The New Microsoft Azure Certification AZ-103 Exam: Everything You Need to Know

Scott Duffy

Udemy for Business Instructor

May 21, 2019

What’s new about the Microsoft Azure Certification AZ-103 exam? Anyone working in a technical field knows there’s one thing you can be sure of when it comes to work—the skills required for your job will change, and those skills will change fast. Just months after restructuring its certification path for Azure Administrator Associates away from a generalist certification approach to role-based certifications with the AZ-100 and AZ-101 exams, Microsoft has now simplified the path to certification by consolidating AZ-100 and AZ-101 exams into a single exam, the AZ-103.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you and your IT team need to know about the change to Microsoft’s Azure Certification path, including tips to pass the exam.  First, why should you take the Azure Certification?  Here’s why I recommend IT admins consider adding Azure certification to their personal tech skills stack.   

Why Microsoft Azure Certification vs. AWS?

As IT departments recognize the efficiencies and cost savings offered by cloud platforms, the field of cloud providers has become increasingly crowded. While Amazon’s AWS solution retains its number one spot in the market, Microsoft Azure adoption is growing, and companies are now picking and choosing what they like about each provider and leveraging a multi-cloud architecture within their tech infrastructure. Though AWS remains the market leader, its growth rate has declined from a 64% adoption rate in 2018 to a 61% adoption rate in 2019, according to a recent survey from Flexera, an IT consultancy. Azure is seeing growth driven by enterprise adoption, moving from 45% adoption in 2018 of companies using public cloud providers to 52% in 2019. Google Cloud increased slightly year-over-year in this study, moving from 18% to 19% adoption in responses from surveyed companies.

So, instead of asking which cloud computing IT certification to pursue, I recommend building a holistic set of skills across cloud platforms by pursuing badges in Azure and other cloud platforms. For instance, it’s not unusual for a company to use AWS to host images and other digital assets while using Azure to power machine learning components.

Azure Administrators in IT team quote

In conversations with both heads of IT teams and individual admins, I advise each to get familiar with the skills required for multiple cloud platforms. Why? For individual admins, knowledge across several cloud computing platforms makes them a distinguished asset to current employers and an outstanding candidate to prospective employers. For heads of IT, being open to multi-cloud training helps keep their teams skilled in an industry that moves fast and allows them to be well-prepared for future infrastructure changes. Find out how a Udemy for Business subscription can help prepare your IT team for whatever comes next.

What’s new and different in the AZ-103 Exam?

Microsoft is acting on significant community feedback to the certification changes announced in September 2018 by revisiting the Microsoft Azure certification path. Effective May 1, 2019, anyone pursuing an Azure Administrator Associate certification will need to take the AZ-103 exam. Those who already took and passed the AZ-100 exam prior to May 1 will not need to take the new AZ-103 exam; Microsoft has automatically awarded these users the Azure Administrator Associate certification.

Good news if you were already prepping for the AZ-100 exam; the new AZ-103 exam is very similar to AZ-100 plus additional content from the AZ-101 exam. The two most notable updates to the AZ-103 exam focus on:

  • Networking: This is how computers communicate with each other, and the AZ-103 exam ensures IT admins are familiar with how to monitor and troubleshoot virtual networking.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): In keeping with cybersecurity industry trends, Microsoft is emphasizing the importance of MFA across all its products. MFA is an authentication method considered more secure than a single alphanumeric password. It adds another layer of security to the login process by requiring a user to input two or more credentials to access an account.

What is the Microsoft Azure Administrator Exam and who should take it?

In addition to the Azure Administrator certification, Microsoft also offers seven different Azure-related certifications including Azure Fundamentals, Azure Developer, Azure Solutions Architect, and Azure DevOps Engineer. With so many Azure certification options available, why pursue the Administrator role?

An Azure Administrator plays a critical role in an IT team that uses cloud computing to reduce costs and ensure scalability. The administrator keeps the servers running and, thereby, keeps an organization’s technical infrastructure afloat. So, while a team of front-end engineers develops and deploys the code for your customer-facing website, the cloud platform administrator ensures the IT foundation for your website is firmly in place by keeping servers online and secure.

2019 Microsoft Azure Growth Rate

5 skills you should master for the Microsoft Azure Administrator Exam

The AZ-103 exam is structured around 5 key skill categories that equip administrators with an efficient level of Azure platform knowledge to keep a company’s IT infrastructure running smoothly. These 5 skills include:

  1. Manage Azure subscriptions and resources: This involves assigning administrator permissions, analyzing resource consumption, managing resource groups, and managing role-based access control (known as RBAC).
  2. Implement and manage storage: This focus skill area includes creating and configuring storage accounts, importing and exporting data to Azure, configuring Azure files, and implementing Azure backup and performing a restore operation.
  3. Deploy and manage virtual machines: This involves learning how to create and configure a virtual machine (VM) for both Windows and Linux, automating the deployment of VMs, managing an Azure VM, and managing VM backups.
  4. Configure and manage virtual networks: IT pros will need to master creating connectivity between virtual networks, implementing and managing virtual networking; configuring name resolution, creating and configuring a Network Security Group, implementing Azure load balancer, monitoring and troubleshooting virtual networking, and integrating an on-premises network with Azure virtual network.
  5. Manage identities: Manage Azure Active Directory (AD): Manage Azure AD objects (users, groups, and devices), implement and manage hybrid identities, and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA).

How to prepare for the Azure Administrator Exam: Real-world scenarios

The days of expecting to passively watch a video while multitasking on another project and still passing a certification exam are far behind us. When testing the Azure comprehension level of admins, Microsoft wants IT professionals to demonstrate how their new learnings will apply to on-the-job scenarios.

Learners will need hands-on experience and practice to pass the AZ-103 exam, as well as all of Microsoft’s other Azure certification exams. In my course, AZ-103 Azure Administrator Exam Certification, we do just that—apply learnings to real-world examples. For instance, after covering how to spin up a server, students will then be placed in an active state to spin up a server in Azure on their own.

Practice tests also make for helpful test prep. With the AZ-103 Azure Administrator Infrastructure Practice Test, I take students through two timed tests of 50 questions each. I recommend taking both tests as many times as you need to get a better assessment of your readiness for the real exam. You’ll have lifetime access to my materials, including any updates I make as they become available. Because the skills we cover in cloud computing change so quickly, I am committed to keeping content updated, free of charge to students who paid for the initial course and available to employees at organizations with a Udemy for Business subscription. I maintain this commitment across all my courses, for every one of the 250,000 enrollments I’ve been fortunate enough to receive through Udemy.

Start you and your IT team’s path to certification as an Azure Administrator for the fastest-growing cloud platform today!

About the author:

Scott Duffy has over 20 years of experience as a developer and software architect. In his five years as a Udemy instructor, Scott has taught technical skills to over 100,000 students in nearly every country in the world. Learn more about Scott’s work at softwarearchitect.ca.

About Udemy for Business:

Udemy for Business is a learning platform that helps companies stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing workplace by offering fresh, relevant on-demand learning content, curated from the Udemy marketplace. Our mission is to help employees do whatever comes next—whether that’s the next project to do, skill to learn, or role to master. We’d love to partner with you on your employee development needs. Get in touch with us at business@udemy.com

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