IT pros with one foot on the premises and one foot in the Microsoft cloud now have a tailored certification to prove their Windows Server expertise in both environments.
Administrators who manage Windows Server systems and want to demonstrate their understanding of Microsoft’s server operating system will want to study the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification. A Microsoft certification is an asset for IT professionals to prove their skills to potential employers or to meet their current organization’s requirements or initiatives. In addition to real-world experience, a Microsoft certification gives IT professionals a way to establish their skills and experience. As such, Microsoft certifications are widely considered a worthwhile investment.
The Evolution of Microsoft Certifications
The Microsoft Certification program has been around for decades, but it has evolved significantly in recent years. For most of its history, Microsoft certifications were tied to specific Microsoft products. At one time, for example, Microsoft’s most basic certification was the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification, which typically demonstrated proficiency with a single Microsoft product such as Windows.
Other certifications aimed to document a solid understanding of products that were somehow related to each other. For example, in the 1990s, Microsoft offered a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification that required candidates to pass a series of six exams. One of the reviews was on general networking, but the other five were product-related. Over time, Microsoft phased out the MCSE certification, although it later returned in a new form, and created other multi-exam certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA).
More recently, Microsoft has aligned its certification programs with job functions rather than products. Microsoft is now gearing its certification programs toward different technical roles, including developers, administrators, data scientists, and DevOps engineers. With this approach, candidates focus on the skills they need for their job – or a job they want – instead of learning how every product feature works, even if there are no lucky that they use this functionality in their field of work.
Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate Certification Requirements
As indicated by the hybrid designation, candidates for the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification will be required to deploy and manage cloud services used in the data center and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) workloads that use Azure for various cloud-based jobs, such as storage or load balancing.
Candidates will have to pass two tests to obtain this certification which proves their aptitude in several areas related to the implementation and administration of Windows Server, both on premises and in the cloud:
- AZ-800: Windows Server Hybrid Core Infrastructure Administration
- AZ-801: Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Services
The AZ-800 test focuses on the fundamentals of Windows administration: virtualization, storage, networking, and Active Directory.
The AZ-801 test covers more advanced topics related to disaster recovery, high availability, migration, monitoring, security, and troubleshooting.
Each exam covers on-premises aspects that Windows Server administrators typically deal with, such as domain controller deployment and management in the data center, and hybrid configurations that can mitigate certain challenges. For example, a company might have a situation where an application is hosted both in Azure and on-premises; the administrator will need to know how to replicate the domain controller in the Microsoft cloud to reduce latency issues.
How to Prepare for the AZ-800 and AZ-801 Exams
While it’s possible to read a book and take a certification exam without actual knowledge of a product, exams will be easier if you practice the various skills in a lab environment without significant financial investment.
You can evaluate Windows Server 2022 for free from the Microsoft Evaluation Center for 180 days. Microsoft also offers a 12-month free trial of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
One of the most important steps in preparing for any Microsoft certification exam is to familiarize yourself with the exam’s skill map. The AZ-800 and AZ-801 exam pages on the Microsoft site contain links to the exam skills map, which is a list of areas to be mastered for the exam. You won’t necessarily get a question for every skill on the list, but you should expect to see most items on the exam.
Studying is another essential part of preparing for any certification exam. Microsoft offers free online learning resources for many of its certification exams, but they tend to lack depth. To be fully prepared for the exam, you will most likely need additional study resources. There are also other study aids available for free online, on sites such as YouTube.
For paid study resources, there are several options, but there may not be many for AZ-800 and AZ-801 as they were made generally available in December. Paid study resources include instructor-led training, video tutorials, books, and practice exams.
Microsoft has strict rules regarding the types of study resources to prepare for its exams. The company will invalidate a certification if it finds that the candidate has used a resource with real exam questions, such as so-called “brain dump” sites or practice exams from dubious sources.
Understand the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification process
Once you have prepared for the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification exams, the next step is to register for the tests. Exams are usually administered at an approved test center and require candidates to present government-issued identification. Once you pass the two required exams, Microsoft awards the certification and attaches it to your profile in Microsoft’s certification dashboard.
There is a fee to take a Microsoft certification exam. These fees vary by country, but in the United States the fee is generally $165 per exam. Occasionally, Microsoft will offer exam discounts as part of a promotional offer. For example, Microsoft issued free certification vouchers and also offered discounted exams at its Ignite conference.
What is the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification renewal process?
Microsoft role-based certifications, such as the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification, are valid for one year from the date the required final exam is taken.
To keep the certification active, you will need to complete a renewal assessment before the expiration date. There is no cost for a renewal exam, which is the only accepted method of maintaining current certification. You cannot renew a certification by passing the latest version of an exam required for the initial certification.