With the increasing demand for cloud-related work within the industry, organizations require their current and future employees to be well skilled with the latest cloud advancements. With the word ‘cloud’, the first few names that strike in our minds are Azure, AWS and GCP. Though Oracle cloud is gaining a lot of success, still the top three leads the race by enough margin. Certification is one of the indispensable ways to benchmark your professional and successful IT career. More than anything, we believe the learning journey is more important than the actual certificate itself.
Therefore, today we are going to discuss the associate level certification provided by Azure i.e., AZ-104 Azure Administrator Associate and discuss whether studying only the documentation will make you clear this exam or not.
The course content for this exam will be updated on 25th May 2021. What will be the updated content? Since Microsoft updates its course content based upon new changes or features it has made or added. You can see the updates here.
Roles, Responsibilities and Job Areas:
After successfully clearing the exam, one can manage and monitor identity, governance, networking, storage, cost, instances in a cloud environment (specifically Azure).
An individual can apply for administrator-level roles in an organization. This certificate on your resume could also help in improving your chances of getting selected from the pile of resumes any organization might receive for a particular post.
About the Exam:
While appearing for the exam at home, the duration of the exam is 120 minutes, do not forget to add additional 30 minutes to this as you need to log in half an hour before being assigned a resource person on time. Giving an exam at the center does not require than additional half an hour to be assigned a resource person. Moreover, most of the centers are closed due to coronavirus pandemic and it is better to appear for the exam at home.
So, the question here is who should take this exam? It is suggested that candidates for this exam should be experienced with having at least six months of hands-on training in implementing, managing, and monitoring an organization’s Microsoft Azure Environment.
Is documentation sufficient to clear this exam?
The answer to this question is a big NO. An individual with no experience with azure must put in a lot more effort (practical implementation) rather than just going through the documentation. On the other hand, one having good knowledge, hands-on experience, and enough confidence with all the aspects may proceed with reading only the document thoroughly. Microsoft provides a great source of learning through its documentation.
For a student or a fresher who desires to take this exam, they must be atleast clear with the fundamentals of azure. In addition, they would have to read the documentation in detail and implement it practically on Azure.
Experienced professionals having more than 2 years of working experience overall including at least six months of which in Azure may proceed with reading the documents thoroughly. This is because they have been practically working with Azure before and have enough hands-on expertise to clear the exam.
Apart from documentation, it is highly recommended to also test your expertise and understand how the exam is conducted by attempting various practice exams as well.
How to prepare yourself?
Microsoft learn portal is a great source for learning about all Microsoft products and services.
Practice Exams with multiple-choice questions is a great way of clearing the concepts in depth. MCQs include tricky options which become difficult to answer as more than one option seems correct. The more you give the MCQs and practice exams, the more you will be confident and overcome the fear of attempting the actual exam.
For those not having an active Azure subscription and want to do practical implementation; Microsoft provides a free azure trial for 12 months ($200 credits). Click here to sign up for azure now. Also, Microsoft and tech communities organize various conference, events, and virtual training after successful completion of which sometimes they provide with either Azure Coupons or free certification vouchers.
My Experience of clearing the exam.
My name is Raghav Jain. I joined Penthara Technologies in October 2020 as a Cloud Engineer Trainee. Before that, I knew cloud, but it is only after joining the company I started implementing the things practically being provided with $150 worth of credits every month via Visual Studio subscription (formerly MSDN subscription) by the company. As a trainee, I was always guided by my super friendly mentors. Later in December, I cleared my Azure fundamentals (AZ-900) exam and in March 2021 I successfully cleared AZ-104 in one attempt.
Throughout the preparation for the exam, certain topics required more attention in detail to understand. ’Manage Identities and Governance’ was the module I found a bit complex at first but later interesting. It majorly includes creating and managing users, giving role-based access (RBAC) to a specific user, creating custom roles for Azure resources as per the requirement. Azure Active Directory (AAD) includes a lot of things that require some serious hands-on implementation to understand what is going on, how things are working all together. It is very important to understand the different licenses and their features ranging from free to Azure AD Premium P2. This was the area that I focused on and worked hard implementing everything practically which gave me enough confidence to answer questions from this topic.
