Tips on passing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Certification #5

This is my fifth AWS certification that I have passed! I have one MS Azure certification, a total of 6 Cloud related certs. The reason I am telling you this, is because I hope you take my guidance seriously. Let’s jump right into it!

Pass these exams first

Tip #1

I super highly recommend to climb your way up the ladder. This process helped me study a bit faster or sometimes skips some domains because I already had that knowledge because of the previous certification. Here’s the order I recommend.

Timing

Tip #2

Take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner as soon as you can. Then study for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associates, schedule this exam and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associates in the same month! I spent majority of my study time into the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator and a bit on the AWS Certified Solutions Architect. Took each exam just a week apart. Then a year or so, study for the AWS Certified Security – Speciality, then schedule this one and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional about a 2-5 weeks apart. Dedicate majority of your time on the Security exam, and a good portion on the professional. If you barely passed any of the previous exams, then dedicate more time on the professional.

Be prepared mentally

Tip #3

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional was by far the most challenging, intimidating, verbose, and exhausting exam I have ever taken! It took my all 170 minutes to complete. I’m usually done with an exam with plenty of time left on the clock. There was so much reading and comprehending that I was mentally drained and wanted to just give up in the last 30 minutes! (ps. it was also a Saturday so that didn’t help, maybe do it on a Sunday?) So take a deep breath here and there, look away from the screen for few seconds to recollect yourself and keep on pushing.

Be motivated

Tip #4

I hope your motivation is strong enough to get you to study so much and sit on a super long exam. If you have no motivation then I don’t advise you to take on this challenge. Ask your supervisor if there any cash rewards or does it help you take on a new role or to assist you to get a better wage. Or it might be a personal challenge. Whatever it is, be sure it’s strong!

Experience, Study, do labs

Tip #5

As always, experience is your best tool to passing an exam. Then on top of that study using online services like LinuxAcademy.com and their hands on labs. Read all the necessary white papers mentioned in the exam guide.

Shoutout to Adrian Cantrill for awesome and precise explanation of each topic and all the exam tips and tricks!

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As always if you see any errors, mistakes, have suggestions or questions please comment below. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more!

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Send me a message at cloudlyengineer@gmail.com or comment below. Thanks!

Featured image: Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

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AWS Route 53 Routing Policies explained with diagrams

Reading time: 5 minutes

Wait, route what? Yes you are reading that correctly. AWS (Amazon Web Services) Route 53 is DNS (Domain Name Services). In this post I’ll be writing about AWS Route 53 Routing Policies and not discussing what is DNS. Search elsewhere for that information. Keep in mind these diagrams are simplified.

What is Route 53?

Again Route 53 is a DNS service built and fully managed by AWS. Did you know Route 53 has a freaking 100% SLA?! Read here if you don’t believe me. It basically means it will NEVER, ever be down! I don’t know about you but that’s beyond amazing to me! Here’s a link to learn more in depth about Route 53. Why 53? 53 is the common DNS port.

Route 53 Routing Policies

Simple

This is the default routing policy. Use this only when you have exactly one resource such as one EC2 web server. This policy can contain multiple values but it returns one resource. This policy is not recommend for production sites.

AWS Route 53 routing policy simple diagram

Failover

Allows creating two records for the same name. This starts like simple policy but with a health check. If that single web server is unhealthy then you can point elsewhere. That next pointer can be another web server or possibly an error.html page hosted in AWS S3.

AWS Route 53 failover routing policy diagram

Geolocation

Use this when you want to serve your site based on the location of the client or user.

AWS Route 53 geolocation routing policy

Geoproximity

This is somewhat complicated so I would like to point to original documentation for full explanation.

Let’s subscribe to learn more or suggest topics!

Latency

When you have multiple resources in multiple regions, this policy routes the user not to the closest resource necessarily but the resource who responds the fastest or lowest latency.

AWS Route 53 latency policy diagram
In this example we can see the latency from France to United States was the lowest so therefore the website traffic is routed from a U.S region and not from an Australian region.

Multivalue answer

This one lets your return multiple values for each of your resources. The client or user browser randomly chooses one. Optionally you can add health checks. If any value becomes unhealthy then the client chooses another value to resolve. This is not an alternative solution to load balancing, it’s an enhancement.

AWS Route 53 multivalue answer routing policy diagram

Weighted

This one is fantastic for new deployments or release testing new versions. It’s based on a numerical value ranging from 0 to 255. If you specify a value of 0 for all regions then it’s routed equally.

AWS Route 53 weighted routing policy
The math is a little more complicated than simplified here but you get the idea. Over time if release 2.0 is going good, then you would increase that value and lower release 1.0.

In the future I’ll be showing how to actually implement these via code. Subscribe to get notified when that gets released!

As always if you see any errors or mistakes, please comment below. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more! 🙂

Top 13 Cloud Engineer position interview questions and answers

Hi there! 

Here’s my list of top 13 cloud engineer position interview questions and answers! I have been a Cloud Engineer for years now. We hire cloud engineers, cloud system engineers (Linux & Windows admins), developers, security personal, developers, testers, DevOps engineers, etc. I have had the opportunity to interview dozens of potential employees. Most are transitioning from a typical system administrator to a cloud engineer. Nearly all interviewee fails to answer basic cloud questions! Read these questions and answers to help you prepare for your interview to be a cloud engineer for any cloud service provider, government, contractor, or public companies. Please enter your information to receive the download link for top 13 cloud engineer position interview questions and answers: 2019.

Here is a sample of what’s in the PDF.

What is the cloud? | What do you know about the cloud? | What does cloud computing mean to you?

What is your experience in automation in configuration management? | Have you used Ansible or Puppet or Chef?

