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AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate (CSOA) Exam Study Guide and Materials

Following on from my previous AWS exam experience post for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate (CSOA) exam from Amazon, the following describes the study materials I used towards the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam.

As a reminder, this is my third AWS exam, having completed the AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate and AWS Certified Developer Associate exams earlier in the year. As such the materials I used to study towards the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam are more sparse, due to the level of knowledge I already have.

For a really full picture of all of the materials I’ve used over the last 12 months, I highly recommend you check out the Certified Solution Architect Associate exam experience and the Certified Solution Architect Associate study guides, along with a number of tips, tricks and gotchas I have posted over the past few months. I also did a podcast recently with Scott Lowe on the subject of learning AWS. If you are new to AWS, I highly recommend you check it out!bill was study Certified SysOps Administrator

Study Materials

Whilst studying for the exam, I used the following study materials:

Want to Learn More?

Don’t forget to check out myExam Experience and Tips post here:

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate (CSOA) Exam Experience & Tips

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate (CSOA) Exam Experience & Tips

The information bellow covers my experience for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate (CSOA) exam from Amazon. Following this I will post a list of my study materials, so keep checking back for updates or check out my Index of AWS Posts.

Before you continue reading, I would first note that this is my third AWS exam, having completed the AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate and AWS Certified Developer Associate exam earlier this year. The associate trifecta! As such the materials I used to study towards the exam are more sparse, due to the level of knowledge I already have.

For a really full picture of all of the materials I’ve used over the last 12 months, I highly recommend you check out the following guides:

Along with a number of tips, tricks and gotchas I have posted over the past few months. I also did a podcast recently with Scott Lowe on the subject of learning AWS. If you are new to AWS, I highly recommend you check it out!

AWS Certified SysOps Associate (CSOA)

AWS Certified SysOps Associate (CSOA) Exam Experience

Almost everything I read in the run up to taking the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator, suggested that it was going to be really hard and a step up from the Solution Architect exam. My personal experience when I took it in December 2016 was that it was really on a par with the SA exam, and the reputation was perhaps a tad overblown.

This could be for one of several reasons; I’ve been doing AWS designs for several months now at work; this is the third AWS exam I’ve taken; or the exam has become marginally easier now that they seem to have removed some of the older EC2 Classic questions ad brought it a little more up to date. I suspect the latter is the most likely reason, but with some benefit from the former!

Based on my experience of the exams so far, I think I would definitely recommend the order people approach these as Solution Architect first to give you a thorough grounding in all of the products, then the Developer as it was fairly easy and just broadened your knowledge, finally followed by SysOps.

As I have previously mentioned, AWS seem to structure their exams with some general questions across their portfolio, then specific technologies taking precedence in each. The SysOps seemed to me to be about two-thirds of the Solution Architect exam again, with the last third having more of a focus on CloudWatch and CloudFormation. If you have already passed the SA exam, you should have no issues with this content, though the remaining questions I had were a touch trickier, as they were fairly in depth / specific.cloudformation

The exam itself is the same length as the other associate ones, at 80 minutes and 55 questions. Again AWS (as is their way) do some odd things like not giving you a passing grade requirement, but it’s generally safe to assume that if you get 70% or more, in the Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam then you will pass. The Kryterion exam environment is frankly pretty dated, but I already wrote about that in the CSA guide here, so I won’t repeat myself again! Suffice to say, read the other article for a detailed overview.

Best of luck, and if you found this article useful, please leave a comment below! 🙂

Want to Learn More?

Part 2 of this article, the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam study guide and materials, will be posted soon!

AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) Exam Study Guide and Materials

Following on from my previous AWS exam experience post for the AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) exam from Amazon, the following describes the study materials I used towards the exam.

As a reminder, this is my second AWS exam, having completed the AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate exam earlier this year. As such the materials I used to study towards the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam are more sparse, due to the level of knowledge I already have.

For a really full picture of all of the materials I’ve used over the last 12 months, I highly recommend you check out the Certified Solution Architect Associate exam experience and the Certified Solution Architect Associate study guides, along with a number of tips, tricks and gotchas I have posted over the past few months. I also did a podcast recently with Scott Lowe on the subject of learning AWS. If you are new to AWS, I highly recommend you check it out!

