Who else wants to pass the Azure DevOps (AZ-400) Certification?

First of all, thanks to Microsoft Azure for the AZ-400 exam. I learned a lot about Azure and Azure DevOps while preparing for the AZ-400 exam. To get an Azure DevOps Expert badge, you need to either pass AZ-104 or AZ-204.

To give you some feel about the exam, I got 58 questions to answer in 180 minutes. Out of 58, 43 were straight forward, 10 were scenario-based and 5 were on case study. Some of the exam questions were purely DevOps-based; it’s better to gain DevOps knowledge before scheduling the test.

Here are some pointers I came across while preparing to pass the Azure DevOps Expert (AZ-400) exam.

Study Plan:

PluralSight AZ-400 Learning Path

PluralSight has a clean learning path (34 hour long videos) for AZ-400, covering most of the exam curriculum. As I was working on a client project, I had to pace through some of the topics with 1.5x speed. I would suggest to watch out for the overlap on some topics as multiple authors curate the content.

Practice Tests

I also bought two practice tests that helped me learn the Quirks of the test and identify the knowledge gaps.

  • Testpreptraining.com has around 500 practice questions for each section in the curriculum; it covers many topics like DevOps, Azure DevOps, Github, Github actions, etc.
  • ExamTopics has around 180 practice questions. I got 25% of the questions from ExamTopics, whereas others commented that they got 60–70% of questions. Don't forget to read the discussions, because not all the answers for the practice questions are correct.

These practice tests are good enough to understand the exam pattern but don’t depend on these alone to pass the exam.

Azure DevOps Labs

Azure DevOps Labs for hands-on practice helps a lot to pass the exam. The exam is not entirely theoretical; some questions are on the correct sequence of steps to create a resource or go in the portal to achieve some tasks. Azure DevOps Labs will help you to answers those questions.

Official Azure DevOps documentation

Azure DevOps documentation is your best friend. Things change very often in Azure DevOps and Azure; its ideal to keep track of those changes and go through the documentation for the topics I shared below.

Topics to prepare:

Following are the crucial topics that you must know,

Git commands

Here is the reference to all git commands like,

git merge
git rebase
git gc
git lfs
git logs

Microsoft Teams

Azure Pipeline Agents Pools

  • Microsoft hosted pool (default agents):
    * Types of agents provide by Azure
    * Supported versions of the agent’s OS
    * Use case on when to use Microsoft hosted pool
    * Permissions (RBAC)
  • Self-hosted pool:
    * How to create self-hosted agents
    * Supported versions of the agent’s OS
    * Use case on when to use self-hosted pools
    * Permissions (RBAC)

Azure Pipelines

  • YAML vs. UI based pipelines
  • How and where to enable CI in YAML pipeline editor vs. Classic pipeline editor?
  • Jobs vs. Tasks vs. Stages
  • Pre-approval:
    * timeout
    * time between re-evaluation
  • Post-approval:
    * timeout
    * time between re-evaluation
  • Gates:
    * Options in gates
    * Third-party tool integration to use in gates (SonarCloud, SonarQube)
  • Variables:
    * Variables in Pipeline
    * Variable Groups
    * Secrets from Azure KeyVault as Variables
  • Azure Pipeline Releases:
    * Deployment groups
    * Triggers
    * Gates
    * Approvals
    * Release retention policy
  • Integrate ITSM with Azure pipelines and Azure pipeline releases
  • Azure CI/CD: Actions to perform in CI/CD, this picture will help explains the CI/CD actions.

Containers (AKS, ACI, ACR and Docker )

  • Docker:
    * Multi-stage builds
    * Docker commands
    * Docker environment variables
  • Learn how to create a multi-stage docker file for .NET and .NET Core applications
  • AKS:
    * Integrations between AKS, ACI, ACR and Docker
    * Service Principles
    * Helm 2 with Tiller
    * Helm 3 without Tiller
    * RBAC integration for AKS
    * Different StorageClasses (files, disks and keyVaults) in AKS
  • ACR:
    * How to store Docker images in ACR using Azure Pipeline
    * In which stage you should implement the container image scanning
  • ACI:
    * Integrate AKS with ACI
    * How to create a virtual node for using ACI for an AKS cluster

Monitoring and logging

  • Azure Monitor
  • Application insights
  • Azure Log Analytics
  • Azure Log Analytics query language
  • How to trigger an alert for the Azure web application events

Azure KeyVaults

  • Integration with ARM templates
  • Access Policy vs. RBAC (Use cases)
  • Integration with Azure DevOps to deploy ARM templates
  • How to use a secret in an Azure Pipeline

Azure Repos

  • Azure Repos vs. Github vs. Github Enterprise vs. Subversion
  • Branch Policy
  • Build validation policy
  • Status Policy
  • Branch Permissions
  • Importing source code from GitHub/Github enterprise
  • Branching strategy
  • Types of pull request merge actions (rebase vs. merge vs. no-fast-forward vs. three-way merge)
  • pull request — merge actions use cases

Azure Boards

  • Agile vs. Scrum vs. CMMI
  • Azure Taxonomy
  • Integrate Azure Boards with Github or Github Enterprise

App center (Mobile applications)

  • Distribution Groups
  • Device Registration (iOS)
  • Release builds to the test team.

Azure Artifacts

  • Upstreams vs. Views
  • Artifact feed permissions
  • Use cases on the public vs. Private vs. Shared feeds.
  • Artifact retention period (number of days for default and Production)

Azure Automation

  • Azure Automation State Configuration (PowerShell desired state configuration)
  • Shared Resources
  • RBAC
  • Common scenarios for Automation

Java

  • Tools used for code coverage (Maven PMD, SonarQube, SonarCloud, JaCoCo, Gradle)
  • Tools used to scan the open-source licenses (WhiteBolt and Black Duck)

Node.js

  • How to scan only dev dependencies vs. production dependencies
  • Where to store the Azure Artifact feed URL vs. Azure Artifact Feed credentials in a node.js application

After passing the Azure DevOps (AZ-400)Certification exam, I can confidently say that the test was a fair representation of the “skills measured” described in the study guide provided by Azure. Most of the topics I mentioned in this blog have labs in the Azure DevOps Labs, so be sure to keep referring back to the labs to get hands-on experience.

AZ-400 exam is worth taking because studying for this certification will help build confidence by strengthening knowledge and skills. I felt that the experience was more about learning Azure DevOps than passing the certification.

Good luck to everyone planning to take the exam 🚀🚀!!

A DevOps consultant at @ Levvel. Cloud, containers, CI/CD and configuration management specialist. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suryalolla/

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