On the 13th of August, 2018, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certification Exam will be changing. This is essential news for anyone who’s preparing for AWS certification or considering a career as an AWS cloud solutions architect. It’s also important for any organization looking for an easier way to deploy new IT infrastructure, or planning to hire an IT or cloud computing professional.
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Why AWS Matters?
To understand the changes to the AWS Certification Exam, it helps to first understand the advantages of cloud computing and AWS.
As someone who has worked with AWS for almost five years, it has become incredibly easy to take their products and services for granted in the realm of IT. When a client asks for something to be created (for example, a new server, database instance or network), I can now provision and deliver it in hours (sometimes minutes) rather than the days, weeks or even months that it can take with a traditional data center.
With time, this newfound ease of delivering infrastructure so quickly can cause one to forget what it used to be like back in the day. However, “back in the day” and the slow delivery of IT infrastructure is a current reality for many businesses that haven’t yet embraced the cloud. This was clearly evident in my recent experience with a client of mine that needed a new system implemented very quickly. Unfortunately, the software to be installed was not deemed suitable for virtualized cloud infrastructure, and there was not enough time to prove otherwise. So, an installation that would have been possible to implement in half a day on AWS took nearly two weeks with the chosen traditional data center.
Everything about the installation was slower, more inefficient and infinitely more frustrating than it would have been with a cloud provider. And it wasn’t just the installation, the everyday support tasks were also less user-friendly and took more time. These tasks included taking snapshots or disk images, the provisioning of new IP addresses, and even just making simple changes to the firewall.
Working in the cloud space can be a bit like being in a bubble, it isolates you from the frustrations of how things used to be. However, it’s good to be reminded occasionally of the benefits cloud computing offers IT. This example also demonstrates the ample employment opportunities for IT professionals looking to move into the cloud arena and there is no better starting point than AWS certification.
Reflecting Evolving Roles
Studying for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam provides a perfect introduction to the differences between the old and new ways of planning and implementing IT infrastructure. Once earned, this certification proves that you are knowledgeable about the inner workings of AWS products and how to proceed with cloud migration.
In February 2018, AWS announced that the Solutions Architect Associate exam is changing scope. The exam now focuses more on an individual’s ability to architect and deploy secure and robust applications using AWS technologies.
You can see the differences by looking at the content outline of the old and new exams as shown below:
The new exam at first appears to be very different, but in reality, it has just become slightly more theoretical with the removal of the Implementation/Deployment and Troubleshooting sections. These accounted for 20 percent of the previous exam. These changes reflect how the Solutions Architect role has changed since the launch of the exam four years ago and now the pillars of the Well-Architected program also feature heavily in the new exam.
What’s the Proper Exam Path?
The current exam will be available until August 12, 2018, so if you have already been studying for it, it makes sense to continue down that path and take the current version. Obviously, be sure to mark the date in your calendar and take it before it becomes defunct!
The new exam is available now and is the recommended path for people new to the certification program. Interestingly, the new exam was released just one week after I recertified, otherwise I would have taken it in order to offer a proper comparison. However, the practice questions I reviewed for the new exam didn’t display anything that a current certificate holder would have any concerns about.
The Simplilearn AWS Solutions Architect Associate course is well placed to assist you with your certification goals for both the current and new exams. It already has lessons that take an in-depth look at the pillars of the Well-Architected program as well as a wealth of other information, demonstrations, and practical lessons.
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If you’ve already made the decision to get certified in AWS, congratulations on a great decision for your career or your present company role. If you’ve already started studying, this marks your 5-month warning to take your exam now. That way you ensure you won’t get surprised or disappointed at having focused on areas that are valuable but won’t be included in the new exam. If you’re a company looking to hire an AWS solutions architect, understand that regardless of which exam the candidate passed, you’re getting a professional who has been independently verified as an authority in architecting and deploying IT infrastructure in the most efficient way possible. Good luck!