Identity and Networking
PaaS + Web and Mobile
This course provides an overview of the 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions exam and the major topics covered within. Use it as a guide to identify gaps in your knowledge and areas to focus as you prep to sit the exam. The course also provides some tips and tricks to maximize your chances of a passing score.
Major topics include:
- An overview of the 70-532 exam and related Microsoft certification paths
- A review of Azure virtual machines and related topics like VM storage and networking
- A review of major Azure data storage options like queues, blobs, tables, SQL Database, Cosmos DB, and others
- A review of Azure Active Directory topic areas and hybrid networking as covered in the exam
- A review of platform-as-a-service options in Azure and their coverage in the exam
Now let's take a closer look at storage options in Azure as they commonly appear on the 532 exam.
Storage will represent about 25 to 30% of the overall exam. This includes coverage of the core storage features like tables, queues, blobs, and files, as well as manage data offerings, like SQL Database, DocumentDB, and Redis Cache. You should also be familiar with the Azure search offering, its major use cases, and how it integrates with various existing Azure services.
Azure's core storage features center around four key concepts. Binary blobs, key-value tables, message-oriented queues, and cloud-based file shares.
Blobs are arguably the core building block for most Azure services. For the exam, you should have a good understanding of how to create and interact with blobs, both in the portal, but also from PowerShell, and using the .NET SDKs. You should understand the difference between block, page, and append blobs, and for what use cases you would choose each option. Understand how blobs are organized in named containers, and how different access levels can be granted on a per-container basis. Understand how you can use client or service-side encryption to ensure blobs are securely stored and accessed by consumers.
Tables are a NoSQL data store that organize data into groups of key-value pairs called entities. You should learn about the different data types that are supported in Table storage, as well as how data is partitioned for maximum scale and performance. Understand the concept of partition keys and row keys, and know the difference between the two. Learn how the Table storage query model works, as well as how you can use LINQ from C# and .NET to access Table storage data. Also, understand how you can return a subset of entity data from a query to limit data transfer and query latency. Think of examples where Table storage would be preferable over blobs or other storage options, and also where it might be a liability. Anticipate some questions on the exam related to use cases for all of these storage options.
Queues are a message-oriented data-store useful for integrating distinct parts of a distributed cloud architecture. They're not transactional or first-in-first-out like Service Bus Queues. Understanding these, and other differences between the various queue options in Azure, is important for the exam. Learn the semantics of processing messages in an Azure queue. Understand concepts like invisibility windows and message removal. Build a small application in C# that works with the Queue API, so you understand how it works.
Files are an SMB-based network share backed by cloud storage. A primary use case is to support lift-and-shift into the cloud of legacy applications that use file shares. Understand how to create file shares in the portal, and with PowerShell, and how to access those shares from an Azure VM. Again, see the course notes for links to additional study material.
Shared Access Signature Tokens are an important aspect of storage security in Azure. SAS Tokens implement the Valet Key pattern, where a consumer requests access to a protected storage resource, and, if the request is granted, is given a token that provides narrow, time-bound access to that resource. This prevents the need to hand out admin-level security keys to consumers, which is generally considered an insecure practice. For the exam, understand the concept behind SAS Tokens, as well as how to configure them in the Azure portal and programmatically. Also learn how to write code that generates and hands out a SAS Token to a requesting client application.
The Managed SQL Database service provides a maintenance-friendly facade on top of the core SQL Server relational engine and tooling. It scales both vertically and horizontally and is a good alternative to running a SQL Server instance in a virtual machine. For the 532 exam, you should understand the different service tiers offered for SQL Database as well as the differences between managing individual SQL Database instances versus elastic pools. You should understand the concept behind the DTU pricing abstraction for SQL Database as well as how to configure sharding in your database for horizontal scale, and also why that's important. Finally, you should understand how Automated Backups occur in SQL database, and the options you have for both manual disaster recovery, as well as automated failover to geo-redundant secondary replicas. Learn how these scenarios work, and anticipate some questions on the exam related to their configuration and best practices.
DocumentDB is a managed NoSQL document database in Azure. Note that the name has recently changed to Cosmos DB, though this may not be yet reflected on the 532 exam depending on exactly when you take it. Just know that the names can be used interchangeably. Cosmos DB stores data as JSON documents and exposes it via multiple query APIs such as a SQL-compatible query syntax, LINQ queries in .NET, a REST API, or via a MongoDB compatibility layer. Documents are stored in collections, which live inside of a database. Databases are within a single-named Cosmos DB account. For the exam, you should understand the use cases for Cosmos DB over relational databases. You should also have a basic knowledge of how to query JSON data stored within the service.
Redis Cache is a distributed in-memory key-value store used to retain reference data, or other infrequently updated data, and make it accessible to cloud applications that would otherwise have to retrieve it with a more expensive, time consuming call to durable storage. For the 532 exam, you should understand the three types of caching tiers to choose from. Basic, Standard, and Premium, and why you might choose one over the other. You should know how to create and configure a cache instance, both from the Azure portal, as well as with PowerShell. You should also understand how to configure persistence and clustering support, in the Redis Cache Premium tier offering. Finally, familiarize yourself with the .NET APIs for interacting with the cache, and know how to both write data into the cache as well as read it back out.
Azure Search is a fully managed text search service for integrating search capabilities into your own cloud applications. It supports features for creating and configuring search indexes using both a pull, or a push-based model. It has a .NET SDK, as well as a full REST API for managing and interacting with the service. And it supports both an industry standard Lucene-based search syntax, as well as a consumer-friendly custom syntax. For the 532 exam, you should understand the major use cases of Azure Search, and why you would incorporate it into a larger cloud application design. Study the integration APIs, both the .NET and REST-based ones, and know how you would integrate Search into an application code base. Finally, understand the different pricing tiers for Azure Search, and the resource limits imposed by each. You don't have to memorize the precise details, but understand the different factors that define how pricing tiers are determined, and how those map to anticipated use in an application.
About the Author
Josh Lane is a Microsoft Azure MVP and Azure Trainer and Researcher at Cloud Academy. He’s spent almost twenty years architecting and building enterprise software for companies around the world, in industries as diverse as financial services, insurance, energy, education, and telecom. He loves the challenges that come with designing, building, and running software at scale. Away from the keyboard you'll find him crashing his mountain bike, drumming quasi-rythmically, spending time outdoors with his wife and daughters, or drinking good beer with good friends.