Exam Preparation Guide: How to crack Azure AZ-900 in a weekend
All you need to know to pass the AZ-900 exam
AZ-900 is the exam that tests foundational level knowledge of cloud concepts and Azure services.
Those who have experience in other major cloud providers might find most of the AZ-900 materials to be very similar to what they have learned.
I found the content of this exam to be very beneficial for anyone who would like to break into cloud computing on Azure.
This exam guide will give you all the information you need to pass the exam on a weekend.
Information about this exam
The official AZ-900 information from the Microsoft website
Most of the exam information is on the Microsoft website. However, before going into the exam, I was researching how long is this exam. The Microsoft website does not show how many questions and how long the exam is.
So I gathered these numbers based on my exam:
- Questions: 39(40–60 questions are generally asked)
- Duration: 1 hour
What I like about this exam is: Your result sheet is printed right after the exam, so you can see which area you are doing well and which area you need to work on.
This is the same study plan I used to pass the AZ-900 exam:
- 2 days for learning from the Microsoft Learn Platform
- 1–1.5 days for exam preparation
One day means 3–6 hours of work. So it might take around a week to study 2–3 hours per day after work if you are working in some other domain and wanna learn cloud with azure.
Resources I used for studying AZ-900
I studied from 3 resources and spent zero amount of money on the preparation (excluding $99 for the AZ-900 exam itself which was paid by my employer).
The 3 resources are:
Comprehensive 9 hours course provided by Microsoft [ Text-based ]
Microsoft provides a free learning platform for everything you need to pass any Azure certificate.
Unlike other learning platforms such as Google Cloud’s Coursera or Udemy, the Microsoft Learn platform is 90% text with a few short videos here and there. However, the material is of great quality and the learning platform is easy to use.
I found that by having learning material in text, I can take notes much faster by copy-paste the text directly.
This course took me 6–9 hours including taking notes and research on random technical words e.g. N-tier architecture.
We would call this the day #1 prep for your az900.
Now comes day #2.
AZ-900 Video course offered by freecodecamp is an awesome video made by Andrew Brown.
He is an amazing instructor with many years of experience teaching cloud so you know he got you covered on this.
The video is 3 hours and 10 minutes long, in the video you will be learning and revising the text from Microsoft and the notes that you have made on day #1.
Topics covered in the video are as follows: cloud concepts, core Azure services, Azure pricing, SLA, and lifecycle, and the fundamentals of cloud security, privacy, compliance, and trust. You will learn about all these things in this course.
[Free] AZ900 dumps online
After you have watched the video lecture on day 2, it's time to work smart now.
DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON ONLINE PRACTICE COURSES!!
Instead, just google for AZ900 dumps, and you will get a number of sites where you will find previously asked questions, the question pattern, and even the solution for those questions.
This certification is one of the basic/entry-level certs out there, so please be wise and don't spend your hard-earned cash on courses online to crack this exam, it is just not worth it.
Go through those dumps, make notes, and practice solving the questions on your own.
If you are totally new to azure and cloud altogether, then I’d say spend 2–3 days solely on the dumps and practice questions available for free online.
AZ-900 Exam Contents to save your time up:-
Azure Fundamentals learning path
This section is based on the list from the Microsoft website which is quite accurate for the exam.
There are 4 main parts. For each part, I am giving summarised information here to speed up your learning or you can also use them as revision material.
Part 1) Cloud Concept
This part contains general knowledge about cloud computing e.g. what are the benefits of the cloud, the different types of cloud service offerings, and the differences in cloud deployment models.
Technological benefits of the cloud:
- High Availability — The major cloud providers (Azure, AWS, GCP) have multiple data centers spread around the world. Data and code stored in the cloud are copied to more than one data center. If anything happens to one data center, the data can be recovered from another data center.
- Fault Tolerance — In case there is any fault in the application or infrastructure, the service can continue to work by moving the work to other healthy servers.
- Disaster Discover — The data in the cloud can also get copied to other regions e.g. copy data from West US to East US. If there is natural disaster happened in West US and every data center goes down, the data center in East US will still have a copy of the data.
- Scalability — The application running in the cloud can expand its size when there are more users in the system.
- Elasticity — The application running in the cloud can shrink its size when there are fewer users in the system. The users can also set automatic shutdown during non-business hours to save money.
Business benefits of the cloud:
- Agility — Cloud allows the business to deliver IT systems to customers faster. The machines in the cloud are ready for cloud users to spin up when they need and shut down when they are not required.
- Economies of scale — Cloud is a shared pool of machines and services. As the number of customers grows, cloud providers can lower the cost or increase the quality of the services.
- Capital Expenditure (CapEx) vs Operational Expenditure (OpEx) — Building a data center requires large capital investment for hardware as well as the facility. A data center will also require ongoing electricity and staffs cost for operation. By using the cloud, the capital expenditure for building a data center is not required.
- Consumption-based model (pay-as-you-go) — The cloud users only pay for what they need, by the duration they need.
Types of cloud service offerings:
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) — In this offering, the cloud providers offer barebone hardware in the managed data centers such as a virtual machine or file storage. The cloud providers will take care of the physical infrastructure e.g. data center security or hardware repair, while the cloud users need to take care of server maintenance. For example, Azure VM allows users to spin up new virtual machines of any size.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) — The cloud providers will take care of the servers. The cloud users only need to bring in application code or data. For example, Azure SQL Database is a fully managed service by Azure that the users do not need to / cannot access anything beyond their data.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) — The cloud providers will take care of both servers and code. Cloud users only need to configure the software to suit their needs. For example, Office 365 allows users to use the Microsoft Office software suite.
