Azure Solutions Architect – AZ-300 : Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

Hi all, sorry it’s been a while since my last post! Between ever busy project deadlines at work and studying for the AZ-300 Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies exam, I’ve not had a lot of time to commit to updating this.

You may be pleased to know, that i did pass the exam and will update you below on the resources I used that I found helpful.

Firstly, a warning. I found this exam crazy hard. My background is as a software developer and if you talk to me about software practices, i’m there. This exam is all about the technologies available to you as an architect and crucially, the infrastructure that holds it all together. That means there is a lot of content over networks, configuring secure connections, managing virtual machines across platforms and more. I can tell you that if you are unfamiliar with these concepts you will struggle with this exam without a lot of prep before hand.

As always, i’d strongly recommend you review the requirements first before starting any learning. This was first written back in May 2019 but there are always updates, the most recent being 22/05/2019. Make sure you check the Microsoft Official page before studying to ensure it is still relevant!

I bought the ‘Certify with Confidence‘ bundle which includes the exam, 2 resits (if required) and a mock exam for £209/£265 +tax. This is fairly good value if you need the resits but as a i passed first time, i ended up paying a bit over the odds for this. That said, I personally prefer having the psychological buffer of knowing that it’s not the end of the world if i don’t pass first time.

As part of the Certify with Confidence, you get a Microsoft Official practice exam that you can redeem against any exam that meets the criteria. I obviously used it for an AZ-300 practice test provided by measure up and it was quite frankly, rubbish. Having used them before when i studied for my MCSD, I knew what to expect but what I was surprised about was the complete lack of relevance it felt like the exams had against what i was actually questioned on in the exam. I think this is because the Solutions Architect is supposed to have such a wide breadth of knowledge, that ultimately it’s impossible to realistically test you on it.

Learning Materials

I personally found that finding decent learning materials for this course was hard. Any new qualification struggles with having enough resources available online and Microsoft in particular have suffered from this in the past, relying heavily on third parties to do their training for them.

For AZ-300 I found that the new mslearn website was actually pretty good. This replaces the old Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) which although has some fundamentals courses on it for C# that don’t really age, the Azure stuff is so out of date you should avoid like the plague.

MSLearn

This website can be filtered by the role ‘Solutions Architect’ and then add a learning path to give you related information quickly.

The really nice thing about MSLearn is the sandbox mode that allows you to actually code along using the Azure CLI. This is a great way to learn and test your knowledge in a practical way. One word of warning on this though, the course will literally tell you what to do and it’s easy to not learn anything by copy pasting the answers in and think you now know it. Make sure you come back and redo everything and try to do as much of it as possible from memory or your other learning resources as an aid.

Pluralsight

There are alot of available sites for learning, from Lynda, LinkedInLearning and Udemy but from having tried them all I think Pluralsight is currently coming out on top in terms of having the best relevent and up to date content for the ASA qualification. It’s not cheap, but you get a free trial with pluralsight and can add a free month from your Developer perks from Microsoft portal.

Most importantly with Pluralsight is that Microsoft have partnered with them to provide a fair amount of content for FREE.

https://www.pluralsight.com/partners/microsoft/azure

The link above will give you access to a whole range of Azure courses and all you have to do is link you account. Definitely worth a minute of your time!

Azure Architecture Center

The final resource I would recommend is the Azure Architecture Center. This is a great place for high level concepts and examples for how to structure your applications. It has a surprisingly clear and well written prose for Microsoft and covers a really wide range of topics, from structures and terminology to anti patterns.

Just do it!

Hopefully all this helps. The biggest thing I learnt is that there is a lot of bad, or out of date content out there. Azure has progressed so quickly in the last few years that even semi recent documents are wrong, or buttons have moved in the UI etc. Stick to official documents or official partners to stay relevant and always select courses that show the current year in the title where possible.

The absolute best advice is to simply do it. Design a simple system, then provision the infrastructure in Azure under a single Resource Group. Delete as soon as you’ve finished to avoid excessive costs. The big moral of the story here is that the easist way to see whats current is by doing it right now, so Just Do It!

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