AZ-104 Prerequisites for Azure administrators
AZ-104 Blog Series
- Learning plan
- Identities and governance
- Back up
The Microsoft Learning Paths for the AZ-104 exam starts with Prerequisites for Azure administrators.
The three main layers of cloud computing are infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and a software as a service (SaaS). The Azure administrator role focuses mainly on the IaaS layer.
The fundamental areas for all cloud platforms are compute, storage, and networking. Their delineation is most defined at the infrastructure services and platform services layers, and more “blurred” at the software services layer. Let’s briefly look at each one.
Compute in Azure IaaS are virtual machines, and containers (with or without Kubernetes). I think there will always be a place for virtual machines, however there are many benefits to using containers including application versioning, isolation, dependency management, and deployment to name a few.
Storage in Azure Iaas are four core services: Blobs, queues, files, and disks. Blobs (binary large object storage) are for unstructured data. Queues are first in, first out message-based storage for decoupling asynchronous work. Files are basically file shares in the cloud. Disks are storage for use by Azure virtual machines.
Networking at the infrastructure layer has many components. Networks themselves are virtualized aka virtual networks. The Azure cloud provides DNS services. Hybrid cloud scenarios are enabled with VPN Gateway, and Express Route. Applications can be performant and protected with Load Balancer, Traffic Manager and App Gateway.
Infrastructure can be represented as code, specifically with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates. Infrastructure as code is a powerful concept, allowing for all the benefits of source control (versioning, code review, diffs, etc.), and provide repeated consistent deployments.
Resource management can all be done through the Azure portal, but to really scale as an administrator, you need to become familiar with PowerShell and the Azure command-line interface (CLI).
PowerShell in my opinion, is one of the most important skills to possess or acquire. Automation truly unlocks productivity, and PowerShell is one of the keys. PowerShell recently became a cross-platform tool, which increases it’s reach therefore it’s value. PowerShell can be used on more than just Azure. PowerShell generally follows the pattern Verb-Noun –parameter e.g. Get-AzResource -ResourceGroupName.
The Azure CLI is another option for automating resource management. The CLI is also a cross-platform tool. Unlike PowerShell, it’s usage is solely for Azure. The CLI generally follows the pattern az noun verb —parameter e.g. az resource list –resource-group.
Finally, the most important prerequisite is mindset. There is a lot of material covered in the exam, but it is not unobtainable knowledge. YOU CAN DO IT. There is a wealth of free and paid options to guide your efforts (for some examples, see my learning plan). Learn at a pace that works for you, but keep moving forward. The journey is part of the benefit. Happy studying!