I recently took the exam at home for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification (SAA-C02). I passed with a score of 775. The exam was harder than I anticipated and I had a very tough time with the exam’s check in process.
I used a few resources to prepare for the exam: A Cloud Guru’s course on Udemy, practice tests on WhizLabs, and AWS FAQs. The A Cloud Guru course was a good overview of most of the exam objectives, but not thorough enough. The practice tests were very easy that came with the course. WhizLabs’s tests were nearly as hard as the actual exam and good to learn from. I recommend to read the following AWS FAQs: EC2, EBS, S3, Aurora, RDS, DynamoDB, VPC, Auto Scaling, and ELB.
The system check used by Pearson VUE is almost worthless. It does not do comprehensive enough checks on your computer and network. It appears to only check your Internet speed, webcam, and microphone. I did it a few days before the exam, the day of the exam, and every time it said I was good to go. However, I had an issue that prevented me from completing the check-in process and I barely got it working in time.
I got through the cell phone steps where I had to take photos of my ID, my room, and myself. Then Pearson VUE’s OnVUE gave me the following error message.
You have lost your internet connection. OnVUE is disabled until your connection is restored
My computer was obviously still connected to the Internet. I did the process again and got stuck at the same spot again. I got a hold of Pearson VUE’s support after waiting 18 minutes. They were not helpful at all. I did some troubleshooting and googling. I found a lot of people with the same problem and no resolution. Then I finally figured out what was the problem for me. I use Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition. Very rarely, Sophos’s IPS and/or virus scanner can cause odd issues with websites not working. I disabled both of those services and then I was able to move to the next step of my check-in process with one minute to spare. Pearson VUE’s system check should be much more thorough and catch issues like this so that the exam taker can work out potential issues beforehand.
I attended the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC last week. This was actually the first conference I have been to since the 2017 Summit. The event has grown quite a bit. Mentioned at the keynote that there was 18,000 people registered. Would be interesting to see how many people actually attended. The event has grown a lot with only about 7,500 attendees on the first day of the event in 2017.
The silent disco for presentations has to be one of the worst ideas ever for a tech conference. Though, I think it’s a neat idea for a dancing party. The ballroom for the silent disco could be partitioned into three rooms and there were plenty of other event space to be used. I am not sure why Amazon chose to do a silent disco. The audience might as well have been at home since no one could even ask questions during the presentations. Some speakers were naturally loud so I could hear them when I was sitting at the adjacent stage’s audience. Then the sound was often crackling and the staff running the silent disco could not fix it. I still thought the content of the presentations were great.
There was a lot of great companies on the vendor floor. AWS had a DeepRacer track and a huge prize for the person with the best time; an all paid expense trip to re:Invent. The AWS certification lounge was a nice touch. They made it easy to verify a certification and get back in. The lounge had some extra snacks, swag, an open bar, and entertainment. I was very lucky and won an Amazon Echo Show from Dynatrace.
I enjoyed the event overall. Though, I hope the silent disco style of presentations does not catch on to other conferences. Next year may be even bigger considering what Andy Jassy, AWS CEO, said during his fireside chat on the second day. He said he thinks the public sector adaption of the cloud is still in the early days.
I have two personal announcements that I am excited to share. I was selected as a VMware vExpert for 2018. One of my goals with this blog was it to assist in being recognized as a vExpert. I am happy I reached that my first year. There’s other contributions I made to the community that helped, such as the VMTN forums and VCAP Google+ community. Hopefully, I can be more active and achieve this status two years in a row.
I passed the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam. One challenging aspect of AWS exams is the passing score changes without warning and the passing score to reach. I took the exam the last day the specific version was available and fortunately passed with a 91%.
I attended the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC this week. I usually do not attend so many conferences. This should be my last one for a while. I just happen to live nearby so I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to learn more about AWS.
The keynotes were not really what a typical keynote address is at a conference. They were only a few minutes of announcements and then a few customer stories each day. The biggest announcement was GovCloud East is coming in 2018. Though, a more specific time frame would have been better received.
There were a lot of break sessions to choose from. There was a session on VMware Cloud on AWS. I don’t think there was any big news and sadly still no date for GA. Here’s a few things I got out of the session. Customers will purchase this service from VMware. AWS services will be billed separate from VMware by Amazon. All AWS services can be accessed from a customer’s VMware cluster, which will be hosted at a AWS data center. ESXi will boot from a EBS volume and no root access to the host for customers. The underlying storage for the VMs will be vSAN, which is a minimum of 4 hosts. Elastic DRS will be able to bring up a new host fast. I think within minutes. However, removing a host will take more time as data needs to be moved from the disks on the host.
I attended a fascinating session hosted by Kevin Murphy, Program Executive Earth Science Data Systems at NASA. He talked about and showed some of the projects NASA has been working on and how they leverage AWS. Some of NASA’s projects pull in petabytes of data ever day from satellites. The data is available for free for every person and company in the world. Kevin demonstrated one of his projects called Worldview, which I provided a description below. I highly recommend everyone to check it out. You can add an assortment of layers with various information, such as all major fires around the world and by date.
This tool from NASA’s EOSDIS provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Most of the 150+ available products are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now”. This supports time-critical application areas such as wildfire management, air quality measurements, and flood monitoring. Arctic and Antarctic views of several products are also available for a “full globe” perspective. Browsing on tablet and smartphone devices is generally supported for mobile access to the imagery.
I’m sure Amazon will be looking to expand the event next year. I heard the attendance was at least 7,500 before Tuesday afternoon, which seemed to catch Amazon by surprise. Despite the crowds, I had a good time and learned a lot during my two days at the event .