Microsoft AZ-140 Exam Guide – Azure Virtual Desktop Specialism – How to pass for (almost) free!

After finishing my most recent contract I took some time off to do some projects on my house and take a well earned break after 1 1/2 years with no let up. Inevitably after a few days I started feeling restless and having had one eye on AVD over the last 18 months (but no hands on experience) I wanted to get to grips with the technology and understand how it works, but did not expect I could pass a specialism exam as quickly as I did, so I wanted to share the steps I took with you so you can also benefit if you’re keen to learn about AVD without having to waste hours watching lame tutorials or reading over priced textbooks.

So, with ZERO prior AVD knowledge and very little general Azure experience, below details my approach to passing the AZ-140 certification, which took me around 2-3 weeks at (almost) ZERO cost and sitting the exam remotely (home proctored). I hope it helps you achieve the certification and good luck!

Exam Format

The AZ-140 exam is around 50-55 questions of which 15-20 of these are in a case-study style. Note that the exam is periodically updated to cover new technologies or developments to the AVD platform and you can expect the exam to include around 5 or 6 questions that are under review by Microsoft. You won’t know which questions these are (and they do count towards your final score), and you will be requested to provided feedback on them once your exam has been submitted.

Getting started…

I usually do a thorough high level skim-read of the main technologies that are referenced in the exam blueprint. Microsoft have an AVD learning course that covers the basics, do this and then look through the Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop Documentation – don’t spend more than a day discovering and note taking because the next steps will alleviate any concerns or knowledge gaps you may perceive yourself as having…

Getting hands on experience with Azure Virtual Desktop: Register for Office 365 Premium Trial and Azure $200 free credits

Once you’ve given yourself a primer in the high level elements of an AVD environment you can now get hands on with AVD and (with bias) the best way to do this is to follow the Azure Academy AZ-140 study guide series on YouTube. This is literally the only resource I used for practicing the hands-on configuration and it will school you from AVD zero-to-hero in a few days. Before starting the series you will need to get a free 30-day trial of Office 365 Business Premium and register for an Azure account. The O365 trial is required in order to login to the AVD session hosts that you will build during the Azure Academy series (you must have a license in order to use the service). You should register for Office 365 Business Premium first and then register your Azure subscription using the same credentials. Bear in mind the 30-day clock is ticking once you have registered, so you should commit to study from this point on.

Register for Office 365 Business Premium trial here

Register for Azure here

Azure Academy AZ-140 YouTube Series

Dean Cefola’s Azure Academy AZ-140 Study Guide series is broken into 2 halves – videos 1-10 deal with planning for an AVD environment and cover things like understanding the preferred technologies for AVD and decision making for DR/failover, knowing what components are used in a typical setup and how to connect your on-prem services to AVD – it’s all tutorial based with no technical work. Video’s 11-20 are 100% hands on and will take you through the technical implementation of the ‘What The Hack’ pre-defined, design of the AVD environment (below).

The beauty of the series is that he covers every aspect of the exam using a mix of manual , ARM templates, Powershell and Azure CLI to build out 3-region AVD setup complete with DR, backup and an optional VPN so you can connect into your multi-session desktop hosts and test the service. You will learn everything you need to pass the certification, but also get clearly communicated explanations of all the components used in AVD with no technical guff and zero ego. Dean is also responsive to comments so you can get help when needed and simply put – this series will leave you feeling confident in how to setup an AVD environment and you will learn a ton whilst doing it, the entire What The Hack environment costs around £15-20 per day when it’s powered on and deployed, so you can spend a week or two tweaking and practicing without running out of free Azure credit. Just remember to switch off your VM’s when you’re not studying to ensure you don’t burn through your azure credits.

Final Prep: How Microsoft Test and Measure Up

When you book the exam you will have the opportunity to add MeasureUp AZ-140 Practice Test at a 50% discounted price to your exam booking – I would recommend doing this as it’s cheap and to this point you’ve not spent a penny and have no idea of the technical level of experience the exam questions are targeted at. I spent a couple of days working through the practice test, referencing the aforementioned KB articles for particular services, understanding the common misconfigurations in an AVD environment and ironing out the steps to take for configuring various AVD elements.

Microsoft love to write questions that are formulated from their knowledgebase articles. Whilst you are revising and re-configuring parts of the ‘What the Hack’ environment, make sure you reference the Microsoft KB’s and take notice of the order of the steps that the KB’s follow to configure a given component. For example, let’s take enabling authentication for an azure file shares – this is a question that will be guaranteed to appear on the exam and you should know the steps as detailed in the KB here – I emphasise this not because the Azure Academy misses steps, but the video series is relatively fast paced and it’s easy to overlook what the actual configuration steps are, particularly when Dean is providing you with the various scripts, templates or options to select, so my advice: avoid having a false sense of confidence and read the adjoining KB’s!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

I passed with a score of 920 and, for once, actually enjoyed every part of the study process – I hope you found this post useful, get out there and get learning!