Solid fundamental knowledge of cloud services and how Microsoft offers these cloud services is an absolute must for every IT professional who does something with Microsoft (cloud) technology.
The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification may be for candidates who are just starting to work with cloud-based solutions and services or are new to Azure, but experts may also benefit from this certification. After all, to become the master, you must first master the basics.
Azure Fundamentals certification covers cloud concepts, Azure services, Azure workloads, security and privacy in Azure, as well as Azure pricing and support. Microsoft states that candidates should be familiar with the general technology concepts, including networking, storage, compute, application support, and application development.
Azure Fundamentals may be useful to prepare you for other Azure role-based or specialty certifications but is not a prerequisite for any of them. In this blog article, I share available learning materials (free and paid) that prepare you for the Azure Fundamentals exam from Microsoft, but more importantly, these learning materials provide you with the fundamental knowledge about cloud and Microsoft Azure in particular.
Before we dive into the learning materials
You want an Azure environment to build things yourself. I cannot say and emphasize this enough. Think of it as learning to drive: you can’t do that without being in a car. So, the first thing you’ll do is create your Azure environment. Via this link you can use various Azure services free of charge for 12 months.
Virtual training courses
There are various virtual training courses to follow, based on registration or on-demand. Below is an overview of the recommended virtual training events:
- Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 Certification Training Course by Cloudskills.io. Within less than 6 hours of video training, Microsoft MVPs Tim Warner and Mike Pfeiffer prepare you for the Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) certification exam.
- Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) by Pluralsight. The courses in this path cover the basics of the products and services a Microsoft Azure subscription provides.
- Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day: Fundamentals by Microsoft. You can register for this free one or two-day virtual course via this page. After this course, Microsoft even gives you a voucher for taking the exam for free!
- Exam AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Study Guide by Tim Warner. A 63-part video training series to prepare you to earn the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals role-based certification badge.
Microsoft Learn provides you with free online training and learning paths for different Microsoft technologies. Here are the relevant Microsoft Learn modules and learning paths for the AZ-900 Exam:
- Azure Fundamentals part 1: Describe core Azure concepts (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Fundamentals part 2: Describe core Azure services (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Fundamentals part 3: Describe core solutions and management tools on Azure (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Fundamentals part 4: Describe general security and network security features (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Fundamentals part 5: Describe identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
- Azure Fundamentals part 6: Describe Azure cost management and service level agreements (AZ-900) - Learn | Microsoft Docs
Links to Microsoft articles on the specific topics
Below are several links to articles on topics that may come up in the exam. To prepare for the exam, you’d be wise to go through these articles and, where necessary, build the components yourself in your Azure environment.
Describe Cloud Concepts
Identify the benefits and considerations of using cloud services
- identify the benefits of cloud computing, such as High Availability, Scalability, Elasticity, Agility, and Disaster Recovery
- identify the differences between Capital Expenditure (CapEx) and Operational Expenditure (OpEx)
- describe the consumption-based model
Describe the differences between categories of cloud services
- describe the shared responsibility model
- describe Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
- describe Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- describe serverless computing
- describe Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
- identify a service type based on a use case
Describe the differences between types of cloud computing
- define cloud computing
- describe Public cloud
- describe Private cloud
- describe Hybrid cloud
- compare and contrast the three types of cloud computing
Describe Core Azure Services
Describe the core Azure architectural components
- describe the benefits and usage of Regions and Region Pairs
- describe the benefits and usage of Availability Zones
- describe the benefits and usage of Resource Groups
- describe the benefits and usage of Subscriptions
- describe the benefits and usage of Management Groups
- describe the benefits and usage of Azure Resource Manager
- explain Azure resources
Describe core resources available in Azure
- describe the benefits and usage of Virtual Machines, Azure App Services, Azure Container Instances (ACI), Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and Windows Virtual Desktop
- describe the benefits and usage of Virtual Networks, VPN Gateway, Virtual Network Peering, and ExpressRoute
- describe the benefits and usage of Container (Blob) Storage, Disk Storage, File Storage, and storage tiers
- describe the benefits and usage of Cosmos DB, Azure SQL Database, Azure Database for MySQL, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and SQL Managed Instance
- describe the benefits and usage of Azure Marketplace
Describe core solutions and management tools on Azure
Describe core solutions available in Azure
- describe the benefits and usage of Internet of Things (IoT) Hub, IoT Central, and Azure Sphere
- describe the benefits and usage of Azure Synapse Analytics, HDInsight, and Azure Databricks
- describe the benefits and usage of Azure Machine Learning, Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service
- describe the benefits and usage of serverless computing solutions that include Azure Functions and Logic Apps
- describe the benefits and usage of Azure DevOps, GitHub, GitHub Actions, and Azure DevTest Labs
Describe Azure management tools
- describe the functionality and usage of the Azure Portal, Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, Cloud Shell, and Azure Mobile App
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Advisor
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Monitor
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Service Health
Describe general security and network security features
Describe Azure security features
- describe basic features of Azure Security Center, including policy compliance, security alerts, secure score, and resource hygiene
- describe the functionality and usage of Key Vault
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Sentinel
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Dedicated Hosts
Describe Azure network security
- describe the concept of defense in depth
- describe the functionality and usage of Network Security Groups (NSG)
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Firewall
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure DDos protection
Describe identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features
Describe core Azure identity services
- explain the difference between authentication and authorization
- define Azure Active Directory
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Active Directory
- describe the functionality and usage of Conditional Access, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and Single Sign-On (SSO)
Describe Azure governance features
- describe the functionality and usage of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
- describe the functionality and usage of resource locks
- describe the functionality and usage of tags
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Policy
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Blueprints
- describe the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure
Describe privacy and compliance resources
- describe the Microsoft core tenets of Security, Privacy, and Compliance
- describe the purpose of the Microsoft Privacy Statement, Online Services Terms (OST) and Data Protection Amendment (DPA)
- describe the purpose of the Trust Center
- describe the purpose of the Azure compliance documentation
- describe the purpose of Azure Sovereign Regions (Azure Government cloud services and Azure China cloud services)
Describe Azure cost management and Service Level Agreements
Describe methods for planning and managing costs
- identify factors that can affect costs (resource types, services, locations, ingress and egress traffic)
- identify factors that can reduce costs (reserved instances, reserved capacity, hybrid use benefit, spot pricing)
- describe the functionality and usage of the Pricing Calculator and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator
- describe the functionality and usage of Azure Cost Management
Describe Azure Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and service lifecycles
- describe the purpose of an Azure Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- identify actions that can impact an SLA (i.e. Availability Zones)
- describe the service lifecycle in Azure (Public Preview and General Availability)
Books and other reading material
Due to the rapid renewal and innovative nature of cloud and Microsoft, there is no book I would advise you. Mainly because these are quickly becoming outdated and the fact that there are much better alternatives. If you still like to use a book for studying, then there is only one suitable book: the Exam Ref AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals by Jim Cheshire.
Practice exams are useful for getting a feel for the exam questions and topics. My personal experience with practice exams is that they are often outdated, incomplete, or that the answers marked as correct in practice exams are actually incorrect. I advise everyone not to use practice exams to memorize questions and the corresponding answers, but mainly to use them to get a feel for the real exam. Below are some practice exams for the AZ-900 exam:
- Microsoft Azure Exam AZ-900 Certification by Whizlabs.
- Microsoft AZ-900 Exam by ExamTopics.
- AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Original Practice Tests by Scott Duffy.
Now that we have come to the end of this article, hopefully you have discovered enough learning materials to take the AZ-900 exam with confidence. All I can do now is wish you the best of luck. Goodluck!