IT training firm CBT Nuggets in August 2013 launched two online video training series to help IT professionals prepare for Amazon's AWS certification program:
CBT Nuggets bills the AWS certification series as a "blend of theory and hands-on practice, particularly relevant for challenging areas such as spinning up an EC2 instance by creating a virtual server in the cloud." They add that "The two series present students with all requisite content needed for AWS certification mastery."
TechRepublic recently held a Q&A session with Jeremy Cioara to discuss the Cloud, AWS and CBT's new "Foundations" and "Architecting" series.
TechRepublic: How important are cloud computing skills to IT professionals right now?
Jeremy Cioara: Cloud computing is becoming increasingly essential as a core skill set of IT professionals. As more organizations discover the benefits and scalability of using cloud services instead of doing it themselves, they are jumping on-board. If an IT professional does not possess cloud computing skills, they may fall victim to "Consultant A" in a conversation that might go something like this:
Consultant A: "...well, let's get started. First off, how many locations are you using to host your organizations website services?"
Manager: "Just one—it's actually in a small data center just down the street."
Consultant A: (with a look of shock and horror) "Let me make sure I understand...you are paying to maintain a network and server infrastructure in a single, small data center. Do you realize for less than you probably pay in support contracts on your equipment, I could move you into multiple, fully managed and redundant data centers with virtually limitless resources using AWS services?"
On-staff IT guy: (Googling quickly on his iPhone "What is AWS") "We...uhhhh...have servers...emmm...large ones. They...ehem...so "Amazon Web Services"...Is this something with books? I believe we have a Prime membership..."
Consultant A: (slowly looking back at the Manager) "This may be something you and I need to discuss offline."
It won't be long before "On-staff IT guy" finds out the hard way that cloud computing skills go far beyond saving a shared spreadsheet in Google Docs.
TechRepublic: What would you say to an IT pro who is considering AWS certification and experience?
Jeremy Cioara: Why are you only "considering" AWS certification and experience?! Get in the game! AWS has shifted the technology paradigm and changed the entire model of how organizations provide IT services. NOW is the time to get on-board. Even if you don't end up using AWS in your current organization, understanding what cloud computing is and what you can do with it gives you a massive step up in today's world.
TechRepublic: How did CBT Nugget's online AWS certification training series come about?
Jeremy Cioara: CBT Nuggets drank the AWS Cloud "Kool-Aid" years ago. Once we converted from a traditional infrastructure to AWS and realized the tremendous benefits of doing so, we were so excited that we decided to create a "grass roots" series about AWS long before any AWS certifications were announced. The response to the series was fantastic and we found out just how many people were hungry for AWS information. Once AWS announced their first certification (AWS Certified Solution Architect), we jumped on it immediately and created two completely new series from the ground-up: AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Foundations and AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Architecting for AWS. These series were just released and we have already received feedback from people around the world who (unbelievably) seem even more excited than us about it!
TechRepublic: Tell us about CBT's depth of experience with AWS cloud architecture.
Jeremy Cioara: We've "been there, done that"! We would not have felt comfortable putting together an AWS series if we would not have moved the entire CBT Nuggets infrastructure to AWS. Because of that, we bring multiple perspectives to the table: we've done it all ourselves—we know the challenges of maintaining server equipment. We've felt the "can't sleep at night" feeling of knowing one of the drives in our RAID 5 array just failed on the primary database server. This is what caused us to say, "There's got to be a better way!" We've lived in the migration phase, creating project plans, developing AWS pilots that mirrored our corporate environment, moving small pieces of CBT Nuggets to AWS to "test the waters." We've taken the plunge, cutting ties with our old data center and operating 100% out of AWS. And now, we optimize, bootstrapping our servers, auto scaling our infrastructure. Yes, we've seen a lot.
Now we take all that experience and bring it to the AWS training... but we still were not comfortable to leave it at that. Once the AWS Certification was announced, I signed up for the classroom-based Architecting on AWS course just to take the opportunity to sit with the engineers on the AWS team to ask enough questions to find best-practices and fill in any gaps in technologies that CBT Nuggets did not use when they performed our own migration. Once the students in the course realized CBT Nuggets was building an AWS Certification series, many of them were excited to offer their own organizations as case studies and war stories.
Yes, this CBT Nuggets certification series brings depth; not just from not only our own experiences but the experiences of many of our fellow "cloud architects."
Jeremy Cioara: The names really describe it all. The Foundations series is useful for someone completely new to the AWS universe. The series starts with topics such as "What is the Cloud? ...and how did Amazon get there?" The primary focus of the series is to familiarize someone with all the major AWS services at their disposal. This is beneficial because a student with prior AWS can come in and pick-and-choose the topics that they haven't explored previously, while someone completely new can start from the ground-up.
The Architecting series builds upon the Foundations with the theme of, "now that you know how to work with AWS, let's talk about how to do it the best way." The series dives into a series of design and best practices that, when put into action, transform you into an AWS Ninja (yes, we're hoping that becomes a certification title as well).
TechRepublic: You actually attended a certification session at Amazon Web Services. What were your impressions?
Jeremy Cioara: AWS breeds smart people...and not just technical people, really SMART people. AWS crosses all lines of technology (programming, networking, server administration, etc...) to assemble a big-picture solution. I had the opportunity to sit with 30+ individuals who didn't so much spend the time thinking about any one specific technology, but instead methods to weave multiple technologies together to accomplish amazing results. It was a humbling experience!
TechRepublic: Since the AWS certification training is on-demand and self-paced, how does a subscriber actually complete it? Can an IT pro choose to focus on new areas of learning?
Jeremy Cioara: The CBT Nuggets method of training relies on subscribers wanting to complete the series, and I believe it is so engaging that it becomes like a television series. Once you start into it, you realize how exciting this technology can be and you can't put it down. The beauty of CBT Nuggets is they use an "all access" subscription model, so virtually anything on the site that interests you is yours for the taking.
TechRepublic readers can visit CBT Nuggets' website for information on their Individual and Corporate subscription models. Readers can also freely sample Jeremy's "MicroNuggets" lessons about AWS on the CBT Nuggets YouTube Channel.
CBT Nuggets specializes in online IT training and was founded in 1999 by CEO Dan Charbonneau. CBT Nuggets provides learning on IT, project management and office productivity by accomplished instructors for individuals, small teams and large organizations.
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Brian Taylor is a contributing writer for TechRepublic. He covers the tech trends, solutions, risks, and research that IT leaders need to know about, from startups to the enterprise. Technology is creating a new world, and he loves to report on it.