Back in December, I took the DP-900 Azure Data Fundamentals exam which is one of the more recent exams Microsoft has added to their Azure and Data Platform syllabus. In this blog, we will go over some of the key areas of this exam and what you might expect to find if you take it.
Who Should Take this Exam?
This exam is designed for people who may be new or are starting to branch into the Azure ecosystem. It is a great way to kick start your journey in the realm of data engineering in the cloud! Microsoft recommends having at least a basic understanding of some of the core services and features that are offered in Azure, we will talk about some of these later.
The exam itself consists of around 50 questions which focus on four different key topics. These include:
- Describing Core Data Concepts (15 – 20%)
- Describing Relational Data on Azure (25-30%)
- Describing Non-Relational Data on Azure (25-30%)
- Describing Analytics Workloads on Azure (25-30%)
The overall duration of the exam is 90 minutes. This is split up between 30 minutes for reading the questions and 60 for answering them. There is more than enough time to read and answer all the questions in this exam so don’t rush! If you come across a question you’re not sure about, you can come back to it at the end. Another thing to note is that there are no negative marks for getting answers wrong, so take a logical guess if you’re not sure.
The majority of the questions are in a multiple-choice format and there are no lab assignments. Some questions will ask for two or more answers whereas others will only allow one answer. Additionally, you will also come across code snippets and diagrams with drag and drop elements. Unlike some other Microsoft exams, there are no case studies to complete in DP-900.
How Much Revision Should I Do?
This really depends on you and your experience! If you have some real-world experience building data platform solutions in Azure, then you can revise for the necessary topics over a few days. If you have worked with on-premises solutions before as a BI or Data Warehousing developer you will also have a head start as SQL and Warehousing concepts are very relevant for this exam.
If you are completely new to the world of data, then I would take a week or two and go through the Microsoft DP-900 Learning page which I will link below. You can also sign up for a free Azure account where you can play around with the different services to get a better understanding of how they work. It is important to understand why you would use a certain Azure service over another as many of the questions are geared towards using the right service for the task at hand.
What to Expect?
There are several different topic areas that this exam covers. This ranges from knowing about the right tools and software for specific tasks such as Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio to Data Lake Storage and Data Factory pipelines. Let’s take a look at some of the areas you should focus on when studying for this exam:
- Data Warehousing Theory – The differences between Star, Snowflake, and Galaxy Schemas (Fact Constellation Schema)
- Basic SQL – Tables, Views, and the differences between DDL and DML
- Database Types – Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) vs Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
- Indexing – Describe performance improvements and connotations
- Data Workloads – Differences between Batch and Streaming Data
- ETL – Understand what is meant by an Extract, Transform and Load process
- Solution Types – Platform as a Service (PaaS) vs Software as a Service (SaaS)
- JSON Structure – Understand Objects and Arrays
- Analytics Techniques – Describe the differences between Cognitive, Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics
- Storage – Describe Blob (Binary Large Object), File and Table storage
- Security – Authentication, Role Based Access Control and Database Server Firewalls
- NoSQL – Describe some NoSQL offerings in Azure
Azure Stack and Tools
- Data Lake – Types of Storage Accounts, Hierarchical Namespace, and Redundancy (LRS, ZRS, GRS)
- Data Factory – Pipeline Activities, Linked Services, and Integration Runtimes
- Databricks – Data Processing workload scenarios
- CosmosDB – APIs, Containers and Partitions
- Synapse – Understand what services are offered in Synapse
- PowerBI – Dashboards, Paginated and Interactive Reports
- Integrated Development Environments – Differences between Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, Azure Data Studio, SQL Server Management Studio and SQL Server Data Tools
- Command Line and Scripting – Uses of Powershell, Azure CLI and sqlcmd
What’s Next After DP-900?
Once you have passed DP-900, there are many different exams you can take to further enhance your knowledge and expertise on the Azure Platform. However, the most likely option would be the Microsoft Certified Data Engineer route. Previously, to get certified in Data Engineering, you had to pass both the DP-200 and DP-201 exams. Recently however, Microsoft have restructured the syllabus with a new exam called DP-203, which goes into beta on the 23rd of February and will replace both DP-200 and DP-201. This means that to get certified you only have to do the one exam rather than two. I think it is likely that some of the topics covered in this exam will also be covered in DP-203.
Microsoft Learning Path
I highly recommend going through the official Microsoft Learning Path if you are new to Azure. It will through the different areas of the exam and test you as you progress. You can also download the full skills outline from here:
Once you have completed the official Microsoft Learning Path, the best bet would be to practice as many mock questions as you can. There are a couple of different avenues you can take, but I recommend using Udemy as there are lots of great instructors who continue to update their courses frequently while also providing regular Q&A. Here are a few examples:
If you are looking for a free alternative, then ExamTopics is a good option. Answers to the questions are often discussed by other candidates looking to take the exam which is a nice feature as it can help you gain a better understanding of the question itself.
Thanks for Reading!
I hope this gave you some insight into the DP-900 exam. If you have any questions or want some personal advice on passing DP-900 then please feel free to reach out to me through LinkedIn or feel free to leave a comment down below. 😊
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