Preparing for your Azure Administrator Certification (AZ-103) - Part 1

Part 1: Preparing for the Microsoft AZ-103 Azure Administrator Exam 

Skylines Academy Approach 

Who should take the exam? The AZ-103 exam is intended to validate skills and expertise of Azure Administrators. It is recommended that individuals have previous knowledge on deploying, configuring and managing cloud or data center components such as storage, compute and networking. The Skylines Academy team has seen success stories from students with a variety of experience. Plan on setting aside more time to study if you do not have experience with the Azure platform. Previous Azure experience is beneficial to pass the exam, but not required. 

Once you’ve studied and sat the exam and get that passing score, you’ll now be a rightfully proud Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate. 

 
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If you are just starting out, we recommend you look at the AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals for core Azure cloud concepts but this is not a pre-requisite.  

Below is a roadmap for the certification paths

 
Source: Microsoft Role-based Certification Roadmap

Source: Microsoft Role-based Certification Roadmap

 

Why take the exam: 

Whether it's an employer requirement or you are looking to validate your skills, these tests certify your Azure knowledge and are a great addition to your resume. Ops engineers are in high demand for cloud and this certification can jumpstart your career and journey with Azure.   

How to Prepare: 

  1. Review the Microsoft Exam Blueprint: This should be your first stop during exam preparation. Microsoft uses the blueprint to break down topics and assign a weight (% of questions) to the exam so you’ll have an idea how much to study for each section. 

  2. Invest in an online course to help walk you through what’s going to be on the Exam. Throughout the Skylines Academy Microsoft AZ 103 Certification Course, Master Instructor Nick Colyer will walk you through objectives and demo with the portal and PowerShell knowledge you will need to take and pass the exam. Make sure to be hands-on and spin up your own Azure environment to follow along. 

  3. Set up your own Azure subscription to familiarize yourself with Azure services which are covered in the exam. Check out the free Azure Trial Account Creation demo to help you get set up.  

  4. Brush up on PowerShell commands by downloading the free PowerShell Reference Guide. You can complete the exam with the GUI or PowerShell, Microsoft doesn’t score differently; As long as you complete the task correctly. A command line option may come up as the only way to solve an issue, so it is good to familiarize yourselves with PowerShell commands. 

  5. Gain more detail with Microsoft Documentation. We’ve put together some handy Study Guides which reference the most-relevant links for studying for the exam. We understand that everyone has different learning styles. Some people require additional post-course reading and Microsoft makes it easy to read up on any Azure topic imaginable though docs.  

  6. Take practice tests. We’ve put together 80 practice questions based on our experience taking the exam and feedback from students.   

  7. Ask your peers! There thousands of like-minded individuals who are studying for or have already taken the AZ-103 exam. Check out the Azure Study Group and feel free to join, post, and see what your fellow Azure students are up to. 

Other Useful Resources  

  1. Microsoft Learning Paths: There are also Microsoft learning paths online available for different topics.   

  2. GitHub Repo: Here you can find labs to deploy code in your own environment. 

  3. Blogs: Here’s a list of blogs we found useful in studying for the AZ-103: 

    1. Build Azure: Chris Pietschmann provides comprehensive Azure updates and Microsoft certification paths. We highly recommend this blog to keep up-to-date and find your path to learning Azure. 

    2. Azure Greg: Gregor Suttie has a ton of passion and knowledge about all things Azure. H also has some great posts on best practices and study links/resources. 

    3. Cooper’s Cloud: Aside from being all all-around great guy, Cooper’s blog is phenomenal. He's an Azure engineer and uses what he learns in the field to share with Azure students. 

