Tyler Sengia

AWS Solutions Architect Study Kickoff

Last March I obtained my AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLF) certification, and now I’m determined to continue my learning by going for the AWS Solutions Architect, Associate certification.

Originally, I set out to do this in 14 weeks while working full-time. After taking an entire month to digest IAM, I’ve decided I should extend that timeline considerably.

Background

After completing my Cloud Practitioner certification, I realized that I had a lot of fundamental questions that the training didn’t answer.

For example:

  • What is a “resource”? Is there some sort of list of common attributes that all resources share?
  • Is there any way to visualize resources and networks?
  • How can I tell if a resource was made by another service?
  • What does AWS Amplify use under the hood?
  • How do I use Terraform to manage everything? Ansible? SST? What are the conventional tools to use?

Additionally, I felt that many of the things I learned during that certification had more marketing fluff that substance.

For example, Sage Maker is marketed to be an AI power house for building, training, and deploying models. In reality, it’s just a collection of pre-built Docker container images, hardware accelerated EC2 instances, and RESTful APIs for point-and-click operation of models. This means SageMaker is still very useful for ML Ops, but it’s not as magical as it was marketed to be.

Or take for example the Web Application Firewall (WAF). The AWS training recommends placing one between your web apps and the internet, but in reality there are some organizations that view it as another threat vector. Yikes!

Study Plan

Because of these concerns, I’ve decided to modify the ramp up guide to build my own training path. The topics will be the same, but the content and order that I cover the topics will be different.

This time I will focus on the following:

  • Foundational concepts such as security and networking should come first.
  • If two services are used together often, such as EC2 and EBS, they should be learned together.
  • Read the AWS Documentation, not just the training content and videos.
  • Search online (StackOverflow, blogs) for best practices instead of relying on AWS suggestions.
  • Practice using the services using the AWS CLI and Terraform.
  • Internalize the information by studying with flash cards

Here is my learning plan:

Unit # Topics
1 AWS Fundamentals
2 IAM and KMS
3 VPCs, Subnets, Gateways
4 Route Tables, Security Groups, NACLs
5 EC2 and EBS
6 Cloud Formation and Terraform (SST?)
7 RDS, Dynamo DB, DB Migration
8 S3
9 ECS, EKS, ECR
10 Lambda
11 API Gateway, ELB
12 AWS Well Architected + Cost Optimization and Management
13 Exam Review
14 Exam

Study Materials

Each unit, I will do the following:

  • Watch the AWS Training videos
  • Read AWS Documentation about the topic
  • Create an Anki flashcard deck for the topics covered
  • Review current and past Anki flashcard decks

At the end of each unit, I’ll write another blog post with a summary, helpful links and some study resources. Hopefully this rhythm of learning, writing and practicing prepares me for the exam.