Resources for Microsoft Azure AZ-900 Certification

The Microsoft Azure AZ-900 certification is for “Azure Fundamentals”. Like the similar AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner that I earned recently, it is a stand-alone certification that isn’t a prerequisite to more advanced certification paths.

My personal opinion is that these certifications are still a worthwhile credential for any certification path. Their benefit is that you learn the vendor’s cloud terminology as well as the breadth of their cloud offerings. If you’re in IT management, you probably won’t be the one setting up cloud features. However, you should be the one asking if your organization is taking advantage of the vendor’s offerings around cloud security, governance, and budgeting.

Although my employer prefers AWS, the most hands-on time that I get is with Azure, so why not get certified while I am at it. Thankfully, because all three of the major cloud vendors (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) are in a tight race for both market and mindshare, each has a lot of free training resources available.

Here are the resources that I’ve found helpful so far. For those of you who may have already obtained the AZ-900 certification, feel free to share additional resources in the comments section.

Free Resources

There are many free resources for Azure certification, including those available from Azure’s creator, Microsoft.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Microsoft’s training is both official and free. There are some videos, but its mostly a lot of browser-based reading with periodic quizzes. See the YouTube resource below if you’d like to be a certified couch potato.

A Cloud Guru

A Cloud Guru is a great site for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform training. Sign up and the AZ-900 video class should be free (the hands-on labs are not, but hopefully you can practice at work). Visit the A Cloud Guru web site.

Adam Marczak – Azure for Everyone

There are so many YouTube resources related to certification that I haven’t had time to review them all, but I’ve really enjoyed Adam Marczak’s series for the AZ-900 exam.

Your access to YouTube might be blocked at the office, but I watch this playlist using my Apple TV at home. AZ-900 training is groken down into 34 shorter lessons, so it’s easy to spend 30 minutes or less per day absorbing the information.


There are many Azure-related podcasts. I recommend starting with those published by Microsoft then branching out.

Got a favorite? Share with my readers in the comments below.

Paid Resources

These resources require some cash but hopefully you can expense them with your employer.


Paid Udemy classes can cost as much as $99 but signing up for their email list then watching for sales, as courses are periodically marked down to $9.99 or $12.99. Visit the Udemy web site.

Packt Publishing

The quality of Packt’s materials can sometimes be hit or miss, but they ran a $5 ebook and video sale over Christmas. Some deals are just too good to pass up. Visit the Packt web site.

Microsoft Press Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Exam Ref for AZ-900, Second Edition

Check out pricing on the Microsoft Press site and Amazon – sometimes Microsoft Press has discount codes. I have the first edition in print and like to read it with a highlighter. Note that I’m an Amazon affiliate and will earn a small commission if you use the link above.

Do you have any favorite Azure training resources? Let me know by adding a comment below.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

My first (but definitely not last) AWS certification.

On Friday, December 18, 2020, I began a new chapter in my career by becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. I’m a little embarrassed because I said that I was starting down this path over two years ago (see related blog post, Old Dogs, New Tricks).

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is not a requirement on the path to becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, SysOps Administrator, or Developer. It’s designed to demonstrate an understanding of AWS “in any role, including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial.” Obtaining this certification was a good way to ensure I understood AWS concepts in a way that I could explain to my customers, who are often not in traditional IT roles.

I’ve obtained my first AWS certification but I doubt that it will be my last. As I look at the available AWS Certifications, I’d like to obtain the associate AWS Certified Solutions Architect and the AWS Certified Data Analytics specialty certification. But in addition to study time, hands-on experience is a necessity. Right now, I’m getting a lot of hands-on time with Azure and there’s a possibility I’ll also be learning how to set up SAP BusinessObjects on the Google Cloud Platform. So who knows what the future holds?

In the meantime, you can watch as my certifications accumulate on my YourAcclaim profile.

How are you expanding your skill set beyond SAP BusinessObjects? Share your thoughts below.

No SAP BusinessObjects Professional Left Behind

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 training is right around the corner.

Last Thursday, SAP had a kickoff call with its SAP BusinessObjects Authorized Education Partners (AEP) regarding SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0.  Historically, training materials have lagged several months behind each major release, so one of the side benefits of SAP’s ramp up process is that training materials will be ready to go on day one of general availability (GA).  I’ve been a certified trainer for nearly seven years, beginning with classic BusinessObjects 5.1, and I still approach each major release with the same combination of excitement and dread.  Excitement over new toys, but dread over new concepts and training manuals to master.

I’m focusing this post on classroom training (both in public training centers and on-site at customer sites).  In the future, I’ll discuss other options like e-Learning.

New Training Material Format

The big news for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 classroom training is the new training material format. Paper manuals have been phased out of public classrooms in favor of Adobe Digital Reader E-books. SAP has responded to customer requests for training materials that have greater portability, accessibility, and flexibility. And SAP will be able to reach its sustainability goals by having a more eco-friendly training format. In the classroom, Students will be able to toggle between the E-book (which can be annotated, bookmarked, and use desired font sizes) and the training system from the same PC. After the class, students will be able to read their E-book on their work or personal device. Printed manuals can be ordered after the class is taken for a nominal (and currently unknown) materials fee.

