I recently took and passed Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (70-534) and earned Microsoft’s MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. In this post I have summarised my experience to help you be successful.
I used PluralSight’s 70-534 video training course taught by Orin Thomas to prepare for the exam. The course if very good but be prepared for some detail heavy slides, screenshot and your favourite notes tool will help! Having an AWS and Rackspace Cloud background, I found making the logical switch to Azure was like driving a new car – switching the window wipers when trying to indicate. Everything is similar but not quite the same. It took me a couple of days to get used to so I advise building some time in to your studies if you are making the switch from another platform.
UPDATE: On 20/02/2017 Linux Academy released their 70-534 course, which I have reviewed and highly recommend. It follows their usual high standard with hands on labs and great documentation.
The exam is structured in a familiar Microsoft format with a mixture of multiple choice, drag and drop (what is the correct order of doing x or y from a list of options), drop down selections (complete this code snipper by choosing the correct commands etc.) and scenario based questions with a time allotment of 2 hours 30 minutes. I finished with about 45 minutes remaining. There were 65 questions that started with a scenario, was followed by 35-40 standalone questions (a mix of the afore mentioned styles) and completed with two more scenarios (total of 3 scenarios). The scenarios ranged from 6 to 10 questions and are made up of a company use case with high-level requirements, business requirements, technical requirements and some are accompanied by a network diagram. I personally find these the hardest questions to answer because they can be wordy and the answer to any questions can come from one or more sections – make sure you take the time to read and understand the scenario.
Thoughts and guidance:
- When you sign up for the exam I recommend taking the option to include access to the Measure Up practice test – great for getting used to the exam structure and content.
- Understand the limitations and implementation process (and order) of ExpressRoute
- Understand VPNs and their implementation method (tip: what services require a point-to-site VPN? – this one didn’t come naturally to me)
- When learning about authentication, pay particular attention to the order to get things configured (federation, oauth, AD etc), I got a lot of ‘place this in order’ type questions relating to authentication
- Understand the different queues and when to use each
- When is DPM used, when is it not used?
- Get familiar with the CLI and PowerShell – prepare for ‘complete this code snippet’ questions
I highly recommend reading all of the official exam guidance from Microsoft as this gives a good feel for the key focus areas. Also beware that the exam was updated in Q4 of 2016 which leaves some training sources lagging slightly behind with their content. The training mentioned in this article are up to date.
In summary, the exam is difficult and covers a very wide range of topics but I personally found that there was ample time to read through and answer the questions without having to rush. There was also time to go back and review any marked questions. Beware with marking for review, questions have to be reviewed and submitted at the end of each section before moving on and once a section has been submitted, it is final. Also beware there are questions in sequence that form the basis of one overall answer and these questions cannot be revisited or marked for review.
Good Luck and, as always, if there is anything I can do to assist – get in touch!
Some Useful Links:
Linux Academy’s course: https://linuxacademy.com/cp/modules/view/id/94
PluralSight’s course: https://app.pluralsight.com/paths/certificate/azure-solutions-70-534
Microsoft’s Cloud Design Patterns: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn600223.aspx