Tekhead.it http://tekhead.it/blog Cloud, Virtualisation & Storage Technobabble from Alex Galbraith... Sat, 10 Mar 2018 19:43:45 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://tekhead.it/wp-uploads/www.tekhead.org/2015/01/WEB_JPG_L-54c20e63v1_site_icon-32x32.png Tekhead.it http://tekhead.it/blog 32 32 34570450 TekBytes #3: A Certification Haiku for the vExpert Announcement! http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/03/tekbytes-3-a-certification-haiku-for-the-vexpert-announcement/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/03/tekbytes-3-a-certification-haiku-for-the-vexpert-announcement/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 19:43:45 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2227 I am very chuffed to have become a VMware vExpert for the 6th time this year! Last year I wrote a post about how awesome the programme is, so I won’t bore you with that this year! If you want to read it, you can find it here: VMware vExpert 2017 – It’s not just […]

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I am very chuffed to have become a VMware vExpert for the 6th time this year! Last year I wrote a post about how awesome the programme is, so I won’t bore you with that this year! If you want to read it, you can find it here:

VMware vExpert 2017 – It’s not just about the schwag!

Instead, I am compelled to write a wee haiku about something which most vExperts hold near and dear to their hearts – IT certification!

I hope you enjoy!

 

Certification;

Rolling in my hamster wheel,

Will it ever end?

 

Anyway enough messing about, better get back to the studying!… GCP next! 🤓

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TekBytes #2: The Complexity of Public Cloud Architecture http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-2-the-complexity-of-public-cloud-architecture/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-2-the-complexity-of-public-cloud-architecture/#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 23:27:50 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2225 For many organisations, the cloud and cloud-native application refactoring is attractive. This is often due to the belief that it will reduce complexity and risk for them, when compared to running their own DCs. The theory being that public cloud architecture is simpler. By going all in, however, many modern “cloud-native” applications are built upon a […]

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For many organisations, the cloud and cloud-native application refactoring is attractive. This is often due to the belief that it will reduce complexity and risk for them, when compared to running their own DCs. The theory being that public cloud architecture is simpler.

By going all in, however, many modern “cloud-native” applications are built upon a multitude of solutions, services and elements. This could be anything from a third party PaaS / SaaS provider for ID management, to “rolling your own” caching and search solution. It could even be simply implementing a broad set of management tooling for code and infrastructure automation.

The diagram below represents the technologies involved in one such solution. It’s clearly a highly distributed application with dependencies across many different platforms and cloud-vendors! It’s also not the only example of a solution I have seen in the new cloud-native world!

The risk is, the failure of any single one of those SaaS, PaaS or IDM platforms, automation tools or API gateways could leave an application offline and its owners potentially powerless to resolve it! Developers are exchanging the complexity of building elements into their applications natively, for the risk of distributing (out-sourcing?) them out to other cloud platforms.

Public cloud architecture isn’t always simples!

That is not to say this is not a reason to go to cloud and refactor applications to be more cloudy! The relative benefits to an organisation may far outweigh the risks. The key thing is that in any organisation, requirements from the business will always trump any expectations of simplicity or even consistency!

We are simply exchanging one set of complexities for another!

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments below!

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TekBytes #1 – CloudSpotting – A New Tech Podcast http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-1-cloudspotting/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-1-cloudspotting/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:40:44 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2217 In the spirit of these new short-form blog posts (see TekBytes: A Blogging Experiment) it’s probably appropriate that I write a quick post on a new short-form podcasting project I am working on; CloudSpotting! My day job is as a Solutions Architect at Rackspace, where I’m fortunate enough to work for one of the most […]

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In the spirit of these new short-form blog posts (see TekBytes: A Blogging Experiment) it’s probably appropriate that I write a quick post on a new short-form podcasting project I am working on; CloudSpotting!

My day job is as a Solutions Architect at Rackspace, where I’m fortunate enough to work for one of the most tech-agnostic global service providers around! A typical week could include me talking about or designing solutions based on VMware, Hyper-V, AWS, Azure, GCP, OpenStack, or even just plain old dedicated servers! Add to that a swathe of security, networking and storage “stuff”, it all adds up to a pretty healthy mix.

CloudSpotting Time!