SAP customers that arrange for on-site training at their facilities will still have a choice between E-book and paper until the end of 2011.

New Course Offerings

As one might expect, there are new classes to support new tools.  Courses for Crystal Reports 2011 and the classic Universe Design Tool (formerly known as Universe Designer) are largely unchanged from their previous iterations.  But there are new courses for Crystal Reports Enterprise 4.0 and Information Design Tool.  And the Data Services curriculum is revised in format to reflect the integration of text analytics and other new features.

SAP Crystal Reports Enterprise 4.0
BOCE10 – Crystal Reports Enterprise : Fundamentals of Report Design (2 days)
BOCE20 – Crystal Reports Enterprise : Advanced Report Design (3 days)

SAP BusinessObjects Information Design Tool 4.0
BOID10 – Information Design Tool I (3 days)
BOID20 – Information Design Tool II (2 days)

SAP BusinessObjects Data Services
BODS10 – Data Services – Platforms & Transforms (3 days)
BODS30 – Data Services – Data Quality Management (2 days)

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (BOX310), formerly Xcelsius 2008, is now a 2-day offering.  I always managed to get students through the previous 3-day class in around 2.5 days, so it will be interesting to see what’s changed.  The administration series (BOE310 2-day/BOE320 3-day/BOE330 4-day) have the same course titles and durations, but the Administration and Security (BOE310) and Administering Servers (BOE320) courses are supposed to have a lot of new material.  And lastly, Web Intelligence has the same course numbers and durations (BOW310 2-day and BOW320 1-day) but it’s effectively a brand new tool with a lot of new workflows.

I can’t comment on the actual course materials yet, as SAP Authorized Education Partners are not involved in the process to create SAP BusinessObjects course materials.  Keep in mind that SAP uses its own trainers for education while BusinessObjects used a combination of its own trainers and partners, a trend that has thankfully continued since the BusinessObjects acquisition.  I hope that the new BI 4.0 guides have more emphasis on hands-on activities for students, as the previous XI 3.0 manuals reduced hands-on learning in favor of instructor demonstrations.  I’m looking forward to ordering my new instructor guides when they become available at the end of the month (August 2011) and will be furiously working through them during the month of September so I can quickly get through SAP’s instructor vetting process.


The certification process to become a SAP Certified Associate is largely unchanged, although the exams will obviously be new. New exams for Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports, and the Business Intelligence Platform (formerly BusinessObjects Enterprise) will be available on October 31, 2011. Exams for SAP BW 7.3, Business Planning and Consolidation, Financial Consolidation, and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) will be available by the end of 2011.


Well, that’s all I have right now.  In the meantime, check out the latest Diversified Semantic Layer podcast where Jon Reed, Sheila Ryan and myself discuss SAP education and certification with Eric Vallo, Jamie Oswald, and Greg Myers.  And take a look at my ASUG presentation on user adoption, as classroom learning is a key component but not the only component of a successful user adoption strategy.

What are your thoughts on SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 education, e-Books, and certification?

2009 Year in Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

2009 has been another interesting year as a business intelligence consultant. The year was fairly balanced between XI R2 and XI 3.0/3.1. Definitely more XI R2 than I would prefer, but I also got to work on a really interesting Xcelsius 2008 dashboard project. I was also able to help several customers with installation, configuration, sizing and security issues, gained some Edge Series and Linux experience, and dusted off my XI R2 migration knowledge.

Regarding certifications, SAP rolled out their new Web Intelligence certification, 2 exams that I passed in March 2009.  In October, I selected to give three breakouts at the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Dallas, Texas.  This is the time of year to reflect backwards and set goals forwards for the coming year. The next release of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise won’t arrive until Q4-2010 at the earliest, so I expect 2010 to be mostly about BOE 3.x.

This year, I achieved Gold Medallion status with Delta, Silver with Marriott, Platinum with Priority Club (mostly Holiday Inn Express) and Diamond with Hilton (mostly Hampton Inn).

Here are the exotic destinations I visited this year.

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Columbia, Maryland
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Lufkin, Texas
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Moline, Illinois
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Valdosta, Georgia
  • Waterloo, Iowa
  • Westminster, Maryland
  • Wilmington, North Carolina

Thanks to all of the customers that I met for the first time in 2009.  Here’s to a great 2010!

2008 Year in Review

A personal reflection on the past year.

December has been a busy month, but I’ll be getting some much-needed downtime plus working from home before heading out to clients again in January. Christmas came early this year in the form of my Business Objects Certified Professional (BOCP) certificate for Business Objects Enterprise XI 3.0. I’m looking forward to framing it and hanging it in my home office.  As the year winds down, it seems good to reflect on our achievements for the past year and set some goals for 2009.

2008 was the first year that I began consulting and training with Xcelsius 2008. And armed with my upgraded BOCP I’ve already taught Business Objects Enterprise administration (SA210 Administration and Security and SA310 Administrating Servers) and Business Objects XI 3.0 Universe Design (DM310).

