Microsoft Azure

Preparing for Azure AZ-104: Exam insights and tips

Ellen Pincus
April 22, 2024 by
Ellen Pincus

Do you have six months of hands-on experience administering Azure and want to take your skills to the next level? Then, the AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator certification is your key to success, and this guide is your Azure certification roadmap. 

We'll break down the key aspects of the Microsoft AZ-104 exam, including who it benefits, essential skills and the domains it covers. You'll gain insights into the exam format, registration process and what to expect on test day. We'll also explore the valuable role Azure administrators play in cybersecurity and the exciting Azure career paths that come with getting certified. 

Understanding the AZ-104 exam 

The AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator exam evaluates your skills in administering Azure environments and implementing core solutions on the Azure platform. It's intended for individuals who carry out a broad range of administrative responsibilities involving Azure services and components. 

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Cloud technologies and services have revolutionized how we manage our IT and business ecosystems. Whether you're new to the field or an experienced professional, a Microsoft Azure certification can help build your skills and accelerate your career.

Specifically, the exam assesses your expertise with tasks like: 

  • Managing Azure subscriptions and resources 
  • Implementing and managing storage 
  • Configuring virtual networks 
  • Managing Azure workloads 
  • Monitoring and securing Azure resources 

If you're familiar with foundational IT concepts, cloud computing basics and security principles, this exam will help you solidify your expertise in Azure administration. 

In today's data-driven world, organizations heavily rely on the cloud, and Azure administrators are the backbone of secure and efficient cloud environments. They play a vital role in safeguarding sensitive information, protecting against cyber threats, optimizing resource utilization and streamlining business operations. 

AZ-104 exam prerequisites and eligibility 

When considering the AZ-104 exam, it's important to ensure you meet the baseline prerequisites to set yourself up for success. As mentioned earlier, Microsoft recommends candidates have at least six months of hands-on experience administering Azure, along with a solid core understanding of cloud services and a broad familiarity with Azure offerings. 

More specifically, you should possess fundamental IT administration abilities like managing networking, storage, computing, data and security components. Familiarity with operating systems, virtualization, continuity, disaster recovery, budgets and governance is also highly advantageous. 

While prior cybersecurity knowledge isn't mandatory, it allows you to better grasp the security implications of administrative decisions. Cloud computing expands the attack surface and introduces new risks that Azure administrators must stay cognizant of. So, basic cybersecurity awareness around topics like network security, identity management, data protection and threat detection is extremely helpful. 

By building general technical experience and cloud computing knowledge, you'll be well-equipped for the responsibilities evaluated in the exam. If you don't have specific cybersecurity skills, the AZ-104 certification empowers you to securely administer Azure services and support organizational security objectives. We'll dive deeper into the overlap of AZ-104 and cybersecurity later in this article. 

Exam content and domains 

The AZ-104 exam is divided into several key domains, each focusing on specific aspects of Azure administration with varying weightage and number of questions. The domains are: 

Manage Azure identities and governance (15-20%) 

This domain focuses on your ability to handle user identities and access control within Azure. You'll need to understand: 

  • Azure Active Directory (AD) concepts and configurations 
  • Managing user accounts, groups and roles 
  • Implementing Azure AD policies and conditional access 
  • Securing identities with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 
  • Governance best practices for resource access control 

Implement and manage storage (10-15%) 

This domain tests your knowledge of storing data in Azure: 

  • Various Azure storage options 
  • Configuring and managing storage accounts 
  • Implementing data access control and security 
  • Data backup and recovery strategies 
  • Monitoring and optimizing storage performance 

Deploy and manage Azure compute resources (25-30%) 

This area assesses your ability to provision and manage virtual machines (VMs) and other compute resources: 

  • Creating and configuring VMs using Azure portal, PowerShell or CLI 
  • Managing VM images, discs and network settings 
  • Scaling compute resources based on demand 
  • Implementing high availability and disaster recovery solutions 
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting network connectivity issues 

Configure and manage virtual networking (30-35%) 

This domain covers your understanding of Azure's virtual network infrastructure: 

  • Creating and managing virtual networks, subnets and network security groups (NSGs) 
  • Configuring public and private IP addresses 
  • Implementing firewalls and access control policies 
  • Setting up VPN connections for secure remote access 
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting network connectivity issues 

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Cloud technologies and services have revolutionized how we manage our IT and business ecosystems. Whether you're new to the field or an experienced professional, a Microsoft Azure certification can help build your skills and accelerate your career.

