Are you Dino or Carl?

If you are new to IT you might not yet have become aware that the tech stack is ever changing. I’ve been around long enough to have seen my share of DOS, Windows and also SQL server editions, but what is not immediately apparent is that this forces the people in the industry to, at some point, make a choice; become a dinosaur or adapt.

If your choice is dinosaur, you will probably be fighting to keep the workloads coming as time passes by. At best it’s a bit of a gamble, to put all your eggs into one basket so to speak. Tech changes and so will demand for the one tech you have mastered to perfection. Albeit the upside of the gamble is that little to no-one knows the tech in question which means you can ask a higher price for your services.

On the other hand Carl Lewis’s accomplishments is actually a great image of how the modern IT worker has to spread the interest on more than one tech. Carl Lewis was a childhood hero of mine and among other astonishing merits he was undefeated for a period of seven years (7) in long jump (still has the world record indoor) – but many remember him for his incredible performances in 100m and 200m dash. This just helps build the image that I am trying to convey here – modern IT people will almost certainly be specialised in more that one tech – or this particular tech evolves into something new.

So, which one is it? Dino or Carl?

But what’s my point with this?

On September 11th in 2020 I passed the AZ-400 test to become a Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert and as this is an Expert level certification, Microsoft requires this certification to be renewed within a specified amount of time. Microsoft operates with four levels of certification.

Fundamentals (⭐) which cannot be renewed and do not expire,

Associate (⭐⭐), Expert (⭐⭐⭐) and Speciality (no stars) which expires after one (1) year*
*) except if taken before June 30th 2021 – then validity lasts two (2) years

In a month from now, at the time of writing, I would no longer be allowed to flash that I am a certified Azure DevOps Engineer, unless… unless I renew the certification. Certification renewals is something fairly new to the Microsoft certification program and I must say I welcome the opportunity given by Microsoft to update your accolades for free. Yes, for free.

90 days (and 30 days) or so in advance, Microsoft sends a notification, that your certification will expire unless you renew it. The process of renewing is really simple and it all comes down to you and how updated your skills are on the subject. One of the smart things about renewals is that Microsoft gets to test your knowledge on features and tech added to its services since you first took the test. And this could potentially be a lot of new ground to cover. Even though Microsoft aquired Github back in the summer of 2018, there has been put in a lot of work to inhale Github into the Microsoft stack – much of this work has surfaced since I took the test initially, so the renewal test has a lot more questions on Github – which makes so much sense.

The email you receive would look similar to this one, except of course time and type of certification would be different:

All you have to do is click the link, log in with your Microsoft Learn account and off you go.

It could be that the number of questions vary, but I have had a two (2) renewals lately and both consisted of about 25 questions. There have been no cases like in the real tests, hence just 25 individual questions on tech stuff related to the overall topic of the certification. Also, all of my question have been multiple choice/single answer – meaning no multiple possible answers/ranking of tasks to perform or code to complete. But I am sure they are working on getting that in there.

Once you’ve completed all questions you will be directed to either a pass or fail page (unfortunately I didn’t screen grab that when I failed the AZ-400 renewal the first time, so I am not able to display how that look). Microsoft Learn even provides you with a collection of learning materials (from Microsoft Learn) that fits your weak areas so you can concentrate on getting that up to speed- this is very helpful!

If you pass, the resulting page looks something like this

There is also an explanation on the various areas of the test and how you performed in those categories:

This one is from my DA-100 renewal which is now outdated and superseded by PL-300

Final thoughts

Having a history of every other year having to take on new certifications, even in the same tech space, I really welcome the idea of certification renewals. For instance I have SQL Server 2005, 2008 and 2016 certifications but, at least in my mind, it makes a lot more sense to be able to communicate that I am certified in SQL Server and the certification is up to date, for instance with the Azure SQL Server Administrator certification – no editions attached – it’s just active or not. This goes for any technology/role that manages to stick around and evolve.

Best of luck to all you out there who are either renewing or taking on new exams.


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