AWS Birthday Treat – Free QwikLabs

by | Apr 18, 2016

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Amazon Web Services have just turned 10 and they gave a present away. For about half of March, they made all of their QwikLabs free.
What is a QwikLab you ask? Who better to answer than AWS themselves (Thanks, QwikLab FAQs)

“A qwikLAB is an online learning environment along with a set of instructions to walk you through a live, real world and scenario-based use case. In a Lab, you will have access to the actual environment you want to learn about, not a simulation or demo environment. You can access the Lab environment from anywhere on the Internet using a standard browser. “

I have been on a couple of AWS courses and currently hold my “AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level” certification (due to expire in October 2016) however I thought it would be a good idea to take this opportunity to do a few QwikLabs while they were free. In my mind I think it was a good decision (others may disagree); I was able to look at some AWS services that we at OptimalBI have not used in anger before, I was able to see how some of the services worked together and last but not least they were good little refreshers for the services I have used in the past.
The individual labs generally consist of a Lab Guide, file with the txt commands required (saves typing), and an AWS environment configured for the lab (which means you don’t need an AWS account). A Lab Guide contains an Overview, Topics covered, a good summary and explanation of the services used, and a step by step guide through the tasks required to complete the lab.
One particular feature of the QwikLabs I liked was the concept of quests or badges. Again from the QlikLab FAQ’s

“qwikLABS Quests are introductory and advanced learning paths that consist of a collection of labs organized by technologies, specific services (e.g. Amazon Web Services) and practical use cases.”

Some of the quests I managed to complete were:

Compute & Networking

Working with services related to Compute and Networking, including Amazon EC2, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).

Deployment & Management

Working with services related to Deployment and Management, including AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS CloudFormation, and AWS OpsWorks.

Storage & CDN

Work with services related to Storage and Content Delivery Networks, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon CloudFront.

 Solutions Architect – Associate – Exam Prep

Helps you get hands-on practice with several key services as you prepare for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam.

So by completing all these labs does that mean I am an expert in AWS services? Certainly not. However, it has given me a good high-level exposure to how all the services interact and has given me a level of hands-on experience on some of the services I haven’t used.
Would I say they are value for money? I am not sure about that like I said these were free for a few days so I took the opportunity; I am not sure I would have done them if they were not free. I personally think they should be free all the time (to enable people to get easy exposure to the AWS services). Note some intro Labs are free.
Would I recommend the labs to others? Well, that depends on what you want. I would definitely recommend them to someone who has very little exposure to the AWS Services, however, they are probably a little too basic for a black belt or someone who uses AWS in real anger every day.
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Barry, Preventer of Chaos

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