Category: Certification

CertificationOpen Source

LFCS: Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator Certification

The Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) certification from The Linux Foundation is a full Linux certification for verifying and validating your Linux Operating System skills. Linux is the #1 operating system for web servers, cloud computing, smartphones and consumer electronics. It’s been growing very rapidly over the years, and even Microsoft has fully embraced Linux for running workloads in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

The IT industry is increasingly seeking out IT Professionals who have Linux Operating System management and administration skills. This certification will help you validate those skills to help advance your career. Read More


Exam Finder Helps Search Microsoft Certification Exams by Technology

There are many different certification exams from Microsoft covering all the different technology areas. There are also many different certification paths like the newly redesigned MCSE and MCSA certifications that are made up of multiple certification exams. Unfortunately, the list of Microsoft certification exams can be a bit cumbersome and difficult to search through on the official Microsoft Learning site. For this reason, I have created a simple, open source, Microsoft certification exam finder tool.

The Build Azure Exam Finder allows you to search and filter through a list of Microsoft certification exams. It works by having all the exams in the list assigned Tags that you can easily filter on to find the exam(s) you’re looking for. You can filter on a combination of technologies or larger certifications like MCSE and MCSA to find the exams you’re looking for.

You can access the Build Azure Exam Finder tool here:

The tool currently includes 31 exams in the list, and I’m planning on adding more soon to fill it out to contain a nice list of the various Microsoft certification exams available. I hope this tool helps others discover the certification exams and larger MCSA or MCSE certification paths that fit their expertise and knowledge areas. I was inspired to build this simple tool by many of the Microsoft certification questions people have been asking me through this blog and elsewhere online, as it helped me realize that there’s a real discoverability problem in how Microsoft present the certification information on the official Microsoft Learning site.

Additionally, the Build Azure Exam Finder tool is fully Open Source and hosted on Github ( It’s built very simply using HTML, JavaScript, and the Bootstrap CSS Framework. This keeps it simple, lightweight, and most importantly, very easily to contribute to.


MCSA: Data Engineering with Azure Certification from Microsoft

There have been many changes to the Microsoft certification program lately. Among these changes have been brand new MCSA and MCSE certifications, including MANY new exams. Among these changes is the recent addition of the MCSA: Big Data Engineering certification.

Update May 27, 2017: Microsoft announced that they’ve renamed the MCSA: Big Data Engineering certification to MCSA: Data Engineering with Azure.

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Big DataCertificationData Sciencemachine learning

MCSA: Machine Learning Certification from Microsoft

It seems there is constant news on the Microsoft certification front. Near the end of 2016, Microsoft shook up the entire MCP program with some amazing changes to how Azure certifications are integrated in the tracks, as well as the ability to renew MCSD and MCSE certifications annually with an elective exam. Now they are continuing to expand with new certification targeting the extremely popular realm of Machine Learning. The all new MCSA: Machine Learning certification is being added as an option to earn!

Update May 27, 2017: Microsoft announced that they’ve renamed the MCSA: Data Science certification to MCSA: Machine Learning.

Read More


Renew MCSD & MCSE Annually by Retaking Certification Exams

In the past once you passed a specific Microsoft certification exam you were not allowed to retake that exam again, ever. After all, there wasn’t really any benefit to since you passed the exam and it counted towards earning you a specific certification. Back then the exams did not undergo any major updates or restructuring until they were retired and replace with a brand new exam on the latest technology and product releases. With the recent changes and restructuring of the Microsoft certification program, the exam are now getting updated periodically and you will now be able to retake an exam after such updates have been made.

As of March 17, 2017, the necessary changes have been put into place to allow for exam to be retaken on an annual basis. After a period of 365 days from the date you pass a certification exam, you will now be able to retake that exam again. This will allow for you to retake a particular exam, or at least the most recent update of that exam, to be used as the qualifying elective exam necessary to renew an MCSD or MCSE certification and keep it active for the current year.

Currently, the exams eligible to be retaken are:

This new retake policy is a really great improvement. It was previously assumed that only a new elective needed to be passed every year to keep the MCSD or MCSE certifications current for the given year. If this were required then you would be required to keep learning new technologies and product releases to pass an exam even if they didn’t relate to you job duties. However, by allowing already passed exams to be retaken annually, you will now be able to renew and keep up-to-date by continually brushing up and maintaining the exam skills that pertain to your daily job duties over time.

This change goes along with the other improvements being made to the Microsoft certification that are really making the program much better than it was in the past by keeping the certifications relevant and useful.


70-464 Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases Certification Exam

The Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases (70-464) certification exam is one of the elective exams that counts towards the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certifications. This exam centers around objectives that cover the areas of developing Microsoft SQL Server databases.

Certification Target Audience

The focus of the 70-464 Developing Microsoft SQL Server Database certification exam is centered around SQL Server technologies. This exam was first published in 2012, with more recent updates done in 2016, so it doesn’t seem to contain the Azure SQL Database topics that other exams cover.

This exam targets those database professionals who build and implement databases across organizations and who ensure high levels of data availability. The database professionals roles would include creating database files, data types, and tables; planning, creating, and optimizing indexes; ensuring data integrity; implementing views, stored procedures, and functions; and managing transactions and locks.

