Tag: exam

Certification

New 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter Certification Exam

New exams are announced every so often as Microsoft continues to grow the array of Microsoft Azure and Cloud certifications to compliment the broad array of services they offer. These exams test and verify the skills necessary to work with, build with, and manage these various services. One of the latest exams being added is the new 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter certification exam. This exam will test and verify your skills in building a modern datacenter; one that uses software-defined networking using Windows Server 2016 and Virtual Machine Manager (VMM); rather than the traditional hardware-based networking model from the old days of on-premises datacenter.

NOTE: At the time of writing this exam summary of the 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter certification exam, the exam was just recently released as a Beta exam. There is limited information available on the exam at this time, but I will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Certification Target Audience

The 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter certification exam is geared towards IT Professionals with experience building out, securing, and managing Software-Defined Networking (SDN) environments for hosting Virtual Machines and Storage solutions. The exam will test your familiarity and understanding of Software-Defined Networking using Windows Server 2016 and Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).

Skills Measured

Here’s a very high level list of the skills and objectives measures on the 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter certification exam:

  • Plan and implement System Center Virtual Machine (VMM) Core Infrastructure
  • Implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
  • Implement Software-Defined Storage
  • Implement DataCenter Compute Solutions with Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • Secure your Software-Defined Datacenter
  • Monitor and Maintain the Software-Defined Datacenter

Training Materials

Being a newly announced exam (at the time of writing this) there is still a very limited amount of training / study material available for the 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter certification exam. You’ll want to focus mostly on the Microsoft documentation for Windows Server 2016 and Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) when studying at this time.

Fortunately, there is also a Exam Reference book announced from Microsoft Press to be coming soon. The Exam Ref 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter book will offer you the ability to hone in your studying to focus on the specific objectives and skills measured by this exam.

The Exam Ref 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter preparation book from Microsoft Press currently scheduled for release on July 25, 2017.

Happy studying!

Certification

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: http://exams.buildazure.com

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 (https://github.com/BuildAzure/ms-cert-finder). 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.

CertificationTraining

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.

Certification

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.

CertificationInfrastructure

70-247 Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud Certification Exam

Many of the newer certification exams from Microsoft target Azure and Public Cloud technologies. The Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud (70-247) certification exam is a little different since it will test expertise in monitoring and operating Private Cloud environments using Windows Server and Microsoft System Center 2012.

Certification Target Audience

The focus on the Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud (70-247) certification exam is centered around Microsoft System Center. The exam is designed to target candidates who have experience setting up security, high-availability, fault tolerance, and networking of enterprise environments using Windows Server, and System Center 2012. Candidates should also have basic SQL Server and PowerShell knowledge, and application configuration experience.

Skills Measured

Here is a high level list of the skills and objectives measured on the Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud (70-247) The percentages next to each of the objectives represent the percentage of the exam questions that will be focus on that specific objective.

  • Design and deploy System Center (15-20%)
    • Design a scalable System Center architecture
    • Install the System Center infrastructure
    • Upgrade System Center components
  • Configure System Center infrastructure (20-25%)
    • Configure System Center components
    • Configure portals and dashboards
  • Configure the fabric (25-30%)
    • Configure the storage fabric
    • Configure the network fabric
    • Configure and manage the deployment and update servers
    • Configure clouds and virtualization hosts
  • Configure System Center integration (15-20%)
    • Configure private cloud integration
    • Configure integration of private and public clouds
  • Configure and deploy virtual machines and services (15-20%)
    • Configure profiles
    • Create and configure server App-V packages
    • Configure and deploy a service
    • Update a service

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

Training Materials

There are a few training resources (paid and free) for preparing for the Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud (70-247) certification exam. Below is a list of a few of these resources:

Free Videos

Practice Test / Exam

Book

Exam Ref 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud

Prepare for Microsoft Exam 70-247—and help demonstrate your real-world mastery configuring and deploying a private cloud using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. Designed for experienced IT professionals ready to advance their status, Exam Ref focuses on the critical-thinking and decision-making acumen needed for success at the MCSE level.

