How to – Zero to AWS Certified

by | Nov 30, 2016

I have just been asked to share how I got from zero to hero (hero? Well certified at least) in AWS so I thought I would share my AWS learning journey plus group a number of my AWS posts in one place. Hopefully, this is something that can help you on your AWS journey too.
Prior to working at OptimalBI, the closest I got to cloud computing was hearing the odd buzz word at a conference or from some of the more techie people I knew. I started at OptimalBI mid-2013 and that is when my cloud and AWS journey began.
Shortly after joining Optimal I attended a free one-day event called ‘AWSome Day’ which was essentially the ‘AWS Technical Essentials‘ course, you can read my thoughts on this here. After attending the AWSome Day and knowing the direction OptimalBI were taking in regards to AWS, I was hooked and looked for more learning opportunities.
AWS was only in its early days in New Zealand and at the time training was provided directly from them; The number of courses was limited (but in most cases were free) so went with the obvious choice ‘Architecting on AWS‘, this course taught me some good AWS architecture fundamentals (and more) and was enough to enable me to feel confident enough to explore and play in our environments without being dangerous.  In addition to the Architecting course, I have also attended ‘Systems Operations on AWS’ which focused on how to create automatable and repeatable deployments of networks and systems on the AWS platform.
These courses are now taught by bespoke training services and there are now plenty of other courses to choose from depending on your area of focus
Part of OptimalBI’s AWS partner status requires a couple of us to be AWS certified so the pressure was on for me to take the Certification exam and luckily for me AWS had just put together an AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop for people who were wanting to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, view my post on this here.  Shortly after attending the workshop I sat and passed the exam and so I became an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate.
Easy as that, well no not exactly; AWS Certification is only valid for two years so constant upskilling is required to enable me to stay certified.
In addition to attending the instructor-led training, I have been fortunate enough to complete a number of Qwiklabs (My post on the QwikLabs can be read here), and have attend a number of AWS lunch and learns which were a good way to network and see some of the different services that AWS provide (yes I have posted about these too – you’ll notice a theme 😉 )

Another good place I have learnt about AWS and new features was to attend the yearly re:invent conference; I wish, unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky yet to attend an international conference 😉 so I have attended the local Auckland summit several times (Unfortunately was unable to attend the 2016 one) below are my posts relating to these.

Something that shouldn’t be overlooked and isn’t just limited to learning AWS is the power of Google and seeing other people’s experiences and ideas on how to do things especially if you can’t work something out or are stuck; However as I have found out be careful, especially when working with evolving technologies such as AWS, posts/blogs and solutions can be out of date, and just because it is on the internet doesn’t mean it is correct.
Finally, in my opinion, there is nothing better than getting your hands dirty and playing around, AWS have a free tier which enables you to do this or if you work for a company with a play environment even better.  Be careful you don’t do anything stupid that might rack up a big bill ;).  Here are a few posts I have written after discovering things while getting my hands dirty.

To recap I have progressed from knowing nothing about AWS to being an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate by attending instructor-led training/workshops, completing online qwikLabs, using (and playing with) the services, Googling, and attending events put on by AWS.  This worked for me but I know everyone’s learning styles are different so you’ll need to find the mix that works for you.
You learn something every day
Barry, Preventer of Chaos
There’s plenty of links to more of Barry’s blogs in this one itself, so why not view his company profile or visit his LinkedIn page instead?

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