Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification Exam (AZ-104) domains overview

Introduction

According to Global Knowledge, the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate is one of the top paying certifications in IT for 2020, with individuals earning an average of $125,993. With over 85% of the Fortune 500 companies using the Azure Cloud and companies moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud, individuals with the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate certificate are in high demand.

When you pass the Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) exam, you’ll earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification. 

As of August 31st, 2020, the AZ-103: Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification exam was retired, with the AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification exam replacing it.

We will offer an overview of one of Microsoft Azure’s popular certifications — the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification. We will answer various questions that candidates might have such as the domains, the target audience of the certification, the examination format and ways to prepare for the exam.

The Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) certification exam

The Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam is intended for individuals who work in a system engineer, architect or an IT operations role. Individuals should be subject-matter experts in implementing, managing and monitoring Azure environments.

A Microsoft Azure Administrator implements, manages and monitors identity, governance, storage, compute and virtual networks in a cloud environment.

Individuals must have at least six months of hands-on experience administering Azure and a strong understanding of core Azure services, Azure workloads, security and governance. In addition, individuals must have experience using PowerShell, Azure Command Line Interface (CLI), Azure portal and Azure Resource Manager (“ARM”) templates.

Note: The Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam is not a prerequisite to becoming a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert. However, individuals are required to have earned either the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate or the Microsoft Azure Developer Associate certificate before they can write the qualifying exam for the Microsoft DevOps Engineer Expert certification.

Exam and domain overview

As of September 2020, the Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam covers five different domains. We will briefly discuss the concepts tested in each domain of the exam. The five domains are as follows:

  1. Manage Azure identities and governance (15-20%)
  2. Implement and manage storage (10-15%)
  3. Deploy and manage Azure compute resources (25-30%)
  4. Configure and manage virtual networking (30-35%)
  5. Monitor and back up Azure resources (10-15%)

Domain 1 — Manage Azure identities and governance (15-20%)

This domain covers managing Azure Active Directory (“AD”) objects (e.g., users, groups, computers and so on), role-based access control (RBAC), subscriptions and governance in Azure.

For this domain, individuals must have knowledge of:

  • Managing Azure AD objects
    • Create users and groups
    • Manage user and group properties
    • Manage device settings
    • Perform bulk user updates
    • Manage guest accounts
    • Configure Azure AD Join
    • Configure self-service password reset
  • Note: Azure AD Connect and Privileged Identity Management (PIM) are not tested.
  • Managing RBAC
    • Create a custom role
    • Provide access to Azure resources by assigning roles:
      • Subscriptions
      • Resource groups
      • Resources (i.e., virtual machines, disk, etc.)
    • Interpret access assignments
    • Manage multiple directories
  • Managing subscriptions and governance
    • Configure Azure policies
    • Configure resource locks
    • Apply tags
    • Create and manage resource groups:
      • Move resources
      • Remove Resource Groups (RGs)
    • Manage subscriptions
    • Configure Cost Management
    • Configure management groups

Domain 2 — Implement and manage storage (10-15%)

This domain covers managing storage accounts and data in Azure Storage and Azure File and Blob storage.

For this domain, individuals must have knowledge of:

  • Managing storage accounts
    • Configure network access to storage accounts
    • Create and configure storage accounts
    • Generate shared access signature
    • Manage access keys
    • Implement Azure storage replication
    • Configure Azure AD Authentication for a storage account
  • Managing data in Azure Storage
    • Export from Azure job
    • Import into Azure job
    • Install and use Azure Storage Explorer
    • Copy data by using AZCopy
  • Configuring Azure files and Azure blob storage
    • Create an Azure file share
    • Create and configure Azure File Sync service
    • Configure Azure blob storage
    • Configure storage tiers for Azure blobs

Domain 3 — Deploy and manage Azure Compute resources

This domain covers deploying and configuring virtual machines, containers and web apps in Azure.

For this domain, individuals must have knowledge of:

  • Configuring VMs for high availability and scalability
    • Configure high availability
    • Deploy and configure scale sets
  • Automating deployment and configuration of VMs
    • Modify Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template
    • Configure Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) template
    • Deploy from template
    • Save a deployment as an ARM template
    • Automate configuration management by using custom script extensions
  • Creating and Configuring VMs
    • Configure Azure Disk Encryption
    • Move VMs from one resource group to another
    • Manage VM sizes
    • Add data discs
    • Configure networking
    • Redeploy VMs
  • Creating and Configuring containers
    • Create and configure Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
    • Create and configure Azure Container Instances (ACI)

Note: Selecting a container solution architecture or product and container registry settings are not tested.

  • Creating and configuring web apps
    • Create and configure app service
    • Create and configure app service plans

Note: Azure Functions, Logic Apps and Event Grid are not tested.

Domain 4 — Configure and manage virtual networking (30-35%)

This domain covers configuring and managing Azure network capabilities like connectivity services, application protection, application delivery, and network monitoring services.