CertificationInfrastructure

70-246 Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud Certification Exam

Many of the newer certification exams from Microsoft target Azure and Public Cloud technologies. The Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud (70-246) certification exam is a little different since it will test expertise in monitoring and operating Private Cloud environments using Windows Server and Microsoft System Center 2012.

Certification Target Audience

The focus on the Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud (70-246) certification exam is centered around Microsoft System Center. The exam is designed to target candidates who have experience setting up security, high-availability, fault tolerance, and networking of enterprise environments using Windows Server, and System Center 2012.

Skills Measured

Here is a high level list of the skills and objectives measured on the Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud (70-246) exam. The percentages next to each of the objectives represent the percentage of the exam questions that will be focus on that specific objective.

  • Configure data center process automation (15-20%)
    • Implement workflows
    • Implement service offerings
  • Deploy resource monitoring (20-25%)
    • Deploy end-to-end monitoring
    • Configure end-to-end monitoring
    • Create monitoring reports and dashboards
  • Monitor resources (20-25%)
    • Monitor network devices
    • Monitor servers
    • Monitor the virtualization layer
    • Monitor application health
  • Configure and maintain service management (15-20%)
    • Implement service level agreements
    • Manage problems and incidents
    • Manage cloud resources
  • Manage configuration and protection (20-25%)
    • Manage compliance and configuration
    • Manage updates
    • Implement backup and recovery

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

Training Materials

There are a few training resources (paid and free) for preparing for the Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud (70-246) certification exam. Below is a list of a few of these resources:

Free Videos

Practice Test / Exam

Book

Exam Ref 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud

Prepare for Microsoft Exam 70-246–and help demonstrate your real-world mastery of monitoring and operating a private cloud based on Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. Designed for experienced IT professionals ready to advance their status, Exam Ref focuses on the critical-thinking and decision-making acumen needed for success at the MCSE level.

Certification

Azure Certification: Where to Start? 2016 Edition

The choice of choosing which certification to obtain can be a tricky one, especially if you’ve never studied for or taken a Microsoft Certification exam before. It can also be daunting if you don’t know anyone else who has done it either. You shouldn’t let this discourage you. It may be a bit confusing, but it’s actually not all that complicated. This article outlines some of the specifics in what certification you might want to target for your specific skills or interest, as well as some tips to help on your way to getting Microsoft Certified in Microsoft Azure.

What Azure Certifications are there?

Microsoft recently announced a complete revamp of the Microsoft Certified Professional program creating 5 new MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) certifications. While these MCSD and MCSE are the “big” certifications that require passing multiple exams to obtain, there are some alternatives that only require passing 1 or 2 exams.

Here’s a list of the specific Microsoft Certifications that include 1 or more exams that cover Microsoft Azure. The list starts with the “easier” certifications that only require 1 exam to get, then it moves to certifications that require 2 or more exams to get.

The certifications above really to work on a progression where they build on each other. You take 1 exam, possibly get one of the MS certifications, then take a second exam to get an MCSA, then take the third exam to build up to an MCSE or MCSD! The additive nature of the new certification structure is awesome!

The additive nature of the new Microsoft Certification structure is awesome!

There are also a few MCSA certifications that provide foundations for the bigger MCSE and MCSD certifications that don’t specifically cover an Azure exam that are worth noting. These let you target a specific specialty, while build an MCSD or MCSE on top of them by passing a more Azure focused exam.

  • 2 Exams Required
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Web App
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Universal Windows Platform
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2016
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 / 2014
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 Database Development
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 Database Administration
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 BI Development

The new certification landscape has the Microsoft Azure cloud focused exams much more interwoven within the various Microsoft Certifications. There is now a pretty diverse set of Microsoft Certifications that include Microsoft Azure skills.. You no longer have just 2 choices (an MS or MCSD) when getting a certification that includes Microsoft Azure skills.

Microsoft Certification Roadmap

At first read the above list of certifications can be a bit confusing or even overwhelming. An image to lay out the specifics can really help out, so the below image provides a nice visual representation.

