I’ll get you started with a Free Giveaway.
During this difficult time many of us are considering our next steps professionally. We certainly have a lot of time on our hands to consider what’s important, and to choose which direction to follow. Let’s discuss one of the driving forces behind society's sudden massive job loss and how to turn a negative into a positive.
I’m talking about automation. Sure, the pandemic sparked many companies to lay off their workforce, but you can also thank Covid-19 for accelerating permanent job losses due to automation. There are many economists who are viewing this time as a way to weed out weak businesses struggling to hang on, and for other companies to shed superfluous employees who don’t add any real value to their bottom line. If you are one of these people, and have been let go, how can you benefit from this trend? It’s only going to accelerate the longer it takes for the economy to recover. One answer is DevOps for the Cloud.
DevOps, otherwise understood as the marriage of Development and Operations, is a great way to re-purpose your technical skills. Since the Internet revolution of the ‘90s there have been two tracks someone could follow in IT: Development or Administration. They were mutually exclusive. One side built the applications, and the other managed the network. With the advent of Cloud services from Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google’s GCP it’s been possible to merge those two silos into one, the DevOps Engineer.
For those who feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting over in a new field, know that DevOps doesn’t mean you have to forget what you’ve already learned. On the contrary, this is such a wide field, your experience becomes an asset. For example, a desperately needed skill is Cloud Economy, a skill that has nothing to do with technical implementation of a network's infrastructure. Cloud Economy is the art and skill of picking the right solution and the right cost for a company. Companies need skilled employees who can help them implement their Cloud solutions as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Certainly, learning how to develop Cloud applications and build Cloud infrastructure are needed. However, know that there are many ways to enter this market with the skills you already have. Right now it’s just as important to be able to talk the talk as it is to walk the walk.
AWS Solution Architect
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the gorilla in the Cloud space. They currently have the widest and deepest integration of micro-services among the various Cloud providers. That means that a company could automate a majority of their current operations just by using AWS’s platform. Achieving AWS’s Solution Architect certification is the first step in entering this new world. Solution Architects primarily are responsible for understanding what AWS provides in terms of services and translating those capabilities to the companies requirements. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to implement those requirements but you should be able to intelligently discuss and provide possible solutions. AWS has two levels of Solution Architect: Associate and Professional. The Associate level is where you will start, and I’m going to tell you how.
Study, Practice Test, Study Again
I won’t lie to you and tell you it will be a piece of cake. If it was so easy everyone would do it and the certification would have no value. Those who succeed in this field like a challenge and don’t mind hard work if there is a payoff at the end. Everyone studies for tests differently, but I can share with you my process and I’ll even give you my notes to help you get started. I started by watching distance learning videos on A Cloud Guru. This gave me my foundation, and you’ll find my notes align with the course. It’s not a replacement for the course, because I wrote down what was important to me. Use my notes as a study guide and add to it. The test is made up of 65 random questions over 130 minutes. Each attempt is $150 USD. So studying a broad range of information is required. The AWS Exam Blueprint will tell you all of the topics covered on the exam.
After collating my notes I took practice exams, a lot of them. I liked the practice tests from Whizlabs. With over 600+ questions, it not only covered the topics but, being a timed practice test, I had a feel for what the test would be like in reality. Furthermore, I began to see that the test questions followed patterns. For example, the questions are multiple choice answers and many answers will seem reasonable and/or similar. If you don’t know the answer you can reasonably guess by eliminating what could definitely NOT be the answer. Also, there are questions that use certain language that is code for a certain AWS service. For example, a classic question asks “a customer needs to prioritise processing for paying vs non-paying customers”. This is code for using Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service). The practice helps you prepare for the real test by putting you in testing mode.
Real World Experience
What if you’ve never worked in the Cloud before and have no idea how any of it works? Once you get the certification you want to get a job and you’ll have to know how to actually use these services. Yes, you will need to put in some time on your own and create a free AWS account where you’ll play around with the different services you learned about. It will help to create a small project to more deeply learn the material. AWS has a tutorial site where you can get started. Hosting a static website is a common first project. However, you may prefer a more structured approach with step-by-step instructions. In that case, go to Qwiklabs and start their AWS Solution Architect Quest.
Ready for the Exam
AWS provides you some free training to help you get started. By this point you should have already created an AWS account so you can go to the Certification site and sign in to register for the exam. The best news to come out of this pandemic is that you can now take the exam from home. Before the quarantine you could only take the exam at a registered testing centre. Now, if you have a webcam you can take the exam at home from your computer via remote proctor. You install their testing software on your computer and a proctor remotely monitors you to make sure you’re not cheating. This saves so much time from having to travel to a testing centre and saves being exposed in these uncertain times.
AWS Solution Architect certification gives you the first foot in the door to a new DevOps career. Hopefully, I’ve given you some helpful and time-saving ways to get started. It won’t be easy and will require a commitment on your part, but the payoff will be well worth it and will help ensure you won’t be obsolete in the years to come.
If you are looking for a more personal approach and need instructor-led courses feel free to contact me through my LinkedIn account.