For this domain, individuals must have knowledge of:

  • Implementing and managing virtual networking
    • Create and configure Azure Virtual Network (VNET) peering
    • Configure private and public IP addresses, network routes, network interface, subnets and virtual network
  • Configuring name resolution
    • Configure Azure Domain Name Service (DNS)
    • Configure custom DNS settings
    • Configure a private or public DNS zone
  • Securing access to virtual networks
    • Create security rules
    • Associate an Azure Network Security Group (NSG) to a subnet or network interface
    • Evaluate effective security rules
    • Deploy and configure Azure Firewall
    • Deploy and configure Azure Bastion Service

Note: Implementing Application Security Groups (“ASGs”) and Distributed Denial of Service (“DDoS”) are not tested.

  • Configuring load balancing
    • Configure Application Gateway
    • Configure an internal load balancer
    • Configure load balancing rules
    • Configure a public load balancer
    • Troubleshoot load balancing

Note: Traffic Manager, FrontDoor and PrivateLink are not tested.

  • Monitoring and troubleshooting virtual networking
    • Monitor on-premises connectivity
    • Use Network Performance Monitor
    • Use Network Watcher
    • Troubleshoot external networking
    • Troubleshoot virtual network connectivity
  • Integrating an on-premises network with an Azure virtual network
    • Create and configure Azure Virtual Private Network (VPN) gateway
    • Create and configure VPNs
    • Configure ExpressRoute
    • Configure Azure Virtual WAN

Domain 5 — Monitor and back up Azure Resources (30-35%)

This domain covers monitoring resources using Azure Monitor and implementing backup and recovery in Azure.

For this domain, individuals must have knowledge of:

  • Monitoring resources by using Azure Monitor
    • Configure and interpret metrics
      • Analyze metrics across subscriptions
    • Configure Log Analytics
      • Implement a Log Analytics workspace
      • Configure diagnostic settings
    • Query and analyze logs
      • Create a query
      • Save a query to the dashboard
      • Interpret graphs
    • Set up alerts and actions
      • Create and test alerts
      • Create action groups
      • View alerts in Azure Monitor
      • Analyze alerts across subscriptions
    • Configure Application Insights

Note: Network Monitoring is not tested

  • Implementing backup and recovery
    • Configure and review backup reports
    • Perform backup and restore operations by using Azure Backup Service
    • Create a Recovery Services Vault
      • Use soft delete to recover Azure VMs
    • Create and configure backup policy
    • Perform site-to-site recovery by using Azure Site Recovery

Note: SQL and HANA are not tested

The examination: Questions/format/length

The exam consists of 60 to 80 questions and you’ll have 180 minutes to complete it. Candidates are required to earn a minimum passing score of 700 out of 1000 points to pass..

As of September 2020, the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate certificate expires after two years.

Cost of the Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) certification exam

The Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam typically costs $165, but may differ slightly depending on the country where you write the exam.

Preparing for the Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) certification exam

There are a number of ways to prepare for the certifications, depending on the candidate’s experience level.

Microsoft Azure official site

The Microsoft Azure official site is the most reliable source of information. One of the best ways for preparing for the exam is reading the documentation, FAQs, whitepapers and case studies on the Microsoft Azure site. They are quite robust, explain the key areas in detail and provide up-to-date information.

Online courses

There are a lot of courses available today which can be taken from the comfort of your house and at your own pace. They cover everything you need to know to take the exams in-depth and are usually updated with recent changes. 

In addition, many courses have the hands-on labs which allow you to deploy services on Microsoft Azure with step-by-step instructions. Many of the questions you will encounter in the Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam are scenario-based and case studies-based questions, and having hands-on experience helps.

Practice tests

This is the most important step in preparing for the exam. Practice tests are said to be more difficult than the actual test. However, I believe encountering lots of practice tests helps to validate your understanding, identify areas of improvements and develop approaches in understanding and solving the questions quickly. Practice tests also make you well-acquainted with the exam format and environment.

Where to write the Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) certification exam

Currently, there are two ways of taking the Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) certification exam.

  • Physical test center: This is the standard test-taking process where you register and take the exam in a local testing center. With the COVID-19 situation, most test centers are closed. However, you can check your local testing center for its policies.
  • Online proctoring: You can take the exam in the comfort of your home or office using your computer. The exam delivery is monitored by a proctor via webcam and microphone. However, certain requirements must be met in order to maintain the integrity of the exam, such as ensuring the room is free from disruptions and a scan of the work area by the proctor.

Conclusion

This overview describes what candidates need to know before taking the Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam. Having a Microsoft Azure Certification will likely boost your career. It is a great way to validate your skills and differentiate yourself from others. You’ll also need practical, hands-on experience and knowledge to guide you in real-life environments.

 

Sources

Exam AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator, Microsoft

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate, Microsoft

Azure Administrators Learning Path, Microsoft

15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2020, Global Knowledge

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