My day to day job is centered around architecting the right solution to fit customer’s needs and budget. Recently, I have noticed a trend of many fortune 500 companies moving their servers to the cloud, and asking us as a vendor to move along with them to their new home. So, when I get on calls to discuss projects with clients, I am faced with new terminology, and new expectations of how things should work.

Once I gather the requirements, I browse to the Amazon AWS website, which contains a treasure trove of information about different AWS services from introductory videos, to FAQs, and white papers.

It was about 6 months ago, that I decided to take an Amazon AWS class with emphasis on big data. It made a lot of sense to me. I enjoyed the fact that I can use my networking, security, programming, Linux administration, and a variety of knowledge and experience that I accumulated throughout years of working in IT. I became convinced that going forward, companies that don’t have a strategy to move their computing to a Cloud model would be left behind.

I used my CCNA knowledge to subnet my VPC, and used my CISSP training to think about security every step of the way, and my solutions architect experience to think about fault tolerance, scalability and budget.

My decision to get AWS certified was driven by the trend that I was seeing from my customers, and the need to help them achieve their goals of moving to the cloud seamlessly and within budget.

Here is a break down of my test results of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam:
Overall Score: 76%

Topic Level Scoring:
1.0 Designing highly available, cost efficient, fault tolerant, scalable systems : 72%
2.0 Implementation/Deployment: 66%
3.0 Security: 90%
4.0 Troubleshooting: 80%

The exam results point to the fact that I haven’t been doing a lot of hands on implementation and deployment. So my goal is to work hard on the domains I scored low in by designing and deploying systems in the cloud. I am also taking the A Cloud Guru AWS Certified SysOps Administrator class to help remedy the weaknesses identified in my test results.

I will also build on my strength in Security and troubleshooting. which made me think about taking the beta AWS security certificate that was just released during Re-Invent 2016. I will post my experience, if I end up pursuing that.

Tips on taking the exam:

1- Register for the test. If you don’t have a deadline, then you will keep pushing it off indefinitely.

2- Pace yourself. There is a lot of material that’s covered in the different domains. Give yourself enough time to study, do the labs, and mock quizzes.

3- Get into a study group. You get more work done, when you study with like minded people working towards the same goal.

4- Buy a class on Udemy or other e-learning sites. I recommend Acloud Guru, they cover the material very well, and offer quizzes and exam tips.

5- In the exam, don’t check a lot of questions to review later, or you will end up with 30 questions that need to be reviewed, and only 10 minutes left. 🙂

6- Understand concepts, and if you don’t understand by reading, hop on to your AWS account, and do the lab. Yes, You should register for an AWS account, and you will get one year of free tier AWS services.

7- Don’t rely on quizzes online, as some of the answers are wrong. I prefer quizzes that explain why an answer was chosen over the others. Take a lot of quizzes, and if you answer wrong, or you think the correct answer given was wrong, then follow your instinct, and do proper research until you are confident of the solution. If you do enough quizzes, you will get lucky and encounter quiz questions on the test. But be careful, the answers will be worded differently and might throw you off, if you don’t understand the concepts.

8- Have fun! Cloud computing is fun. Amazon AWS documentation is top notch. I have never seen an organization produce such quality documentation and white papers. Aghhh, I remember those dreaded IBM red books, man we have come a long way!!