2016_microsoft_certification_paths

Each horizontal track in the image is a very specific expertise category / area. Most of these areas offer multiple options of MCSA (2 exam certifications) to start with. Then each one has a single exam path in order to build on from the MCSA certification into either an MCSD or MCSE, depending on the specific skills area.

One note about the image that will help in reading it is to look at the white dots along the colored tracks. Each dot represents a single exam, then the star represents an MCSA certification that is achieved after passing those exams. Finally, after passing a chosen elective exam the MCSA is built on to obtain a full MCSE or MCSD certification.

Attribution: This roadmap image was originally posted on the Born to Learn site.

Certification Renewals

It takes a lot of work and can take a significant amount of time to pass certain Microsoft certification exams. The amount of time and work all varies depending on the individual. Once you do finally achieve that Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification it will stay “active” until Microsoft decides to retire it. This generally doesn’t happen for a few years.

Just as your technical expertise and skills evolve over time, the Microsoft Certifications are setup to evolve along with you. For this reason, the MCSD and MCSE certifications stay current for 1 year after achieving them. Then, you can take 1 elective exam each year to keep your certification current and renewed for the following year. This allows you to show growth year over year and adapt your knowledge / skills to the ever changing technology landscape.

Instead of taking one “renewal” exam that include topics from multiple exams with update content, or requiring you to take multiple separate exams to earn a new MCSD or MCSE, the new certification structure allows you to take just 1 Elective Exam to renew and stay current. As your skills evolve over time and flow along with the pulse of the industry, you can take your choice of elective exam that fits what you need. You not only tailor your MCSD or MCSE more personally to you, but when you renew the certification each year you still have the option to keep your certification personalized to your skills.

You not only tailor your MCSD or MCSE more personally to you, but when you renew the certification each year you still have the option to keep your certification personalized to your skills.

As an example, when you’ve obtained the MCSE or MCSD certifications you have a list of up to 10 elective exams (depending on the particular MCSD or MCSE) to choose from when renewing your certification. This is a tremendous different from only a single choice of renewal exam that old MCSE or MCSD certifications have offered in the past.

Where are Study Materials?

There are many videos, articles, books and other materials available to use for studying for Microsoft certification exams. The details page for each specific exam on the Microsoft Learning site contains the list of objectives covered on the exam as well as links to books and practice exams that can be used to study.

Before I give you a big list of study materials, first here’s a list of blog posts I’ve previously published outlining the various study materials I’ve personally used to study for a couple of the Microsoft Azure Certification exams:

Here’s a list of some generally useful resources that can be used to study for certification exams and generally learn about Microsoft Azure. These resources are ALL FREE!

Here are some Exam Reference books from Microsoft Press that specifically target objectives for individual exams:

In addition to videos, articles, books, etc., it can be very useful to utilize Practice Exams. There are a couple different practice exam vendors that offer these. A couple of these vendors are MeasureUp and MindHub. Personally, I’ve used MeasureUp, but I’ve seen MindHub linked to from the Microsoft Certification site as well.

Speaking of Practice Exams; here’s a link to a Free, Open Source project I created while studying for the Azure developer exam that contains many practice test questions on the exam objectives for the Microsoft Azure developer (70-532) exam:

An important study note to be aware of is to stay clear of “brain dumps.” As I’ve outlined previous, brain dumps are cheating and violate the terms you agree to in order to take a Microsoft Certification exam.

In addition to all the free resources available and the exam reference books are training courses from online course providers too. Here’s a couple of the vendors that offer paid Azure video training courses:

There are many more vendors and resources available. The above lists are hardly encompassing, but hopefully the give you plenty of places to start.

How to take an exam?

Once you’ve studied and feel you’re ready to take a certification exam, you must then register for the exam. The exam information pages on the Microsoft Certification site for each of the exams offered contains a “Schedule exam” button. Just click this button and it’ll take you through the process of picking a date and time to take the exam.

Currently, each Microsoft Certification exam costs $165 USD to take; whether you pass or not.