Monitor and back up Azure resources (10-15%) 

This final domain assesses your ability to ensure the health and security of your Azure environment: 

  • Monitoring resource performance and usage metrics 
  • Setting up alerts and notifications for potential issues 
  • Implementing Azure Monitor and other monitoring tools 
  • Creating backups of critical data and resources 
  • Disaster recovery planning and execution 

It is important to remember that these domains are not isolated entities. They're interconnected, and understanding their interplay is essential for effective cloud management. 

Study resources and preparation tips 

Now that you know the topics the exam will cover, let's look at how to prepare for the AZ-104 exam. It's essential to have access to a variety of study resources and employ effective preparation strategies. Here are some recommended learning resources: 

  • Online courses and boot camps: Consider enrolling in a boot camp tailored to the AZ-104 exam, such as the Microsoft Azure Administrator Boot Camp or the Microsoft Azure Dual Certification Boot Camp, which covers both the AZ-104 and AZ-500 exams to enhance your security skills. 
  • Practice exams: Use practice exams to familiarize yourself with the exam format, identify your strengths and weaknesses and determine which areas you need to focus on. Our AZ-104 Practice Question Sets Learning Path includes a full-length practice exam. 
  • Hands-on labs: Microsoft offers a range of free hands-on labs that simulate real-world scenarios, providing valuable practical experience with Azure. 
  • Community forums: Joining online study groups or forums like TechExams can provide you with additional resources and support from other professionals who are preparing for the exam. 
  • Azure documentation and tools: Make use of Microsoft Azure documentation and familiarize yourself with Azure Portal and Azure CLI, essential tools for managing Azure resources. 

To make the most of your study time, develop effective study habits and manage your time efficiently. Here are some tips for creating your own study plan: 

  • Good habits: Develop strong study habits like setting realistic goals, creating a study schedule and utilizing various learning techniques like flashcards, mind maps and practice labs. 
  • Time management: The exam is timed, so practice managing your time effectively during practice tests and while studying different domains. 
  • Exam format: While we look further into the exam format in the next section, familiarizing yourself with the number of questions, question types and duration can help you strategize your approach. 

AZ-104 exam format and registration details 

Now that you're armed with valuable study resources and preparation tips let's look at the exam itself. Understanding the format and registration process will demystify test day and boost your confidence. 

The AZ-104 exam format 

  • Number of questions: Expect 40-60 multiple-choice and case-study-based questions. 
  • Question types: Most questions are multiple-choice with single or multiple correct answers. Case studies present real-world scenarios where you apply your knowledge to choose the best solution. 
  • Duration: You'll have 120 Minutes to complete the exam. 
  • Passing score: 700 out of 1000 points or 70%. 

The AZ-104 registration process 

  • Visit the Microsoft Learn website and create an account if you haven't already. 
  • Find the AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate exam and click "Schedule exam." 
  • Choose your testing center (Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide) and your preferred date and time. 
  • Pay the exam fee of $165. 
  • Receive a confirmation email with your appointment details. 

What to expect on exam day 

  • Arrive at the testing center at least 15 minutes early with a valid government-issued ID. 
  • No personal belongings, including phones, calculators, and notes, are allowed in the testing room. 
  • Lockers are provided for secure storage. 
  • You'll be briefed on exam rules and procedures. 
  • Once testing begins, follow the on-screen instructions carefully and manage your time wisely. 
  • You can review and change your answers before submitting the exam. 
  • After completing the exam, you'll receive a preliminary pass/fail notification at the testing center. 

The role of Azure administrators in cybersecurity 

While the AZ-104 exam focuses on core administration abilities, it interlinks cloud management capabilities with security practices. Azure administrators fundamentally enable organizational security through technical implementation and governance. 

On the technical side, Azure administrators apply security controls across infrastructures, systems and services based on company policies and Industry regulations. This includes managing user access, configuring network security, enabling data protection and hardening resources. 

