In today’s digital world, the cloud reigns supreme. Cloud technologies have changed everything about how we live and work. Millions of applications powering everyday lives, products, and services are designed and deployed on the cloud. Cloud infrastructure has become the backbone of businesses particularly IT companies.
With more than scores of cloud service providers, it brings new challenges to organizations implementing cloud.
Microsoft has brought the Azure cloud platform, a holistic and comprehensive cloud computing service that enterprises deploy for their needs. It has given rise to the need for dedicated cloud solutions architects who have specialized knowledge of cloud technology infrastructure and expertise on Azure.
The Azure cloud solution architect is central to the functioning of IT companies and only an updated certification can align a cloud professional with the skills of real-world solutions on the Azure. However, to become an Azure solution architect, you have to navigate through a certification pathway that includes two exams, the AZ-303 and AZ-304.
Let us explore what you need to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect.
Who is an Azure Solutions Architect?
An Azure solutions architect has all-rounded skills and diverse experience in IT, especially in implementing and designing for the cloud, end-to-end. Responsibilities include advising the stakeholders and ensuring business needs are met with in a secure, scalable, and safe cloud platform. As the network has many products and services, the role of the Azure Architect as a Solutions Architect extends beyond the mere cloud platforms. Thus, the Azure Solution Architect works together with cloud administrators, cloud DBAs, and clients to implement reliable and efficient cloud solutions.
The Microsoft Azure certification helps to build these above capabilities. So it is important to have the necessary certifications to function responsibly within the Azure ecosystem.
How to become a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect?
Expertise in Compute, Network, Storage, and Security are critical skills for a Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect. He has to design solutions that can run on Azure and meet the business needs.
To become a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect, a candidate has to earn the Azure Expert certification by getting through the AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams.
The preparation path includes the following process:
- Review the skills and knowledge necessary to certify
- Train for the certification exams and take an instructor-led course
- Schedule your exams and get certified
The wannabe applicant for this certification must have “advanced experience and knowledge of IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data platform, budgeting, and governance.”
Domain expertise in designing and implementing solutions on Microsoft Azure is a necessary skill. An intermediate-level understanding of the Azure development and DevOps processes is a preferred qualification.
Azure Solution Architect Exams AZ-303 and AZ-304: A Guide
The AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams are part of Microsoft’s certification. You must pass both exams to earn the Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect certification. These exams cover all technologies and combine theoretical with practical tasks; you get a sandbox into Azure and apply what you learned. The topics covered are somewhat similar, with different aspects of them. For instance, the AZ-303 exam is more about how to set up something and its technical limitations. Whereas the AZ-304 deals with what service you should use to build a solution.
The AZ-303 exam is the Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies exam, the foremost process for the path to becoming an Azure Solutions Architect.
To take this exam the applicant must be experienced in various Azure roles including development, administration, and DevOps, with expertise in minimum one of these areas.
The AZ-303 focuses on core infrastructure topics.
The learning objectives of the AZ-303 exam are:
- Implementing and monitoring Azure infrastructure, including storage, virtual machines, networking, Azure Active Directory, and more.
- Implementing management and security solutions.
- Creating and deploying applications using the Azure App Service or any other container service.
- Implementing and managing data platforms.
The AZ-304 Microsoft Azure Architect Design exam is the next in the certification pathway. Applicants taking AZ-304 must have good knowledge of IT architecture and must have passed the Microsoft AZ-303 exam.
For this exam, applicants are expected to have advanced know-how of IT operations, and familiarity with principal concepts like virtualization, identity, security, disaster recovery, business continuity, data platform, budgeting, and governance. Applicants must also be aware of how changes in these concepts affect the overall solution. Aspirants for the AZ-304 are typically expert-level Azure administrators experienced with Azure DevOps and development processes.
The learning objectives of the AZ-304 exam are:
- Designing Azure monitoring (10-15%) – designing for cost optimization, designing a logging and monitoring solution
- Designing for identity and security using Azure Active Directory (25-30%) – designing authentication, authorization, governance, designing security for applications
- Designing a data storage solution (15-20%) – designing for databases, designing data integration, storage accounts
- Designing a business continuity strategy using components such as the Azure Site Recovery (10-15%) – designed for backup and recovery, and high availability
- Designing the Azure infrastructure (25-30%) – designing a compute solution, a network solution, an application architecture, designing migrations£
Taking the exams
You have two options for taking the exam: at an official test center or online. The AZ-303 exam takes 130 minutes, and the duration for AZ-304 is 150 minutes. You need a score of at least 700 out of 1000 to pass. Note that Microsoft uses a dynamic scoring system.
In the exam, you can expect 40 to 60 questions. This exam will have different types of question formats. Question types can be the best answer, brand review, build list, short answer, case studies, drag and drop, multiple-choice, multiple select, and the like.
The certification pathway for a Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect includes both AZ-303 and AZ-304, and the aspirant must be aware of the skill requirements and the roadmap for acquiring the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification and badge.