Passing the ‘Architecting Azure Solutions (70-534 & 70-535)’ exams resource

Tudor Toma 13th June 2018
Azure exam

Azure 70-535 certification overview

As the title describes, the Azure 70-535 certification, which is part of a larger certification (MCSA and MCSP), is actually the last (and in my opinion the most complex) of the Azure certifications.

The passing of this Azure exam acknowledges that you are able to identify cloud and hybrid solutions correctly with Azure Solutions, Technologies and Techniques.

More specifically, it takes you to a different type of learning which is broader and mostly theoretical as well as hands on.

This exam aims to cover basically all major Azure services and technologies, so it goes over the entire Azure Services map, including all the tools that can be deployed on-prem, such as Azure Site Recovery, AAD Connect, etc.

 

What do you need to know for 70-535?

The 70-535 was released in December 2017 and it changed the structure and weight of the topics from 70-534, as described below:

Design Compute Infrastructure (20-25%)

Design Data Implementation (15-20%)

Design Networking Implementation (15-20%)

Design Security and Identity Solutions (20-25%)

Design Solutions by using Platform Services (10-15%)

Design for Operations (10-15%)

In comparison with the old structure of 70-534, we can see some new categories like the compute section and the renaming of most of them into more higher level broader categories.

This update comes after Microsoft have changed their Azure Architectural exam contents and certifications number. This exam is more up to date in what regards the latest Azure services evolutions and features going GA.

 

70-535 exam tips

  • This exam is more scenario based, but you can’t go back and review all scenario answers at the end
  • Known practice tests include:

Official Practice Test via measureup

Official Practice Test via mindhub (will provide key to measureup)

Whizlabs Practice Test (Added May/8/2018)

  • Training courses updates:
    • Udemy / CloudGuru – 70-535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions – Scott Duffy. This course is just the continuation with updates of Scott Duffy’s old 70-534 course.
    • The online training videos provided by EDX.org are great and appear to be mostly relevant. You can sign up for these courses for free
  • Here are the key topics (more in focus from the previous Azure exam version) you need to be familiar with:
    • IoT communications
    • Event Grids and Event hubs
    • Express Route
    • Media Services
    • Data Lake, Document DB
    • CosmosDB
    • Logic Apps and Functions
    • Azure Scheduler
    • Azure Service Fabric vs. Azure Container Instances vs Azure Kubernetes Service
    • Azure Data Management Gateway and Data Factory
    • Tiers and services – Redis Cache, Storage Accounts, Azure SQL, CosmosDB
    • Cognitive Services
    • AD/ B2C/ B2B
    • No powershell command questions

 

Study notes from people who have passed

  • Read notes of the 70-534 in the old section, most of them still apply
  • Started my preparation with the 70535 Udemy course which is a good starting point, but definitely not enough for the exam. At least it gives you overview of existing services
  • Third most important part of preparation was pretty simple – open official Azure documentation and read it Azure changes very rapidly, knowledge could be outdated in one month easily. So do not rely on some third party blogs – most probably information there is old, the same applies to YouTube videos.
  • Just open exam overview page, exam sections and then copied and pasted every term and service name from the description to search engine: google → Azure + Documentation + <service name from exam description>
    • For the most of the services read overview section and some examples of the processes they are performing using this service
    • For VNets, VMs, Azure SQL, Azure CosmosDB, Storage and Premiums Storage Account, App Service Plans – read as much as offered in the documentation
  • Take the practice exam!
  • Play in the portal using the examples in the Azure documentation
  • Look at the configuration specifics for things such as Data Replication, Networks, Load Balancers, Databases
  • Extra attention to VNets, VMs, Azure SQL, Azure CosmosDB, Storage and Premiums Storage Account, App Service Plans
  • Extra attention to event and messaging handlers (Event Hub, Event Grid, IoT Hub, IoT Edge, Service Bus)
  • Know automation Platforms (Batch, WebJobs, Logic Apps, Functions)
  • Know load balancers (Traffic Manager, App Gateway, Load Balancer)
  • Know VPN options (P2S, S2S, and Express Route)
  • Partial credit saves the day, so get as many parts of the questions right as you can.
Good luck! And make sure to check the section below as well.

 

Azure 70-534 Certification overview

  • This is a very difficult exam and requires intensive study.
  • The exam covers all the areas described in the Exam Summary. Literally! There is at least one question from each chapter.
  • You need hands on Azure experience prior to attempting this exam, there is no way around it.
  • More than half of the questions are currently focused on services in the Classic portal and mostly PaaS.
  • Quite focused on: Mobile Apps, WebApps, AAD, SQL, ServiceBus, Scaling. If you do not have any experience with these, you will have difficulties attempting the questions.
  • You need to have experience with powershell and you need to understand how some creation and deployment flows work: web app deployment, mobile app deployment, runbooks and automation, etc.
  • Microsoft recently announced they will change the exam structure from the end of November, so they will focus a bit more on IaaS and the new ARM rather than old PaaS and classic portal.
  • Be sure you actually need this exam, you might want only the infrastructure certification, in which case you want the 70-533 exam.

