Subject matter expertise in designing and implementing solutions that run on Microsoft Azure, including aspects like compute, network, storage and security; that is what one can (and should) expect about the level of expertise of every self-respecting Solutions Architect.

The Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is not for candidates who are just starting to work with cloud technologies or are new to Azure, and is considered an expert certification.

Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification covers networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data platform, budgeting, and governance. Microsoft states that candidates should be able to manage how decisions in each area affect an overall solution. In addition, candidates should have expert-level skills in Azure administration and have experience with Azure development and DevOps processes.

To earn the “Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert” certification title, you won’t need any Associate-level certification, but you do need to have succesfully taken the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) exam. In this blog article, I share available learning materials (free and paid) that prepare you for the Azure Solutions Architect exams from Microsoft, but more importantly, these learning materials provide you with the knowledge about designing and implementing Microsoft Azure solutions, technologies and services.

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:

Microsoft Learn

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-303 and AZ-304 Exams:

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.

Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

Implement and Monitor an Azure Infrastructure

Implement cloud infrastructure monitoring

Implement storage accounts

Implement VMs for Windows and Linux

Automate deployment and configuration of resources

Implement virtual networking

Implement Azure Active Directory

Implement and manage hybrid identities

Implement Management and Security Solutions

Manage workloads in Azure

Implement load balancing and network security

Implement and manage Azure governance solutions

Manage security for applications

Implement Solutions for Apps

Implement an application infrastructure

Implement container-based applications

Implement and Manage Data Platforms

Implement NoSQL databases

Implement Azure SQL databases

Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design

Design Monitoring

Design for cost optimization

Design a solution for logging and monitoring

Design Identity and Security

Design authentication

Design authorization

Design governance

Design security for applications

Design Data Storage

Design a solution for databases

Design data integration

Select an appropriate storage account

Design Business Continuity

Design a solution for backup and recovery

Design for high availability

Design Infrastructure

Design a compute solution

Design a network solution

Design an application architecture

Design migrations

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 these books are suitable for learning:

Practice exams

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-303 and AZ-304 exams:

Good luck!

Now that we have come to the end of this article, hopefully you have discovered enough learning materials to take the AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams with confidence. All I can do now is wish you the best of luck. Goodluck!