AWS Certified Advanced Networking - Specialty 

I'm in Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent 2016  and I've chosen to spend most of my brief time here taking three 170-minute exams for the new AWS beta-stage certifications. "Why???", I hear you ask. Well, it's like why people choose to climb Everest. Because it's there and they can. I will attempt to conquer these three exams and feed back my first impressions of each of them in turn. Remember, these exams are all beta, so the actual exams may differ significantly from what I discuss herein.

So here's my summary of AWS Certified Advanced Networking– Specialty (Beta)

What is it for?

According to the exam blueprint, this exam "validates advanced technical skills and experience in designing and implementing AWS and hybrid IT network architectures at scale". Clearly hybrid networks is a ongoing issue for (m)any customer(s) considering moving to the cloud / having moved to the cloud, so being able to identify specialist personnel with a proven competence in AWS hybrid networks is extremely useful. The recent announcement of a partnership between AWS and VMWare is another indicator that AWS are taking this very seriously.

What was it like?

In a beta, they throw loads of questions at you, sand in this one there were even more than for the Security beta. I finished with a minute to spare, having frankly hurried the last dozen or so questions.

OK, but, you know, the structure?

It does exactly what it claims. There was some overlap with the security exam, to be expected as obviously security is an important part of your networking implementation..

Questions required a deep understanding of exactly how Direct Connect, VPN, and VPC work. There were very few high-level questions.

As you'd expect from a Professional-level exam, you'd struggle to pass if you'd only done a bit of reading around the subject.

How hard was it?

For me, very hard. Not understanding either the stem or the answers for Q1 was very off-putting! As I tell all my delegates, my background is development, not networking. For experienced network engineers with experience using AWS, I'm sure it'll be a walk in the park. You need real-world, deep understanding of Direct Connect, VPN, and complex peered VPC architectures, the AWS global infrastructure and such like. I'm less confident that I will have passed this exam come the final reckoning than the Security exam.

Final thoughts

A welcome addition to the AWS certification ouvre. I think this certification will reassure your customers that you know how to design and build complex hybrid network topologies with AWS.

There is currently no alignment with any AWS course; some of the topics are lightly covered in Architecting on AWS and Advanced Architecting on AWS, but you will need real-world experience to pass this exam.

Cheat sheet

Sorry if you came here for one of these, there isn't one. Work hard, play smart, and set up a VPN and a DX connection!