 

70-534 Learning Resources:

  • Best resource that helped me was a course from PluralSight, author Orin Thomas. Excellent resource!! I highly recommend it.
  • https://www.pluralsight.com/courses/architecting-azure-solutions-70-534-infrastructure-networkingand the other related courses for the other 5 chapters. I have found this course to be AMAZING and really helpful, but it’s not the only resource you need to look at.
  • Udemy courses give you a first insight but although it covers all the sections it doesn’t go too much in depth explaining all the concepts. It’s a good start nonetheless. https://www.udemy.com/70534-azure/
  • Watch videos, as many as you can, especially those with a practical touch
  • https://mva.microsoft.com/
  • You need to READ!! A lot. Here are some references
  • https://msandbu.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/study-guide-70-534/
  • http://blogs.technet.com/b/keithmayer/archive/2015/01/12/early-experts-study-guide-for-microsoft-specialist-certification-exam-70-534-architecting-microsoft-azure-solutions.aspx
  • You need to know and understand these: Azure Service Limits and Plans. If you master these, you will have 20-30% of the questions made easy.
  • Identify your weak points and target them as much as you can. For example mine were Mobile Apps, Web Apps, Machine Learning and I spent extra time reading all about them and even made some tests in the web console and powershell.
  • You need to purchase the practice exam, which is quite steep ($99) but still it shows you how the exam will be and what to expect. It helped me a lot.
  • The day before, read about Azure services. Know what they do and how they interact with other MS services. Know about any tool that integrates with and provides services to Azure: Site Recovery, DRM, System Center – Operation Manager, DirSync, AAD Connect tool.
  • Again, some topics in particular keep repeating through the exam questions: AAD, Service Bus, Mobile Apps, Web Apps, VPN types, Media Services, Azure SQL, Scaling, Disaster Recovery and all the stuff that Azure is so good at.

 

Tips for during the exam:

  • Everybody reports that you have enough time to complete this Azure exam. Well…you actually have barely enough time!
  • Manage your time accordingly because you have 40 questions in 150 minutes and a lot of case studies to read.
  • Again, read the case study thoroughly, the key to finding the right answers through identifying the wrong answers is in the Overview / Business requirements / Technical requirements.
  • The questions are very complex and answering takes time. The case studies (5-6 questions per case study) are enclosed so once you answer you cannot go back. You need at least 20-30 minutes for each case study and there are at least 3.
  • Take notes and read the Azure Services limits, sizes and plans just before entering so you can quickly write them down on the paper/board in the exam. This will be your “cheat sheet” and take your mind away from remembering during stressful questions.
  • Take your time and come back to the answers. Many times I changed the answer  because I understood more going through other questions from the same case study.
  • For some questions I had absolutely no clue!! Use logic and try to eliminate some of the wrong answers. Some answers are far away from the correct one usually 2 are closer to the truth.
  • Use all the time available to you, because answering one extra good question can make the difference. Like it did for me.
  • Minimum score for 70-534 was 700/1000 so fight for every question that you can answer correctly.

 

Summary for the lazy ones!

  1. PluralSight 70-534 course. It just rocks!
  2. Extra Udemy material:
    1. https://www.udemy.com/70534-azure/
    2. https://www.udemy.com/70-535-architecting-microsoft-azure-solutions-exam-prep-u/
    3. https://www.udemy.com/real-tests-70-535-architecting-microsoft-azure-solutions/
  3. Hands-on experience for most of the Azure features is essential, try it for yourself at least once.
  4. Know Azure Service plans, tiers, limits and SLAs.
  5. Purchase Exam practice tests. They help a lot.
  6. Watch additional videos and read the important topics mentioned above, from here:
    1. https://msandbu.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/study-guide-70-534/
    2. http://blogs.technet.com/b/keithmayer/archive/2015/01/12/early-experts-study-guide-for-microsoft-specialist-certification-exam-70-534-architecting-microsoft-azure-solutions.aspx
    3. https://mva.microsoft.com/
  7. Take the specific topic and go straight to Azure documentation for the latest information on it. This is the best advice in this dynamic product life

 

I hope this helped you decide if you need this Azure exam and understand what it takes to pass it.
Good luck and please contribute with your own experience!