[Intro] Azure Fundamentals

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Candidates for the Azure Fundamentals certification should have foundational knowledge of cloud services and how those services are provided with Microsoft Azure. This certification is intended for candidates who are just beginning to work with cloud-based solutions and services or are new to Azure.

Azure Fundamentals certification is an opportunity to prove knowledge of cloud concepts, Azure services, Azure workloads, security and privacy in Azure, as well as Azure pricing and support. Candidates should be familiar with the general technology concepts, including concepts of networking, storage, compute, application support, and application development.

Azure Fundamentals can be used to prepare for other Azure role-based or specialty certifications, but it is not a prerequisite for any of them.

Job role: Administrator, Business User, Developer, Student, Technology Manager

Required exams: AZ-900

This exam measures your ability to describe the following concepts: cloud concepts; core Azure services; core solutions and management tools on Azure; general security and network security features; identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features; and Azure cost management and Service Level Agreements.
 

Study Guide for AZ-900​

A fundamental cloud computing exam​


Alex Zito-Wolf

Alex Zito-Wolf
Jan 16·26 min read


This is my study guide for the Azure 900. I hope that this will help some aspiring developers and techies to get a firmer grasp over these concepts and land your cert. The guide exactly follows the structure of the Microsoft Learning Online Courses, updated in 2021.

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Part 1) Cloud Concepts

This part contains general knowledge about cloud computing e.g. what are the benefits of cloud, the differences types of cloud service offering, and the differences in cloud deployment models.

Technological benefits of cloud:​

High Availability — The major cloud providers (Azure, AWS, GCP) have multiple data centers spread around throughout the world. Data and code stored in the cloud are copied to more than one data center. If anything happens to one data center, the data can be recovered from another data center.

Fault Tolerance — In case there is any fault in the application or infrastructure, the service can continue to work by moving the work to other healthy servers.

Disaster Discover — The data in the cloud can also get copied to other regions e.g. copy data from West US to East US. If there is natural disaster happened in West US and every data center goes down, the data center in East US will still have the copy of data.

Scalability — The application running in the cloud can expand its size when there are more users in the system. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/container-instances/ — The application running in the cloud can shrink its size when there are fewer users in the system. The users can also set automatic shutdown during the non-business hours to save money.

Scale vertically to increase compute capacity by adding RAM or CPUs to a virtual machine.

Scaling horizontally increases compute capacity by adding instances of resources, such as adding VMs to the configuration.

Business benefits of cloud​

Agility — Cloud allows the business to deliver IT system to customers faster. The machines in the cloud are ready for cloud users to spin up when they need and shut down when they are not required.

Economies of scale — Cloud is a shared pool of machines and services. As the number of customer grows, the cloud providers can lower the cost or increase quality of the services.

Capital Expenditure (CapEx) vs Operational Expenditure (OpEx) — Building a data center requires large capital investment for hardware as well as the facility. A data center will also require ongoing electricity and staffs cost for operation. By using cloud, the capital expenditure for building a data center is not required.

Consumption-based model (pay-as-you-go) — The cloud users only pay for what they need, by the duration they need.

Types of cloud service offerings​

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) — In this offering, the cloud providers offer barebone hardware in managed data center such as virtual machine or file storage. The cloud providers will take care of the physical infrastructure e.g. data center security or hardware repair, while the cloud users need to take care of server maintenance. For example, Azure VM allows the users to spin up new virtual machines in any size.

PaaS (Platform as a Service) — The cloud providers will take care of the servers. The cloud users only need to bring in application code or data. For example, Azure SQL Database is fully managed service by Azure that the users do not need to / cannot access anything beyond their data.

SaaS (Software as a Service) — The cloud providers will take care of both servers and code. The cloud users only need to configure the software to suit their needs. For example, Office 365 allows the users to use Microsoft Office software suite.

Differences in cloud deployment model:

Public Cloud — When the companies decided to use all their servers from the cloud providers’ data center.

Private Cloud — When the companies decided to use all their servers on their own data center to replicate the cloud services e.g. offering self-service components.

Hybrid Cloud — When the companies decided to use some of the servers in their own data center, and some of the servers in public cloud.

