It’s been a few months since I passed the AZ-500 exam to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate certification. I’m still working towards the non-Microsoft Azure certifications I mentioned in my last certification journey post but based on some of my customer work over the last few months I decided to take my first Azure Specialty exam to validate my knowledge and skills on the Azure Virtual Desktop service.
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-140 exam as of Q4 2021, but you should always consult Microsoft’s Official AZ-140 Exam Page for the contents of the exam.
What is the Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty?
The Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty Exam is an opportunity to demonstrate subject matter expertise in planning, delivering, and managing virtual desktop experiences and remote apps, for any device, on Azure.
If you plan to take this exam you should have hands-on experience with Azure technologies, including virtualization, networking, identity, storage, backups, resilience, and disaster recovery. You should understand on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure technologies as they relate to migrating to Azure Virtual Desktop. You should have experience using the Azure portal and Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates to accomplish common tasks. You should also be familiar with PowerShell and Azure Command-Line Interface (CLI) for more efficient automation.
Azure Virtual Desktop Administrators are responsible for deploying virtual desktop experiences and apps to Azure. Professionals in this role deliver applications on Azure Virtual Desktop and optimize them to run in multi-session virtual environments. They work closely with Azure Administrators, Azure Architects, and Microsoft 365 Administrators to deliver these experiences.
How Did I Prepare?
Virtualization and virtual machines have been a part of my career from early on. I have never been an operating system administrator, so I’ve never been responsible for virtualization technologies like VMware or Citrix.
Twenty years of IT experience has provided a working knowledge on the topic of virtualization. I was able to use this knowledge along with the resources outlined in the next section to prepare. I spent one week studying two hours a night for this exam.
What Resources Did I Use to Prepare?
I used the following resources to get ready:
My knowledge of virtualization and virtual machines is not deep as I have never had to administer or support either directly. I worked through all eight modules in the learning path which provided me with a greater level of confidence to move forward.
I also worked through the CloudSkills Getting Started with Azure Virtual Desktop course which had some great hands-on labs.
My Challenge Area
While I cannot talk about exam specifics for obvious reasons, I do want to point out the area that I struggled with the most:
Planning an Azure Virtual Desktop Architecture related questions make up 10-15%. According to my score report this is the area where I had the most difficulty. Never being a VMware / OS Administrator in the past really showed based on how I scored in this area and really across the exam.
This was my eleventh exam taken remotely through PearsonVue due to COVID-19. As mentioned, I gave myself one week to prepare and study when I scheduled the exam.
This was my fifth exam since leaving Mars and joining Microsoft. We’ve been in our new home in North Carolina since July, but I’m still not in an “official” home office. I took the exam in our guest bedroom which worked out well as I did not have to take down pictures, remove paperwork, disable technology, etc. The exam launched and I spent the next 150 minutes working through questions. I finished with 15 minutes to spare.
Immediately after the test, I received my detailed score breakdown in various areas and was told that I passed (with a small buffer). An e-mail showed up no more than an hour later with details on getting my certificate, claiming it on Acclaim, sharing it on LinkedIn, etc.
The Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty exam was much tougher than I expected. You will absolutely need hands-on experience with AVD. Make sure you know and understand all aspects of the service, especially the intricacy of setup and on-going management.
This specialty exam was a challenge. I enjoyed studying and taking the exam, but I don’t see myself taking any of the other current specialty exams based on my current role and responsibilities. I am interested in having a look at the Microsoft Certified: Azure Network Engineer Associate (AZ-700) exam, but I don’t think I’ll have the time to take that or any other exams this year.
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