Azure Cloud Certification Jump Start 70-532, 70-533, 70-534 Exam Preparation

This article includes:

  • Tips, Tricks and Field Experiences
  • Inside the Exams and Where to go to learn on
    • 70-532 – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
    • 70-533 – Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
    • 70-534 – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

This article is part of a multi-part series The Hybrid Cloud for the IT Professional; Check it out!

Tips, Tricks and Field Experiences

  • Value of Certification: I want to make sure you are on board with the value of certification. Certification can offer many advantages including: getting a raise at your next review, preparing you for new job opportunities, increasing the likelihood your resume will be seen by the hiring manager, increasing your self confidence, increase you image (how people see you) in your business and in your social circles, lines on your resume, most hiring managers consider certification as part of their hiring criteria, you get experience while preparing for certification,…. and the list could go on and on. The fact of the matter is there is never any shortage of reasons why we should get certified. I am glad you have read this far… Make the decision to read this article in it’s entirety, then GET STARTED!!! Write down the reasons you want to obtain certification and look at them daily.
  • Recognize Accomplishments: Recognize your accomplishments not matter how small. Feel good about the fact that you finished reading this article and realize that having done so has gotten you one step closer to obtaining your MCP in the Azure Cloud. Each time you finish something, even if it is just watching a 20 min video or reading a blog post that is relevant to the exam, recognize to yourself that it is a positive step in the right direction. Reflect back on why you want to do this in the first place.
  • Get Family On Board: Often having family (spouse, kids, etc) on board with your goals and objectives will help you stay the course. Engage them, offer the kids a night out at Dave & Busters or an ice cream shop once you pass the exam. Show them your great study habits, maybe they will pick some of them up for their school studies.
  • Excuses: Excuses for not getting certified are easy to come by… I do not have time, can’t concentrate because of the kids, tired when home from work, my boss does not care anyway, it will not help me in my job… and on and on… Give it up! Stop making excuses; stop procrastinating and make the decision to put your career in motion! Keep doing what you have been doing, and you will keep getting what you have always gotten.
  • Value of time: Put a value on your time. What is your time worth? When I was a consultant billing out $250 an hour, that was the value I had on my time. Now it is often somewhat less. Now, during my busy season, I use a value of $100 per hour. During my slow season, when I am much less stressed and work fewer hours, I use a value of $50 per hour. During the summer, family time, the value shoots back up to $250. This may seam silly but it will help you prioritize your time. It will also help you justify purchases. When you consider purchasing a $40 book it will be a no brainer. Spending $40 will potentially save you dozens of hours of time because you will be studying exactly what you need to know, nothing more, nothing less. It may help you decide you should just be taking a class to get this behind you quickly. Even if you just use a value of $10 per hour, it is important to pick a value for your time! If you are broke and have a zero value for your time, fake it. Put a value on your time anyway it will help you prioritize. Even if it is only $1, is sitting in front of the tube watching a sitcom by yourself worth a dollar? Not usually, get up and pick up a book or watch a certification video instead!
  • Dedicated Study time: Set time on the calendar every day or every week for preparation. Just like any other appointment, take the attitude that you have to be there at the scheduled time to perform the duties that are expected of you. Blocking the time on the calendar then sticking to it is likely the single best thing you can do to help you succeed. Figure out what works best for you. Maybe it is 30 mins every day at lunch? How about 45 hour every night from 8:15pm-9:00pm? Whatever time block works for you is great. Personally, I find the best time for me is in the morning before work. This is when I am the most alert and can absorb the most information. I tend to get into the office before others, so I leverage the quite time as my personal development time. Try it, go into the office 45 minutes early to see if that works for you. You have to stick with it though, if you do it once and get distracted, don’t give up, try it a few more times. If people bug you, put a sign up letting them know you will be available for questions at 9:00am or whatever time you actually start working. Personally, when I am cramming, I will often spend 3-4 hours a day. I suffer from insomnia so I have plenty of extra time in my day. I prioritize that time on preparation.
  • Ultra Focus With Intent: When you sit down to study, don’t take it lightly. Stay hyper-focused on learning. Don’t let your mind wander. You are on a very important mission. That mission is to learn as rapidly as possible. If you do this you will find that you will retain far more information and you will be able to consume it much faster.
