AWS certification

A look at the new AWS Advanced Architecting training course

This is the third blog post in a series about AWS. During this part of the series I'll discuss the new AWS Advanced Architecting course and examine the differences with its predecessor.

QA | 15 June 2015

AWS Certified

Out with the old and in with the new

In my earlier blogs in this series, “The benefits of AWS Certification” and “How to pass an AWS exam,” I promised to talk about the new AWS professional-level courses as they were released. At the end of May, the new AWS Advanced Architecting course was released (AMWSAA), so I wanted to take  a quick look at it and examine the differences.

Firstly, the course is now called “Advanced Architecting on AWS” and replaces an older course with the different name “AWS Architecting – Advanced Concepts”. The older course was unrelated to the certification exams, and delegates often told us that it wasn’t advanced enough or challenging enough for them. I’m pleased to say that the old course is now deprecated, and the new course addresses customer concerns head-on.

The purpose of the new AWS Advanced Architecting course

This course is very useful prep for the AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification, but it’s not an exam-cram session. If you are planning to take the exam, you’ll still need to do some background reading. If you aren’t planning to take the exam, the course is still 100% useful material that anyone architecting on the AWS platform should know about.

It’s a three-day course, and it’s an absolute pre-requisite that you know the basics of architecting on AWS (we want you to get the most from attending our courses, and this will allow you to keep up with the rest of the course attendees). Before attending, you should either take the Architecting on AWS course (associate level), or pass the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam.

How does the new course differ?

If you already attended the Architecting on AWS course (associate-level), you’ll know that it contains several longer hands-on labs, and a single short group exercise. By contrast, AWS Advanced Architecting has a substantial group exercise every day, and only a few short hands-on labs. The group exercises in the first two days will challenge you to solve significant real-world problems from actual (anonymised) AWS customers. On the last day, the groups are assigned projects that involve creating more complete architectural solutions and presenting them to the class. (This is great fun, and was one of the highlights from my recent train-the-trainer session. And just to keep things interesting, each group is assigned a different project.)

What will you learn during the course?

The course presentations cover many issues that are not mentioned in other AWS courses. I’d like to tell you a bit about the content, add some detail to what’s in the official course outline and generally give you an honest feel for the course. Do be aware that AWS frequently release new versions of courseware, each delivery is different; therefore potentially making this blog out of date after a period of time, so please don’t treat these details as contractual – contact us if you want to know the current state of play. That said, the content currently looks roughly like this:

Day One:

A group discussion exercise and a hands-on lab.

  • Managing multiple accounts. This is particularly an issue for large enterprises; there are financial issues to consider (reserved instances, consolidated billing), as well as authentication (identity federation) and governance issues (AWS Config, Service Catalog).
  • Advanced networking. This is a huge chunk of the first day. It covers HPC, placement groups and enhanced networking. Web Application Firewalls, network monitoring and governance, configuring Direct Connect, VPC Peering, Region-to-region routing, overlay networks, etc.
  • Large datastores. This particularly covers Storage Gateway and database migration issues, but also Big Data services such as Data Pipeline and Kinesis, and best practices for optimising S3 usage.

Day Two:

A group discussion exercise and a hands-on lab.

  • Web-scale applications. Tools and best practices for creating a high-performing web application; offloading traffic via CloudFront, patterns for caching and load balancing, blue-green deployments and session state management.
  • Resilience. Different types of DDoS attack and how to mitigate them, monitoring and detection, WAF, IDS and IPS, high availability for the database, managing non-scalable applications, EC2 auto-recovery, patterns for fault tolerance.
  • Security and compliance. Your strategy for security, AWS Security and Compliance, PCI DSS, auditing, handling CloudTrail logs (e.g. with CPL or AWS Lambda).

Day Three:

Group projects and presentations.

  • Data security and encryption. Scenarios and details of key management with CloudHSM or KMS, mechanisms for protecting data at rest and in flight.
  • Performance. Testing and tuning, selecting the right EC2 instance type, load testing, configuring storage, EBS and RDS throughput and performance.
  • Security and compliance. Your strategy for security, AWS Security and Compliance, PCI DSS, auditing, handling CloudTrail logs (e.g. with CPL or AWS Lambda).

I’d say that’s a solid three days of challenging and interesting material, with plenty of useful nuggets for anyone trying to architect a real-world solution on the AWS platform. It certainly adds a great deal to the introductory AWS Architecting course. Here at QA, we’re seeing a lot of customer interest in the professional-level AWS courses, so call us if you’d like to know more.

Related blogs

The benefits of AWS certification >

How to pass AWS certification exams >

Introducing AWS DevOps Engineering course >

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