I recently sat the Microsoft exam AZ-100: Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Deployment. This was only my second Microsoft exam, the other being 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (now retired). I generally approach IT exams with a healthy dose of skepticism as my experience has shown them to be scattered with errors, poor wording, and questions of dubious quality. However I found AZ-100 to be above the average of exams I have taken. Here are some of my thoughts on the exam.
Microsoft overhauled their Azure certifications in 2018. The old program consisted of about four exams (70-532, 70-533, 70-535, 70-537) that covered Azure development, operations/administration, architecture, and Azure Stack. You had your choice on which exams to take, with certification being awarded based on the number of exams completed. I passed the 70-535 exam and was working towards 70-533 when I learned that 70-535 was to be retired in December 2018 and the entire system overhauled. Recognizing that some candidates had passed the existing exams, Microsoft released transition exams that allowed migration to the new certification system. Transition exams cover the new material in the ‘role-based’ certifications that the 70-series exams did not cover. I was a little annoyed about the mid-course change, but it happens as certifications struggle to keep up with the pace of change.
Rather than immediately tackle the Architect transition exam, I started working towards AZ-100. It is the first of two exams required to earn the Azure Administrator Associate certification. I was already reviewing similar material for 70-533 as well as starting deployment of some resources for a major project at work. This made it easy to get both reading and hands-on practice towards AZ-100 objectives throughout the week. My study heavily focused on Microsoft Docs. Reading was accompanied by a heavy dose of hands-on practice. Some of this was accomplished during the day as it fell directly in-line with work objectives. The remainder I completed using my personal pay-as-you-go account. Costs associated with labs of the various objectives were trivial. Some premium features were required such as Azure AD P2 to practice some of the Identity objectives. Fortunately Azure offers a trial period for many premium features. I only needed the premium resources for a short time - well within the free trial period.
The quality of the questions and their relevance to the material were better than average, in my opinion. This is based on an exam history heavily weighted towards Cisco, but with some F5 and CompTIA exams. It wasn’t totally without a few poorly worded questions, but most were workable if you knew the material and could discern what property the questioner was trying to assess. There were moments that I needed to fill a wide gap with assumptions about what the question was asking, but the answer seemed reasonable enough to have confidence in its selection. Fortunately there were few trivia-like questions. Either the writers avoided this annoyance or I had the luck of the draw with my questions.
I left with generally good impressions from the exam. From a candidate’s standpoint it followed the listed objectives and was supported by plenty of easily-available documentation for preparation. As a technical interviewer I can expect a vetted candidate having passed the exam to demonstrate knowledge of the covered concepts. No certification system will ever be perfect but Microsoft has done a decent job with this exam. I plan to take other exams in the AZ-series and will see if others hold up to the same standard.