  • Read Faster: You can read faster. Use your ultra focus, it is a must to achieve this one. While reading, move your finger across the page or the screen at a steady pace, do not stop your finger, make sure your eyes focus on the word over your finger. It is ok if you miss a word or two, DO NOT GO BACK! Then when you master that move your finger faster, then faster, then faster. Eventually, you will be able to do this without the use of your finger as an aid.
  • Objective: Recognize your objective when you set out to take an exam. The objective should be to “Pass the Exam”. Kind of self explanatory right? Not… Some people think, and will tell you that you have to learn everything about the topic in order to pass the exam. Total crap! Learn what you have to learn to pass the test, then leverage that knowledge to learn more as you progress your career.
  • Study Smart: I have studied for many exams and hold more certifications than I can put in my signature block. What I have found in preparing for all the exams I have taken is “it is easy to study the wrong thing”. You know, you go to a blog post or a white paper to get information about an exam and they are telling you to read some 380 page document or white paper. That is bogus, don’t waste you time. I would guess that if you did read that document, you may learn more and maybe get one or two more questions right. But at what cost? Better to cover the materials on the test than, everything there is to know about a topic. More on this later!
  • Objective: Recognize your objective when you set out to take an exam. The objective should be to “Pass the Exam”. Kind of self explanatory right? Not… Some people think, and will tell you that you have to learn everything about the topic in order to pass the exam. Total crap! Learn what you have to learn to pass the test, then leverage that knowledge to learn more as you progress your career.
  • Exam Reference Material: There is often plenty of exam reference material available. Often it is even free. I will point you to some of it later in this article. If you do not mind spending a bit of money, I strongly recommend you just start with an exam reference guide. This could be much faster than spending countless hours learning what may or may not be on the exam. I am personally not a fan of just studying exam questions. I do find them useful, I just find having more context around the topic helps me retain it. by all means, try the practice tests, they be be helpful for you.
  • Practice & Experience: There is no substitute for practice other than maybe experience! Use the technology you are trying to learn. If you have the ability to use the technology in your job, even better! Take advantage of these opportunities. If the opportunities are not there, go out of your way to make opportunities. Think about how you might be able to use this technology in your job, then justify to yourself why it is important to understand the technology for your job. Most employers want their staff IT staff to keep up with technology. They often also will accept that you do it partially on work time. Especially if they know you are spending a bunch of personal time learning. Even if it is just setting up a lab environment, getting your hands dirty will go a very long way to you understanding the technology.
  • Exam Objectives: Most exams (and all of Microsoft exams) have well documented Exam Objectives or Skills Measured. Use the Exam Objectives as a “list of things to learn”. Print out the exam objectives and check them off one at a time, as you search that topic and spend time learning it. For the cloud exam, I have done much of the work for you, you can just print this blog post.
  • Like writing a book: I am in the process of writing a book on a certification exam. When writing a book on a topic, you do not automatically know everything there is to know about that topic. You are generally not in a situation where you know it all and want to write a book to share your vast knowledge on the subject. On the contrary, you may know a bunch about the topic, but to teach people everything they need to know to pass the test, you have to learn much, much more. The way I do this is using the Exam Objectives. I research & learn what I can on each exam objectives, teaching and writing as I go. One of the other things you do prior to writing a book is, take the test.
  • Take the test: Take the test, get a feel for what is on it. Microsoft offers a “2nd shot” so you can take the test a second time for free. Once you have gone through all of the exam objectives one time quickly, take the test to see how you do. This will give you a report so you can see what you need to study. As you are studying you will remember exam questions so you will know the relevance. After you pass the exam, if you want to learn more, use the exam report to study the things you did not ace (if you are so inclined.)
  • What Exam: Figuring out what is the best exam to take next is often a challenge. Really though, it does not matter. See whichever exam you chose will likely prepare you for what is next in your professional life because getting certified will make you better at it! If you are a general or specialized IT person start with 70-533. If you are a developer, start with 70-532. If you are an architect or infrastructure designer start with 70-534. If you are not sure, start with 70-533. Whatever you do, just start NOW! Once you pass the first cloud exam, go back and study the next one. Then repeat until you have passed them all. By then you should have caught the bug (the high that comes with a great accomplishment) and you will pick another topic and repeat!