Let us know about your success! We love to empower our students and promote them. You can reach us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

 
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As of Today the Microsoft Blueprint is as follows:

Manage Azure subscriptions and resources (15-20%) 

  • Manage Azure subscriptions 

    •  Assign administrator permissions, configure cost center quotas and tags, configure policies for Azure subscriptions at the sub level 

  • Analyze resource utilization and consumption 

    • Configure diagnostic settings on resources, create baseline for resources, create and rest alerts, analyze alerts across subscription, analyze metrics across subscription, create action groups, monitor for unused resources, monitor spend, report on spend, utilize Log Search query functions, view alerts in Log Analytics 

  • Manage resource groups 

    • use Azure policies for resource groups, configure resource locks, configure resource policies, identify auditing requirements, implement and set tagging on resource groups, move resources across resource groups, remove resource groups 

  • Manage role-based access control (RBAC) 

    • create a custom role, configure access to Azure resources by assigning roles, configure management access to Azure, troubleshoot RBAC, implement RBAC policies, assign RBAC Roles 

Implement and manage storage (15-20%) 

  • Create and configure storage accounts 

    • configure network access to the storage account, create and configure storage account, generate shared access signature, install and use Azure Storage Explorer, manage access keys, monitor activity log by using Log Analytics, implement Azure storage replication 

  • Import and export data to Azure 

    • create export from Azure job, create import into Azure job, Use Azure Data Box, configure and use Azure blob storage, configure Azure content delivery network (CDN) endpoints 

  • Configure Azure files 

    • create Azure file share, create Azure File Sync service, create Azure sync group, troubleshoot Azure File Sync 

  • Implement Azure backup 

    • configure and review backup reports, perform backup operation, create Recovery Services Vault, create and configure backup policy, perform a restore operation 

Deploy and manage virtual machines (VMs) (15-20%) 

  • Create and configure a VM for Windows and Linux 

    • configure high availability, configure monitoring, networking, storage, and virtual machine size, deploy and configure scale sets 

  • Automate deployment of VMs 

    • modify Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template, configure location of new VMs, configure VHD template, deploy from template, save a deployment as an ARM template, deploy Windows and Linux VMs 

  • Manage Azure VM 

    • add data discs, add network interfaces, automate configuration management by using PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) and VM Agent by using custom script extensions, manage VM sizes; move VMs from one resource group to another, redeploy VMs 

  • Manage VM backups 

    • configure VM backup, define backup policies, implement backup policies, perform VM restore, Azure Site Recovery 

Configure and manage virtual networks (30-35%) 

  • Create connectivity between virtual networks 

    • create and configure VNET peering, create and configure VNET to VNET, verify virtual network connectivity, create virtual network gateway,  

  • Implement and manage virtual networking 

    • configure private and public IP addresses, network routes, network interface, subnets, and virtual network 

  • Configure name resolution 

    • configure Azure DNS, configure custom DNS settings, configure private and public DNS zones 

  • Create and configure a Network Security Group (NSG) 

    • create security rules, associate NSG to a subnet or network interface, identify required ports, evaluate effective security rules 

  • Implement Azure load balancer 

    • configure internal load balancer, configure load balancing rules, configure public load balancer, troubleshoot load balancing 

  • Monitor and troubleshoot virtual networking 

    • monitor on-premises connectivity, use Network resource monitoring, use Network Watcher, troubleshoot external networking, troubleshoot virtual network connectivity 

  • Integrate on premises network with Azure virtual network

    • create and configure Azure VPN Gateway, create and configure site to site VPN, configure Express Route, verify on premises connectivity, troubleshoot on premises connectivity with Azure 

Manage identities (15-20%) 

  • Manage Azure Active Directory (AD) 

    • add custom domains, Azure AD Join, configure self-service password reset, manage multiple directories 

  • Manage Azure AD objects (users, groups, and devices) 

    • create users and groups, manage user and group properties, manage device settings, perform bulk user updates, manage guest accounts 

  • Implement and manage hybrid identities 

    • install Azure AD Connect, including password hash and pass-through synchronization, use Azure AD Connect to configure federation with on-premises Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), manage Azure AD Connect, manage password sync and password writeback 

  • Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) 

    • configure user accounts for MFA, enable MFA by using bulk update, configure fraud alerts, configure bypass options, configure Trusted IPs, configure verification methods