Myself and my colleague Sai Iyer thought it would be fun to share some of our learnings and experiences in designing and operating customer solutions. What better way (we thought!), than an easy-to-consume 30 minute monthly podcast for architects and engineers… In the first episode, we discuss scaling applications for peak periods and the insane growth of Kubernetes adoption! We already have episodes planned on phishing, cyber kill-chains, encryption, automation & DevOps along with a host of other topics, so watch this space!

Just to be clear though – No Kool aid, just cool tech! 🙂

For those of you who are also regular Open TechCast listeners, this doesn’t mean I am changing lanes in any way, there will just be more of my dulcet tones available on your favourite podcatcher (which may or may not be a good thing!).

Where can I find it?

If you want to catch the first episode, just search for “CloudSpotting” on iTunes or Stitcher, or catch the show on Soundcloud here:

CloudSpotting – Season 1 Ep 1 – Peaking Early – A discussion on Application Scaling

We have also settled on the Twitter hashtag #spottingclouds, as the reverse has lots of great photos, but not so much tech! 🙂cloudspotting-logo-horizontal

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TekBytes: A Blogging Experiment http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-a-blogging-experiment/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/tekbytes-a-blogging-experiment/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 22:15:33 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2200 I don’t know about you, but some of my best and worst ideas come to me when I’m in the shower… it’s quite possible this may be the latter, but let’s see where it goes! For those of you who are either regular readers of this blog, or perhaps even know me in the “walking, […]

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I don’t know about you, but some of my best and worst ideas come to me when I’m in the shower… it’s quite possible this may be the latter, but let’s see where it goes!

For those of you who are either regular readers of this blog, or perhaps even know me in the “walking, talking flesh sacks” world, you will probably have noticed I’m prone to long-form communication; whether it’s writing, or indeed speaking!

Due to many reasons I won’t bore you with today (but maybe later!), life has been spectacularly busy the last few months. This has led to something which I want to correct; missing out the enjoyable act of blogging here!

What’s the plan, Stan?

In response I am going to try a little experiment based on the theory of “little and often”.

In addition to my traditional “epic saga” posts, I will be producing a new post series I’m calling #TekBytes. Not quite Twitter-style microblogging, but more regular, bite-sized chunks of content. No more than a few paragraphs or a couple of hundred words per post, based on observations and challenges I see day to day in my role as a multi-cloud solutions architect.

That doesn’t mean it will all be cloudy of course, just whatever comes to mind and I can get down into a post in a few minutes, possibly even from my phone! Some of them might even only be questions for you, the readers!

And before you ask… of course there will still be terrible memes! 😀

terrible-memesThoughts? Feedback? Make yourself heard using the comments below!

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Swordfish – A Standard by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/swordfish-a-standard-by-any-other-name-would-smell-as-sweet/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2018/02/swordfish-a-standard-by-any-other-name-would-smell-as-sweet/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:11:22 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2157 Whether it’s the IEEE, the ISO or any other, we live in a world governed by standards. This has the positive impact in allowing interoperability of devices and elements, but at the same time has the unfortunate side effect of hampering the development of new technologies which conflict with those standards, even if their adoption […]

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Whether it’s the IEEE, the ISO or any other, we live in a world governed by standards. This has the positive impact in allowing interoperability of devices and elements, but at the same time has the unfortunate side effect of hampering the development of new technologies which conflict with those standards, even if their adoption would ultimately provide a better outcome for everyone!

At the same time, many organisations (read: vendors) opt out of these standards and introduce their own. This is great for the vendor as it is tailored to their requirements and products, but it doesn’t help the customer or their lowly sysadmin who has to then implement a load of additional tooling to manage these products. Take S3 as an example; AWS took one look at what was out there in the market, decided that none of the standards met their requirements, so wrote their own!

The key seems to me to be finding a balance, where you implement a standard, but make it extensible, such that individual vendors can add additional data or functionality over and above the baseline. This means that you can always support the “lowest common denominator” for everyone.

So what is Swordfish?

