After passing the AZ-204 exam to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate certification, I decided continue on the “developer” path to get a better handle on modern practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
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-400 exam as of Q2 2021, but you should always consult Microsoft’s Official AZ-400 Exam Page for the contents of the exam.
What is an Azure DevOps Engineer Expert?
The Azure Developer Associate Exam is an opportunity to demonstrate subject matter expertise working with people, processes, and technologies to continuously deliver business value.
If you plan to take this exam you should have experience designing and implementing strategies for collaboration, code, infrastructure, source control, security, compliance, continuous integration, testing, delivery, monitoring, and feedback. You should also be familiar with both Azure administration and development and must be expert in at least one of these areas.
How Did I Prepare?
As mentioned in my AZ-204 post, I’m not a developer and have not been on the development team side of a project since my college days over 20 year ago.
I continued to learn the Python programming language through some online labs and GitHub example repositories that I stumbled across. I spent two weeks studying an hour or two a night for the exam. I missed passing the exam by 38 points. I spent an additional week studying before taking the exam a second time.
What Resources Did I Use to Prepare?
I used the following resources to get ready:
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Develop an instrumentation strategy
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Develop a Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) strategy
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Develop a security and compliance plan
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Manage source control
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Facilitate communication and collaboration
- Microsoft Learn – AZ-400: Define and implement continuous integration
Similar to how I prepared for the AZ-204 exam, I completed all the modules above due to my limited knowledge of development topics.
I also took the CloudSkills Microsoft Azure DevOps Engineer Certification AZ-400 course.
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:
Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Strategy Development related questions were the most challenging for me on this exam. In both of my attempts on this exam, I had the lowest score in this area.
I’ll be on the lookout for additional content on this subject as the topic of SRE interests me greatly.
This was my eighth (and ninth) exam taken remotely through PearsonVue due to COVID-19. I gave myself a two weeks to prepare and study when I scheduled the exam continuing to follow my pattern of giving myself a deadline to force the work needed to pass. Unfortunately my first try on this exam did not result in a pass as already mentioned.
This was my second (and third) exam taken since leaving Mars and joining Microsoft. Once again, I wasn’t able to take the exam in my home office as I no longer had a home office (or home for that matter). We were still living in a short-term apartment waiting for our builder to finish our new home in North Carolina.
I took the exam (both times) on a card table in the apartment’s master bedroom walk in closet. This made for a quick minimal setup as there were minimal items in the closet (much better alternative to the garage). I set up my laptop on the card table, provided pictures of the 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 spent the next 140 minutes working through questions and stressing every step of the way. I finished with 10 minutes to spare.
Immediately after the test, I received my detailed score breakdown in various areas and was told that I failed (just barely).
I scheduled my second attempt a week later. Went through the same steps above and was able to pass. This time, an e-mail showed up with the details on getting my certificate, claiming it on Acclaim, sharing it on LinkedIn, etc.
The Azure DevOps Engineer Expert exam was the hardest exam I’ve taken so far. If you are not a developer or site reliability engineer in your day job – study, get hands on experience, and make sure you know your stuff if you want to pass.
For my next exam, I’ll be taking the AZ-500 to complete the list of certifications I had created for myself when this journey began.