The Cloud is not the future anymore. It is the present. As a developer or a system engineer, you have no choice but to adopt it.
First, you have to decide what Cloud provides suits your needs. There are three major players on the market: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. All of them have similar capabilities and prices. In my opinion, once you have learned one provider, learning another one will be easy.
So, which one should you choose? I will learn the Cloud provides that my clients or the employer use or planning to use. If there aren't any plans yet, I would learn Amazon AWS for the following reasons:
- The eldest Cloud provider on the market with excellent documentation and technical support
- Probably the largest community on the market, so you will have better chances to find a job or a gig
When I need to learn new things, I have to have a goal and try to make the process as hands-on as possible. I did it with my AWS learning as well. I decided to pass certification by the end of the study and formulated my AWS study journey as a SMART goal. Well, I think that certification is a good thing in general as a learning tool. I wouldn't rely too much on ads that certified engineers are getting better paid. I don't know anyone who git paid because of certifications or was hired because he or she is certified. But it is a fantastic tool to either learn new things or structure your existing knowledge because each exam comes up with the learning objectives and the preparation plan.
Amazon has four different certification levels: foundational, associate, professional, and specialty. Each level contains multiple exams, but if you have no AWS experience, I'd recommend starting with the AWS Cloud Practitioner track. Don't worry about the requirement that you need at least six months of experience in AWS to pass the exam. I believe if you study well and doing many hands-on exercises, you will pass it. But for higher certification levels, I'd recommend getting at least some real-world experience before starting the preparation.
Let's move on to the exam structure. The exam's goal is to challenge you on the cloud basics, high-level AWS architecture, security best practices, and core AWS services like VPC, EC2, RDS, and S3. You should also demonstrate a broad knowledge of AWS services (e.g., which service does what) and a solid understanding of the pricing model.
If you are new to AWS, I suggest starting your journey with the AWS official free training AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials. It is a free digital course that does not have hands-on exercises or practice exams. You will have to register an AWS account that gives you access to some free services that are enough to prepare for the Cloud Practitioner certification. I think the course is good to start with but is not enough to pass the exam.
After the free course, I didn't feel ready for the test and decided to sign up for the Cloud Guru website. It ended up being a good decision since the training materials are excellent and very easy to follow. Each chapter has hands-on labs you need to do in the real cloud environment and practice tests with questions similar to what you will get on the actual exam. The course takes some time to finish, and I would advise you to keep focus and not spend too much time on it. Otherwise, you may forget what you've learned in the first chapters. At the end of the course, you will have a practice exam. Try to do it as much time as possible before you start getting 95%-100% before going for the real one.
I would also recommend reading two AWS whitepapers:
- Overview of Amazon Web Services. It is the list of all services available at AWS with a brief description. You may found it very dry and dull, but I HIGHLY recommend reading it since the exam has many questions about what service you can use to solve a problem. Let's talk if you need advice on cloud architecture for your project and what services may help you solve your problem in a fast and cost-effective way.
- How AWS Pricing Works. The whitepaper is VERY IMPORTANT not only because there are many questions on pricing in the exam, but also because you must understand it for real-life projects. Cloud solutions may cost you a lot when you do not pay attention to the usage. Let's talk if you need any help reducing your cloud workloads' cost.
By this time, you should be ready for your first AWS certification exam. Good luck!