I just passed the Microsoft AZ-700 exam, Designing and Implementing Microsoft Azure Networking Solutions, which means I am now certified in the two major clouds (AWS and Azure) when it comes to networking. As always after an exam, I write a summary of my experience with it and the resources I used. This is this post.
What is AZ-700?
This exam is for those that want to get certified on the networking component of Azure. Microsoft describes the exam in the following manner:
Candidates for this exam should have subject matter expertise in planning, implementing, and maintaining Azure networking solutions, including hybrid networking, connectivity, routing, security, and private access to Azure services
The breakdown of major topics and their percentage is the following:
- Design, implement, and manage hybrid networking (10-15%)
- Design and implement core networking infrastructure (20-25%)
- Design and implement routing (25-30%)
- Secure and monitor networks (15-20%)
- Design and implement Private access to Azure Services (10-15%)
There is a more detailed breakdown available as well. Always go through the exam blueprint before studying for a certification.
How to study for AZ-700
My goal when studying for this exam was to build a proficiency working with networking in Azure. That meant that I studied deeper and longer than to simply pass the exam. If you have a networking background, it may be enough for you to use the Microsoft Learn learning path and any other networking content available via MS Learn. It also depends on if you are completely new to Azure or have some previous experience. MS Learn is a great resource considering it’s free so I highly recommend using it.
Acloudguru, now part of Pluralsight, offers a video course for AZ-700. They do a good job as always of describing the technology and putting together scenarios/use cases where they show to use the technologies in a real life scenario. This is the best part of this course as well as the labs that they give you access to. It’s not a super deep dive but they do a good job of covering the services and how to use them.
To get a deep dive on different networking components I highly recommend that you check out John Savill’s YouTube channel. He has deep dives on things like Application Gateway, PrivateLink, and so on. He even has a study guide for AZ-700 as well as a networking master class. One great thing about John’s videos is that working for MS he obviously has access to more details on how it works under the covers. He will mention things like the virtual forwarding platform and other interested tidbits about the Azure network. If you watch all his videos you will definitely be prepared for the exam.
My friend Adam Stuart, whom also works for Microsoft, also has excellent videos at his YouTube channel. He covers Azure networking and newer features such as PrivateLink and how it integrates with the other Azure services.
If you are a Microsoft partner, you may also have access to additional training material and also an official practice test which is actually very good. It has the same style and format as the real test and the questions are of similar difficulty. What I like most with this test is that it doesn’t only give you the correct option, it explains why it is correct. But even better than that, it explains why the other options are wrong! This is something all practice tests should do. I found out that I had access to Microsoft Enterprise Skills Initiative which is where I found the practice exam. You can also purchase it separately if you are not a partner.
If you just want to get a feel for the exam, you can try the exam demo. The exam has a wide range of questions in different formats such as:
- Multiple choice, single answer
- Multiple choice, multiple answer
- Drag and drop
- Drag and drop where the answers come in a specific order
- Active screen where you might be presented with a screenshot from the console that has a dropdown menu selection, for example
- Dropdown questions where selecting an answer from a dropdown menu
- Hot areas where you might be presented with a screenshot from the console and need to click in one or more places to select the correct answers
- Case studies where presented with lots of information that you need to process to select the correct answer
- Questions with exhibits where you need to review the exhibit(s) to answer the question
My Exam Experience
Overall I think it was a good and fair exam. I have taken many exams over the years and as a CCDE I am used to have to process a lot of information to select my answers. If you have only taken exams before where you select one or multiple answers and where the most interactive component is a drag and drop, the format of the exam could be a bit overwhelming. Many of the questions require you to go through exhibits to find the informaiton you need to select your answer. It may even require you to go through multiple exhibits.
There are also more extensive questions such as case studies where there is quite a lot of information to process and where you might have multiple questions on the same scenario. It may also require you to combine multiple sources of information to find the answer. You have to be comfortable in processing a lot of information and keeping it in your head while finding the correct answer. As I mentioned previously, I recommend that you try the exam demo and perhaps even purchase the practice exam.
The content of the exam was pretty much as expected although I’ll say that it’s not enough to only understand the pure networking components like VNets, Virtual Network Gateway, and so on, you also need to understand how to use services like Application Gateway, Azure Front Door, Azure Traffic Manager, and so on. If you study these too lightly you’ll be at risk of failing the exam.
This is a very doable exam if you study for it properly. As always, go through the blueprint and build your plan for studying. There are a lot of free resources available. Use them! Make sure to spend some time in the console and get a little exposure to PowerShell if you can. Spend enough time on the different services to understand things like to host a domain in Azure, the different routing options of Traffic Manager, how to host multiple web sites in Azure using the Application Gateway with either VMs or App Services. It’s not enough to only focus on VNets, routing, and VPNs, although that is obviously also important for the exam. Cover the entire blueprint and you will be fine. Go through the exam demo and purchase the practice exam if you can. The practice exam gets you comfortable with the format of the exam and is also very useful in teaching you about the technologies. It also has links to documents where you can read further about the services.
I hope this post has been informative and wish you good luck in your studies!