Funnily enough, the folk from SNIA (The Storage Networking Industry Association) have implemented precisely this with one of their latest standards releases, Swordfish. Specifically, this defines the standards for APIs used to manage storage devices in a consistent fashion, regardless of vendor or indeed storage class (for example software based hyper-converged solutions are supported by it, as well as block, file, object, etc!).standardsThey have achieved this by taking the existing SMI-S standards and refactoring them into a simplified model which is client, not vendor oriented, and based on a REST API model, JSON (the current industry favourite for almost all data interchange) and OData. Not only that, but they have achieved this and agreed the standards with their many members in less than 12 months. By comparison to your average RFC from the IEEE that’s lightning fast! 😮

Now this is not to say that your typical vendor is going to throw out everything they have today, but if they begin to run these APIs in parallel, I could see this eventually becoming the defacto standard for all storage management. In addition, SNIA have confirmed that if 2-3 or more vendors have a requirement for the same additional fields (which they will initially have to implement via extensions), then SNIA will ratify them within weeks. Truly an agile methodology for standards!

The Tekhead Take

This seems to me to be a pragmatic approach to a difficult problem. Keeping vendors happy, whilst trying to make life easier for storage consumers and administrators by bringing storage management into the twenty-first century!

Despite being a relatively dry subject matter, I was actually quite interested and impressed with this innovation! People will still need dedicated local storage for many years to come, and these standards will help to enable them to manage storage in a more consistent fashion. Who knows, it may even promote more competition!

Want to Know More?

I was fortunate enough to meet the team from SNIA last year at their Colorado HQ, with Storage Field Day 13. One of the speakers (industry veteran Rob Peglar) also recently appeared as a guest on the Storage Unpacked podcast – an episode well worth a listen too!

Anyway, you can catch the session here:

SNIA Presents at Storage Field Day 13

SNIA have published a load of information on the standards here:

http://snia.org/swordfish

Finally, some of the other SFD13 delegates had their own thoughts on the session and standards as a whole. You can find them here:

Disclaimer/Disclosure: My flights, accommodation, meals, etc, at Storage Field Day 13 were provided by Tech Field Day, but there was no expectation or request for me to write about any of the vendors products or services and I was not compensated in any way for my time at the event.

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Counting Clouds and Operating VMware – Another Awesome Open TechCast Guest! http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/operating-vmware-another-awesome-open-techcast-guest/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/operating-vmware-another-awesome-open-techcast-guest/#respond Fri, 15 Sep 2017 20:06:56 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2184 On day two of VMworld Barcelona 2017, our team of intrepid podcasters were able to catch up with Chief Operating Officer of Customer Operations, Sanjay Poonen, for a chat about life, careers, cloud architecture, VMware strategy and the startup space! It was a great conversation and clear to see how passionate Sanjay is about the […]

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On day two of VMworld Barcelona 2017, our team of intrepid podcasters were able to catch up with Chief Operating Officer of Customer Operations, Sanjay Poonen, for a chat about life, careers, cloud architecture, VMware strategy and the startup space!

It was a great conversation and clear to see how passionate Sanjay is about the organisation, but more importantly, the people around him. He ended the podcast with a few nuggets of career advice which I think are well worth taking on board for anyone, regardless of seniority or time in the industry. The episode is well worthwhile a listen for this alone!Sanjay Poonen Career Advice

Once again, KevAtherAmit and myself were there in person, with Gareth remotely dialled in from the UK via Zoom, albeit via a rather dodgy wifi connection at our end!

We were fortunate enough to sit down with both Sanjay and Pat Gelsinger at the event (find interview post here!). It’s great to see senior leadership at as huge an organisation as VMware taking the time out of their insane conference schedules to involve themselves in community initiatives, such as the Open TechCast!Sanjay Poonen and the Open TechCast crew!

Community engagement is one thing I think VMware continues to do better than most organisations in the industry. It’s probably (at least in part) VMworld continues to attract larger audiences every year, even when other public cloud vendors are taking such large chunks of attention and market share.

Finally, massive thanks again to Sanjay for taking the time to hang out with us! It was a blast!

If you want to catch this extra-special episode of the Open TechCast, you can tune in at:

EP7:- A Bit of a COO – A quick Conflab with Sanjay Poonen

Make sure to subscribe to the show using your favourite pod-catcher of choice, and follow us at @OpenTechCast on Twitter, where we hope to continue our conversations well into the future!

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Open TechCast – The One with Pat Gelsinger http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/open-techcast-the-one-with-pat-gelsinger/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/open-techcast-the-one-with-pat-gelsinger/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 21:46:42 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2179 The title does kind of give it away, but the co-hosts of our humble little community podcast were fortunate to spend 40 minutes or so this week with VMware’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger. We discussed Pat’s journey into to VMware, the difficulties of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, gender equality in the workplace, the transition from […]

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The title does kind of give it away, but the co-hosts of our humble little community podcast were fortunate to spend 40 minutes or so this week with VMware’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger.