Do you have more Tips, Tricks or Field Experiences? Please share in the comments


70-534 – Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

The 70-534 exam is an Azure cloud architecture exam. An architecture exam is not as much in the weeds as the other exams where you are executing or installing and configuring systems. Often people consider them harder because you have to understand how everything interacts with everything else. You have to know how to DESIGN systems instead of just how to implement those designs. But, after you learn how to design systems, it is much easier to do the implementation of those systems. I share this with you because if you do opt to study and pass this exam, it will make other cloud exams much easier to obtain.

What’s on Exam 70-534?

Design Microsoft Azure infrastructure and networking (15–20%)

  • Describe how Azure uses Global Foundation Services (GFS) datacenters
  • Design Azure virtual networks, networking services, DNS, DHCP, and IP addressing configuration
  • Design Azure Compute
  • Describe Azure virtual private network (VPN) and ExpressRoute architecture and design
  • Describe Azure services

Secure resources (15–20%)

  • Secure resources by using managed identities
  • Secure resources by using hybrid identities
  • Secure resources by using identity providers
  • Identify an appropriate data security solution
  • Design a role-based access control strategy

Design an application storage and data access strategy (15–20%)

  • Design data storage
  • Design applications that use Mobile Services
  • Design applications that use notifications
  • Design applications that use a web API
  • Design a data access strategy for hybrid applications
  • Design a media solution

Design an advanced application (15–20%)

  • Create compute-intensive applications
  • Create long-running applications
  • Select the appropriate storage option
  • Integrate Azure services in a solution

Design websites (15–20%)

  • Design websites for scalability and performance
  • Deploy websites
  • Design websites for business continuity

Design a management, monitoring, and business continuity strategy (15–20%)

  • Evaluate hybrid and Azure-hosted architectures for Microsoft System Center deployment
  • Design a monitoring strategy
  • Describe Azure business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) capabilities
  • Design a disaster recovery strategy
  • Design Azure Automation and PowerShell workflows
  • Describe the use cases for Azure Automation configuration

Where to find Study Materials for 70-534?

  • Exam Reference is not yet released. I have it on good authority that it will be available in a couple months. The final review is scheduled for the first week of April so unless the authors fall behind, the book should be available in print in May or June.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy has a class for this exam at Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. The course is good. With the exception of part 1 it is very good. Part 1 (networking) really drags down my opinion of the course. If you do not like the first session, stick it out, the rest of the course is excellent! This class alone, will get you to 40% of the information you need to pass the test. If you follow the links and do what the instructors tell you to do, you will get to 80%. You will still need to do some studying especially on the networking part since it is so week.
  • Early Experts is a great program. Check out Early Experts Study Guide for Microsoft Specialist Certification Exam 70-534, Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions Many people have done nothing but gone through this program and passed. It also has the advantage of having a support group. A group, you can join to send your exam related questions. One disadvantage of this program is the abundance of knowledge it shares. In some cases, you may find it to be overkill. It will get you through the exam and it is very well organized (by exam objective)


70-533 – Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

What’s on Exam 70-533?

Implement websites (16%)

  • Deploy websites – Define deployment slots; roll back deployments, configure and deploy packages, deploy web jobs, schedule web jobs
  • Configure websites – Configure app settings, connection strings, handlers, and virtual directories; configure certificates, custom domains, and traffic manager; configure SSL bindings and runtime configurations; manage websites by using Windows PowerShell and Xplat-CLI
  • Configure diagnostics, monitoring, and analytics – Retrieve diagnostics data; view streaming logs; configure endpoint monitoring, alerts, and diagnostics; monitor website resources
  • Configure scale and resilience – Configure auto-scale using built-in and custom schedules; configure by metric; change the size of an instance
  • Manage hosting plans – Create hosting plans; migrate websites between hosting plans; create a website within a hosting plan

