A little over a year ago, Microsoft updated their certifications programs’ renewal guidance and approach. I’ve written about my general experience with these renewals (see here). Generally, I like this approach: first, you complete a proper certification through an exhausting and demanding certification exam. After completing that, you renew those to get a year more validity. And this renewal is the easier one, generally consisting of just 25 questions and requiring only about 30 minutes of your time.
Yesterday, I received the email asking me to renew my Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. This is the highest (and perhaps “most demanding,” if you like to think in those terms) of the Azure IT Pro/architect-focused certifications. Consisting of AZ-104 and optionally either the newer AZ-305 or, the older AZ-303+304 exams. I’ve done AZ-104 and AZ-303+AZ-304 previously, so the renewal process is a chance for me also to peek a bit within AZ-305.
The exam covers a wide range of topics – including identity management, monitoring, governance, data storage, business continuity (backups, etc.), and infrastructure. I like it, as this one is so close to the real world.
As I work daily with Azure, I chose not to prep ahead of the renewal exam. And let’s be honest – the renewal is about one-third of the scope of the actual AZ-305 (or the older) exams. It took me about 25 minutes to complete all 26 questions. Nearly half were the typical Yes/No questions, while others were more complex and required further thinking.
I had six months to work on the renewal, but as I did the renewal on the same day I received the notification, I now have 18 months until mandatory renewal. I will get a new renewal notice this time next year, with six months to prepare.
The experience for me is very positive. It’s non-blocking for my work and other obligations. I can do this in the comfort of my home office while sipping coffee and listening to music. It also doesn’t seem to be timed (even if it perhaps has a timer somewhere, but it isn’t visible) so you get that slightly added stress factor. With only 26 questions, you are continuously thinking, “I can ace this, for sure!”. For the actual exams, with perhaps up to 60 exams, you are exhausted by the time you get to the midway point of the exam.
In summary, the renewal exams are excellent. Fair, just – and nicely aligned and balanced if you keep up to speed with the technology through your daily work!