How do you provision cloud resources? | How do you automate cloud resources?

Get the full Free PDF download by entering your info below.

TOP 13 CLOUD ENGINEER POSITION INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERSBe prepared for you interview!

If you have any issues receiving the download link please comment below or email me at cloudlyengineer@gmail.com

It’s also a good idea to take some certifications to learn and be prepared for actual AWS services questions.

Thanks

How I passed three AWS certifications back to back!

AWS Cloud Practitioner

I passed the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification with nearly flying colors!  My score was only a few points away from 900 out of 1000. This exam was not challenging for me and I doubt it will be challenging for you either. Now I do have to say that I did work with AWS and related services for two years prior to taking this exam. Always read the exam topics and find sites that organize their study guides with the exam topics. I studied about an hour a day for about 3-5 days the week before taking the exam. You don’t need to be an IT guru to study and pass this exam so don’t push too hard, just take it! 

AWS SysOps Administrator & Solutions Architect

Few months after that I started to study for the AWS SysOps administrator certification. The reason I started to study for that exam before the AWS Solutions architect because I planned to knock out both of the exams back to back. The exam topics for both of them was very similar to me and I had a feeling that passing the SysOps would help me pass the AWS Solutions Architect exam. I bought the official AWS SysOps Administrator book from amazon.com. Since I’m so busy with work during the day, working out during the evenings, I read a few pages before going to sleep. During my commute to and from work, I would also listen to AWS official podcasts (Note: What you hear on the podcasts may not be on the exam)

I mainly used Linuxacademy.com (links below to each course) because they have the latest content, hands-on lab, quizzes and practice exams that were on par with the topics in the exam. I also purchased a study guide package from udemy.com for around $12 to get more practice exams. Those exams were formatted like the actual exam but the content for the package I got had more information than I needed for the associates level. I passed one exam on one Sunday and then the other exam on the following Sunday.  I was relieved that my plan worked! What I didn’t know was that passing each exam AWS gives you a 50% off discount on your next exam. Now I have discounts available for my next AWS certifications. These exams are good for 3 years before a renewal is required.

Last words; these exams definitely require professional experience. It’s not just a memorization type exams, it’s all scenario-based. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

AWS Cloud Practitioner

The AWS Cloud Practitioner exam enables individuals with an overall understanding of the AWS Cloud to validate their knowledge with an industry-recognized credential. It provides individuals in a larger variety of cloud and technology roles with a way to validate their AWS Cloud knowledge and enhance their professional credibility.
AWS Cloud Practitioner badge

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam validates technical expertise in deployment, management, and operations on the AWS platform.
AWS SysOps Administrator badge

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam is intended for individuals with experience designing distributed applications and systems on the AWS platform.

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Wait, don’t create your AWS account yet!

As much as I like for you to get building, I have also learned there are prerequisites (not enforced by AWS) that are required in order to be in control of your cloud. Here’s a shortlist of action items to complete before building. These action items may apply to Azure and any other clouds.

Cloud Culture

Everyone in your team is got to be on board with moving and staying in the cloud. If anyone’s attitude is off from the rest of the team then there will be some drawbacks from time to time. No one needs to be cloud experts but at least understand what is the cloud, how and why it’s secure, and lastly how to build and maintain your applications in it. This may include training. See The Cloud Journey Begins and Stay up to date with AWS news

Tagging

TAGGING IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT! (Sorry for the caps) Tagging is the ONLY way to survive in the cloud. A quick rundown on what’s important to tag right away. Do enforce it with Lambda or AWS Config. I’ll write about each of them in another blog on how to enforce tags.

  • All Compute related resource must have at least a ‘Name’ tag! ‘Owner’ tag is definitely helpful for some resources.
    • EC2’s, EBS’s, Auto Scaling Groups, AMI’s, snapshots, network interfaces, etc.
  • Use AWS cost allocation tags if you care about more granular cost reports; especially if you’re using a single account for multiple projects or environments or clients.

Environments

How many environments? How are you going to divide the resources, by network within a single account or multiple account strategy? My opinion is to go to multiple accounts if you have enough team members or the knowledge or the budget to handle it. If it’s a sandbox or personal account, then one is generally fine.

Environments: Dev | Prod

Naming Standards

It’s simple as what the name says. Create your simple guide on how to name all the various resources and services in the cloud.

Example
Resource: EC2 instance: DevWordPress01

Account Naming

Your technical staff might not care about this as much as project managers and higher might. Name all the accounts according to their purpose, is it a security account or a project X account? More on account creation and management later!

Provide your feedback via comments. Thanks!

What’s next?

Best AWS Multi-Account Architecture

then?

How to create the AWS master account

Be sure to subscribe to learn more!

 

Stay up to date with AWS news

AWS is always improving their existing platforms and creating new services globally. You can imagine how hectic that management is?! I’m sure they have it under control. Below are a list of few ways I stay up to date with AWS new features and services.

podcasts

This Australian guy is another AWS fan. His podcasts are always fun and educational to listen to. I think his Australian accent helps make the podcast more interesting. He releases about one or two podcasts per week. It’s best to listen in during your commute or heavy traffic like me! 🙂

Official podcast link: https://aws.amazon.com/podcasts/aws-podcast/

I’m sure it’s available where podcasts are. Enjoy listening!

Twitter

There is me of course and official AWS accounts

  • @cloudlyengineer
  • @awsWhatsnew
  • @awsopen
  • @aws_gov

Training sites

Training platforms like Linuxacademy.com always try to stay up date with the latest AWS certifications. Cloudguru, udemy, pluralsight are few others that are great.

How do you stay up to date with AWS? Leave a comment. Or tweet at @cloudlyengineer