Microsoft is Retiring Their Azure Architect Exam! A Linux Academy Investigation

Fresh off the plane from Ignite, we have so many things to discuss with everyone that we are just bursting at the seams! You may have seen some of our recent blog posts regarding announcements from the conference, and we have much more to come as we begin to start diving deeper into the upcoming updates and new features from Microsoft; however, today’s discussion revolves around something that occurred after the conference!

As it is with most conferences from major cloud providers, announcements and updates to certifications for competency generally occur around the time of their major conferences and also sometimes involve beta testing those exams with conference attendees.

Recently, Microsoft announced changes to the domain competencies for exam 70-532 and 70-533 exams (we already have courses in development that cover the new objectives); however, we also have a new update to discuss regarding the 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions certification exam!

So What Do You Mean, Retiring?

The 70-534 exam, traditionally, always revolved around understanding how to use Microsoft Azure to achieve the desired results for various use case scenarios. With the latest drive towards cloud native and hybrid cloud solutions, architects armed with the right knowledge domains are critical!

To answer these needs, Microsoft has decided that significant changes to domain competencies and overall structure of the exam were required for the 70-534 exam. These changes were significant enough to implement a version number increment to designate its separation from the previous style of exam.

The new exam, numbered 70-535, will cover environments where candidates must be adept at defining the appropriate cloud native, cloud migration, and hybrid cloud solutions to meet the required functional, operational, and deployment requirements through the solution lifecycle of modern environments and new features within Azure. Furthermore, certification seekers should know the features and capabilities of Azure services and be able to identify tradeoffs and make decisions for designing public and hybrid cloud solutions.

Let’s take a look at the current and new proposed domain competencies:

Certification Domain Changes

Current 70-534 Currently Proposed for 70-535
Design Azure Resource Manager (ARM) networking Design Compute Infrastructure (20-25%)
Secure Resources Design Data Implementation (15-20%)
Design an Application Storage and data access strategy Design Networking Implementation (15-20%)
Design Advanced Applications Design Security and Identity Solutions (20-25%)
Design Azure Web and Mobile Apps  Design Solutions by using Platform Services (10-15%)
 Design a management, monitory, and business continuity strategy  Design for Operations (10-15%)
 Architect and Azure Compute infrastructure

 

One thing that stands out is that we see a decrease in the number of overall domain topics; however, we can assure you that the content is there, and not only is the majority of the 70-534 exam content still in the new domains, there are new items added, as well. Overall, we can see it is the reorganization of topics and adjustment of domains of knowledge that align better with current Azure product lines.

A core item we see when analyzing each individual objective is a theme revolving around solution decision making, security, and hybrid environments. Each section will contain objectives that will, in some way, shape, or form, revolve around those three themes while leveraging the latest technologies and features on Azure. For example, added to the exam topics are sections like “Design for Artificial Intelligence” and “Design for IoT solutions.” This shows the continual push towards alway being relevant and always being a change agent for your organization as a Solution Architect for Azure.

Also of note, the topic domain changes now align the objectives under product categories and domain competencies that relate better together, such as having “monitoring and alerting” now fall under the “Operations” section.

Questions and Concerns

Okay, so they are retiring the exam – what about my current cert?

Rest assured, Microsoft has announced that the increment and subsequent retirement of the 70-534 exam will not affect current holders of the certification.

When do we get to sit for the 70-535 new exam?

As of now, it is said that all testing centers will begin allowing registrations for the exam starting on Nov 30, 2017, and registration for the 70-534 exam will cease December 31st, 2017.

Can we take either exam and, if so, which one?

Yes, during a brief window of approximately 30 days it will be possible to register for either the 70-534 exam or the 70-535 exam. Now, in regards to which exam one should take if your testing date lands in that timeframe largely depends on a few items: Have you begun your coursework and preparation revolving around the 70-534 exam domain objectives? If you are comfortable with that material, it may be beneficial to tackle the current exam, as it does not require any additional preparation for new topics. On the other hand, if you are able to grasp the new topics or have experience with the domains that were added, we highly recommend taking the new 70-535 exam. Most environments will begin to shy away from giving value to the 70-534 exam next year, and the 70-535 exam will hold more weight when looked at from a continuing education standpoint for Architects.

Will you have a course out covering the new exam?

Yes, we are already in the process of blueprinting and course creation; however, we do not have a specific date for the release at this time.

The exam changes are inline with objectives of the Microsoft Certified Professional program, which continually reviews their current and planned certifications to ensure that certifications reflect the latest Microsoft technologies.  If you have been following all the Azure updates, which are released daily, you know a lot has changed in Azure since the 70-534 exam was originally released!

At Ignite, we heard that because of Azure updates releasing so often, Microsoft is going to start updating their Azure exams every three months. This started with the 70-532 and 70-533, which are being updated currently. Continuing that pattern, Microsoft has updated the 70-534 learning page, stating the retirement of this exam and its replacement with the new 70-535 exam and objectives.  For further review, you can find the 70-535 objectives tentatively in this PDF. Note that this PDF is not an authoritative source, as Microsoft already stated they will be updating the Azure objectives every three months or as needed. Rather, bookmark the Microsoft Learning link above, as that is where they will announce these changes.

Lastly, Linux Academy is currently working on new exam prep courses for 70-532, 70-533, and then 70-535. Subscribe to our feed to keep updated on the new courses releasing!

 

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Shahan Karim

A passionate technical evangelist and architect with 18+ years of experience in positions such as CIO, Director of IT, Sr. Cloud Solution Architect, and Engineer. A particular focus on emerging technologies such as Azure, InfoSec, IoT, and AWS while bringing agile solutions to Fortune 100 companies and students alike. As an Author / SME here at Linux Academy, Shahan is tasked with serving the community of students with new content on emerging technologies and certifications.

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