Azure Certified: AZ-104 Resources

Disclaimer: Microsoft reviews certifications regularly to help ensure that they remain relevant, technically accurate and that they assess the skills needed to thrive in a cloud-based world. Exams evolve over time and may change without notice. This post represents my best knowledge of the AZ-104 exam as of Q1 2021, but you should always consult Microsoft’s Official AZ-104 Exam Page for the contents of the exam.

Passing the AZ-900 exam provided me with:

  • my first experience taking a Microsoft Azure certification exam
  • my first experience taking an online proctored exam
  • a needed confidence boost that I had the knowledge to pass the exam

Next, I made the decision to study and take the AZ-104 Azure Administrator Exam. This would allow me to get a second experience with the first two points above and some additional confidence (or not) when I passed.

What is an Azure Administrator Associate?

The Azure Administrator Exam is an opportunity to prove subject matter expertise implementing, managing, and monitoring an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment. Anyone looking to take the exam should have experience implementing, managing, and monitoring identity, governance, storage, compute, and virtual networks in a cloud environment, including provisioning, sizing, monitoring, and adjusting resources when needed.

If you plan to take this exam, Microsoft recommends that you should have at least six months of hands-on experience administering Azure, along with a strong understanding of core Azure services, Azure workloads, security, and governance. In addition, this role should have experience using PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure portal, and Azure Resource Manager templates.

The Azure Administrator can also be used to prepare for other Azure role-based or specialty certifications, but it is not a prerequisite for most of them.

How Did I Prepare?

I once again relied on my on-the-job Azure experience. My prior two years as a Cloud Engineer provided a great deal of real work experience provisioning and support various solutions across Azure. As with the AZ-900, I wanted to be sure that I knew the types of questions that would be asked so I could be prepared. I spent about a week studying an hour or two a night for the exam which still feels like exactly the right amount that I needed.

What Resources Did I Use to Prepare?

I used the following resources to get ready:

Keep in mind that I did not work my way through every part of the resources above. I opted to focus on the sections of the exam where my knowledge was not as strong.

My Challenge Area

While I cannot talk about exam specifics for obvious reasons, I do want to point out the areas that I struggled with the most:

Azure AD & Identity continued to be an area where I struggled. At this point, I don’t see myself getting any hands-on experience at my current employer unless I decide to take a role on the Security Identity Team. My percentage correct went up this time around, but that was due to the amount of time I spent studying for the area.

Azure Backup gave me a run for my money. A large part of our infrastructure is IaaS, where we use another backup solution. In the scenarios where we do use the Azure Backup service, there is honestly not much to think about these days. The number of options available is daunting and honestly who has them all memorized? When I do need to confirm something, I’m always referring to the Azure documentation which is what I hope everyone else is also doing.

The Test

I once again took the exam remotely through PearsonVue due to COVID-19. I gave myself exactly seven days to prepare and study when I scheduled the exam following my previous decision knowing that giving myself a deadline would force me to put in the work needed to pass.

Same procedure as the previous experience. I took the test in my home office. The night before I made sure to disconnect and clear out anything that might be an issue for the online proctor. I set up my laptop on my desk, provided pictures of my setup, driver’s license, and face, then sat in front of my computer while the proctor verified that everything was good to go. I never had to talk with them at all, the exam launched, and I started to work through it. This exam was overall much harder than the AZ-900. You really had to know the technical details of how things worked to answer the questions. I finished in a little under one and a half hours (you have a full three hours for the test).

Immediately after the test, I received my detailed score breakdown in various areas and was told that I passed. An e-mail shows up no more than an hour later with details on getting my certificate, claiming it on Acclaim, sharing it on LinkedIn, etc.

What’s Ahead?

The Azure Administrator exam was tougher than I expected. Be ready for questions that initially look to have multiple answers. Take your time and read everything. The clues to the correct answer are always in the details.

Here are a handful of other exams to consider if you’ve passed AZ-104:

As for me, I moved on to AZ-303 to validate my solution architecture skills.

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