AZ-204 Exam Preparation - Introduction


AZ-204 Exam Preparation

The course is part of this learning path


This introduction to the AZ-204 Exam Preparation learning path gives an overview of the requirements for the Microsoft AZ-204 exam and how they will be covered.

The five major subject areas are:

  • Developing Azure compute solutions
  • Developing for Azure storage
  • Implementing Azure security
  • Monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing Azure solutions
  • Connecting to and consuming Azure services and third-party services

Hello and welcome to Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure. This learning path gives you a high-level overview of all of the major Azure services. Its focus is to prepare you for Microsoft’s AZ-204 exam, but even if you’re not going to take the exam, this learning path will help you get started on your way to becoming an Azure developer.

My name’s Guy Hummel and I’m a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect and DevOps Engineer.

The AZ-204 exam tests your knowledge of five subject areas and that’s how we’ve structured this learning path as well.

We’ll start with developing compute solutions. Azure has quite a few different types of compute resources where you can deploy your applications. The traditional way is to use virtual machines. This gives you full control of your servers, but it requires you to maintain them. Another option that’s becoming very popular is to build applications as a collection of microservices. This approach normally requires the use of containers, such as Docker. If you use containers, then you’ll also need a way to provision, schedule, and manage them. This is also known as container orchestration, and the most popular orchestrator right now is Kubernetes.

Azure services for virtual machines and containers are known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service because you’re essentially renting infrastructure in the cloud. There’s another set of Azure services that take care of the underlying compute resources for you. These are known as Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS.

The first PaaS option is Azure App Service, which you can use to host web and mobile applications without worrying about the underlying web servers. But the ultimate PaaS option is Azure Functions, which is known as a serverless solution because the servers are hidden so well that it doesn’t seem like they even exist. With Azure Functions, you just deploy code and let Azure figure out how to run it.

Next, we’ll get into developing for Azure storage. This includes blob storage, which is for storing unstructured data, and Cosmos DB, which is a NoSQL datastore. With the rise of big data, traditional relational databases are no longer suitable for all of an organization’s database needs. That’s why Microsoft offers Cosmos DB, a global database that can handle multiple types of data models, including document, key-value, graph, and wide column.

After going over Azure storage, you’ll learn how to implement security. Since the AZ-204 exam is meant for developers, we’ll focus on security from an application perspective. For example, we’ll cover how to use an open standard called OAuth2 to access third-party services from an application.

Also, since it’s not safe to embed login credentials in your code, you need a secure way to authenticate your applications so they can use Azure services. The best way to do that is by using managed identities.

To wrap up the security section, we’ll show you how to use Azure Key Vault to manage keys, secrets, and certificates.

After that, you’ll learn how to monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize your solutions. Azure monitoring and troubleshooting tools are pretty much what you’d expect, but it might not be obvious what optimization tools Microsoft thinks you should know. First, one of the greatest features of the cloud is autoscaling. Instead of having to provision enough compute power to handle peaks, you can just tell Azure to add and remove compute resources based on the demand. You have to be careful how you configure autoscaling, though, because if you don’t set up the rules correctly, it could have a big impact on your application’s performance and cost.

Second, one of the best ways to improve an application’s responsiveness is to use caching. We’ll go over two services: Azure Cache for Redis and Azure Content Delivery Network.

Finally, we’ll cover how to connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services. The simplest way to do this is to use Logic Apps, which lets you create workflows without having to write any code.

For more complex integration needs, Azure has messaging services, including Service Bus and Storage queues, event handling services, including Event Grid, Event Hub, and Notification Hub, and an API service called Azure API Management. We’ll take you through all of them.

That’s a lot of great topics to learn, so let’s get started! To get to the next course in this learning path, click on the Learning Path pullout menu on the left side of the page. But please remember to rate this introduction before you go on to the next course. Thanks!

About the Author
Learning Paths

Guy launched his first training website in 1995 and he's been helping people learn IT technologies ever since. He has been a sysadmin, instructor, sales engineer, IT manager, and entrepreneur. In his most recent venture, he founded and led a cloud-based training infrastructure company that provided virtual labs for some of the largest software vendors in the world. Guy’s passion is making complex technology easy to understand. His activities outside of work have included riding an elephant and skydiving (although not at the same time).