AWS Certified Developer Associate CDA Full Stack Journey

Study Materials

Whilst studying for the exam, I used the following study materials:

  • Exam Blueprint
    • This is always the go-to document for almost any current industry certification, and should be used as your primary guide for resources and areas to study. In the case of the AWS Exam Blueprint, they actually direct you to specific white papers to review as well as the content areas to study.
    • AWS CDA Exam Blueprint
  • ACloud.Guru AWS Certified Developer Associate training course.
    • As with the CSA course, the quality of the production (especially as Ryan and co are a small startup) is excellent. Remember that as Ryan says, they are focussed on teaching you the knowledge to pass the exam, not teaching you everything in AWS. There is no substitute for labbing and working with AWS day to day to become an expert, but you can certainly pass the exam based on this course! This might then help you get your first AWS job and gain the experience you need to be a real Cloud Guru! 🙂
    • The course has around about 10-12 hours or so of content, but I would say it took me 15-20 hours in total between all of the lab work, coming up with my own scenarios to practice configuring different elements, completing the quizzes, and researching any areas where I got a quiz answer incorrect or wasn’t sure of the reasons for a specific answer. Ryan also speaks quite slowly and very clearly, so I find that watching it at 1.5x speed or above can help get through the videos on the areas you know well already. Remember to slow it back down for new content areas of course!
  • QA Architecting on AWS & Advanced Architecting on AWS compressed training course
    • Myself and a number of colleagues completed both of the 3 day architecting courses (standard and advanced) in a rather intense, but very informative 5 day week! This was an awesome course, and really helped my gain breadth and depth of knowledge, but I would not say it was critical to passing the Developer exam itself.
  • White Papers
  • AWS CSA Official Practice Exam and Sample Exam Questions
    • I would say this is a good indicator of the level of difficulty of the actual exam.
    • Sample AWS CDA Exam
  • FAQs
  • Other Articles and Resources – The AWS documentation site is an absolute goldmine of information, and most of the articles are well written and easy to consume. Significantly more so than some of the best known “kb” and documentation sites in the industry IMHO. The following is a list of some of the articles I dipped in and out of while researching for the exam as well as my AWS Tips and Gotchas blog series:
  • And finally…
    • I say this about every single exam I have ever taken – lab it, lab it lab it! It is a million times easier to answer a question based on something you have actually done yourself! Don’t try to just learn the theory, spend a bit of time doing it in practice and you will reap the benefits in both the exam and real life!pass
Want to Learn More?

Don’t forget to check out my other AWS articles tips here:

Index of Tekhead.it Blog Posts on Amazon AWS

Scale-Out. Distributed. Whatever the Name, it’s the Future of Computing

Scale Out

We are currently living in the fastest period of innovation in the technology space which there has probably ever been. New companies spring up every week with new ideas, some good, some bad, some just plain awesome and unexpected!

One of the most common trends I have seen in this however was described in a book I read recently, “The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee. This trend is that the majority of new ideas are (more often than not) unique recombinations of old ones.

Take for example the iPhone. It was not the first smart phone. It was not the first mobile phone, the first touch screen, or the first device to run installable apps. However, Apple recombined an existing set of technologies into a very compelling product.

We also reached a point a while back where clock speeds of CPUs are no longer increasing, and even CPUs are scaling horizontally. Workloads are therefore typically being designed to scale horizontally instead of vertically, taking advantage of the increased compute resources available whilst avoid being locked to vertically scaling clock speeds.

Finally, another trend we have seen in the industry of late is inexpensive and low power CPUs from ARM, being used in all sorts of weird and wonderful places; often providing solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. Up until now, their place has generally been confined outside of the data centre. I am, however, aware of a number of companies now working on bringing them to the enterprise in a big way!

So, in this context of recombination, imagine then if you could provide a scale-out storage architecture where every single spindle had its own compute directly attached. Then combine many of these “nano-servers” together in a scale-out JBOD form factor on subscription pricing, all managed from a Meraki-style cloud portal… well that’s exactly what Igneous Systems have designed!

Igneous Systems Nano-Servers

One of the coolest things about scaling out like this, is that instead of a small number of large fault domains based around controllers, you actually end up with many tiny fault domains instead. The loss of any one controller or drive is basically negligible within the system and replacements can be sorted at the convenience of the administrators, rather than panicking about replacement of components asap. Igneous claim that you can also scale fairly linearly, avoiding the traditional bottlenecks of a dual controller (or similar) system. It will be interesting to see some performance benchmarks as they become available!

It’s still early days, so they are doing code deployments at some pretty high rates, around every 2 weeks, and to be honest I think there is a bit of work to be done around clarity of their SLAs, but in general it looks like a very interesting platform, particularly when pricing is claimed to be as low as half the price of Amazon S3.

Now as you might expect from a massively distributed solution, the entry point is not small, typically procured in 212TiB chunks, so don’t expect to use it for your SMB home drives! If however you have petabyte-scale data volumes and are looking for an on-prem(ises!) S3 compatible datastore, then its certainly worth looking at Igneous.

The future in the scale-out space is certainly bright, now if only I could get people to refactor their single-threaded applications!… 🙂

Further Info

You can catch the full Igneous session at the link below – it certainly was unexpected and interesting, for sure!

Igneous Systems Presents at Tech Field Day 12

Further Reading

Some of the other TFD delegates had their own takes on the presentation we saw. Check them out here:

Disclaimer: My flights, accommodation, meals, etc at Tech Field Day 12 were provided by Tech Field Day, but there was no expectation or request for me to write about any of the vendors products or services.

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