third party services etc., as you may agree; seeing them as separate entities is not feasible, actually they are related and interdependent part of a single entity- this is exactly what ARM does – it enables you to work with these resources in your solution as a group. These resources can be deployed, updated or deleted in single coordinated operation. 

What Problem does ARM solves?

Always remember every technology take birth to solve some problem. ARM enables us to manage interdependent and related resources as a single unit. so now comes the scenario – where ARM is going to help Microsoft Azure’s customer, can you think of a scenario – let me help – Suppose you are are to build a PoC for one of your client who is keen to use Azure as there preferred cloud for hosting their enterprise workload, once the PoC is completed and demonstrated to client , you want to preserve the configurations settings of this PoC for later use, so if the project comes through you should be able to deploy the same infrastructure again in testing,staging and production environment, not only this, but at the moment you want to remove this infrastructure so as to save cost of hosting this on Azure cloud. This is a perfect case of using ARM  – You save (or create in the first hands itself) the entire application infrastructure in a ARM Template  (a JSON file) and once the PoC is over delete the application infrastructure but you can use the preserved ARM template later whenever you want to deploy the same infrastructure. Isn’t this great?

Is there something else beside ARM in Azure which serves the same purpose?

The answer is No! but before ARM, Azure had another deployment model called as Classic Deployment Model . In classic deployment model there was no boundary in the sense – Even though all the resources belong to same application infrastructure but they were treated as independent units therefore, you have to keep track of them, while deleting the resources you have to delete them individually, there was no way to preserve the settings etc of these resources and if the same infrastructure has to be created again you have to do the entire labour again so do you see the advantage. 

What is ARM Template?

As mentioned earlier an ARM template is actually a JSON (Java Script Object Notation) file which uses declarative syntax (so you don’t have to use any command / language for deploying resources, however, it is possible to deploy them using discrete commands by using PowerShell, XPlat or APIs).  The entire file consist of different sections and each section serves different purpose. An example of how the template section looks like is given below.

"resources": [
{
"apiVersion": "2016-01-01",
"type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts",
"name": "mystorageaccount",
"location": "westus",
"sku": {
"name": "Standard_LRS"
},
"kind": "Storage",
"properties": {
}
}
]

So Let me come to the point – There is no dearth of information about ARM and ARM Template, but you have to know where to stop! Otherwise you may immerse yourself in learning and understanding ARM template and it may eat up the time you designated for learning other topics.

Moral of the Story

While preparing for Azure certification exam – , learn & read what is necessary, try to understand the problem the service or feature is designed to solve. Imagine & Think of possible scenario(s) where this may be used either singularly or combined with other solutions.