Microsoft Changes Up Its Azure Certification Offerings
U.K. tech publication The Register wasn't far off the mark when it headlined a recent article "Azure certifications are awful, Microsoft admits, so it has made new ones." This comes in response to a recent post from ace psychometrician and exam maven Liberty Munson on the Microsoft Learning Blog.
Munson's take is a little bit less self-accusatory, and comes with the title "Calling all Azure Administrators! Introducing a New Certification Just for You." It does make an admission that "we have gotten consistent feedback that our current Azure exams are too broad, covering a range of skills that very few individuals, even experts in the area, would have."
While that's a bit of a mea culpa, I think it falls short of painting the current portfolio as "awful," to use the Register's label for those offerings. Microsoft Learning plans to fix things by "removing the stuff that is out of scope for most Azure Administrators and ensuring that certification assesses more of the skills you actually need to be successful."
That soounds like something they should have been doing all along, eh?
What's Up with the New Beta Promotion?
Microsoft Learning is launching two new Azure Administrator beta exams, as of July 16. The first 300 registrants for each of these exams will get a substantial 80 percent discount. Unless you're ready to sign up immediately, though, it may be too late to take advantage of this offer, so try the discount code without setting your expectations too high.
Here are those exams, quoted verbatim from the afore-linked MS Learning blog post:
To receive the 80 percent discount, use code: AZ100TRAVELING when prompted for payment. To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed.
To receive the 80 percent discount, use code: AZ101HIKING at the payment prompt. To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed.
Those who've already passed the 70-533 exam should take a beta transition exam instead. Here's that info, which covers skills relevant to the new cert not covered in the 70-533 exam already. Thus, it functions as a "delta exam" that covers the differences between 70-533 and the newly minted MCSA: Azure Administrator.
To receive the 80% discount, use code: AZ102PLANS when prompted for payment. To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed.
To take advantage of these offers, you should register immediately. Also, you must schedule an exam date on or before August 9, 2018. So far, these exams haven't yet made it into the official MCSA curriculum or exam listings. I expect this will change once the beta period for these exams ends, at which point I'm guessing an MCSA: Azure Administrator will make an appearance on the MCSA home page.
What About Other Azure Exams?
If you visit the MIcrosoft Learning Azure Certification exams page, then you'll find 10 items listed there (see below), five of which are labeled as new. Given Liberty's statements regarding those exams — not to mention The Register's somewhat more scathing assessment — should you consider taking any of them?
Certainly, because 70-533 has already been targeted for replacement, you'll want to steer clear of that one for sure. About the others? Might be worth waiting for a month or two (if you have that much time to sit on the sidelines) to see what happens next.
Given that Azure is one of Microsoft's biggest moneymakers, and widely perceived as essential to the company's current and future success, Microsoft has to get these certs right or risk losing out on future business and market share. That's why I'm convinced that if more fixes are needed, they will happen sooner rather than later.
So please, as always: Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here's a list of the current Azure exams that don't include the preceding beta items. Caveat emptor is the rule of the day, if you're considering any of them for the near future!