Christos Kotsidimos, Cloud Architect at Cloudreach, shares his experience of taking the new AZ-302 Azure Transition exam as the Microsoft platform lays the groundwork for more role-based Certifications.

During Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced a number of new role-based certifications for Azure. The goal was to create a clear and coherent roadmap for candidates focusing on Administrator, Developer and Solutions Architect roles.

What has changed?

These new certifications are replacing the old format which, I think, should have been retired a long time ago. The previous exams were huge. Candidates had tons of material to study and could only really focus on how to pass the exam rather than actually let the knowledge sink in.

The new Certifications look a lot more focused.

Under the new format, the 70-532, 70-533 & 70-535 exams are set to be replaced. If you have already taken these exams, Microsoft has a series of transition exams available which will cover the new content and skills required to earn the new Certifications (the transition exams are available for a limited time only and will be retired on June 30th, 2019).

The AZ-302 exam

Keen to see how the new exams were structured, I decided to get the Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification Transition (AZ-302), the transition exam intended for professionals who have successfully passed the 70-535 exam.

My day started with a lot of anxiety as I made my way to the test center. However, from the very start of the exam, I was amazed. The quality of questions was better. The topics were up to date. I was reading and rereading the questions with a smile on my face and feeling like a child in front of a new game. All the relevant topics were covered and I was pleased to see how focused the questions were on the Architect role. There were enough technical questions (some very hard) but also a lot of design questions that were aimed to assess the knowledge of Azure technologies and their application.

The time went by quickly but it was more than adequate to finish the exam. When I got up from my chair it really felt that this is the beginning of a big change for Azure certifications. New, coherent, and market aligned paths are in place, with a lot of new stuff to learn.

Advice for candidates

For those who decide to take this exam, please take adequate time to study. Visit the Azure docs and learning sites (here or here). Do all the labs that cover the new technologies that have been introduced. As always, hands-on experience is also very helpful as you will need to reach back and engage your inner engineer and developer. Focus your study on labs and try to develop critical thinking around making decisions. Also, do not forget to get a free Azure Subscription.

What do I expect from the future from Azure Certifications? Maybe new database-related paths? Both OLTP and OLAP worlds of databases have the potential to become quite large topics in the Azure Learning world. I would definitely expect developments in this area in the near future.