Is AZ-900 Certification Worth it?What Microsoft Azure AZ-900's certification process will and won't get you as a developer.
What is AZ-900?
As more and more companies continue to expand their online presences, cloud computing has become more of a hot topic. Cloud computing gives organizations and individuals the ability to quickly start up applications without the large initial capital expenditures that would normally be required for an on-premise data center. This transition to the cloud has made the knowledge and ability to use the cloud become exponentially more valuable. To stand out from the competition, job seekers have begun completing courses offered by Azure or AWS to gain a better understanding about the cloud. One of the more popular courses aimed at people new to cloud computing is Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900). AZ-900 is an introductory course that provides students with a general overview of the benefits of using the cloud, a very general understanding of the services Azure provides and the options available for these services. Upon completing the course, students have the option to take the exam and become AZ-900 certified. This certification can help job seekers stand out in the job market and demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in cloud computing.
My Hopes and Dreams
At Harled, we encourage our employees to create goals so that they can grow as individuals. Seeing how cloud computing has become more popular over the past decade, I thought I would join the bandwagon and start learning about it. Also as a full stack developer, I felt that having a basic understanding about the services we use and how to work with them would be beneficial for me and Harled. Having this knowledge will allow the team to make more informed decisions about which services to use for different projects and tasks. Accompanying me on this journey was one of my fellow coworkers, Asad Ahmed. Since we had little to no experience with cloud computing, we decided to start off with the introductory course Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) offered by Microsoft. Going into this course, I wanted to learn about the cloud and the core services that Azure had to offer. Although it was a bit of a stretch, I hoped that maybe by the end of the course, I would be able to get some hands-on experience and apply the knowledge I have gained to my side projects. Once I completed the course, I wanted to pass the exam so I could put the AZ-900 certification on my resume and LinkedIn profile.
The Harsh Reality
The course was divided into three sections: “Cloud Concepts”, “Azure Architecture and Services”, and “Azure Management and Governance”. The first section went into detail about what is cloud computing, the benefits of using it, and the different types (i.e, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service). The second section in the course described Azure's infrastructure and the services available to choose from based on your needs (network hosting, storage or access/security). It also goes into detail about which situations where one service might be more beneficial over the other. The last section explained how the user can manage the resources and services they are currently using.
Overall the course was very helpful and informative and now I feel like I have a very basic understanding of the services available. However, this knowledge does not serve much purpose in my daily work life. The biggest issue I had with the course was that it lacked hands-on tutorials to show students how to get started or configure the service.
My Gripes with the Exam
After completing the course, my next step was to start studying for the exam and get certified. To increase my odds of passing the AZ-900 exam, I started doing practice exams posted online. While doing the exams, I noticed that a decent chunk of the questions from the practice exams were asking information not applicable to using Azure or cloud computing. For instance, one of the questions was how many gigabytes of storage does the basic plan offer? Or does the Basic Support plan come along with the Azure Free Account? While that information is important to know, it doesn't necessarily test your understanding of how to use Azure services. All it does is test your memorization skills. Since I did not want to waste hours of my precious time remembering random tidbits of information that I would never use again, I decided against doing the certification exam. While the AZ-900 exam may not accurately reflect the value of the course, the certification can still be beneficial for finding jobs. This is because the certification can serve as proof of your knowledge and skills in the field, and can help to demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary expertise to perform well in a job.
As much as I did not enjoy studying for the exam, I felt the course was still useful as I learned a lot about the different services and when to use them. I would still recommend this course to my fellow coworkers to read through the material if they want a basic understanding about cloud computing. I think my next steps would be to take the Azure Developer Associate (AZ-204). This course is more hands-on and should teach me how to set up the configurations and host my app on the cloud.
What are your thoughts on certifications? If you have strong opinion we'd love for you to bring it up while interviewing for one of our open positions!
About the author
David is a Civil Engineer turned Jr Full Stack Developer based out of Mississauga, ON.