Disclaimer: This review was written following 7 weeks with a review sample of the book provided by the publisher. The publisher had no early preview, copy approval or editorial inputs of any kind and it provided no compensation in exchange for the review.1
Tl;dr: It’s a good base tool for preparing for AZ-140 if coupled with labbing but the writing is very dry.
The request to review the book came as a complete surprise at the very beginning of August, just before my birthday, and intrigued me. I have read A LOT of books in my life, going from super technical to fantasy novels, to sci-fi to anything in between, and have written a few reviews of novels, but have never had the chance to write a review for a purely technical book.
So I said yes and since the book is aimed at both exposing people to the AVD technology and as a studying tool for people preparing for the AZ-140 exam I also scheduled the exam itself, so that I could evaluate its effectiveness in both of those objectives.
Weeks passed by and I slowly went through the book (more slowly that I had wanted, both due to many other responsibilities and due to only having it in PDF format for review, which is not easily readable on e-reader devices and brought some issues with fonts), before finally finishing it up near the end of week 5, way ahead of the 10 weeks deadline.
After that I spent quite a lot of time labbing nearly every part of the required knowledge base (also with the help of the official study guide2) and finally did the exam, which I passed with a good margin.
And now time for the review!
What I liked
The thing that surprised me about the book at the beginning (the 734 pages) was also the thing that ended up being its greatest strength: Starting from the basic building blocks like VNETs, continuing with more advanced features of the product like MSIX App attach and ending up with Automation and Monitoring this book covers basically everything you need to set up an AVD solution from scratch, all enriched through relevant links to Microsoft Learn pages, practical real life tips, good formatting and step by step instructions for many parts of the deployment.
And while not perfect (for example there is very little information about JIT VM Access, which is covered by the exam), it comes pretty damn close.
In addition to all that, the book also has questions at the end of every chapter to help with retaining the information and a big collection of questions and answers at the end of the book to prepare readers for the AZ-140 exam should they decide to attempt it.
Finally, a last thing that positively impressed me was the low amount of typos in the book, and the few I have identified will be hopefully rapidly addressed as I have received a very positive answer when I requested whether it would be valuable to report them.
What I didn’t like
My biggest gripe with this book is the incredible dryness of it: I’m used to technical writing but this one barely spends any time on fluently introducing the product with a slowly expanding scope but rather goes directly in with specific information, data tables and step by step procedures which makes it a real challenge to keep attention while reading. It basically feels like reading a collection of Microsoft Docs pages collated together and transformed to PDF.
This completeness also brings an additional issue: due to the fact that Microsoft is constantly changing Azure/M365, all that information and step-by-step procedures can become obsolete very rapidly. Though luckily that’s mitigated by the author always linking to the Microsoft Docs for each section.
I personally feel that the book would have been much more readable if it was less information-dense, had a more fluent prose and the reader was redirected to the Microsoft Docs for information like requirements which are constantly changing, instead of having pages of tables and outdated (or to be outdated) step-by-step instructions.
Concerning the step by step instructions I also have another gripe: they are often too generic and while it’s very nice that they explain every option (though, again, obsolete or to-be-obsolete) they miss a critical point: which options to actually select during the deployment? The most obvious example of this was the lack of information on whether we can activate Hierarchical Namespaces when deploying the Storage Account for FSLogix.
Finally, some information like Universal Print was effectively superfluous for the exam, though it could be useful for implementing AVD in an actual Production environment.
While the book succeeds in achieving its stated goals (preparing people for the az-140 exam and informing them about AVD) the dryness of the prose makes it a tough read and quite a lot of effort is required to fully make use of the knowledge provided.
That said, if you plan to pass the exam it is strongly recommended to deploy and test everything covered by the exam in a lab environment (though products like NetApp can be incredibly expensive so make sure you remove the resources as soon as done.), follow the links in the book to the Microsoft Docs articles to ensure that the deployment steps indicated are up to date, and so are the requirements, and double check everything on the latest version of the Official Study Guide for the exam: https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE4MFST
Finally, while more time efficient solutions like Youtube videos coupled with Microsoft docs are more appropriate for acquiring the necessary information to design an AVD solution for deployment in production, this book could technically be used for that purpose as well, despite it going a bit too much in depth at times for that use case.
Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LVP2VPM
- Credits for the wording of the disclaimer go to Michael Fisher (MrMobile): https://www.youtube.com/c/TheMrMobile