Differences in cloud deployment model:
- Public Cloud — When the companies decided to use all their servers from the cloud providers’ data center.
- Private Cloud — When the companies decided to use all their servers on their own data center to replicate the cloud services e.g. offering self-service components.
- Hybrid Cloud — When the companies decided to use some of the servers in their own data center, and some of the servers in the public cloud.
Part 2) Core Azure Services
This part contains the introduction to different services offered in Azure for each service category:
- Compute — Azure Virtual Machine, Container, Kubernetes Service
- Network — Azure Virtual Network, Load Balancer, VPN Gateway, Application Gateway, and Content Delivery Network
- Internet of Things (IoT) — Azure IoT Hub, IoT Central
- Big Data & Analytics — Azure HDInsight, Data Lake Analytics, Databricks
- Artificial Intelligence — Azure ML, ML Studio
- Serverless Computing — Azure Function, Logic Apps
- Storage — Azure Blob Storage, Disk Storage, File Storage, Data Lake Storage
- Database — Azure SQL DB, SQL DW, CosmosDB
- Management tools — Azure CLI, Powershell, Portal, Advisor
- Azure Marketplace — Azure service for deploying ready-to-use services by Azure or the 3rd party. Such as a package to install and setup R Studio
Part 3) Security, Privacy, Compliance, and Trust in Azure
This part contains the security Azure provided for its services as well as Azure’s commitment to privacy and regulatory compliance.
Azure services for security in different areas:
- Network Security — Azure Firewall, DDoS Protection, and Network Security Group
- Authentication and Authorisation — Azure Activity Directory (AD)
- Application Security — Azure Key Vault, Information Protection, Advanced Threat Protection
- Resource Governance — Azure Policies & Initiatives, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), Locks, Management Groups, Advisor
- Monitoring & Reporting — Azure Monitor, Service Health
- Privacy & Regulatory Compliance — Azure Government (for US governments), Germany (for EU’s GDPR regulation), Trust Center
Part 4) Azure Pricing and Support
This part contains information about different types of Azure subscriptions, cost factors of Azure services, tools for cost calculation, and the support plans in Azure.
Azure subscription types:
- Free — New users will receive $200 credits to spend on any Azure products in the first 30 days. We will also receive free access to popular Azure products for the first 12 months, and free access to free products forever. This type of subscript requires credit card details, but nothing will be charged until we decide to upgrade to a pay-as-you-go subscription.
- Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) — Charge monthly for the services used in the last billing period. This type is used by individuals and businesses.
- Enterprise Agreement — Enterprises can make an agreement with Azure that would allow discounted prices for software licenses and Azure services.
- Student — Students will receive $100 credit to spend in the first 12 months. No credit card is required for this subscription type, but student email verification is required.
Cost Factors of Azure services:
- Resource Types — Different Azure products will have different pricing e.g. Azure VM cost will be based on the virtual machine size, operating system, usage hours, and storage size. The users can turn off virtual machines temporarily to save usage hours cost, but the storage cost will always incur.
- Subscription Types — Most users will pay the standard price, while the enterprise customers may have discounted or stable cost.
- Locations — For some resource types, the cost will vary based on the server locations. For example, Azure VM in Japan data center might cost more than in US data center.
- Inbound and Outbound traffic — The movement of data between different data centers (availability zones) or regions might incur costs.
Tools for cost calculation for Azure
- TCO Calculator — The service to compare the cloud cost with the Total Cost of Ownership e.g. how much you need to spend if you are to build the same infrastructure in your own data center.
- Pricing Calculator — The website where the potential customers can plan their costs before moving to the Azure cloud
- Azure Cost Management — Azure free service which shows how much have we spent in this billing period, and also provides the best practices to optimize the cost
- Azure Advisor — Azure free service which provides the recommendations in high availability, security, performance, and cost based on Azure products we are using
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- SLA is the minimum time that Azure commits the service will be available to use. If the service is offline for a longer time than SLA, Azure will provide credits for the customers.
- Azure offers 99.9% SLA on most Azure products
- There are some cases where the SLA can be increased. For example, Azure guarantees 99.99% SLA for virtual machines that have more than one instance across more than one region.
Public Preview vs Private Preview features
- Most new features in Azure will be launched as a private preview for limited users, then public previews for all the users
- After the feature has been thoroughly tested, it will be out of preview and become a generally available feature (GA).
- Azure provides Preview Portal for the users to test out new features for the Azure portal. For other features that are not related to the portal, the users can access them from the standard Azure portal.
You are now ready for AZ-900!
What you will learn from the recommended courses listed above as well as the summary in this article will make you pass the exam with flying colors.
Azure role-based certifications from Microsoft
For the next step, the knowledge of the AZ-900 exam is crucial for any Azure role-based certification in the future. Whether you would like to become Azure Administrator or Azure Data Engineer or any other role, AZ-900 will be the great starting point for your career.
Do tag me on Twitter when you pass the test, would love to hear your success story :D
Wish everyone all the best for your exam!