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Pass notes for AZ-120 Azure for SAP Workloads certification

These are some notes about studying for the eponymous Microsoft AZ-120 certification in Azure for SAP Workloads. Be aware that the content of AZ-120 exam (and of the AZ-104 exam) evolves over time – as indeed will the set of useful study materials – so this document can only be a fairly subjective snapshot, taken in May 2021, with a candidate sample set of one 😃 …hopefully there are in any case some useful hints for anyone else thinking to gain this certification.

I’ll assume you are already reasonably competent in SAP technology. Also I’ll assume you know the basics of how cloud computing works. For a good general introduction to SAP on Hyperscalers, you can try the following (free) openSAP course:

https://open.sap.com/courses/hyper1

[If you are also interested in studying SAP on Google Cloud, then have a look at this blog].

Note also that SAP offers their HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) these days as HEC-on-Hyperscaler, so including HEC-on-Azure.

https://www.sap.com/products/hana-enterprise-cloud.html?pdf-asset=52acda47-987d-0010-87a3-c30de2ffd8ff&page=1

You will find that knowledge of the underlying Hyperscaler is also useful, for example when specifying what kind of customer site to Hyperscaler connection you need, for allocating IP ranges and handling subnetting and peering, when setting up DNS delegation and so on.

 

A quick detour via studying AZ-104 “Azure Administrator Associate”.

It is not a requirement to have taken the AZ-104 exam, in order to take the AZ-120 exam. However, the AZ-120 exam assumes a level of general knowledge and competence in Azure, equivalent to the level of an Azure Administrator – therefore, in practice it is more or less required that you have studied the AZ-104 topics… and since you should study those in any case, why not register for the AZ-104 exam also? Just a suggestion (personally I study much harder when I know there is an exam coming up).

The free online learning for AZ-104 is here (all links were correct and active in May 2021):

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-administrator-prerequisites/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-manage-identities-governance/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-manage-storage/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-manage-compute-resources/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-manage-virtual-networks/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/az-104-monitor-backup-resources/

These are good quality learning-modules, and there are even practical exercises you can do using Microsoft provided Azure sandboxes associated with these modules. (If you like, you can also sign up for a free trial Azure subscription: https://portal.azure.com/#home
This can be useful for exploring and getting a feel for the terrain – like the other Hyperscalers, Azure offers lots and lots of IaaS and PaaS services, so try not to get too sidetracked here).

The certification landing page for AZ-104 is here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/certifications/azure-administrator/

It has a link to the (non-free) official AZ-104 practice test published by MeasureUp and sold via mindhub.com. It’s quite expensive, around 100 euros. The test didn’t get great online reviews, although personally I thought this practice test set was very useful, even though I was initially averaging well below a passing score: because many of the questions are much harder than what you encounter in the actual exam, so the idea is that you get many of them wrong the first time… however, you do not panic, ok? Instead you go and look at the relevant Azure documentation and read up in more detail about the topic, and then a few days later when you go through the tests again, your score will increase. My experience is that your score on the actual AZ-104 exam will be much higher than your scores in these practice tests, though of course that claim is based on a sample of one person’s experience.

Another (cheaper – c. 15-20 euros, May 2021) set of practice tests is offered by Whizlabs:

https://www.whizlabs.com/microsoft-azure-certification-az-104/practice-tests/

I also forked out for those. These tests are a bit easier than the questions in the actual exam; again the idea here is that you go through the tests, find out what you didn’t know so well, then go and check the official Azure documentation and come back to redo the tests a few days later.

I would recommend viewing (and then re-viewing) the 6 hours of video tutorials in this Pluralsight Path:

https://www.pluralsight.com/paths/microsoft-azure-administrator-az-104

Usually Pluralsight offers a 10-day free trial period, after that you will be charged either monthly or yearly according to your plan preference. If you have viewed the videos you are interested in and aren’t thinking to e.g. start some of the many other Learning Paths, then you can delete your account before the 10 days are up – in that case you are not charged anything. In the case of AZ-104, the instructors are really good and lots of clear demos are walked through.

I would also now recommend a more in-depth guide to how to study for the AZ-104 exam, a blog from Denys van Kempen:

https://blogs.sap.com/2021/05/16/get-certified-microsoft-certified-azure-administrator-az-104/

(As I had already passed the AZ-104 before Denys’ blog was published, so his AZ-104 blog wasn’t part of my own preparation; however Denys’ blog gives lots of good advice, so that’s why I recommend reading through it).

Good luck with the AZ-104 exam if you take it. (As there is an NDA for all candidates to agree to, so I am not going to give any hints about the actual questions or other such specific exam-info. Also, you should make sure not to search for any so-called “exam dumps”, as using these is definitely not ok and can lead to having any certification revoked).

Studying for the AZ-120 “Azure for SAP Workloads” exam.

Before we discuss the details of studying for the AZ-120, l’d like to point out what makes this particular exam a bit tricky: to pass, you definitely need to know quite a lot about Azure, and that makes sense, after all it’s an Azure certification that Microsoft is offering via the exam… however, although this is not an SAP exam, I imagine that without a background in technical aspects of SAP installations, this exam might be quite difficult. (Or maybe it isn’t, this is just my guess).

