The CLOUDS are coming! How to prepare for the AWS Certified Associate Architect exam

The CLOUDS are coming to take over all our jobs! Run!

Actually, what’s realistically happening is many job functions are slowly shifting towards the cloud. Almost all organizations will have at least part of their workloads on the cloud within the next couple of years. Most startups are exclusively hosted on the cloud, yet at the same time, 150+ year old companies like Sun Life have also migrated most of their applications to the cloud too!

As a network professional, why should you prepare? How can you prepare?

There are a million other blog posts about why learning cloud technologies is important. What I would like to focus on is why knowing cloud technologies from Amazon, Azure and Google is increasingly becoming essential for the network professionals.

Just as network professionals expanded their knowledge in wireless technologies, VoIP, virtualization and SDN as those technologies emerged in the last two decades, we also must keep up-to-date on networking in the cloud. Networking expertise, especially with a focus on security, is a necessary and fundamental component of any organization’s journey to the cloud.

Several key factors need to be considered for cloud workloads:

  • Securely migrating applications and data to the cloud
  • Connecting the multi-tiered applications within the cloud
  • Providing network-based high-availability (i.e. load balancing) for cloud workloads
  • DNS management
  • VPN connectivity for end-users and/or administrators
  • Providing secure user and management access to cloud-based workloads

The above, rather incomplete list, very clearly shows that networking and security expertise are necessary for any reasonably sized cloud deployment. Being familiar with Azure from training from last year, this year I decided to tackle the primary and one of the original cloud giants, Amazon Web Services.

I passed my AWS Certified Associate Architect on November 29, 2019, and it was obvious that Amazon is paying serious attention to networking in the cloud as I would estimate that 35-40% of the questions were related to networking and related services such as VPC (virtual networking), Route 53 (DNS), Direct Connect (cloud backup and migration), ALB (load balancing) and CloudFront (Amazon’s content delivery network).

I went through and A Cloud Guru‘s Udemy courses to prepare for my AWS certification. Coincidentally, they just announced (December 16, 2019) that they are merging – which is actually great news as I found both training options excellent.

The Linux Academy course just became available in November 2019, and was in beta prior to that. The A Cloud Guru Udemy course is also up-to-date from earlier this year (2019). Going through both courses and related documentation will require approximately 300 hours of effort, so please schedule and plan accordingly!

My recommendation to pass the exam:

  • First go through the A Cloud Guru course. It’s a good starting point. It will only cover about 20-30% of the content you need to pass the exam, however, it stays more high-level, and does a better job of introducing you to AWS, especially if you are brand new. This course will help you ease into the cloud world without being overwhelming.
  • Secondly, go through the course. This course will cover approximately 80-90% of the content you need to pass the exam. Naturally, for it to cover so much content, it’s MUCH more thorough. I still recommend using BOTH options as repetition and learning through different ways increases retention and both options offer quality training material. Also, as you may know, I am a HUGE fan of as they provide full access to actual labs and environments being studied, included in their subscription price.
  • Thirdly, and this is a less fun part, but go through Amazon Whitepapers and Guides. There are clearly too many in this list, but, as you are going through the A Cloud Guru and courses, note the ones that the instructors mention and at least go through those ones.
  • Lastly, do the practice questions available through both training options, especially the practice exam at the end of the course. Also do this practice exam by SimpliLearn (free, registration required), which also closely mimics the difficulty level of actual exam questions. If you can get 90% or more on all practice exam questions overall, you should be ready to write the exam.

Even after all of the above preparation, I found the exam difficult. I think that’s largely because being a network subject-matter-expert, many services like DynamoDB and API Gateway, something that developers would be more familiar with, were very new to me. The breadth of this exam is clearly very large as it covers so many AWS services. Even if you are weak in some areas, but strong in others, that may be sufficient to allow you to pass your exam.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me with any questions! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: