As the saying goes, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’. So I decided to check as to how much of the training material we had at CloudSiksha would help people in their quest to get themselves certified as AWS Solution Architect – Associate. I am glad to say that we do cover quite a lot of ground but there are a few areas we still need to touch upon so that we cover almost everything that you would expect in the exam.
Amazon states that this exam is split up as follows:
– Design : 60%
– Deployment / Implementation : 10%
– Data Security : 20%
– Troubleshooting: 10%
The major issue many would face about this exam is that the scope is wide. It covers lots of services that AWS provides. It is possible that you will not be using all these services. Yet you must know about them as questions from these services appear in the exam.
For example, I had questions from Simple Notification Service (SNS), Simple Queue Service (SQS), DynamoDB, Route 53. Now not all of us would use these services (I had not) and yet you need to know about them. We need to read up about these services. The best option is to read the FAQ about each service. The questions in these services though were not very complex. Many of them you can logically sort out.
Security is a key issue for cloud and not surprisingly AWS gives 20% questions from this area. I also got security related questions in trouble shooting as well. So the overall emphasis on security is much more than 20%.
The questions are segregated into different areas. You just get a stream of 60 questions which you need to answer in 80 mins. Honestly the time is more than enough. The questions are all multiple choice questions. While most questions have one correct answer there are questions which have multiple right answers. Amazon does you a favor by stating how many right answers exist and you cannot submit until you have clicked all the right answers. These questions are generally the tricky ones.
Who should take the exam? I personally feel that you should have a decent understanding of what a data center is, what a 3 tier application means and what networking is all about. Not indepth but atleast a bit more than just awareness. If you really have no hands on experience in managing systems or networks, you would find it tough to clear the exam. Additionally this certification adds a lot of value to experience people but may not add much value is you are new to data center and server/network management.
Let me now come to the training part. I feel that it is not enough reading the documents. You need to work on the AWS Infrastructure. As I had mentioned earlier you may not be able to work on some of the services but you can definitely work on most important service using the free tier. It will cost you nothing and it will give you a good grip on managing the infrastructure. I personally feel that you must not attempt this exam without having done some hands on work. I saw quite a few questions which I could immediately answer because I had gone through that experience when setting up the infrastructure. One of the reasons I was able to score 100% in trouble shooting.
Finally, the workshop we conduct at CloudSiksha, is a complete hands-on workshop. This will probably cover around 70 to 75% of the questions asked. This workshop will give you a good grip in managing the infrastructure. Since this is a complete hands-on training, we are not teaching about the services like Route 53, SQS, SNS, DynamoDB. We plan to add another one day module which will deal with these theoretical subjects and also prepare you for the exam by giving tips on how to take the exam. Please await the announcement which will happen soon.