How to Become an Azure Architect: A Guide on Training and Certification
It is no surprise that companies are looking at hiring cloud architects. And the larger the enterprise, the bigger the demand. The growth in the market for cloud services is going to increase year on year. Gartner has been looking at continuous growth in the cloud sector.
And then we have the two major players in the market, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Azure’s market share has been growing year on year. The demand for Azure Architects is also increasing year on year.
Last Updated October 2020
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Yes, AWS dominated the market, but in the past three years, Azure is now emerging as the new cloud market. More and more projects are being carried out on Azure.
So where does a cloud architect come into play?
One of the biggest gaps in the industry right now when it comes to the cloud is SKILLS. Lack of knowledge and skills on cloud platforms widens the gap between supply and demand.
Knowing about Azure administration is not enough. You need to also be an expert in designing and implementing solutions on Azure. Organizations are looking for someone who is great at:
- Fulfilling their customer requirements. Applications deployed the right way with minimal disruptions.
- Reducing Cost. Cost is an important factor for any organization. You can reduce costs by using the correct deployment patterns. Instead of investing in new hardware, cloud-hosting can reduce capital investments.
- Keep up with technologies. Cloud platforms keep on rolling out newer features. A company is more likely to adopt newer technologies when employing cloud-based services.
IT Professionals must be proficient in all cloud-based platforms. The demand is there. You have to be on top of the technology. You need to capitalize on the demand.
Demand for cloud architects
There is a high demand for cloud architects. Cloud architect ranks third when it comes to the most jobs in demand in the year 2020.
Companies that undertake projects on Azure look for IT professionals. These professionals need to have the required certification on Azure. Then they can showcase their skills as an Azure architect.
Cloud architects tend to have strong knowledge of cloud platforms. They can pave the way for deploying the right architectures on cloud platforms.
And that’s where training and certification is so important
Companies are looking for trained and certified Azure Architects
Being an Azure Architect means having a thorough understanding of a variety of aspects such as:
- Monitoring your Azure infrastructure. Knowing how to configure key metrics and logs for resources deployed on the Azure platform.
- Knowing how to work with various aspects of Azure storage accounts.
- Configuring High Availability for your virtual machines.
- Building resources using Azure Resource Manager templates.
- Implementing network architectures.
- Understanding of how to design for identity and security in Azure Active Directory.
- Knowing how to architect environments that need connectivity to on-premises environments.
- Network storage and security for your workloads on Azure.
- Implementing backups for your infrastructure hosted on Azure.
- Implementing solutions using Azure Web Apps, Azure Functions, and Azure Logic Apps.
- Deploying container-based environments with Azure Kubernetes.
- Deploying data stores such as Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL database.
- Knowing how to design a business continuity strategy for your company.
- Understanding the best practices to design for deployment migration of your workloads to Azure.
What’s the path to becoming an Azure Architect?
The official Microsoft learning path for Azure Solutions Architect is as follows:
You will need to pass two certification exams
AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies. The exam focuses on how to use technologies on Azure. Before you take this exam, you need to get a firm understanding of how to build applications. It also checks your ability to deploy applications using Azure services. Key services it tests include Azure virtual machines, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Storage Accounts.
AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design. This exam focuses on designing applications and infrastructure. You first need to get a firm understanding of the services. Then start designing your application architecture using those services.
The role-based path is the perfect route to take to becoming an Azure Architect. Having this certification in hand adds value to any IT professional.
How should I start my journey toward becoming an Azure Architect?
For this, you need to ask yourself the following questions
- Are you well versed in concepts such as web applications, virtual machines, and databases?
- Have you worked on any cloud platform before?
- Have you worked on the Azure cloud platform?
- Are you involved in the development and deployment of applications?
Your journey starts with knowing your current strengths. If you are currently new to a cloud platform then consider a starter approach. Study for the Azure Fundamentals exam. This exam will test your basic knowledge of Azure services. The next step would be to get some knowledge on the Administration side or the Azure Developer side.
Once you have passed the Fundamentals exam, you can move on. Consider the Azure Administrator Associate certification.
By preparing for the Azure Administrator Associate exam, you will:
- Gain insights on how to monitor your architecture.
- Learn how to build available systems.
- Learn how to use PowerShell to manage Azure resources.
- Begin to understand networking on Azure.
As another route, you can consider getting an Azure Developer Associate certification after your Azure Fundamentals exam.
With the Azure Developer Associate exam, you will gain the following insights on how to:
- Deploy applications on Azure.
- Use serverless services like Azure Functions.
- Use Azure Web Apps for hosting web applications.
- Use data stores like Azure Cosmos DB.
Another important aspect of becoming a professional is experience. You need a lot of experience working on the Azure platform. As you study for the certifications, you will do a lot of hands-on with Azure services.
Your final goal
Remember the following important points
- Training and certification are important. Most companies ask for prior certification. Certification adds value to your experience.
- Practice working on Azure.
- Create your own personal projects. Showcase what you can do on Azure. It could be as simple as a blog site.
- Think like an Architect. Study the services. Consider their usage in application architectures.
Keep your goals in mind. Work towards achieving the Azure Architect certification. This will give you the edge when it comes to getting the role of an Azure Architect in large organizations.
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