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By Samantha Allen
04 Jan 2019

How to get AWS certified - and why you should

Cloud computing services are becoming more and more popular every year. Businesses are now relying heavily on IT infrastructure, and cloud computing is flexible, affordable and highly secure. Instead of buying your own hardware, it’s becoming more common to pay for access to a huge range of computing resources provided by Amazon (or Microsoft, Google or other suppliers). When you need more computing resources, you simply pay for the space you’re using on the shared “cloud” hardware, and the processing power you use, without the need to purchase any new physical hardware.

But why is AWS (Amazon Web Services) still the most popular cloud computing service? If you’re wondering why and how to get certified in AWS, or if you’d like to understand the power behind these certifications, read on.

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the pioneer of cloud computing infrastructure. Created by Amazon.com and launched in 2006, it’s the most established and widely used service of its kind and still has the dominant market share. AWS works similarly to Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform and is used by businesses of all sizes, including Netflix and NASA.

Cloud computing platforms provide a virtual cluster of computers to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis.

AWS's version of virtual computers emulate most of the attributes of a real computer including hardware for processing, memory and storage; a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, CRM, etc. AWS systems can provide internet-based services for your own business as well as your customers. You connect to your system using a modern browser, and log-in, configure and use the virtual systems just as you would a real physical computer.

AWS includes a wide range of services such as computing, storage, networking, databases, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools, and tools for the Internet of Things. Most services are provided for developers to use in applications through APIs, and there are several learning paths and training courses to help developers learn the skills and knowledge needed.

The AWS technology is implemented at server farms throughout the world, and maintained by the Amazon subsidiary. The monthly costs are based on a combination of your usage, availability, reliability and security needs, and service options. Plus the hardware, software, OS and networking features you choose. With AWS, businesses can obtain large scale computing capacity much faster and cheaper than with a physical server farm.

Why is AWS better than Azure or other cloud services?

It’s BIG.

Amazon is known as one of the Big Four along with Google, Apple and Facebook, not just because of the size of the company but because they are driving positive changes in society and technology.

AWS is a powerful entity, with their market capitalization, brand equity, and disruptive innovation. Because AWS was the first to market, it has maintained dominance and is still the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS and PaaS). It’s been estimated that AWS customers are deploying 10x more infrastructure on AWS than the combined adoption of the next 14 providers. As of 2017, AWS owns a dominant 34% of all cloud. The next three competitors have a lot of catching up to do, with Microsoft having 11%, Google with 8%, and IBM with 6%. There are many other smaller suppliers, and it will be interesting to see how the market changes as the technology becomes even more widely used in the years to come.

Solid reputation

Back in 2006, Amazon reported that more than 150,000 developers had signed up to use Amazon Web Services since its inception. It took Microsoft another 4 years to launch their Azure equivalent.

While many people assume that Microsoft is better for security, AWS has proven their credibility and reliability. For example, it was revealed in 2013 that AWS was awarded a $600M contract with the CIA. In 2015 AWS disclosed that they had more than a million active customers every month in 190 countries, including nearly 2,000 government agencies, 5,000 education institutions and more than 17,500 nonprofits.

AWS is reliable with a low risk of downtime

While cloud computing is a virtual entity to us, the cloud does exist in the physical world and there is of course real hardware used to store your data somewhere. With any physical hardware there’s always a risk of downtime if anything happens to it. No amount of security will prevent a natural disaster, but to prevent any data being lost it gets distributed to a variety of locations, and duplicated onto backup servers.

AWS are spread all over the globe, with distinct operations in geographical regions including North & South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific. AWS also announced more new regions coming online in China, Bahrain, France, Hong Kong, and Sweden.

Every region includes multiple "Availability Zones", which contains one or more discrete data centres. Each centre has redundant power, networking and connectivity, all housed in separate facilities. Availability Zones are intentionally isolated from each other to prevent any outages from spreading between Zones. Several services can operate across Availability Zones while others can be configured to replicate across Zones to spread demand and avoid downtime from failures. Downtime is always restricted to one Zone and can’t spread outside, so your data is well protected, even if the worst happens.

Amazon cares about the planet and sustainability

After naming the company after the world’s largest river, Amazon have continuously shown that they care for the planet. In 2018 they added “The Spheres” to their office in hometown Seattle. These giant glass structures house more than 40,000 plants and include features such as tree-house meeting rooms, a river and waterfalls. The plant-packed buildings transform their office into a “tropical rainforest in the clouds”.

In 2014, AWS announced its aim to achieve 100% renewable energy usage in the future. In 2018 they achieved 50% renewable energy usage and are clearly serious about meeting their target. AWS have forged partnerships with many renewable energy providers to construct and operate their Amazon wind farms, and are also working in partnership with Tesla Motors to apply battery storage technology.

Amazon cares about people too.

One of Amazon’s core values is customer obsession. Many have criticised Amazon over the years for disrupting traditional industries, resulting in business closures and job losses. But they have created solutions that people need and they provide customers with what they want. Obsessing over customers is arguably one of the reasons they’re as big as they are today.

But it’s not just customers that Amazon care about. In 2018 Amazon was ranked as the world’s most desired employer, ahead of Google and Facebook. And in 2017, AWS partnered with the Prince’s Trust and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and military veterans in the UK retrain in technology-related skills.

Why get certified?

AWS and cloud computing is clearly not a trend - it’s here to stay. If your business is considering or already using AWS services then you will need trained experts to help. If you’re a techie with self taught knowledge but no certifications you will be overlooked by many businesses, and your career will suffer. Unlike other suppliers, Amazon offers an accessible certification path that doesn’t require highly specialized, expensive training to start.

AWS Skills are in high demand and the salary reflects this. In 2016 Forbes reported that “AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate” was the most valuable IT certification, paying the top salary, beating Cisco, ITIL and VMware. So if you’re looking to open doors and enjoy a successful career in cloud, pursuing AWS certifications is a wise choice.

From the business owner’s perspective, having AWS certifications demonstrates expertise and credibility to customers. From an individual’s perspective, it’s a badge that represents your own personal development, commitment and self-improvement. Who wouldn’t want a badge of honour to show off?

Amazon have always been popular with businesses as well as developers, partly due to their easily accessible and highly respected training and certification.

How to get AWS certified

AWS make it easy to understand the learning paths and roles available. In order to take particular exams, you must have completed a foundation or previous level.

They offer role-based certifications to validate expertise for those in Cloud Practitioner, Architect, Developer, and Operations roles, plus Specialty certifications for more advanced skills in specific technical areas. Practice exams are available and there is plenty of support available from AWS.

We offer a wide range of AWS training courses at Go.Courses, which you can view HERE. To prepare for an exam to gain certification, we recommend attending a training course in your chosen role, such as the Architecting on AWS course for becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect. Then you can take the AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop to help prepare you for the final exam.

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