Subscriptions and Management​

Top Level Organization and Components

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1. Management Groups

2. Subscriptions

3. Resource Groups

4. Resources

Management groups: These groups help you manage access, policy, and compliance for multiple subscriptions. All subscriptions in a management group automatically inherit the conditions applied to the management group. **AD Groups**

Subscriptions: A subscription groups together user accounts and the resources that have been created by those user accounts. For each subscription, there are limits or quotas on the amount of resources that you can create and use. Organizations can use subscriptions to manage costs and the resources that are created by users, teams, or projects.

Resource groups: Resources are combined into resource groups, which act as a logical container into which Azure resources like web apps, databases, and storage accounts are deployed and managed. When you delete one the resources inside will be deleted

Resources: Resources are instances of services that you create, like virtual machines, storage, or SQL databases.

You may want to make additional subscriptions for the purpose of separating:

  • Environments: When managing your resources, you can choose to create subscriptions to set up separate environments for development and testing, security, or to isolate data for compliance reasons. This design is particularly useful because resource access control occurs at the subscription level.
  • Organizational structures: You can create subscriptions to reflect different organizational structures. For example, you could limit a team to lower-cost resources, while allowing the IT department a full range. This design allows you to manage and control access to the resources that users provision within each subscription.
  • Billing: You might want to also create additional subscriptions for billing purposes. Because costs are first aggregated at the subscription level, you might want to create subscriptions to manage and track costs based on your needs. For instance, you might want to create one subscription for your production workloads and another subscription for your development and testing workloads.

Regions and Availability​

Regions: A region is a geographical area on the planet that contains at least one but potentially multiple datacenters that are nearby and networked together with a low-latency network.

  • 5 geographies, each with 2 or more regions
  • There are 50+ regions total, 140+ countries
  • There can be many data centers in a single region
  • There are 3 regions reserved for the US Gov and contractors!
Pairing: Each region of azure has a backup region. This is a backup for all of the infrastructure in that region.

Availability Zones: Availability zones are physically separate datacenter units within an Azure region. They are made up of one or more datacenters. They have independent networking, cooling, etc. as well as the ability to stagger upgrade so that it will stay up even if an upgrade goes wrong.

Azure APIs + Resource Manager​

Azure Resource Manager is the deployment and management service for Azure. It provides a management layer that enables you to create, update, and delete resources in your Azure account. You use management features like access control, locks, and tags to secure and organize your resources after deployment.
 

How to Prepare:​

1. Review the Microsoft Exam Blueprint: This should be your first stop during exam preparation. Microsoft uses the blueprint to break down topics and assign a weight (% of questions) to the exam so you’ll have an idea how much to study for each section.

2. Invest in an online course to help walk you through what’s going to be on the Exam. Throughout the Skylines Academy Microsoft AZ 900 Certification Course, Master Instructor, Nick Colyer, will walk you through objectives and lay down the foundation of what cloud computing really is through a variety of demos and lectures. Make sure to be hands-on and spin up your own Azure environment to follow along. This is a great opportunity for you to view the way we prepare students for exams and to determine if you’d like to use our courses to prepare for more involved certification exams.

3. Set up your own Azure subscription to familiarize yourself with Azure services which are covered in the exam. Check out the free Azure Trial Account Creation demo to help you get set up.

4. Taking notes while working through the course. Taking notes serves as a great method to help retain information and a perfect study guide before the test.

5. Take practice tests. We’ve put together ~60 practice questions based on our experience taking the exam and feedback from students. These questions are separated based on the content in each section and will serve as a quiz at the end of each section. You also have the option of purchasing these questions separately for studying purposes.

4. Ask your peers! There thousands of like-minded individuals who are studying for or have already taken the AZ-900 exam. Check out the Azure Study Group and feel free to join, post, and see what your fellow Azure students are up to.

Other Useful Resources

  1. Microsoft Learning Paths: There are also Microsoft learning paths online available for different topics.
  2. GitHub Repo: Here you can find a very informational study guide that touches upon all topics covered for this exam.
  3. Microsoft Foundational Resources: Here are a few beneficial resources that Microsoft has released regarding the various fundamental topics that will be covered on the exam.
    1. Get Started With Azure: This informational link provides a brief overview of the key Azure topics that are necessary to know when starting out with Azure. Microsoft provides their definition of what each of these are used for along with step-by-step tutorials.
    2. Azure Fundamentals Learning Path: This resource provided by Microsoft is a great place to reinforce your knowledge about the core cloud concepts. Modules are provided for each of these concepts to strengthen your knowledge.
 
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