Have you ever wanted a chance to get Microsoft Certified? Now’s your chance!
If you haven’t seen the Cloud Skills Challenge before, it’s simple. Microsoft provide multiple learning ‘Track’ options, courtesy of their free Microsoft Learn resources. If you complete one or more tracks within their pre-defined challenge window (12th October to 9th November 2022), you’ll earn one free exam voucher, valid for a selected list of exams.
Interested? Read on!
What are the tracks?
These tracks tend to change every Cloud Skills challenge, this time around the tracks are:
- Microsoft Ignite: Intelligent Cloud Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: Cloud App Maker Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: AI Automation Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: Modern Work Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: Field Service Automation Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: Protect Everything Challenge
- Microsoft Ignite: Cloud Developer Challenge
See below for a breakdown of these tracks, and the exam & certification path they’re aligned to.
Microsoft Ignite: Intelligent Cloud Challenge
Learn the basic Azure concepts you’ll need to know as an Azure infrastructure architect. Gain knowledge in IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data platforms, and governance.
This track is aligned to the AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions exam. The combination of this exam, and holding the existing Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate accreditation, collectively grant you the “Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert” certification.
It is not required to hold the Azure Administrator Associate accreditation prior to taking this exam, however you won’t unlock MC:ASAE certification without both. You can achieve the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate accreditation currently by taking the AZ-104 exam.
Microsoft Ignite: Cloud App Maker Challenge
Create low-code solutions to simplify and automate tasks and processes for yourself and your team. Learn how to turn your understanding of your data and the issues that need to be resolved into automated processes and app experiences with the Cloud App Maker Challenge.
This track is aligned to the PL-100: Microsoft Power Platform App Maker exam. Passing this exam unlocks the Microsoft Certified: Power Platform App Maker Associate accreditation. No other prerequisites are required to gain this accreditation.
Microsoft Ignite: AI Automation Challenge
From the most basic classical machine learning models to exploratory data analysis and customizing architectures, you’ll be guided by easy to digest conceptual content and interactive Jupyter notebooks, all without leaving your browser. Choose your own path depending on your educational background and interests.
This track is aligned to the DP-100: Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure exam. Completion of this exam unlocks the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate accreditation. No other prerequisites are required to gain this accreditation.
Microsoft Ignite: Modern Work Challenge
Learn how to plan, deploy, configure, and secure Microsoft Teams chat, apps, channels, meetings, audio/video conferencing, live events, calling, and Microsoft Teams-certified devices. Learn to configure Microsoft Teams Phone with PSTN connectivity through Direct Routing, Operator Connect, and Microsoft Teams Calling Plans.
This track is aligned to two different exams on offer. Either the MS-700: Managing Microsoft Teams, or the MS-720: Microsoft Teams Voice Engineer exams. Passing the MS-700 earns you the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate accreditation, and requires no further pre-requisites, whilst the MS-720 earns you the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Voice Engineer Expert accreditation, but only if you also hold the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate accreditation. Though you could choose to sit the MS-720 now, and complete the MS-700 later to unlock the accreditation if that was your preferred path.
Microsoft Ignite: Field Service Automation Challenge
Learn how to configure resources, characteristics, incident types, inventory integration, service agreements, resource scheduling, work orders, inspections, service tasks, field service user roles, field service settings, the Connected Field Service (IoT) solution, and the Dynamics 365 Field Service mobile app.
This track is aligned to the MB-240: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant exam. Completion of this exam unlocks the Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant Associate accreditation. No other prerequisites are required to gain this accreditation.
Microsoft Ignite: Protect Everything Challenge
Get familiar with attack vectors, cyberthreats, incident management, and Kusto Query Language (KQL).
This track is aligned to the SC-200: Microsoft Security Operations Analyst exam. Completion of the exam unlocks the Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate accreditation. No other prerequisites are required to gain this accreditation.
Microsoft Ignite: Cloud Developer Challenge
This challenge learning path will help you understand what DevOps is and how to plan for a DevOps transformation journey.
This track is aligned to the AZ-400: Designing and Implementing Azure DevOps Solutions exam. Combining this exam with either the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate or Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate accreditations will unlock the Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert accreditation. It is not necessary to complete these accreditations prior to sitting the AZ-400, you just won’t earn the accreditation until you then complete either of the pre-requisite accreditations. You can achieve the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate accreditation by sitting the AZ-100 exam. Alternatively, you can achieve the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate accreditation by completing the AZ-204 exam.
What Path is Right for me?
This question can only be truly answered by yourself, but I’ve collated some resources to try and help.
Microsoft have five top level categories that their cloud solutions fit into. These are:
- Dynamics 365
- Microsoft 365
- Power Platform
- Security, Compliance, and Identity
Within these categories, the accreditations are split into the following types.
If you’re newer in your career, or even just newer to the category, fundamentals is a great entry point, it provides a wide reach into the subject, without getting you dragged too far into specific advanced design concepts. The goal here is to enable you to either perform day-to-day support on a subject, or perform a sales/pre-sales role with a degree of confidence in the underlying category.
Moving onto role-based, Microsoft identified a key issue with their previous MCSA/MCSE style examinations, they were asking for a strong amount of technical detail, across a huge surface area. This was revised in the transition to the new certification structure by reducing the scope of exams, and focusing on a stronger technical knowledge within a particular job role/function, hence the term ‘Role-Based’. These do have a degree of overlap and are still more ‘generalist’
Finally, we arrive at the specialty sections, there are only a handful of exams within this category yet, but they are focused on a much smaller skill-set, at an in-depth level, for example, Teams Support Engineer Specialty, Exchange Online Support Engineer Specialty, and Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty. Unless this topic is one that you live & breathe so-to-speak, you’ll likely not find yourself sitting these.
With this in mind, wouldn’t it be great if Microsoft provided a poster of all of their certifications and their experience level? Oh wait… they do! This should give you a good feel for which exams & accreditations exist within the various categories, and where you should focus your efforts.
Additionally, Microsoft offer category specific posters, to help visualise the neighbouring topics that would help enhance your knowledge within the category. Check these out below:
Ready to dive in?
Hopefully this blog post has left you energised and ready to see the year out with another examination passed.
To begin, check out the Microsoft Learn Cloud Skills Challenge page here, find the track that suits you best, and set a reminder for when it’s time to begin.
Anything else I should know?
Just a reminder, you will only receive one free exam voucher from this event, even if you completed all the tracks available. You may also have to wait slightly between completing the track and getting the exam voucher. Microsoft claim all exam vouchers will be issued by the 18th November 2022. You’ll then have until the 15th February 2023 to sit your exam, otherwise the exam voucher will expire.
Full list of rules, terms & conditions available here.