Implement virtual machines (18%)

  • Deploy workloads on Azure virtual machines (VMs) – Identify supported Microsoft workloads; deploy and connect to a Linux VM; create VMs
  • Implement images and disks – Create specialized and generalized images for Windows and Linux; copy images between storage accounts and subscriptions; upload VHDs
  • Perform configuration management – Automate configuration management by using PowerShell Desired State Configuration and custom script extensions; enable puppet and chef extensions
  • Configure VM networking – Settings include reserved IP addresses, access control list (ACL), internal name resolution, DNS at the cloud service level, load balancing endpoints, HTTP and TCP health probes, public IPs, firewall rules, direct server return, and Keep Alive
  • Configure VM resiliency – Scale up and scale down VM sizes; auto-scale; configure availability sets
  • Design and implement VM storage – Configure disk caching; plan storage capacity; configure operating system disk redundancy; configure shared storage using Azure File service; configure geo-replication; encrypt disks
  • Monitor VMs – Configure endpoint monitoring, alerts, and diagnostics

Implement cloud services (16%)

  • Configure cloud services and roles – Configure instance count and size, operating system version and family, upgrade and fault domains, ACLs, reserved IPs, and network access rules; configure local storage; configure dedicated and co-located caching, local and cloud configurations, and local disks; configure multiple websites; configure custom domains
  • Deploy and manage cloud services – Upgrade a deployment; VIP swap a deployment; package a deployment; modify configuration files; perform in-place updates; perform runtime configuration changes using the portal; scale a cloud service; create service bus namespaces and choose a tier; apply scalability targets
  • Monitor cloud services – Monitor service bus queues, topics, relays, and notification hubs; configure diagnostics

Implement storage (16%)

  • Implement blobs and Azure files – Read data; change data; set metadata on a container; use encryption (SSL); perform an async blob copy; configure a Content Delivery Network (CDN); implement storage for backup and disaster recovery; configure Azure Backup; define blob hierarchies; configure custom domains; configure the Import and Export Service
  • Manage access – Create and manage shared access signatures; use stored access policies; regenerate keys
  • Configure diagnostics, monitoring, and analytics – Configure retention policies and logging levels; analyze logs
  • Implement SQL databases – Choose the appropriate database tier and performance level; configure point in time recovery and geo-replication; import and export data and schema; design a scaling strategy
  • Implement recovery services – Create a backup vault; deploy a backup agent; back up and restore data

Implement an Azure Active Directory (16%)

  • Integrate an Azure AD with existing directories – Implement DirSync, O365 integration, and single sign-on with on-premises Windows Server 2012 R2; add custom domains; monitor Azure AD
  • Configure the Application Access Panel – Configure single sign-on with SaaS applications using federation and password based; add users and groups to applications; revoke access to SaaS applications; configure access; federation with Facebook and Google ID
  • Integrate an app with Azure AD – Web apps (WS-federation); desktop apps (OAuth); graph API

Implement virtual networks (17%)

  • Configure a virtual network Deploy a VM into a virtual network; deploy a cloud service into a virtual network; configure static IPs; configure internal load balancing; design subnets
  • Modify a network configuration Modify a subnet; import and export a network configuration
  • Design and implement a multi-site or hybrid network Choose the appropriate solution between ExpressRoute, site-to-site, and point-to-site; choose the appropriate gateway; identify supported devices and software VPN solutions; identify networking prerequisites; configure regional virtual networks and multi-site virtual networks


Where to find Study Materials for 70-533?

70-532 – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

What’s on Exam 70-532?

Design and implement websites (15‒20%)

Create and manage virtual machines (20‒25%)

Design and implement cloud services (20‒25%)


Design and implement a storage strategy (20‒25%)


Manage application and network services (15‒20%)

Where to find Study Materials for 70-532?


If you liked this article, Please share with others. As you work on your certification, you will likely need to setup an Azure account. You can get a free trial at Once you setup an account, you can leverage to build out your first lab.


Do you have more Tips, Tricks or Field Experiences? Please share in the comments