There are 2 options for taking Microsoft certification exams. The main on is to physically take it at a testing center. However, if you have an isolated space you can elect to take certification exams from home (or really anywhere else) as well, or Online Proctored.

The online proctored delivery method of taking Microsoft Certification exams may not be available for all exams offered. When available it can offer a much higher level of convenience; especially if you live a considerable distance from the closest testing center. The below link contains requirements and other information necessary about the online proctored exam deliver option:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/online-proctored-exams.aspx

Exam Retakes!

microsoft_certification_boosterpackEveryone fails an exam from time to time. There can be many reasons, from not studying enough, not being quite ready enough, to just taking the exam to see if you can pass without first studying. There are MANY reasons you may fail an exam. Don’t let this discourage you from studying more and trying again!

Since it’s common for people to fail a Microsoft Certification exam from time to time, you are allowed to retake the exam again. However, you do need to pay the exam fee again for each time you attempt an exam. For this reason, Microsoft offers Booster Packs that give you a discount on exam retakes. A couple of the Booster Pack options even include a Practice Test to help studying!

Please post your own Microsoft Certification experiences in the comments. Also, don’t be afraid to post questions too. I’m always happy to help!

Happy studying!

Certification

New MCSA: Cloud Platform Certification

mcsa_cloud_platform_certAmong the many Microsoft Certification changes and updates announced around the Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference recently is the addition of the brand new MCSA: Cloud Platform certification. There are a total of 5 Microsoft Azure specific exam, and this new MCSA certification wraps those up into an easier certification to achieve. But, don’t worry, you only need to pass 2 of the exams to earn the new MCSA: Cloud Platform certification.

What exams qualify?

With the recent changes there have not been any new certification exams announced, so currently there are the same 5 Azure exams we’ve had for awhile now. Here’s the list of exams to choose from for the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification:

As you can see, the topics covered by the exams for the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification have a fairly good range in areas around the Microsoft Azure cloud; from infrastructure, to development, to architecture, to data and big data.

Which exams should I take?

mcsa_cloudplatform_certificateThe requirements for the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification are setup similarly to the new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification that it’s a foundational path for. You pick the specific exams that fit your expertise, work role, and/or interests in a way that tailors your MCSA: Cloud Platform certification in the direction you want. However, it can be difficult to choose which exams to take, so here’s a list of some example “expertise areas” and the suggested exams you could take to earn an MCSA: Cloud Platform certification that’s tailored for that area:

  • Azure / Cloud Developer
    • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Infrastructure and Architecture
    • 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
    • 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • Big Data Architect
    • 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Data and Big Data
    • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
  • Azure / Cloud Big Data Developer
    • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions

The above are just a few examples of the different combinations of 2 exams you could take to earn the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification.

Foundation for MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

mcse_cloud_platform_and_infrastructure_certThe MCSA: Cloud Platform is one of the 4 different new MCSA certifications that provide the foundation to earning the new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. There have been some “foundational” type paths in Microsoft certifications in the past, but the new changes to the program offer different certification paths in a fairly easy to follow way. You can choose the path that fits you best with the appropriate exams, and there’s plenty of room to turn it up to 11 and earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification.

The path from MCSA: Cloud Platform to MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification only requires a total of 3 exams to be passed. You take the first 2 to earn the MCSA: Cloud Platform (as shown above), and then you take 1 additional elective exam to upgrade that MCSA to earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification!

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure offers a total of 10 elective exams to choose from! This give you full flexibility to tailor your certification to your own interests, expertise or work role with plenty of options to choose the path best for you!

Happy studying!

ArchitectureCertificationDevelopmentOpen Source

Open Source Azure Certification Practice Tests

Studying for the Azure certification exams can be a daunting task. One of the most difficult things is knowing whether you’re ready to sit the actual exam or not. Take the exam too early, you’ll fail. Not understand how the questions will be written, you could fail. Over prepare, and you’ll pass but possibly waste some time. To really hone in on a certification exam, the use of a practice test / exam can be extremely useful. In an effort to help others studying for these exams, I have started creating a couple Free, Open Source Azure certification practice exams. Read More