2008 is the first year I’ve had a project that’s let me work from home, which to be honest can be a blessing AND a curse. For example, I never knew a hurricane from Texas would blow through Ohio and knock out my electricity and high-speed internet. Working from home in IT consulting certainly takes some adjustment, but my family appreciates it.

I’ve traveled to a lot of interesting places this year, spending 88 nights in Holiday Inn hotels alone.

2008 was the third year of being selected for the annual Business Objects user conference, held this past October in Dallas, Texas. It’s always an honor to be selected and to share what I’ve learned.

Business Objects engagements have taken me to:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Houston, Texas
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Lufkin, Texas
  • Moline, Illinois
  • New York City, New York
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

And summer vacation took me and my family to Ann Arbor, Michigan; Point Pelee National Park, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

But it’s always good to be home!

To all my family, friends, coworkers, clients and blog readers, a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2009!

BusinessObjects Certified Professional – Here It Goes Again!

My experience certifying for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1

Keeping up with Business Objects products can make a person feel like they’re on an eternal treadmill of learning. Yesterday, I passed the BusinessObjects Certified Professional – Enterprise (BOCP-BOE) upgrade exam, which brought my BusinessObjects XI R2 certification up to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1.

For those of you who have never certified, it requires passage of 3 exams that loosely follow the three SA210, SA310, and SA410 public education classes (which are also available as e-Learning – but you want to come to our training centers in Dallas & Houston, don’t you?). I attended a BOCP “fast track” in the summer of 2005 and took the XI R2 exams shortly thereafter. It was the first time in my life certifying on anything and was quite surprised that I passed each exam on the first attempt. Exams are offered worldwide at Pearson Vue test centers.

BusinessObjects Certification at Pearson VUE

The XI 3.0/XI 3.1 platform has LOTS of new features, with the primary burden on the administrator. Oh sure, there are some new features in Crystal Reports 2008, Web Intelligence and Universe Designer. But SAP BusinessObjects administrators have to deal with a redesigned Central Management Console (CMC), new security rules, and federation. Not to mention new architecture details like the Server Intelligence Agent (SIA), Adaptive Job Server and Adaptive Processing Server. Re-certification has been distilled down to just 40 randomly chosen questions, of which the test taker must get at least 67% correct.

As a part-time SAP BusinessObjects instructor, passing the BOCP upgrade exam entitles me to teach the XI 3.0/XI 3.1 administration classes, which I’ll be doing for the first time in December 2008. I should mention that any SAP BusinessObjects class can be taught on-site at your location. Especially for those of you in warm locales – I’d love to come train you or your staff during the upcoming winter months – please give me a call!

My Important Moments with Business Objects

Key events at the start of my SAP BusinessObjects career

I’ve been cleaning up my home office as part of getting ready for the new year. I stumbled across some of my old planners. Some nostalgia…

February 13, 2003: After nearly 10 years working with Unix, C & C++, and Oracle, began first Business Objects consulting engagement
September 24-26, 2003: Attended Universe Design training

December 1-3, 2004:
Taught my first Business Objects classes (v6.5 Core, Intermediate, and Advanced Reporting)

May 24-27, 2005: Business Objects XI R1 Fast Track Training, Atlanta, Georgia
June 8, 2005: Passed SAE201 Certification Exam
June 13, 2005: Passed SAE301 Certification Exam
June 20, 2005: Passed SAE401 Certification Exam – I’m a Business Objects Certified Professional!
July 14, 2005: Passed Accredited Report Designer v6.5 Exam
July 28, 2005: Organized steering committee and relaunched SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky Business Objects User Group). Presented Getting To Know Business Objects XI
November 6-9, 2005: Business Objects Insight Americas 2005, Orlando, Florida
December 1-2, 2005: Train-the-Trainer training at Xavier University
December 12, 2005: Taught my first Web Intelligence XI R1 class

February 26-28, 2006: Business Objects Partner Summit 2006, Austin, Texas
July 28, 2006: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2006
October 26, 2006: Presented my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles, at SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky BusinessObjects User Group)
November 5-8, 2006: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2006, San Francisco, California

February 13, 2007: Speaker at Northern Ohio BusinessObjects User Group (NOBOUG) in Cleveland, Ohio
May 14-16, 2007: Customer Centric Selling training for Business Objects partners
July 28, 2007: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2007
September 2007: Business Objects Accredited Specialist: Crystal Decisions/Edge Series
September 2007: Business Objects 6.5 Accredited System Administrator
October 7, 2007: SAP AG and Business Objects S.A. announced that the companies reached an agreement that has brought together two of the information technology industry leaders.
October 15-28, 2007: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2007, Orlando, Florida – presented Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets
December 7, 2007: Business Objects XI R2 Migration Specialist

And in 2008, the adventure continues…
January 13-15, 2008: Business Objects Partner Summit 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada

Business Objects Migration Specialist

I finally completed the steps to be a Business Objects Migration Specialist. The last step was nearly 30 hours of e-learning, which has come in handy on my current project, a migration from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3.  By earning this credential, my employer earns the designation of Migration Specialist Partner.