I recently appeared for and cleared the Microsoft PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Azure Applications Exam & would like to share my experience and insight about the exam for all aspiring candidates.
Let me start by providing some insight into what the exam is all about.
Microsoft’s Exam 70-583 or PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Azure Applications is a Professional level certification that demonstrates your capability on designing, optimizing and troubleshooting apps for Windows Azure Cloud. It also counts as a credit for MCPD on Microsoft Visual Studio 2010‘s Windows Azure Developer certification path. Although this is the last exam in the certification path, it can also be taken as a single exam.
The exam duration is 120 minutes and consists of 55 multiple choice questions measuring a candidates skills in the following areas:
- Designing Data Storage Architecture (18%) – This section presents design scenarios and requires you to choose a storage architecture based on criterias like performance, scalability, cost, accessibility. It also covers migration of databases from SQL Server to SQL Azure, synchronization and reporting.
- Optimize Data Access and Messaging (17%) – You are required to provide solution to optimization scenarios covering batch operations, processing, latency, cost, data access standards, table storage, partitions and message processing using queues.
- Designing the Application Architecture (19%) – This section presents design requirements for developing an application and requires you to choose an architecture based on performance, resource usage, cost, scalability, application type (stand-alone or multi-tiered), geographic location, Fabric Controller event response and dependencies.
- Preparing for Application and Service Deployment (15%) – Provide a solution for application upgrades, virtual machine size, deployment life cycle (Service Management API), efficiency & resource naming scheme.
- Investigating and Analyzing Applications (16%) – Troubleshoot application and SQL Azure issues like long-running queries, capacity, start-stop cycle, run time memory, connectivity, access control using diagnostics logs, reports, Dynamic Management Views.
- Designing Integrated Solutions (15%) – This section covers design considerations for hybrid cloud covering interoperability, integration, hosting, connectivity & security.
My Experience of the Exam:
The exam preceded by a survey asking about my expertize in the above 6 areas, post which the exam began. The exam majorly covered Windows Azure Storage Services like blob, tables & queues, SQL Azure, SQL Azure Data Sync, Microsoft Sync Framework, Content Delivery Network, Database Migration from SQL Server to SQL Azure, IntelliTrace, Dynamic Management Views, Monitoring connections, capacity & logs, AppFabric Service Bus, Access Control mechanism, Service Management API, Upgrade strategy, Instance sizes, Web & Worker roles – all split across the above 6 topics.
The exam was followed by another survey about the exam taking experience. The result was displayed on the screen immediately and a printout was provided by the testing center.
My Verdict of the Exam:
I felt that the exam was pretty simple and straight forward, in the sense that all the questions were more focused on straight forward design requirements and asked your solution to it. The exam did not contain much developer specific questions like coding or syntax. It did a good job in covering key Windows Azure Services that make up a cloud solution when designing and developing applications for Microsoft cloud. So architects, consultants and developers working on designing and developing applications for Microsoft Azure must take this exam to prove their skills.
Exam Preparation Resources:
- Hands-on experience is always the key to clearing any certification and it holds true here too. Experience developing and testing apps for/on Windows Azure is desired but not mandatory.
- The Microsoft Exam 70-583 Learning Plan gives you the required knowledge and skills to Design and Develop Windows Azure Applications.
- Windows Azure MSDN Blog and MSDN Library are some other resources one can refer to.
- If you are looking to quickly scale up and learn about Windows Azure, you can register for the 2 day Level-2 Windows Azure training delivered by me.
- We also conduct a bootcamp course to help with this certification. If you would like to know more about it, please fill out this form and we will get back to you.
The exam can be registered & scheduled online at Prometric’s Microsoft link and must be taken through an authorized Prometric testing center. Alternatively one can also walk up to a nearest Prometric center to register, schedule and then appear for the exam. The cost of the exam is $80. There are no pre-requisites to appearing for this exam.
Microsoft is currently offering a free Second Shot on Microsoft Exams until May 31, 2014. So just in case it went wrong the first time, you can reappear for free using a voucher code. Click here for more details and to Register and receive the Second Shot voucher.
And here are some Sample Questions to get a feel of the format & type. Stay tuned for update on a boot camp course for this certification launching shortly.