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How to successfully become certified in the Amazon cloud

Studying at Christmas … I thought that was over after university but it was what I had to do in the last days of last year because the challenge – getting a certification on Amazon – required it.

“And that for what? asked a friend. To get free shipping of your products? ” I didn’t laugh because until recently my knowledge of cloud was also scarce and Amazon saw it only as a company that sells online. But that had to change and it had to be officially demonstrated.

That is why I began to prepare one of the Amazon certification exams, which, apart from selling everything through the Internet, is the largest public cloud provider in the world , with a market share of 31.7 percent compared to 13 , 3 of the closest competitor, Microsoft Azure, according to

It is not the only Seattle exam for someone to demonstrate knowledge in your solution. After the basic level ( Foundational ), the intermediate is divided into three branches: architect, developer and operator. The one I refer to in this article is the Amazon Web Services Solutions Architect Associate , which certifies an intermediate level of application and system design using Amazon’s multiple services. As I achieved my purpose, I want to share the experience in case it helps someone on their particular path to the cloud.

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Just like in its merchandise retailing business, Amazon has everything in the cloud world : from A to Z. Anything you might need is available from setting up a simple application to an entire virtual DPC, all divided into different services with proper names:

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Amazon VPC ( Virtual Private Cloud ) – Provides network management resources for setting up a private cloud environment.

Amazon EC2 ( Elastic Compute Cloud ): AWS’s service for compute servers, from the smallest machine to the giants to run a SAP HANA application.

Amazon S3 ( Simple Storage Service ) – Object storage system.

And so on up to more than a hundred solutions. Hence the fear… When someone prepares for certification, they can’t help but wonder how they are going to get to know all the services. Fortunately, there are some more important than others and about which you wonder more. And, as in everything, the difficult thing is to start.

Below I describe the path of preparation that I followed with the intention that it will be of help for those who want to face it from scratch. I divide the work into three phases, each of which builds on the previous one and, together, it is an efficient (and cheap) way to prepare the test:

Phase 0 : The beginning where you learn the structure of the AWS cloud and how it works in broad strokes. It is about stopping seeing an imprecise and distant cloud and beginning to understand that they are not computers that  I do not know who has in I do not know where and rents them I do not know how .

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For this level, the American giant offers a highly recommended free course .

Phase 1 : It is time to delve into the basic services and practice with them. For that, Amazon offers a free one-year subscription with a limited amount of resources to use during that period. It is necessary to open an account in which the number of a valid credit card must be provided, but in it they will only charge the expenses that exceed the limits of the free resources. And don’t panic! It is possible to create alarms so that Amazon itself will notify you if these restrictions are exceeded. In addition, in an academic and preparatory use of the exam it is very rare to incur an expense and, if it is done, it will be a few euros.

And there is also a very good free course from Udemy to acquire this level and practice with the free tier without surprises.

Phase 2: It is the final phase of preparation before the exam, which consists of studying and practicing with tests very similar to the official test. Specifically, I have worked with those from Whizlabs : this resource is not free, but for less than 20 euros it provides a lot of material to ensure approval or almost. The great thing about these tests is that they indicate and explain the correct answer, detailing why the other options are incorrect, so a lot is learned from various services.

The tests included in the package are divided into two types: practice tests and section tests. The latter have more difficult questions than the certification ones, and each one focuses exclusively on one AWS service, with several dealing with a core service. My advice is to study the solutions of these tests directly, to learn what was missing in previous levels. I would not do them as essays because they can be discouraging as they require a higher degree of knowledge.

 

To practice I did it with the practice tests . In general, the difficulty of the questions is less than those of the exam but it is quite close. In addition, it comes in handy to know the format of it: 65 questions with four options, one or two of which are correct, with the possibility of leaving marked questions to review later. To answer them, as in the certification, you have 130 minutes (Important: when requesting the exam you can request an extra 30 minutes of time if you are not native English speakers since the exam is in this language. From your own experience and someone else’s! I tell you that that extra time is very valuable!).

And, arriving at the star question, I will tell you that it is approved with approximately 72 percent of correct answers. Since the mock tests are easier, the equivalent would be eighty-odd percent correct answers on them. In the case of questions with multiple answers, all must be hit to obtain a score for that question.

Exam topics vary but are always focused on a handful of important Amazon cloud services.

The path that I propose from my personal experience of course does not ensure success, but it is proven: it helped me to certify myself and it is the one that we have worked together in the specialized engineering cloud team of Empresas clients to certify ourselves on Azure and Amazon.

This approach, within the SoyClouder initiative , fits into Empresas’ multicloud strategy to offer large companies and public administrations services and tools to take advantage of the public cloud that better responds to their business needs .

For this reason we will continue with our continuous training in different certifications. I hope my advice, if it doesn’t make you expert architects, at least makes you good AWS bricklayers, as one colleague says.

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