I’m not a massive fan of certifications, but I understand why people do them and the benefits which can arise from the whole process of achieving them. I did a lot of them in the past when my career was more geared around infrastructure work rather than coding. However, I wanted to learn about Microsoft Azure and since it is such a large topic to get to grips with, decided that pursuing the 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions exam would be a good way to focus on learning an initial subset of what is available to work with in Azure.
Currently, as of 20/03/2017, there are a couple of Azure exam bundle deals available which are worth checking out. Basically, for roughly just under the cost of taking the exam on its own, you get a free resit voucher and a MeasureUp practise test thrown in as part of the bundle. I found the MeasureUp test a pretty good barometer for where I was with my learning and ended up going over all of the topics again to gain a better understanding that the practise test was highlighting was needed. These practise tests can be a bit hit and miss in my past experience, but I thought this one was a pretty good indicator of what the actual exam turned out to be like.
I used a lot of different resources to prepare for the exam, the homepage is the obvious first place to start so you are aware of which areas of Azure are being tested.
https://buildazure.com has some info about how the exam changed towards the end of 2016 to be more focused on ARM rather than ASM:
Azure Infrastructure Exam (70-533) Gets ARM Refresh
Being comfortable with PowerShell and JSON is a pre-requisite before attempting any of the training I would suggest.
Once familiar with the objectives I used some online training as the largest part of my learning experience:
Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (70-533) from Pluralsight; some of it is a little out of date given the above exam changes, but still a very useful starting point
Azure Resource Manager Deep Dive from Pluralsight
I also watched a few chapters from Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (70-534) on Pluralsight. Even though it was for a different exam, there is still a lot of crossover and it was useful for a review of topics I had already covered.
Having then started on the MeasureUp practice test and realised more work was required I tried out the free Microsoft Azure training mentioned as part of their bundle offering above, which is free to anyone even if not signing up to one of the bundles. If you don’t have access to Pluralsight then this would be a good place to start. In my case I found it useful to revisit topics I had already learnt. This site was also good for the extra practice questions it contains.
Craig Kilborn has some useful info on his site:
70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – Prep & Exam Experience
The Microsoft site Channel 9 has a large Azure section of videos to choose from. In particular finding relevant videos in the Azure Fridays series was good as a refresher as the exam date approached, for example Azure ScaleSets or Azure CDN.
Finally, I found it really useful to team up with a colleague who is going for the same exam and regularly review things learnt and compare notes – I learnt a lot from doing this and would suggest trying the same if you can.
Last Minute Preparation
As some last minute preparation for the exam I committed to memory as much as possible from the key facts around Azure Web Apps, Azure SQL and Azure VMs, such as in the below screenshots from the Azure portal for Web Apps. Then at the beginning of the exam, I wrote down as much as possible that I could remember on the materials provided before tackling the questions.
This is part of the reason why I don’t like certs since to me it is fairly pointless to memorise something that could easily be looked up if necessary. However, it was worth it for having a good awareness of, for instance which Web App tier would be suitable for a described application type.
You can obtain similar information from the portal for Azure SQL and Azure VMs.
and then Happy Days 🙂