We discussed Pat’s journey into to VMware, the difficulties of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, gender equality in the workplace, the transition from traditional licensing models, the future of SDDC and much, much more!

Needless to say, it’s been pretty difficult keeping this one under wraps, especially as we didn’t want to jinx it!

The Interview

Kev, Ather, Amit and myself were able to be there in person, but we also managed to dial in Gareth remotely from the UK via Zoom, for a full complement of co-hosts! At one point in the show we happened to be discussing Moore’s law, when Moore’s cousin Murphy decided to jump in unannounced!. Despite putting fresh new batteries into the recorder shortly before the interview, they gave up the ghost, mid-session!

Fortunately, our keen eyed co-host and sound man, Kev, spotted the issue and was able to avoid disaster! There were a nervous few minutes after the session when we were testing the recording for corruption, I can tell you! It just goes to show that no matter how much planning you do, unexpected events can still crop up!…

Anyway, massive thanks again to Pat for taking the time to hang out with us, and we very much look forward to a re-run next year if the opportunity arises! 🙂

How can I listen?!

If you want to catch this extra-special episode of the Open TechCast, you can tune in at:

EP6:- Life, technology and everything with Pat Gelsinger

We also have another very special guest coming up in our next episode, so make sure to subscribe to the show using your favourite pod catcher of choice, and follow us at @OpenTechCast on Twitter!

And finally… whatever you do, just keep an eye out for that Alan Renouf, he’ll be CEO before you know it…

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Docker – State of the Nation (aka Observations of a Brit) http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/docker-state-of-the-nation-aka-observations-of-a-brit/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/09/docker-state-of-the-nation-aka-observations-of-a-brit/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2017 16:07:39 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2173 It may surprise you to learn that Docker is actually quite old now (at least in Startup terms!), having released the first version of their very cool software in March 2013! Throughout that time, Docker (the company) have moved at a fairly rapid pace in terms of feature and etween ug releases, with an average […]

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It may surprise you to learn that Docker is actually quite old now (at least in Startup terms!), having released the first version of their very cool software in March 2013!

Throughout that time, Docker (the company) have moved at a fairly rapid pace in terms of feature and etween

ug releases, with an average of a point release about every quarter and minor releases every month (or more)!

Whilst sitting here awaiting my flight to VMworld Europe 2017, where there are MANY MANY MANY (MANY!) sessions on Docker, Photon, Kubernetes, etc on the session schedule, I am prompted to consider Docker’s rise to popularity, and finish off a post I begun a few months back after Tech Field Day 12!

Well come on Galbraith… get on with it then!

My experience in UK IT industry over the last (nearly) 15 years has taught me a few things, one of which is that whenever new technologies begin serious adoption in the US, it usually becomes popular in the UK within 2-3 years. That said, this number has been squeezed down a little in the past few years as companies move towards more agile development and deployment methods. Fail fast is becoming the mantra of many more organisations, though some people I speak to still wake up with night sweats at even the thought!

The first time a customer asked me about Docker in the UK was over 3 years ago, yet in all that time, people I talk to outside of the social media bubble many of us live in have been virtually silent about it; that is until now. Docker is becoming a weekly conversation topic now with a lot of organisations I talk to, with a many people wanting to jump on board the band wagon. The switch from an operating system-centric view of the world, to a more application and service-oriented (or should that be microservice-oriented) view of the world is becoming far more prevalent in my experience.Docker Swarm

Drivers to Docker Adoption

So what is it about this Docker stuff which seems to be catching the attention of people I talk to? A few common themes I hear are:

Automation of code deployment pipelines (CI/CD) to increase business agility
I think this is probably the number one driver to Docker adoption for people I talk to. Automation of CI/CD pipelines has become so common now, it is almost becoming the norm. Yes, it is tricky to do this with more traditional applications, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Using containers as the delivery mechanism for your application provides very consistent and repeatable outcomes. I mean, you can even get Oracle DB in a container now?!?!

That said, once you dockerise your applications there are many further challenges you will run into, including something as simple as how to apply your current security tooling, policies and proceedures to these new environments.

Maturity of the platform
The Docker code base and third party ecosystem has finally reached a point of maturity where many of the networking and storage issues of the past are beginning to reduce to within acceptable risk boundaries.

