Where Do I Start with the Cloud? Part 2 - Amazon Web Services

If you are looking to gain focus on cloud technologies, the first step and question that you must ask yourself if "Where do I Start?"

There are different avenues that you can take to become 1. Generalist: with the foundational understanding in multiple clouds 1. Fundamentals/Practitioners: where you get the base level certification available for the cloud providers 1. Associate: the first level technical certification. 1. Expert/Professional: the highest level technical certification 1. Specialty: take a path specific to the technology area that you are generally focused This article will provide some thoughts around each of these areas for each of the cloud providers. This insight will hopefully assist you in carving your own path and focus on growth in the cloud. In later posts, I will provide my thoughts around certifications, the "what's in it for me" and "do organizations value them". For now, we will focus on each of the providers options for gaining knowledge and certifications. Previous articles have provided roadmaps on Azure. This post will focus on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon Web Services AWS Generalist: If you want to simply learn cloud basics, AWS basics, and AWS services in business and technical format, then AWS provides two Accreditation paths: Business Professional and Technical Professional. The Business Professional path is best suited for someone that is in a Sales role as there is training around value proposition and positioning of AWS Services. The Technical Professional is helpful in a more technical role and provides the first steps in proceeding to the certification paths within AWS. Free online training courses are available on AWS' partner center to complete both of these paths. AWS Foundation: The foundational certification for AWS is the Certified Cloud Practitioner. This is the first exam-based certification for AWS. The content is very similar to the Azure Fundamentals certification. This certification familiarizes you with the wide range of core AWS services and how the AWS ecosystem and infrastructure is put together. Hands-on experience with AWS is not required for this certification, but cloud knowledge is helpful. AWS Partner Center provides a free seven hour training course to prepare. AWS Associate: AWS has three current Associate certification paths: Solutions Architect, SysOps Administrator, and Developer. These certifications tests for technical role-based knowledge of AWS services. Hands-on understanding is required for this certification. There are many third party training resources from A Cloud Guru/Linux Academy, Udemy, WhizLabs, and many others. AWS Professional: The next level of AWS certification is Professional. AWS changed their requirements in the past year where obtaining the Associate certification is no longer a requirement to taking the Professional certification exam. However, if you do have the Associate exam and pass the Professional exam, your Associate certification will renew. Even though the Professional does not require the Associate, there is a progression to taking the Associate first as the Professional requires a much deeper hands-on understanding of AWS services and infrastructure. The same third party training resources can be used to find preparatory courses to get you ready for this exam. AWS Specialty: In contrast to Azure, AWS has a different approach to their Associate, Professional, and Specialty categories. AWS Specialty exams include the following: Advanced Networking, Big Data, Security, Machine Learning, and Alexa Skill Builder. In April, they will also add a Database specialty and rename the Big Data specialty to Data Analytics. As you can see, there are some similarities in the specialty categories of AWS and many of the Azure role-based Associate certifications.</li>
AWS Certifications are valid for three years, at which time, you will be required to pass the current version of the same exam, or if you have an Associate certification, passing the Professional level will renew the Associate as well. Third party training resources help to provide a guided learning path for these exams. Some of the recommended ones (as mentioned previously) are: A Cloud Guru/Linux Academy, WhizLabs, Udemy, and many others. My next article will focus on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) certification paths. My next article will focus on AWS certification paths. The complete series can be viewed using these links: Where to Start with Azure, AWS, and GCP certifications. Good luck on your cloud certification journey.