Anyway, this exam is focused on how to use Azure – mostly in IaaS “mode” – to deploy, migrate, and run SAP workloads. So it helps somewhat if you have good general tech-knowledge of both Azure and SAP, as well as their intersection in the specific SAP-on-Azure exam topics. You will find that the questions don’t just test “knowing that X”, but also make you think through “what should I do to ensure the best solution”, so “knowing how” is also tested.

Now as it happens, Denys van Kempen has been maintaining another excellent blog since February 2021, all about the Azure for SAP Workloads exam and how to study for it, so I suggest you take 10-15 minutes to read through that blog right now:

https://blogs.sap.com/2021/02/06/get-certified-microsoft-certified-azure-for-sap-workloads-specialy/

In fact, most of my own AZ-120 study plan was based on the hints in this blog, so thanks Denys for all your good advice! Below I just give a few additional comments, in case anyone finds that useful…

The online learning modules:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/sap-certified-offerings/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/plan-azure-sap-workloads/
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/paths/running-azure-sap-workloads/

These are quite good, though I doubt that just going through these would be enough studying to pass the exam. On the other hand going through all of the available SAP on Azure online documentation, that is maybe too much to ask of anyone never mind for an AZ-120 candidate, anyway the SAP on Azure documentation is here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/workloads/sap/get-started

The two books that are currently relevant are as noted by Denys:

SAP on Azure Implementation Guide (Nick Morgan & Bartosz Jarkowski, Packt 2020)

SAP on Microsoft Azure – Architecture and Administration (Ravi Kashyap, SAP Press 2021)

IMHO both books are well-written and would be worth reading, even if you are not studying for AZ-120. In particular both books provide better explanations of migration aspects and workflows, than is found in the Azure online documentation or learning modules. As Azure evolves, some parts of book-content can become out-of-date, but this is the same with all books about cloud computing, and looking on the bright side, SAP on Azure has an intrinsically slower evolution rate than many other areas of Azure.

Microsoft kindly publishes the lab exercises from (I guess) its classroom-based AZ-120 course, they are here:

https://github.com/MicrosoftLearning/AZ-120-Planning-and-Administering-Microsoft-Azure-for-SAP-Workloads

Now, I always like to do lab exercises: learning by doing (it wrong… until getting it right) is one of the best ways to learn. However if you are using a free trial Azure subscription, you will find that you don’t have nearly enough vCPUs in your free tier quota, to spin up the kind of machines that e.g. SAP HANA requires. So you might need to adjust the instructions somewhat, to do a kind of “home-made” version of the demos. In any case it is worth at least reading through the lab exercises a few times, to give yourself a feel for how infra is spun up in practice in Azure.

The Pluralsight Path for AZ-120 is here:

https://www.pluralsight.com/paths/planning-and-administering-microsoft-azure-for-sap-workloads-az-120

I would say, that this is not really going to help you so much for the exam, but it does contain some useful videos that widen your general Azure horizons, so for example Tim Warner gives some nice demos. (Overall I think that if Pluralsight want to make this AZ-120 Path as useful as the corresponding AZ-104 Azure Administrator Path, they will need to get some instructors with an SAP background involved, and maybe rethink the course structure and content).

Similar thoughts occurred when viewing the Whizlabs AZ-120 course (costs c. 15-20 euros in May 2021):

https://www.whizlabs.com/learn/course/planning-and-administering-microsoft-azure-for-sap-workloads/

Plenty of interesting information in those videos, but this course is not on its own likely to get you through the exam.

Now you may be wondering, why I haven’t commented on the official practice test for AZ-120. Well that’s because, as of May 2021, there is no such official practice test published. My guess, based on internet rumour mill, is that there will be one in future (from MeasureUp). In the meantime, you may find on Udemy some unofficial practice tests: https://www.udemy.com/
I would advise a bit of caution here: Udemy is a platform where anyone can publish their own online course or online tests, so the quality can be very variable – there are good courses, and there are rubbish courses too. (Also, you want to avoid falling into the trap of buying any tests that contain exam-dump materials).

Whizlabs are intending to publish some AZ-120 Practice Tests:

https://www.whizlabs.com/microsoft-azure-certification-az-120/practice-tests/

At the time of writing (late May 2021), those are in status “Coming Soon” i.e. they are not actually a published product that you can buy. Probably they will be published at some point in 2021.

Last but not least, the place to register for your AZ-120 exam, is here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn/certifications/azure-for-sap-workloads-specialty/

When the official practice test is published, a link to buy that test will likely be found from this Microsoft page. In any case, from this page you click the “Schedule exam” button to, uhh, schedule your AZ-120 exam. Good luck now. If and when you pass the exam, you get a Credly link that you can then paste as a URL in your CV, or share on LinkedIn etcetera to the delight and/or mild annoyance of your network!

[Note: if you see any comments below recommending “valid exam dumps”, do not click such links and do not press “like” for such comments (I have asked SAP Moderator to remove one such comment, which they did, so thanks SAP for the help). Using exam dumps is never acceptable or valid and will actually lead to you being de-certified if found out].

 

 

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