Improved cross-industry support
Following this maturity model, a swathe of vendors have put their names behind the Docker ecosystem; from VMware to Openstack, AWS to Azure, Google to Cloud Foundary, everyone is getting on board! You no longer have to buy support direct from Docker (the company), but can instead get it from your cloud vendor, along with a managed orchestration tier too, such as Docker Swarm, Kubernetes or Mesos!

Because Cloud
Yes, you can Dockers your existing applications for use on premises, but many organisations I speak to are using Docker as a method to allow their developers to write code on premises, test in their dev environments on prom or in the cloud, then deploy in a consistent fashion to their brand spanking new Production cloud platforms. PaaS solutions such as Azure WebApps and AWS Elastic Beanstalk are becoming a good option for customers who just want to write code, but for those who want that little bit more control, Docker gives them flexibility and consistency.to the cloud

CIO/CTO CV Padding
I hate to play the cynic, but I think there is definitely a significant percentage of CIOs/CTOs who are doing “digital transformations through containerisation and cloud” specifically to pad out their CVs and help them get a better gig.

This is otherwise known as a “Resume-driven IT Strategy”!

I am aware of one CIO who deliberately went to a cloud platform, even though it was significantly more expensive than a traditional managed hosting solution of a similar spec, when their business case and steady workload drew few, if any discernible benefits from the use of cloud.
CIO CV Padding When I hear people refer to technologies such as VMware vSphere as “Legacy” it really drives home to me the shift we are all going through, yet again, in the industry. This is another reason though which CIOs/CTOs/Heads of IT tell me they want cloud and containers. That said, I still struggle to find a single person who doesn’t have at least one physical server in their infrastructure, so just like the mainframe before it, I don’t think the hypervisor is going away any time yet!

The Tekhead Take

As expected the lag of a couple of years from the US to the UK in adoption of containers was apparent, but now is most definitely the time! Despite both positive and negative reasons for integrating it, Docker has become the part of the information technology zeitgeist in the UK…

Want to Know More?

I was fortunate enough to meet with the product team from Docker at Tech Field Day 12 towards the end of last year. It was a really interesting session which covered many of the enterprise networking and security features recently introduced to the platform, along with Docker’s new support offerings. I highly recommend checking it out!

Docker Presents at Tech Field Day 12

Some of the other TFD12 delegates had their own thoughts on the session and Docker as a whole. You can find them here:

Disclaimer/Disclosure: My flights, accommodation, meals, etc, at Tech Field Day 12 were provided by Tech Field Day / Gestalt IT, but there was no expectation or request for me to write about any of the vendors products or services and I was not compensated in any way for my time at the event.

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Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam Study Guide & Resources http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/08/microsoft-azure-architect-70-534-exam-study-guide-resources/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/08/microsoft-azure-architect-70-534-exam-study-guide-resources/#respond Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:25:46 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2165 Following on from my previous Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 exam experience and tips post, the following article describes the study materials I used towards the exam. Having been warned that the exam was a bit tricky, I made sure to do more studying for this than most exams, probably spending fast approaching 100 hours to […]

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Following on from my previous Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 exam experience and tips post, the following article describes the study materials I used towards the exam.

Having been warned that the exam was a bit tricky, I made sure to do more studying for this than most exams, probably spending fast approaching 100 hours to prepare. Based on my actual experience I believe I could have reduced this a bit, for example by dropping the Pluralsight course altogether (even though I really like them, it is too out of date to be useful, other than for historical knowledge).

legacy azure cloud asm classic mode

Microsoft Azure 70-534 Study Materials

Whilst studying for the exam, I used the following study materials:

