Certified Azure Solution Architect

What started in March has finally ended: Today from 15:00 to 17:30 I had part two of my certification exam and I passed. I’m now a certified Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert 🥳

Before I go into some of the stories around those two exams, I want to write a little bit about why I actually tried to get this certification in the first place. Yes, it will probably help me professionally during future salary negotiations but I was most of all curious how Azure compares to GCP (for which I did a similar certification in 2019). Turns out that to nobody’s surprise the offers are similar enough to end up being completely confusing when you’re learning for a certification for Azure while doing some work on GCP (and vice versa).

What the Microsoft certification does far better than Google - in my opinion - is the way the learning material is structured and offered. A large chunk of what is asked during the exams is available as free learnings paths with lots of practical examples on the Learn platform. Some topics (especially around Azure AD), though, are not included in those learn paths so you should always keep an eye on the “exam skills” documents with every exam and read up on these using either the official documentation or get a Pluralsight account.

Luckily, the two exams that are necessary for this certification can be taken online through Pearson OnVUE. At €200 per exam (incl. taxes) they are not cheap but quite thorough. Sadly though, my experience with that platform wasn’t great. I took the first exam in mid-August. Usually, you should get the result within a couple of days. In my case, though, I had to wait until 2020-09-29 to learn that I had passed the exam. Support requests in which I asked about the status were answered in way that indicated that “exam taken” was perhaps the final status… Turns out, it wasn’t. There’s also a “passed” status 😉

On 2020-11-23 I then wanted to do the second exam. At this point I had learned and relearned the provided material so many times that I couldn’t see it anymore. So, last Monday I then opened OnVUE, filled out the required information, provided photos of my surroundings, and then waited for a proctor to verify my data and start the exam. That never happened and after about half an hour I tried to contact the Pearson support just to wait close to an hour for a support agent to become available. I cannot even begin to describe how frustrated and angry I was at this point.

After reviewing the case for a couple of days I got a full refund but had to schedule a new exam. I actually had to do the checkout 5-10 times because someone was always picking the same time slot that I wanted and so the checkout failed at the last second. Today that exam now finally happened and everything worked without any bumps! I also got my score right after completing the exam and now I’m just happy and relieved! All the work I put into preparing for these two exams finally paid off!