Skills Measured

Here’s a high level outline of the skill objectives measured on the Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases (70-464) certification exam. The percentages next to each of the exam objectives represents the percentage of exam questions in that particular exam objective area.

  • Implement database objects (30-35%)
    • Create and alter tables
    • Design, implement, and troubleshoot security
    • Design the locking granularity level
    • Implement indexes
    • Implement data types
    • Create and modify constraints
  • Implement programming objects (15-20%)
    • Design and implement stored procedures
    • Design T-SQL table-valued and scalar functions
    • Create, use, and alter user-defined functions (UDFs)
    • Create and alter views
  • Design database objects (25-30%)
    • Design tables
    • Design for concurrency
    • Design indexes
    • Design data integrity
    • Design for implicit and explicit transactions
  • Optimize and troubleshoot queries (25-30%)
    • Optimize and tune queries
    • Troubleshoot and resolve performance problems
    • Optimize indexes
    • Capture and analyze execution plans
    • Collect performance and system information

When studying for this exam, you’ll definitely want to look at the official exam page from Microsoft for the complete list of objectives covered. You’ll need to study each and every one of the objectives measured on the exam before attempting the exam successfully.

Training Materials

At the time of writing this summary, the 70-464 Developing Microsoft SQL Databases exam has a limited amount of Exam preparation material available. As a result, you may need to focus primarily on Microsoft documentation surrounding the technologies and skills measured on this exam.

However, there is a bit of overlap between this exam and the 70-762 Developing SQL Databases exam. It’s unclear at this time if this new exam is meant to replace this one, but there seems to be overlap either way. As a result, you may be able to use the study materials for 70-762 when studying for the 70-464 exam. You’ll at least want to check it out.


My recent Azure Training Courses on

As you may, or may not, be aware, my day job is working as a Senior Cloud Solution Architect at Opsgility. My job duties are generally the normal duties of a Senior Solution Architect, but I focus entirely on Microsoft Azure. It’s also my job to build out training content (courses, slides, demos, hands-on labs, etc) and as an instructor to deliver that content (on-demand video recordings and instructor led classes online and in-person). The primary goal of Opsgility is to enable businesses and teams in the Cloud.

On-Demand Azure Training

I know I haven’t posted much here on my day job with Opsgility, but I thought I’d share a list of some of the on-demand courses available from Opsgility that I’ve created, recorded, and published to the Opsgility video streaming service recently.

Here’s a list of my recently published Azure training and Microsoft Certification prep courses at Opsgility:

When signing up for an subscription, you’ll get a free trial initially to try out the service, before billing begins. I recommend you check out the service! I don’t only recommend because I work at Opsgility, but because we have the most up-to-date Azure training, and certification content in the industry. As a testament to our content, many large corporations, including Microsoft, hire us to train their Developers, IT Pros, and Database Engineers in Microsoft Azure.

Instructor-Led Azure Training

Opsgility offers MANY different Instructor led classes online as well as in-person. We train Microsoft as many other large corporations in Microsoft Azure all over the world! Personally, I’ve taught classes in many cities across the United States, as well as classes in Canada and Germany.

Here’s a short list of just a few of the Instructor Led classes that I’ve either built, taught, or both:

  • Azure Fundamentals – This course introduces key concepts for cloud computing and how Microsoft Azure aligns with those scenarios. Students are introduced to several key Azure services and solutions that align with the following technical disciplines including Infrastructure as a Service, Hybrid Cloud, Application Development, and Big Data and Analytics.
  • Designing and Implementing IoT Solutions – This course provides a comprehensive introduction to designing and implement Internet of Things (IoT) solutions on Microsoft Azure. The course covers both directions of message flow from device-to-cloud and cloud-to device, building analytics solutions atop the real-time telemetry, managing devices and securing the solution.
  • Architecting Azure Solutions – Exam 70-534 – This course is designed to help students gain valuable and in-depth architecture skills on Microsoft Azure along with gaining the essential skills to pass Microsoft Exam 70-534. This course will put the students through several interactive architecture sessions where as one or more teams they will design the appropriate solution to address an architecture scenario based on several services in Microsoft Azure.
  • Developing Cloud Solutions with Azure .NET – Exam 70-532 – This course is designed to introduce students to developing cloud based applications using Microsoft Azure and the Azure .NET SDK. This course covers key compute technologies such as virtual machines, cloud services, and App Services, as well as teaches how to build a developer environment and compose new applications using platform-as-a-service (PaaS) components.
  • Developing Cloud Solutions with Azure using Java – Exam 70-532 – This course is designed to introduce students to developing cloud based applications using Microsoft Azure and the Azure Java SDK. This course covers key compute technologies such as virtual machines, service fabric, and App Services, as well as teaches how to build a developer environment and compose new applications using platform-as-a-service (PaaS) components.

I know many of you reading this may already have a Pluralsight subscription, but you should know Opsgility training content on Azure is more up-to-date and is updated more frequently! That’s one of the big differences with Opsgility having expertise on staff, rather than solely relying on contractors like Pluralsight.

Disclaimer: The opinions express in this blog post and throughout my blog are my own. They do not reflect that of my employer, Opsgility. I also don’t mean any offense towards Pluralsight or Pluralsight Authors. Pluralsight has many great courses to learn all sorts of things, it’s just in my strong opinion that the way Opsgility does Azure Training courses is superior. Thanks!