Microsoft Certified: Azure IoT Developer specialty AZ 220

Everybody working with technology from Microsoft knows about their certification programs.

These exams have a solid value during your IT career and can even be a prerequisite to get a certain job.

Microsoft recently introduced the new Microsoft Certified: Azure IoT Developer specialty exam, AZ-220. It is brand new, the first batch of a few hundred developers just got their results.

Let’s check out how you can pass.

This is how Microsoft thinks about the role of the Azure IoT Developer:

The IoT Developer implements designs for IoT solutions, including device topology, connectivity, debugging and security. The IoT Developer deploys compute/containers and configures device networking. The IoT Developer implements designs for solutions to manage data pipelines, including monitoring and data transformation as it relates to IoT. The IoT Developer works with data engineers and other stakeholders to ensure successful business integration.

IoT Developers should have a good understanding of how to implement the Azure services that form an IoT solution, including data storage options, data analysis, data processing, and platform-as-a-service options. IoT Developers must be able to recognize Azure IoT service configuration settings within the code portion of an IoT solution and perform specific IoT coding tasks in at least one Azure-supported language, including C#, Node, C, or Python.

This is also reflected in what is measured.

What is measured?

The high-level skills measured are these six areas:

  • Implement the IoT solution infrastructure
  • Provision and manage devices
  • Implement Edge
  • Process and manage data
  • Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize IoT solutions
  • Implement security

All areas make 15 to 20 percent of the exam.

This seems fair. But the underlying list of skill measured is much larger:

  • Create and configure an IoT Hub
  • Build device messaging and communication
  • Configure physical IoT devices
  • Implement the Device Provisioning Service
  • Manage the device lifecycle
  • Manage IoT devices by using IoT Hub
  • Build a solution by using IoT Central
  • Set up and deploy an IoT Edge device
  • Develop modules
  • Configure an IoT Edge device
  • Configure routing in Azure IoT Hub
  • Configure stream processing
  • Configure an IoT solution for Time Series Insights
  • Configure health monitoring
  • Troubleshoot device communication
  • Perform end-to-end solution testing and diagnostics
  • Implement device authentication in the IoT Hub
  • Implement device security by using DPS
  • Implement Azure Security Center (ASC) for IoT

And to make it even worse 🙂 parts of Azure IoT are still in preview.

The good thing is that the preview parts like eg. Digital Twins, Devices streams and IoT Plug and Play are not part of the exam. So the actual list of skills is pretty clear.

There is no practice test available yet. So you have to prepare yourself extra.

So…

How to get prepared

Microsoft is offering two learning paths:

  1. Free online training based on MS Learn learning paths and weekly webinars which are shown from this week till May 14th.
  2. Instructor-led training, based on twenty hands-on labs.

For as fas as I know, the instructor-led pieces of training are not in place or offered yet.

But you can already start on your own. There is enough information to get started.

I can recommend the online learning paths both for beginners and for skilled developers. It’s a combination of both reading content and performing exercises without the need for an Azure subscription.

But at this moment, in the online learning paths, not all topics are touched at the level of the exam.

You need to practice yourself with:

  • Azure IoT Hub
  • Device Provisioning Service
  • Time Series Insights
  • IoT Central (In Preview)
  • IoT Edge
  • SDKs
  • Azure Security Center for IoT
  • Azure Stream Analytics
  • Event Grid Integration

So I recommend starting digging into the documentation of:

What I did was download all documentation as PDF (there is a button provided for that on each link):

And yes, this is a lot.

But together with the preparation guide/skills outline, it brings you up to speed to get ready for the exam.

Practice, practice, practice

And did I mention you have to practice?

You can do a lot with Azure VMs to practice IoT.

But getting your hands on actual IoT hardware makes the experience much better.

So try to find out how to turn a Raspberry Pi or a laptop into an Edge device. Try to access a TPM chip for security. Try to roll out X509 certificates. Get your hands on an MXChip devkit to check out IoT Central.

You can practice with:

  • replaying the examples seen in the original documentation
  • Checking out the Microsoft Learn modules and perform the labs
  • Perform the AZ-220 hands-on labs on GitHub with or without a trainer

Hands-on experience makes the complete telemetry path from sensor to data scientist visible.

Note: You need an Azure subscription for this. Microsoft offers a free trial subscription. Students can make use of the free student offer. I recommend an MSDN account if you are a professional developer.

The exam

The exam is supported by official examination partners (bring nothing with you except two valid forms of identification).

You pass at 80% of the questions answered correctly.

Because I am not an English native speaker, I got 220‎ minutes for the exam to finish it.

Conclusion

After you passed the exam, you can call yourself for two full years a Microsoft Certified Azure IoT Developer.

Microsoft Certified: Azure IoT Developer Specialty

And that is something to be proud of!

Update: as with everything in the cloud, new Azure IoT features are added so the exam changes slowly too. Recently the exam is a bit updated:

Next to that, the exam is valid for three years. You can get one extra year after passing a free partial certification on MS Learn. Read about it in my next blog post.