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Azure Administrator Vs. Azure Solutions Architect Options

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@2020-01-19 21:45:46

Microsoft certifies two major non-developer paths for Azure professionals: Azure Administrator Associate and Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

  • An Azure Administrator is responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Microsoft Azure solutions, including major services related to compute, storage, network, and security.
  • Master the skills needed to design solutions that run on Azure. A Microsoft Azure solution architect must have expertise in compute, network, storage, and security.
@2020-01-19 22:04:55

What is a cloud admin?

If you're familiar with the day-to-day of a traditional on-prem admin, you probably already have a good idea of what that type of role might look like in a cloud-first environment. Per Microsoft's definition, cloud admins are in charge of implementing, monitoring and maintaining Azure infrastructure. Their role spans the full gamut of cloud services, including those pertaining to compute, networking, storage and security.

Cloud administrators are responsible for keeping the company cloud up and running smoothly; their specific tasks can (and usually do) vary significantly from one day to the next according to immediate operational needs.

Key skills for cloud admins

You need the following technical skills to be a successful cloud admin:

  • Manage Azure subscriptions and resources. This includes basic concepts such as assigning permissions, configuring tags and policies, and understanding the different ways to analyze resource consumption and costs.
  • Implement and manage storage. You'll need to familiarize yourself with services such as Azure Data Graph and Azure Data Box in addition to knowing how to configure storage accounts and implement backups.
  • Deploy and manage virtual machines for Windows and Linux
  • Configure and manage virtual networks and implement advanced virtual networking
  • Manage identities using Azure Active Directory
  • Evaluate and perform server migration to Azure. It's never a good idea to simply take an on-prem infrastructure and drop it in the cloud as-is.
  • Implement and manage application services. Here's where you get to learn all about serverless computing, one of the hottest cloud-related buzzwords right now.
  • Secure identities. Are you familiar with MFA? Great—now, it's time to meet a couple more initialisms in the rights-management game: RBAC and PIM, two methods for managing access to sensitive cloud data on a need-to-know basis.
@2020-01-19 22:06:35

What is a cloud architect?

According to Gartner, cloud architects fulfil three main roles within their organizations:

  • Leading cultural change for cloud adoption. Cloud architects should be the foremost advocates for adopting a cloud-first mindset company-wide. Simply put: they're in charge of selling the cloud and its benefits to all business units—and making sure the outcome lives up to expectations.
  • Developing and coordinating cloud architecture. Just as traditional architects design houses according to spec, cloud architects are in charge of translating business requirements into the foundations of an ideal Azure infrastructure.
  • Developing a cloud strategy and coordinating the adoption. In addition to architecting the organization's Azure infrastructure according to business needs and industry standards, cloud architects are responsible for ongoing optimization and ensuring best practices are followed.

In other words, where the cloud admin takes on more hands-on, day-to-day operational tasks, cloud architects focus the bulk of their efforts on the big-picture side of bringing businesses into the cloud and championing best practices on an ongoing basis.

Key skills for cloud architects

A cloud architect should possess the following core knowledge and skills:

  • Collaboration and communication. All the technical prowess in the world won't get you very far as a cloud architect if you don't know how to collaborate effectively with other departments. A big part of the job involves coordinating between IT and business operations throughout the various stages of the cloud adoption journey. What's more, as cloud architect, you'll be in charge of 'selling' the cloud and its benefits to the organization at large, as well as ensuring that the infrastructure solutions put in place are able to deliver on those promises.
  • Broad technical knowledge. You'll need to master a wide range of technical concepts in order to gain the big-picture understanding required to succeed as a cloud architect. In addition to being familiar with the full scope IT operations—networking, identity management, virtualization, etc.—it's useful to have advanced knowledge of at least one of the following: Azure development, Azure administration, or DevOps.
  • Budgeting. Cloud architects aren't just in charge of the technical side of Azure infrastructure. They're also frequently the ones accountable for justifying cloud costs to the business and balancing performance requirements with budget caps. Be ready to brush up on your data analysis skills.
  • Governance. Good governance is vital to any organization's success in the cloud. As an Azure Solutions Architect, a large part of your role will involve building and implementing a governance plan that accounts for the full scope of your company's cloud journey.
@2020-01-19 22:08:13

Here's a quick recap of the main differences between Microsoft's Azure Administrator Associate and Azure Solutions Architect Expert certifications:

Azure Certifications comparison table

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