I would suggest to practically implement all subsections covered in the ‘Configure and manage virtual networks for azure administrators’ module to understand how the networking operates in azure. The majority of the questions (25-30%) are being asked from this module and the questions are tricky as well. Giving practice exams will clear these concepts more as it will cover most of the scenarios. Load Balancing, DNS, Vnet Peering, Azure Bastion are some of the aspects covered in this module.
‘Implement and Manage storage’ is a module that is important to understand thoroughly as it clears all the aspects related to azure Blob, Table, File, Queue and VM disks. Azure provides different series and sizes of its VM disks. It is not possible to remember all VM sizes, but one must at least know which series (A, B, D, H, etc.) is best suited as per the requirement. In the exam, I was given a scenario where I had to choose the right-sized disk which fulfills the given requirements and is also cost-efficient. 15-20% questions (mostly scenario-based) do come in the exam from this module.
‘Deploy and Manage Azure Compute Resources’ module covers the azure compute resources. I found this module very interesting to study and implement except that it lagged more in depth understanding of Kubernetes. For instance, it is mentioned in the documentation about Azure Kubernetes Cluster (AKS) and how to deploy them on Azure but before deploying it, a lot more understanding of Kubernetes is required in advance which needs to be studied from the other resources. Therefore, I felt that it is better to study them through other resources to have an actual understanding of what they are. Also, while giving practice exams I was not confident enough to answer questions on Kubernetes, So I studied these topics, their basic commands watching videos on YouTube. One of the videos I liked was What is Kubernetes. 25-30% of the questions in the exam are asked from this module. Successful completion of this module makes one eligible to deploy and configure virtual machines, containers, and web apps in azure.
‘Monitor and Backup Azure Resources’ is a short module and covers Azure Monitor, Backup, Logs, Alerts and Site Recovery. Monitoring performance of virtual machines by using Azure Monitor for VM’s was the subsection in which I missed to go a step further in understanding the syntax and structures i.e., after successfully deploying the log analytics workspace, which is used to run azure monitor log queries, I simply ran built in queries which are just a click away. Whereas it is very important to understand the syntax of the queries. The queries are written in Kusto Query Language (KQL). In the exam, you will not have to write any query instead you will be asked to choose the correct syntax out of the given four options. In my case, I got confused with two options as they were very similar, but I did not know that KQL is case sensitive (typically in lowercase). As a result, I got my answer wrong as I selected the one written in uppercase. I would highly recommend remembering the syntax and operators used for KQL so that you can easily judge the right query and answer in the exam.
Completing this module makes an individual learn how to monitor resources by using Azure Monitor and implement backup and recovery in Azure. 15-20% of the questions in the exam are asked from this module.
Resources to help you study for the exam.
There are many ways to study and prepare for the AZ-104 course. Self-learning modules include Microsoft learn portal, official documentation. Also, there is an option of paid instructor led training. Moreover, practice exams and MCQs can be found on learning portals like Udemy, SkillCertPro, etc.
- Az-104 Microsoft Azure Administrator Exam Certificate 2021 by Scott Duffy is an excellent course for the ones seeking to appear for the exam. The content of the exam is always up to date.
- Microsoft Azure Administrator Practice Exam Test 2021 by SkillCertPro which contains 7 practice exam tests and a total of 450 questions.
Written By- Raghav Jain
(Cloud Security Engineer)
Written By- Raghav Jain
(Cloud Engineer Trainee)
Peer Reviewed By- Jasjit Chopra
Peer Reviewed By- Jasjit Chopra
Graphics Designed By- Sanika Sanaye
(Creative Design Director)
Graphics Designed By- Sanika Sanaye
(Creative Graphic Designer Trainee)