Well, 2020 is not quite going to plan….I guess we should make lemonade.
After the initial realisation that working from home meant more time in front of a screen. I decided to log out of the AWS console and check out the competitors, Azure and GCP.
I chose to focus on Azure first (AZ-500), given that it felt like it would offer the least resistance for most enterprises. After all, Windows and Active Directory are still bread and butter for many businesses.
My introduction to the Azure ecosystem was in hindsight the best of the bunch - docs.microsoft.com.
You’ll hit that site while checking out the Skills Measured page for the AZ-500 exam. There are links to several free learning paths, that in game-like fashion, you get to earn XP points as you complete the free labs - you can’t beat hands-on training!
From there I took a leisurely approach, grabbing 10 minutes here or there, working my way through the Skylines Academy Microsoft AZ-500 Certification: Azure Security Technologies course. The course consists of over 8 hours of content broken into coffee break size videos.
Toward the end of that course, I discovered the recently published book - Mastering Azure Security. It covered much of the material needed to pass the exam, and I have to wonder why it wasn’t positioned as a certification book. Until the MSPress book is out, this is your best bet if, like me, you prefer a good book over a video (showing my age).
I booked the exam 2 weeks in advance, a few days before the content was due to change. It’s about that time I started to doubt myself. Worried, I enrolled in as many other courses as I could get my hands on, starting with A Cloud Guru’s AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies 2020. The course was comprehensive and I was able to watch at 1.75 speed, leaving room for some ITPRO.tv sessions in the evening. The practice questions with A Cloud Guru are hard enough that you could repeat them a few times and still get caught out. Great for reinforcing a subject.
Taking the exam from home posed a few challenges, for one finding a room that met the criteria was not easy. No books, no electronic devices, nothing that you could use to cheat. I ended up using the dining room table as a makeshift desk, as that was the least busy room in the house, other than the bathroom that is (I did consider it).
I made the mistake of attaching an external monitor to the 13 Inch Laptop (for the camera and mic), only to find out on the day that external monitors are not allowed. Next time I’ll remember to use something bigger to avoid the eye strain and fatigue I felt during the last few questions.
On the bright side, you don’t have to wait long to get your result, meaning you can celebrate (or commiserate) in the comfort of your own home, and fist-pump the air (or sulk) without worrying about upsetting others…