Equally important, they also established governance guardrails around security and compliance via Azure Policy, Blueprints and Resource Manager. By translating the government's requirements into technical enforcement, they bridge the gap between high-level directives and on-the-ground implementation. 

Azure administrators also have visibility into the day-to-day operations, performance and security posture of an organization's cloud environment. They monitor workloads, respond to alerts, investigate issues and optimize configurations. This allows them to detect and mitigate breaches or policy violations quickly. 

Skilled Azure administrators are on the frontline, safeguarding cloud platforms. They put security measures into practice, assess environments for risks, ensure adherence to standards and serve as an early warning system against threats. That's why the AZ-104 exam that tests these abilities is so important for a cybersecurity career. 

Career path and opportunities 

Obtaining the AZ-104 certification can open up many career opportunities and benefits for you as an Azure administrator and can be a springboard into the booming cloud security field. Here are some of the diverse career paths that await you: 

  • Azure administrator: Manage and secure Azure infrastructure, implement security solutions and ensure compliance. 
  • Cloud security engineer: Leverage your Azure expertise to dig deeper into security configurations, threat detection and incident response. 
  • Cloud architect: Combine your infrastructure and security knowledge to design and implement secure cloud solutions aligned with business needs. 
  • Cloud governance specialist: Ensure responsible and secure cloud adoption through policy enforcement, cost optimization and resource management. 
  • Cloud auditor: Verify adherence to security standards and compliance regulations within the cloud environment. 

And this isn't an exhaustive list. The beauty of the cloud lies in its flexibility, allowing you to tailor your career path based on your interests and skills. Whether you crave hands-on technical work or strategic leadership roles, the AZ-104 certification provides a strong foundation for your journey. 

The demand for skilled Azure administrators, especially those with a cybersecurity focus, is skyrocketing. Cybersecurity Ventures anticipates a 15% year-over-year growth in cybersecurity spending, and professionals with their AZ-104 will be positioned to take advantage of this high demand for cloud security skills. 

Staying updated and recertification 

The cloud landscape is constantly evolving, and so should your knowledge as an Azure administrator. Staying updated and pursuing recertification is crucial for your success. 

Here are some ways to embrace continuous learning: 

  • Stay updated with Azure: Microsoft frequently releases new features, services and updates for Azure. Subscribe to official Microsoft resources like blogs, documentation updates and webinars to stay informed. 
  • Engage with the community: Connect with fellow Azure professionals through online forms, user groups and conferences. Share knowledge, learn from others' experiences and stay at the forefront of industry trends. 
  • Pursue further certifications: Consider advancing your expertise with higher-level Azure certifications like AZ-500 (Security Technologies) or AZ-305 (Solutions Architect) to explore specific areas deeper and unlock leadership opportunities. 

The AZ-104 certification expires one year from the date you passed your exam. To maintain your credentials and demonstrate your continued competence, you can renew your certification online for free before your certification expires. The online assessments are shorter than the original exam, are open-book, and you can take them as many times as you need to pass before your expiration date. 

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Make Your Resume Stand Out With a Microsoft Azure Certification

Cloud technologies and services have revolutionized how we manage our IT and business ecosystems. Whether you're new to the field or an experienced professional, a Microsoft Azure certification can help build your skills and accelerate your career.

Ensuring you’re prepared for the Azure exam 

The AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator Exam is your gateway to a rewarding career in cloud administration and security. Azure administrators play a vital role in securing the cloud, and passing the exam will validate your ability to join their ranks and secure the infrastructures of organizations in every industry. 

In 2024 and beyond, the importance of the AZ-104 certification will only continue to grow. As businesses increasingly adopt cloud technologies, the need for professionals who can manage securities effectively will remain strong. 

To further your understanding and prepare for the AZ-104 exam, we encourage you to check out our AZ-104 Azure administrator certification hub for comprehensive tips, study materials and expert insights. 

Ellen Pincus
Ellen Pincus

Ellen Pincus is a communication and marketing professional with over a decade of creative experience helping innovative organizations differentiate their voice. As the content marketing specialist for Infosec, she enjoys empowering cyber professionals and students with skills and knowledge to advance their careers and outsmart cybercrime.