Training Courses

  • Pluralsight – 70-534 by Orin Thomas
    • Pretty out of date now, but an ok intro if you have a bit of extra time to really reinforce things. I love Pluralsight, but this course was just too far out of date to be really useful.
  • Linux Academy – 70-534 Prep Course
    • Excellent course, and pretty well presented by Doug Vanderweide. This does cover most of the topics at a broad level, with some deep dives. It is not enough to pass the exam on its own, however.
    • The BEST thing about this system (IMHO) is the Flash Cards. I did all of the decks provided by Linux Academy, and some bits of the other ones.
    • Doug, and the “Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions Exam 70-534 Prep” deck from “Dominic”. The great thing with these is that you can just pick them up and do them for 5-10 minutes when you have some spare. They are also really good for helping you remember the ridiculous and pointless minutia which you need to know (such as the precise specs of individual names instances, e.g. A8 vs A10).
    • The quiz at the end of each section was also pretty useful.
    • I believe they have also just introduced some hands on labs, which will also help to solidify things, as well as help you remember the specific order in which certain implementation steps need to occur.
  • Udemy 70-534 prep course from Scott Duffy
    • I only found this one with a couple of weeks to go until my exam, so only had time to watch the videos described as updated in 2016/2017. This was useful however as it covered several areas not included in the Pluralsight / Linux Academy courses.
    • The best thing about Scott’s course (which was glaringly missing from Linux Academy and Pluralsight) was that it asked you to do labs with your Azure test account, then showed you how to do them afterward.
    • Scott has also released some practice tests, which I bought (on offer for £10) but then didn’t have time to go through!

Fry shut up and take my money

Preparation

  • 70-534 Exam Blueprint
    • This is always the go-to document for almost any current industry certification, and should be used as your primary guide for resources and areas to study. In the case of the AWS Exam Blueprint, they actually direct you to specific white papers, docs or FAQs to review as well as the content areas to study.
  • Labs
    • Normally I would lab like crazy to learn a new technology, as I genuinely believe you learn something best when you get your hands on it. I only managed to get a few labs done in Azure, purely down to lack of time. To be honest I really felt it when it came to exam time, and there were a couple of questions where I really wished I had created at least one or two ARM templates and configured a few bits via PowerShell, just to help memorise syntax.
    • You can get a free $25 of credit per month by signing up for the Microsoft Cloud Essentials scheme (https://www.microsoft.com/cloudessentials), which is more than enough to spin up a few services.
    • Concentrate on learning the ORDER in which you do things, as this is a learning outcome for MS.
    • Reading other people’s exam tips (just google it!)
  • Practice Exams
    • I had purchased an exam voucher which gave me the exam, a free retake and a free MeasureUp practice test, for less than the full price of the normal exam!
      The MeasureUp practice test was very good prep as it had LOADs of questions (179 IIRC), and covered a broadly similar set of topics. There were one or two questions in there which seemed to be out of date, but when I got to my actual exam, I had a couple of legacy questions, so this made sense to me after the fact! What I did was do an untimed exam with the setting that tells you the answer after you hit next every time. That way as soon as I got a question wrong, I then went and read up more on the specific topic.
      This was absolutely invaluable in my prep as I think I got just under 70% in the MeasureUp, but passed comfortably in the actual exam (largely due to MeasureUp prompting me to “fill in the blanks” to my knowledge). This is an excellent resource, and highly recommended!

practice

  • Exam Voucher
  • FAQs and Docs (over 75 articles – see below)
    • I skim read these looking for key points. I copied these into a giant OneNote file for future reference and rationalisation!
    • If you want to be sure to absolutely nail the exam, read the FAQs. If the exam has indeed changed and become slightly easier (as I suspect it may have), then you may be able to get away without this.
    • The extremely long list below is what I read to augment my own knowledge; do not feel you have to read any or all of them, this is entirely at your own discretion!
List of FAQs

The following is a mahoosive list of all the FAQs I read, as per the above:

still going

Anyway, that’s probably about enough reading material for now! Best of luck to you, and if you found this article useful or have any other recommended resources (eval please, no brain dumps!), please leave a comment below! 🙂

Want to Learn More?

You can find more information on this exam in my exam experience and advice article, here:

Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam Experience and Tips

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Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam Experience and Tips http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/08/microsoft-azure-architect-70-534-exam-experience-and-tips/ http://tekhead.it/blog/2017/08/microsoft-azure-architect-70-534-exam-experience-and-tips/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 21:10:47 +0000 http://tekhead.it/blog/?p=2159 The information below covers my Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam experience. Following this I will post a list of my study materials, so keep checking back for updates! One real positive for me when taking this exam was that I realised if you have an MCSA 2012, you do not need to take another Azure […]

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The information below covers my Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam experience. Following this I will post a list of my study materials, so keep checking back for updates!

One real positive for me when taking this exam was that I realised if you have an MCSA 2012, you do not need to take another Azure exam to achieve the MCSE title. Handy, especially as I have been pretty vocal about my thoughts on re-certification for versioned exams!

Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam Experience

Almost everything I read in the run up to taking the Azure Architect 70-534 exam, suggested that it was going to be pretty tricky. Many people suggested to me it was harder than typical MS exams. For those of us who are already a bit cloudy, harder than the AWS SA Associate exam but easier than the SA Pro.

My personal experience (having done both) was that it was a little harder than the AWS SA Pro exam, mainly in prep time and breadth of information, but and the reputation was perhaps a wee bit overblown. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely tricky, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have dumbed it down a little in the past few months, as my experience did not quite match that of those who came before me!

tricksy Azure 70-534

The scoring methodology was WAY better than many other exams I have taken in the past (including from Microsoft). When you have a multi-part answer (e.g. choose 3 of 5, etc), then for each correct PART you get a point. In other exams, one wrong selection means “nil points”! In the 70-534 exam, I could have got one wrong selection in every multi-part answer, and still walked away with half or more of the points, which is AWESOME! This really took the pressure off!

The exam is very similarly formatted to most other MS exams, with a couple of notable exceptions. There is a section with standard multi-part, ordering, drag/drop, multi-choice as you would expect. Once this is completed (or perhaps before?), then you do a number of case studies. Note: Once you complete each case study, you cannot go back to it, however, the timing for the case studies was cumulative, so you don’t have to worry if one takes you a bit longer than another.

The number of questions I had in my exam left me with plenty of time, vs some of my colleagues who have done it in the past as well as since, who had 50% or more questions and case studies than me (I had 39 questions spread across all sections of the exam). I can only suggest that perhaps there have been some changes of late which mean you may or may not end up with more time per question.

It’s also worth noting that one or two of the questions I received were based on ASM (i.e. classic) instead of ARM! Not enough that it would be worth learning ASM, but don’t be surprised if something does come up.

legacy azure cloud asm classic mode

Exam Tips and Advice

Here are a few tried and tested tips for most exams as well as specific to the 70-534 exam (based on my experience):

  • Flip through the case study questions as you get to each one to get an idea of the kinds of questions being asked (e.g. security, authentication, networking, etc) so that you can bear these in mind as you read the case study.
  • Don’t worry too much about the clock, they give you plenty of time, especially as there is no specific time limit on the individual case studies (I think there may have been in the past?). For around the number of questions you are likely to get, this is loads of time.
  • Personal opinion: Old questions are dead to me! What I mean by that is that I don’t mark questions for review and once I click Next I never, ever, ever, ever, [ever!] go back. Chances are if I wasn’t sure about an answer and I go with my gut, it’s more likely to be right. If I sit there paralysed with indecision, I just waste time (or worse, potentially change a correct answer to an incorrect one!). By the time I hit the end of an exam I generally have a feeling whether I have passed or not, so going back to get a couple of extra points is a waste of time and I am just desperate to see the result! 🙂
    The one and only contradiction to this rule is if I come across a later question which immediately triggers me remembering something, or even blatantly answers a previous question by asking another. These are as rare as hen’s teeth though!
  • Finally, this may sound a bit cryptic, but I can’t go into any detail obviously due to NDA. All I can say is don’t get weirded out by what seems like an odd handful of questions at the start of the 70-534 exam. I got some which didn’t make sense to me at all until the end of the series (which doesn’t allow you to go back). I can’t go into more detail than that, but hopefully this preps you more than me, so you are not as surprised!
Architect Grumpiness

I do have one complaint about this exam which I will therapeutically air publicly now; why on earth as an “Architect” exam should anyone have to memorise the thousands of possible combinations of PowerShell commands, or indeed any commands whatsoever?! Fortunately, the percentage of the exam weighted towards this is small, but it is ridiculous IMO. 532/533, yes! 534? Stupid!

There also seems to be a key focus on understanding the exact specs of exact machine types. IMO this is also dumb as with any cloud platform you simply pull up your machine list and match the right machine at the time. Wasting time memorising the spec of every A-series, D-Series, etc machine is completely pointless, but is unfortunately required reading (at least as a minimum to remember the key “odd” ones, such as which provide RDMA).

powershelgl azure 70-534 exam tips

Anyway, all in all, a reasonably fair exam across a broad and relatively deep set of information and services. Best of luck to you, and if you found this article useful please leave a comment below! 🙂

Want to Learn More?

Part 2 of this article, my 70-534 exam study guide and all of my 70-534 study materials is available here:

Microsoft Azure Architect 70-534 Exam Experience and Tips

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